I include myself in this question. I’m wondering whether I’m expecting to be paid more than I’m actually worth. What value do we add that entitles us to get paid well?
I’m an avid reader on this platform and manage to read around 10–20 articles a day. Over the last couple of months, I’ve come across quite a few writers that seem to have a pretty entitled attitude. They seem to think they should be paid a full-time salary for knocking out a few articles a week.
Do these people even know what a full-time writer does? Do I even know?
I’ve also read a few posts by ‘real’ freelance writers. To those, I take my hat off. They really know what’s involved, they put in the hard work, and (mostly) get well rewarded for it.
I could not do what they do. Seriously.
The most entitled writers
There are a small group of writers that are the most entitled. They are the ones that don’t seem to put in much work but expect to get paid very well. As they only get paid what they claim is a pittance, they blame everyone and everything else for their plight. It’s that evil Ev Williams destroying the platform, or the algorithm that hates them, or even the readers that refuse to read what they write about.
The mistake this group of writers makes is that they look at writing only from their own point of view. They don’t even give a second thought about the readers, who are the most important group of people on this platform.
Without readers paying $5 a month we wouldn’t be earning any money at all. So we should be grateful that there are readers that are willing to pay to read what we write.
If we want to earn more money from our writing, then we need to write articles that readers want to read. We need to provide them with real value.
This is another place where entitled readers trip up. They want to be paid for writing what they like writing, not what readers like reading.
It’s like complaining that your store that sells black and white TVs isn’t making money. Meanwhile, you’re unhappy that stores that sell 55-inch flat-screen, color TVs are making a ton of money.
Consumers don’t want to buy black and white TVs. If we try to sell them, we won’t make any money.
If we write what readers don’t want to read, we won’t make money either.
The ‘write-for-free’ writers
When the entitled writers complain, you’ll always get a few other writers who respond that they don’t care about money and are happy to write for free.
Going back to the TV analogy above, it’s like opening a store selling black and white TVs just because you love it. You don’t care that it doesn’t make money, because you’re doing what you love.
There’s nothing wrong with writing for pleasure. We all do things for pleasure that we don’t expect to get paid for.
Many people love football and play it in their spare time. They don’t expect to get paid for it though. When I have a kickabout with my friends, I don’t complain that Ronaldo earns $millions a year. He’s a professional. I’m not. Football fans are willing to pay to watch Ronaldo play. No one is willing to watch me and my mates play.
It’s the same with writing. Millions will pay to read the latest Stephen King book. Probably no one will pay to read my next book. Which is why I’m not writing one.
So, here’s the thing. Millions of people play football and don’t expect to get paid. So why do most writers expect to be paid for what is just a hobby for most?
A big part of the reason is that we live in a culture where people are looking to get rich quickly. They may read about someone that makes $5,000 a month writing on this platform. They think they can write, so it must follow (in their minds) that they can also make $5,000 a month.
I think there is a big misconception that writing is easy. The vast majority do not know what it takes to become a well-paid professional writer. They don’t even care. They just want that $5,000 a month in their bank account. When their first ‘salary’ of $0.57 arrives, they get very disappointed and angry.
Would you decide to become a footballer if you read an article titled… Man earns $250,000 a week playing football? Probably not. We all know it takes hard work and a lot of skill to earn that much as a footballer. But for some reason, we think we can become top writers without putting in the hard work or having any real writing skills.
In a previous article, I wrote about my plan to eventually make $5,000 a month writing here. Am I also one of the deluded and entitled writers? I hope not. But neither am I a professional writer. My writing skills are nowhere near that of the top writers. Yet I cling to my belief that I can make it.
On the plus side, I am putting in the work and improving my writing skills. I’m not expecting to reach my goal next week. I know it will take time.
Likewise, a young child could aim to become a footballer earning $250,000 a week. But he knows it will take years and maybe he’ll never get there. He’s not expecting to be paid $250,000 next week.
Any thoughts and comments are very welcome. I’m still thinking this through, and I expect my thoughts on the subject to evolve over time.