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The State of Freelancing: Does a Higher Minimum Wage Mean More Work for Freelance Writers?

The push for a higher minimum wage has been in the news a lot lately. The linked-to article here is a The New York Times article just yesterday talking about it, giving a snapshot of just who earns the minimum wage in this country, ie:

An estimated 27.8 million people would earn more money under the Democratic proposal to lift the hourly minimum from $7.25 today to $10.10 by 2016. And most of them do not fit the low-wage stereotype of a teenager with a summer job. Their average age is 35; most work full time; more than one-fourth are parents; and, on average, they earn half of their families’ total income.

FYI, here’s a chart that lists what the minimum wage is in each state.

Here, we won’t get into the debate of if the minimum wage needs to be raised. What we will discuss is how it will impact freelancers (freelance writers in particular) if it happens. I argue that this will be a good thing for freelance writers. Why? Three reasons.

3 Reasons a Higher Minimum Wage Would be a Good Thing for Freelance Writers

1. Companies can’t afford to hire: As in, they won’t be able to afford to hire (as many) full-time employees. This has already been realized, as discussed the Forbes article, Higher Minimum Wage Means More Independent Contractors–And Disputes, which states:

Higher payroll taxes can mean more pressure on companies to use independent contractors. So can higher benefit costs and mandated health insurance. And so can higher mandated wages.

What a Higher Minimum Wage May Mean for Freelance WritersThis could be considered somewhat of a “perfect storm” for freelance writers. Why/how? Well, with content marketing and social media being all the rage now, more content than ever is needed by companies to stay relevant.

This “new media” industry is creating new job opportunities for freelance writers like, eg, social media writing, search engine optimization writing, social media account management (which goes hand-in-hand with writing content), etc.

2. Changing business models: More and more entrepreneurs are starting business with the idea of never having a lot of full-time employees. In short, they’re changing their business models to embrace what is fast becoming a “freelance economy.”

Proof?

In this column here last summer, I mentioned one entrepreneur (the owner of a tech startup) who said, “The job you create for yourself is the most stable job you can have.”

This kind of sums up my opinion. In my opinion, job stability is a thing of the past, as this series of posts talking about coping with unemployment, underemployment and the job market in America in general on the Huffington Post underscore.   In this linked-to article, the writer makes ends meet by freelancing, which she’s none too happy about. She wrote:

I’m freelancing for $15 an hour these days, but I used to earn $100 an hour. In fact, all the freelance hourly rates have been driven down to $15-30 an hour. To make ends meet, I also work as an aide ($13.75 an hour) and run a small local company. And my annual earnings are under $20,000.

I’m lucky to be in Massachusetts, where my health care is paid for, and fortunate to be of sound health and mind. But on days when I feel hopeless, I can envision myself 20 years from now, living in hardscrabble poverty. Female friends my age who are in similar financial circumstances are terrified of the future. If we can’t get decent paying jobs today, there’s little hope of getting a corporate job with benefits in the future.

When I read this, my mind was screaming:

Embrace freelancing! Turn your FULL attention to it and you could earn more – a lot more. You’re smart, you’re educated – you can run a business. Why try beating down corporate America’s door? Do your own thing and maybe, just maybe, you can avoid the fate you see for yourself in 20 years.

3. You can set your own rates: Piggybacking on the first point here, freelancers aren’t bound by a minimum-wage law (although some would argue they should be). This makes it more cost-effective for business to hire them. Proof of this can be seen in sites like Fiverr.

FYI, in the freelance writing realm, you can hire everything from proofreaders, to editors, to ghostwriters. One self-publisher told me she hired someone to proofread a 100-page ebook – for just $5. And she said the proofreader did an excellent job.

Now, while I’d never work for this wage, some will. Will this bring down the rate for all freelancers? I don’t believe in this concept. This is what capitalism is. You learn how to compete. If anything it can raise the bar because you’ll always have those who will compete on rate alone.

But, businesses who care about their brand and image are more than willing to pay well for quality writing – as the average salary for SEO content writers proves, which is $60,000 per year as of this writing.

What Say You?

Do you think a higher minimum wage will mean more work for freelance writers, or less? Will it bring down the wage for all freelancers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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    1. […] Following is what’s coming up here and on SeoWritingJobs.com, this blog’s companion blog, this week. BTW, did you catch yesterday’s post, The State of Freelancing: Does a Higher Minimum Wage Mean More Work for Freelance Writers? […]