What The Examiner Pays

I just finished reading Angela Hoy's Writers Weekly with actual reports from writers at The Examiner.

You've probably seen the freelance writer job listings posted by The Examiner, which, it seems, is in many cities across the country. I know some writers who are columnists for The Examiner so I hope their experience is better than the ones reported to Writers Weekly.

If you were thinking about applying to The Examiner, make sure you read this first. It's not meant to discourage you from writing for them if that's something you really want to do. However, it is a reality check to make sure you're fully aware of their compensation structure.

(Do yourself a favor and sign up for Angela's weekly email newsletter. She's a great watchdog for writers.)

Takeaway Truth

Writers should get paid a decent wage for their work. No one asks a teacher to write for free or nearly free so why do they expect writers to do this?


  1. Back in the 1980s, I took a look at how much I could reliably and consistently produce. That includes the time to research pieces, the time to write, rewrite and edit pieces, and get them into shape that the customer was expecting.

    This was after devouring Webster Kuswa's Sell Copy, which I heartily recommend.

    Turns out that I can only do 400 words a day. I was crushed. I thought I was prolific. On the other hand, there are 250 work days a year. That figures out to 100,000 words per year, which is fairly prolific. Many novelists produce a book a year at 60,000 words.

    But a company needs to bring in $2 in sales. plus out-of-pocket expenses, to justify $1 in wages. It works that way for virtually all industries. So my "nut" amounted to $1 per word, if I spent 70% of my time writing, 30% of my time marketing, and wanted to make $35K. Waltzing through "Writer's Market", I sure saw a lot of markets paying 5c a word, and many paying in copies instead of cash. Wow! Opened up my eyes!

    Webster Kuswa's book makes a lot of sense if you are able to cold-call customers. At one point I could, but now I suffer from agoraphobia. That rules that out.

    But Marc McCutcheon's "Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?" has a good, workable strategy for making a living writing books. Not fiction books, but that's not my forte, anyway. In any case, I'm working on my first book along McCutcheon's strategy.

    Writing is, like any other occupation, supply and demand. Most golfers pay to play; it's only players like the Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk that can earn a living doing it. Same with writing. Crappy writers abound. You have to figure out how to supply something people want, that they can't get from a zillion other sources.

  2. Interesting comment, Harl. However, just as the guy who finishes last in a golf tournament can make a good living, so can a good writer IF the marketplace accords writing skills the respect they deserve.

    Unfortunately, the same thing that's hurting American manufacturing is hurting American writers, and that is global outsourcing. As a freelance writer, I won't take a job that requires writing 100 articles for $100.00, but writers in India, the PI, etc. will gladly do them. To them, that is a fantastic payday because their cost of living is so much lower than ours in the US.

    However, though they may be excellent writers in their own language, they often fall short in the English language which is why you see too many websites with content that is either stilted, awkward, and boring or, worse, incomprehensible.

    That's why you see so many freelance jobs that specify "native English speaker."

    Yet, the fact that scores of jobs are being posted at ever decreasing wages affects the ability of all writers to earn a living wage. It's a constant struggle.

  3. Right now, they're playing the Valero Texas Open in the PGA. Bruce Geiberger is in last place.

    How much has he made in in 2009? Not one red cent.

    How much did he make in 2008? Well, he grossed $166,600, but after splitting the wins with his caddy, and paying expenses - travel isn't cheap - he probably didn't have to pay ANY income taxes on his winnings.

    It's not global outsourcing that's hurting the american writer. Full-time freelancing has never paid a living income. In 1970, the average income of a full-time freelance writer in the US was less than $2000/year, at a time when a full-time minimum wage worker was making more than $4400/year.

    I'm told that streetwalkers have the same problem: there are just too many who are willing to give it away for free.