On Looking for Work When You’re “Old”

I landed my first “real” job as receptionist at a publishing company when I was 20 years old. That job got my foot in the door and led me to where I am today. I learned everything I knew about writing, creativity, and professionalism from the people I worked with for the 15 years that I remained in publishing.

I didn’t like working in publishing very much, but I did enjoy the opportunities to learn, work with a team, and be creative. The thing is, I feel creatively as young now as I did back then.

If that’s even a thing.

I know I’m not in my 20′s but my brain is sharp and I have good ideas. Still, this has been a hard year for me. I didn’t think I’d mind turning 50, but I do. I mind turning 50 because people who hire creative types don’t want me. They remind me that I am “old.”

50 is crossing that line into “older” and I’m just not ready for it. Neither are the people who hire people who do what I do.

I’m no Spring chicken, that’s for sure. I have gray hair (though hopefully you can’t tell), I’m working harder to lose weight, and I remember when The Brady Bunch aired during Prime Time. I grew up during a time when kids sat in their parents laps in the front seat of the car without seat belts, and walked to school alone when they were in first grade. It was a time of rotary phones, black and white television, and going outside to cool off because there was no air conditioning. So yeah, I may have gotten on in years.

When I look for work – either as a freelancer/contractor, or something more permanent – I enter into the process hoping my years will tell my potential client I have the wisdom, drive, and creativity to see a project through to completion.  Lately, though, my potential client (who is usually younger than me) only sees old.

I am not out of touch. I am not set in the dark ages. I am an experienced professional. I have something to offer thatmany 20 years olds can’t. That is, the wisdom, and professionalism that can only come with being part of the workforce for 30 years.

I find I do much better on phone interviews than face to face where I’ve been informed  I “wasn’t what we expected.” I have been told “no thank you” because a client was looking for someone who is “aware of current trends,” or “hip to what’s going on now.” I have been told, “we are a young team, and we’re not sure you’d fit in.”

I am creative.
I am a team player.

I do keep a top of current trends. 

I’m not asking for much. I don’t hop from job to job, I stay with most clients long term. I also understand that many creative jobs need people with a young voice, and I’m not trying to be that person. I don’t need to work in a job that is geared towards a younger person, I just don’t want to be passed over for a job I’m absolutely qualified for because I’m a woman of a certain age. I’m not someone who will try to act much younger than I am, or pretend I’m hip to things I’m not. However, “creative” shouldn’t be synonomous with “young.” 

Now, I’m not in a bad place. I have a few clients and many one off projects, but in the feast or famine freelancing world, steady is nice.As a freelancer, I’m always hustling for work and it’s definitely harder now than it was ten years ago.  If I’m not the right person for the job, I can take the constructive criticism and move on. However, if the only reason I’m not the right person for the job is my age, and the perception is that people my age can’t be creative or aware of current trends, that’s where I get a little pissy. I’m not ready to be put out to pasture yet.

Didn’t you know? 50 is the new 40.

 

Here’s What’s Wrong With Freelancing Today

In the 15 years I’ve been freelancing, not much has changed. Clients are paying crap, and writers are taking that crap and writing crap in return. It’s a vicious cycle.

Here’s some of what’s wrong with freelancing today.

The Pays But Not With Cash Client

“Like any startup we have no funding yet, but there may be a few Amazon or Starbuck’s gift cards in it for you, especially if you bring some friends on board to read and comment on your work. When we do get funding we will definitely need great writers/editors.”

So I checked with my mortgage company and they’re still not accepting gift cards in payment. Until that happens, I’ll take cash, thank you very much.  I never understood why people feel that writers don’t have bills to pay and that they’re more than willing to work for links, clicks, or gift cards.

The It’s So Easy Any One Can Do It Cient

 

“Do not worry if you haven’t done this before. Assignments are so easy, even a kid can do it.”

Dude. You’re going to put out an extremely vague ad and then insult writers at the same time? If the job is so easy why aren’t you doing it? Telling us a job is so easy a kid can do it just minimizes what we do for a living.  Try not to be so condescending when bringing someone in to do work you can’t do yourself. Plumbers plum. Writers write.

The I’ll Accept Any Crappy Writing As Long As it’s Free Client

 ”You don’t have to be a professional writer – we’re looking for females of any kind to write about NYC.”

The above issue is twofold. First, if an unestablished website promises you backlinks in exchange for content, does it really matter? No. No it does not. Fold #2: The web is filled with absolute crap because people are wont to start an online publication filled with free content contributed by people who don’t know a thing about writing. I’ll tell you what, if you’re looking for people to be a “part of something bigger”, pay them. Otherwise you’re just going to have a website filled with crap, unpaid writing.

The Write Phony But Awesome Reviews of My Book Client

 

“Active amazon users ONLY
$5 per posted LIVE AMAZON BOOK REVIEW
Paid immediately through Paypal
—–important, be ready to start upon contact, otherwise don’t contact me—- NO TIME WASTERS.”

 

Ladies and gentleman, the above is why so many crappy books on Amazon are receiving 5 stars reviews. Good authors don’t buy reviews EVER and good writers don’t get paid to write good reviews EVER.

The I Promise I’ll Pay You Well One Day if You Work Your Ass Off For Little Money Now Client

 

“Would like to find editor for my first self-published book to load on Amazon. Student, beginner, I’m open. I’m honest, be honest. I hope to make a long term relationship. I will not be a bottomless pit, not crazy and not selfish and not looking to take advantage of anyone. On a budget right now. If that changes, I will not dump you but increase your fee if we work well together. Long term would be ideal. Please be in NYC.”

Here’s how we can have a beautiful, long term relationship with each other: Pay me more than $1 per page.

The I Use Lots of Dollar Signs Even Though I’m Paying Crap Client

 

 

“Book summary writers needed to write short plot summaries of fiction books. Make up to $7 per entry, and YOU get to pick what you write about! You don’t have to buy any books, you can just pick ones you’ve already read. One you get the hang of it you can easily make $21 an hour. Pick your favorite books. You don’t need to see or read anything new. It’s easy money and fun too. Payment by paypal, work from home. Solid part time work. Write for details.”

Don’t you love it when a client tries to make it seem like you’ll make a lot of money if you do several jobs in an hour? Yeah, not.

 

There’s more, dear readers, much more, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of them with you here in the future. In the meantime, writers, don’t minimize what you do. Know your value. And clients, don’t insult us. If you can’t pay us a legitimate fee, do the dang job yourself.

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