10 attributes of professional writers – #1: Get paid!

Image by Terry Freedman via Flickr

What makes a professional writer professional? I believe 10 characteristics to be essential. The most fundamental of these is pretty simple, and has nothing whatsoever to do with technology, writing style or how good a tan you have. It’s…

You get paid

What I mean by this is: paid in money. Not in a “free” subscription. Not in a jar of jelly beans. Not in potential advertising revenue. But in actual money. (The slight exception I’d make is that payment in, say, Amazon vouchers might be acceptable if you’re writing for a foreign publication or website, and the fee would be eaten up by international bank currency conversion charges.)

In fact, even if you somehow stood to earn more money from revenue derived from advertising on the web page on which your article appears, it is still better to receive payment directly for the article – at least once. The reason for this is as subtle as it’s important. If an editor offers to pay you for your article, she is taking a chance and taking a risk. If your article is not read by anyone, you will still be paid. You’re being paid for the writing of the article, not for its potential popularity.

Write for advertising revenue by all means; write for nothing at all if you must. But don’t call yourself a professional unless someone has agreed to pay you in the green stuff for doing a job.