I’ve been a writer my whole life. Naturally, that doesn’t mean I’ve been writing books, whitepapers, or freelance articles since infancy. However, it does mean that I’ve been writing in some form since as far back as I can remember.
Over time, I became more proficient and fell more in love with writing. Both as an act of creativity and a release. Honestly, I find great joy and mentally I decompress through writing. Why wouldn’t I want to put the thing that I’m passionate about to use as my profession? For a while, I didn’t. And I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t. Maybe fear? Maybe some deep-seated feeling of not being good enough. Whatever it was, it stopped me from writing as a job. Until it didn’t. This changed majorly when I started working in marketing for technology start-up TimelinePI. After ABBYY acquired TimelinePI, so much of my career was then shaped around content creation, and digital marketing.
Now, writing is not only my passion but also a source of income. I have been writing on Medium since 2018 and obviously earn a little bit through its partner program. Recently, as I have tried to find new projects that keep me entertained while remaining socially distant, I decided to start freelance writing. I was confident in my ability to do research and learn about topics so that I could write articles about them — even when I didn’t have any knowledge of a given subject. It seemed like a win-win. It brought me away from my regular technology topics and into exploring other creative genres creating how-tos, listicles, and other research. I was always great at this in school. I excelled at writing papers, and I could often do it with little information and obtain a passing grade — and a high passing grade at that. That’s not to say that I put my time into finding workarounds or being vague. I do the work. I do the research. I learn about what it is I need to write about. I’ve just been blessed with the ability to be quick about it and retain that knowledge well.
So then, when my freelance writing journey began, I was inevitably faced with the idea that I needed to take every project that came my way. I mean every project meant cha-ching, cash in the account and that was part of the point, wasn't it? I needed to get my ratings up on the freelance platforms. I needed to get orders so that new clients would see my previous orders. They would see the reviews others have left me. They, too, would want to work with me.
Then came the orders that I didn’t want to do. Not because I didn’t understand the subjects, but because they conflicted with my ethics. In the beginning, as my bio partially states “adjunct professor,” I was often asked to write term papers, essays, take tests, and do other academic assignments. These orders both came from high school students and college students. I even had a Ph.D. candidate ask me to write my take of “Managing People from Behind the PC” — their doctoral manifest to earn a Doctor of Business Administration.
Something didn’t sit right about this with me. It didn’t feel right. It felt like I was negating what they could be learning. I didn’t feel like I was helping them. These orders felt like cheating on two fronts: getting a grade they didn’t earn and missing out on an education. Besides, that these people would likely fill the seats in corporate America in a few years and would display a level of expertise that they never earned.
I’ve been offered good money to do this. Double and triple my rates. I’ve never accepted any of these jobs. For me, it’s a conflict of morals. I know other writers do take these projects, and if they’re fine with it, who am I to judge them? To each their own right?
For me, it’s simple: I just can’t do it.
It’s not about the money. It’s about living with myself. It’s about feeling like I’m being productive and genuine. Education is sacred, and frankly, it needs to be earned and learned. It’s about knowing that I’ve kept my ethics above an amoral earning of money. Money that I can make on another project.
Sure, I’ll miss out on this payment, but another will come. And if another doesn’t come, I know I did it my way. I know I kept my values intact. That means more than a few dollars and cents.