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The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good News, Bad News

Once again, I am looking for a job. Once again, I am not having much luck.

I understand that this is at least in part a problem of my own making. I don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to employment. I have a tendency to quit my jobs after about six months. Or eight months. Or a year. Or in one ill-fated case, five days. In many ways, I know I am better suited to the freelance lifestyle. I have no problems meeting my deadlines and turning in copy that makes my clients happy. The problem is, I've never quite been able to make enough money as a freelancer. And now that I've taken a few months off to finish my novel, money is a pressing concern.

The good news is that I just finished a freelance assignment for a new client, and the team was "real pleased" with my work. The client didn't balk at my hourly rate and is likely to assign me another project. It was pretty interesting work, and not a bad way to make a few hundred dollars. But a few hundred dollars is not going to pay the bills.

The other good news is that I'm nearly done editing my novel and will be sending out my package to an agent next week. The bad news is that I may not receive a response until the new year, and the response may be, "Thanks, but no thanks." In the meantime, I need to make some cash.

So, I am back where I started, looking for steady paying work. I've gotten a couple of bites on my resume, which is posted on Monster, but most of the responses have been from people who think I would make an excellent financial services consultant. They are sadly mistaken. I barely have a grasp on my own finances, as evidenced by my credit card bills, so I am in no position to tell others how to invest or spend their money.

I did get an email today about an opportunity that is more in line with my skills, but the pay is far too low to make financial sense. It's a Web copywriting position, in which I would interview clients and write copy for their Web sites. I would need to contact the client for an interview and determine their content needs. I'd then write the information, submit it to the client for approval, and then complete a rewrite "should it be required." The final content would be due within five business days of the assignment. For this, I'd be paid 5 cents a word, plus $10 per interview. Also, I'd have to complete a sample writing assignment (for free!) of no more than 1200 words. And what's to stop the company from using my "writing sample" as actual content? Nothing, I'm sure. But let me do the math for you--if I were to be paid for those 1200 words, I'd get $60. I'm guessing the interview would take at least an hour, and the writing would take several more hours, not including any rewrites. So, I'd probably wind up grossing about $12 an hour. That's nearly five times less than my new client has agreed to pay me. But the sad fact is that most people are unwilling to pay for well-written, compelling copy. They pay what the market will bear. And although I need the money, I'm not going to sell my writing skills on the cheap.

Instead, I plan to continue to prospect for freelance clients, and I also hope to pick up some tutoring clients. In addition, I am looking for administrative and executive assistant jobs. Many of those jobs pay $15 an hour, and I definitely have the organizational skills and can-do attitude necessary to succeed. The only problem is that I don't have a lot of specific admin experience, although I can type 60 words per minute, I have a pleasing and professional phone voice, I am an excellent filer, and I am a terrific multi-tasker who thrives in fast-paced environments.

So what do you think I should do? Should I dig deep into my checkered career history and include on my resume my experience as a receptionist for the Sports Club/LA? Sure, it was seven years ago, but I did answer multiple phone lines, schedule personal training appointments, and handle class sign-ups, all for a very demanding clientele. (You do not want to get between wealthy people and their Spin class sign-up sheet!) Should I throw myself into freelancing and just be prepared to live off credit cards for awhile? (Been there, done that--not a smart strategy.) Should I donate plasma? (I'm scared of needles!)

Realistically, I know that my best bet is to be entrepreneurial and create my own opportunities. There are some people out there who appreciate good writing and are willing to pay for it. I am also an excellent copy editor and proofreader. But in reality, I need a steady paycheck.

Things will work out, as they usually do--fingers crossed. I suppose all I can really do is persevere and explore every option. And hope that my first novel becomes a raging success!


  • At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Cindy said…

    Hi Astera,

    This is Anonymous 1 from your 9/19 post. I think you've answered your questions in the last paragraph. I, too, hope your first novel is a raging success; I have no doubt it's a fabulous, well-written one. Best of luck to you in everything.


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