The Real Score with “Online Writing”

real score online writing

This is a re-published post dated August 11, 2011 (05:51 PM) taken from my personal blog. Though a year has passed, I believe it is still relevant and important to the growing freelance writing community here in the Philippines. Writers, feel free to share your thoughts on the topic. Thanks! 

ABS-CBN did a feature on the topic of “online writing.”  Great!  The Philippines is finally aware that people can build a career through corporate/SEO writing, I happily thought.

But what irked me about this video was how they described the work of an online writer.  As I watched the interview till the very end, my face had a disappointed, disturbed, and criticizing look.

Disclaimer: This isn’t a personal attack against the companies or the people featured in the video. This is just to clarify the misleading ideas it has already spread to the general public. My apologies as well for just placing a photo. Apparently, there isn’t an embed option available.

Update: The video is no longer available, and the post has been slightly edited for better reading.

This is the video caption translated into English:

Do you want to earn money without leaving the comforts of your home?  Online writing is one of many popular work trends today.  The income is high and you don’t have to be tied to the office.

Sound familiar?

For those who are interested in venturing out into the world of web writing, 80% of what this feature has covered is just the sugar and spice about the industry. Sure, you can earn from home. Yes, you don’t have to be tied to an office chair to be a paid writer. But dear, that’s where the good stuff ends.

Let me just clarify I few things mentioned in this video to prevent you from being misled by the wrong notions.

Clarification #1: P20,000 a month?  Think again.

Companies here in the Philippines who provide outsourced writing services don’t pay their writers this kind of amount consistently.  There might be a few rare ones that do, but in general, you’re one lucky bastard if you’re able to find a company that will pay you that much to work at home.

But I’m not saying you can’t earn P20,000 per month as a writer.  Heck, you can even earn twice or thrice as more.  But that would depend on four main things:

  1. If you know how to price your services,
  2. If you know how to WRITE well,
  3. If you know how to manage your time, and
  4. If you know where to find and how to build a constant source of income.

Clarification #2: You’re not paid a “salary.”

00:20 – Clarice earns P20,000 per month as an online writer.

Seeing that she works for several companies, she probably is able to sustain this amount of income per month.  But what she is earning isn’t a salary.  She’s earning through pay-outs from the companies she’s writing for.
[quote]salary |ˈsalərē|
A fixed regular payment, typically paid on a monthly or biweekly basis but often expressed as an annual sum, made by an employer to an employee, esp. a professional or white-collar worker[/quote]
The first thing you should realize before becoming an online writer is that UNLESS you’re selling a book, an info product, or any other product alongside your writing services, your income would depend on how much work you churn out and how much the client is willing to pay.

If you don’t take assignments, you’re not paid.  If you write and submit a set number of articles per month, you can probably earn P20,000 per month just like Clarice.  But again, this would depend on how much the pay-outs are for an article or project.  If a project requires 5 500-word articles, and each project costs P300, you will only get P300 for every project you submit. And if your brain and hands can only supply 10 projects per month, you get P3,000 per month. No more, no less.

Update: Clarice works as an editor, not a writer.  But I stand by what I said about freelance writers and salaries.  And ABS-CBN, my goodness. Get your facts straight before airing your show!

Clarification #3: It is not easy to be an online writer.

01:24 – Madali magiging online writer, says the broadcast journalist Karen Davila.  My response? You haven’t been doing your research, have you? 

I’m going to put my foot down on this one once and for all.  Being a writer is completely different from signing up for an account to become an online writer. You can create an account in 2 minutes flat.  The company can send you their approval in a week’s time.  That’s where it’s easy.

But to be a writer who can write something with sense, who can write facts in good grammar, and who can express himself or herself properly through words requires constant practice, hours and hours of reading, passion, and a good grasp of the language. You must be equipped in organising your thoughts before putting them down on paper.

You don’t just transform into a writer with a click of a button and a few ticks of the keyboard.  It’s never that easy.  If you think online writing is quick to become, that being a writer will bring in the big bucks, and that you can just walk around and tell people, “I’m an online writer,” you’re only fooling yourself.

As a freelance writer, the last thing I want is for people to think that they can do this type of work so easily.  I never once told people that being a web content writer is a piece of cake, or that I earn big amounts per month just sitting in front of the computer, tapping the hours away.  My skills were not harvested overnight, and yet I still have much to learn. So, you can just imagine how extremely bothered I am by how ABS-CBN has handled this Lifestyle feature.

But changing what has been broadcasted is futile now, so I only ask that new writers will stop themselves from believing in P20,000/month salaries through online writing.  Don’t swallow this video entirely and assume that things are already laid out for you.  Writing for the web isn’t an overnight success, and that you’ll never be a true writer if you don’t know how to write properly or if you think writing is just another way to make money.