sihanoukville cambodia

How my freelance writing apprenticeship paid off

I started writing articles around 1996. I wrote for print publications then. I had pretty good luck, too. 11 of the 12 articles I submitted were published in different publications. I also got paid for a couple of websites I built. Then I stopped until 2010, when I had no choice but to take up freelance writing again. My freelance writing apprenticeship got off to a rocky start, but it paid off.

It was a painful start. I got $5 for 500 words. Then I graduated to $10 for 500 words. I took any assignment I could get. One site paid $10 for 3/300 word articles on the same subject, but in different words. I must have written 50 of those. Yes, getting paid so little was depressing, but it was the only means of employment I could find and actually paid better than teaching English as a second language at the time.

How my freelance writing apprenticeship paid off

I’m doing much better now. I recently got an assignment to write 60 articles on about 3 different subjects. They could not have duplicate content in them. Fortunately, my apprenticeship paid off. Those articles I wrote for $10 taught me how to write the same thing in different words and I was able to write 10 to 14 articles in a day. I made $2000 for my efforts, plus a little more for my regular assignments.

sihanoukville cambodia
Working at the beach in Sihanoukville

When I look back on that apprenticeship, I realize how much I learned in a year. I got assignments for all types of subjects, from dating to surfing and metaphysics. Other topics were more mundane, but I learned how to do research and quickly learn the gist of any topic from insurance to real estate. I don’t want to go back to making a pittance for my efforts, but I confident I won’t have to. I get regular assignments from several clients and it seems like freelancing is the wave of the future. According to an article I read in Year13, Startup Australia estimates that 60% of jobs will be freelance or contractual within five years. I’ve read that elsewhere, too. Businesses are looking for reliable freelancers because they don’t have to pay them vacation time, health insurance and other benefits. They pay them for the work they do, nothing more.

I’m lucky I discovered freelance writing. I would be on a pension now if I didn’t have freelancing to do. The pension would be less than half of what I make. I’ve seen too many people here in Cambodia who are on pensions. They often look unhappy and many live in the past. It’s because they have nothing to do. A few use their time productively, but others sink into alcoholism and wander around like ghosts. Freelancing keeps my mind active and pays better than a pension would.

I write for real estate companies, a home improvements website and have another client who sends me random assignments. Most recently, they sent me an assignment about D&O insurance. I had to look it up, but it’s Director’s and Officer’s Insurance and is designed to protect them if their company goes insolvent. I learn a lot of useless information, but it’s not useless if it gets the job done. I’ll never be able to afford to buy a house in Australia and definitely won’t need D&O insurance, but those articles have helped me earn a living. I’m grateful for my freelance writing apprenticeship, but I’m still glad it’s behind me.