Don’t sell yourself short as a Freelance writer in Italy

writerOnce upon a time (about a year ago) a Sardinian travel agency contacted me to write brief English articles to help promote their travel brand. Unfortunately, at that time I was just packing up to move to Cayman Islands and I didn’t have the time nor energy to craft posts about Sardinia after slinging beer for 10 hours a day. I emailed them a polite reply stating that I was grateful for their consideration but am out of the country and haven’t the time to freelance for them.

When I returned to Sardinia last June I contacted this travel agency and told them that if the offer still stands I would be more than willing to write articles on Sardinia for them.

I didn’t hear back from them for six months.

I thought it was water under the bridge until a month ago when the same agency contacted me. At this point I thought “what the heck, eh” let’s do it.

This was their offer:

  • 6 articles a month, 250-300 words (I could even use my existing blog posts but they would have to be re-worded).
  • Write one post a week for their Facebook profile about Sardinia.
  • Respond to any questions about Sardinia on their profile – maximum three questions.
  • My pictures would greatly be accepted.
  • €100 a month for three months.

I took to my super fabulous expat group and asked a few questions about this type of work, as I’m new-ish to the freelance world and I certainly didn’t want to sell myself short.

Here are some of the responses from my trusted, in-the-know peeps:

  • not enough money.
  • that is ridiculously low payment.
  • you need to negotiate.
  • work like this is likely never under €300 per month and that would be the bottom of the bottom.
  • They will never find a native English-speaking person to work for that money.
  • if you start low, you will stay low on the pay scale. It’s better to play hardball and present yourself as a professional.
  • Off the top of my head €25 per hour for this type of work.

Like any professional freelance writer I responded with:

Good morning. I would be pleased to work alongside your team, however I would like to negotiate the salary. I am willing to write 6 articles a month including the use of my photos for €250 per month. I look forward to your response.

And this is what the agency said:

Good afternoon. Currently we cannot afford €250 a month as our budget for article writing is €100 a month. Please keep in mind that the articles do not have to be original articles, you are free to re-word the existing articles on your blog. Can we negotiate with 4 articles a month?

I thought over this offer for a good five minutes and decided that yes, I will give it a go. I’ve wanted to work for a company that is 100% owned and operated by an islander for a long time. It’s important for me to root my words, work and photography with the islanders who have adopted me.

I responded with:

Thank you and I accept your proposal of 4 articles per month for €100. I would like to be paid every month, not at the end of the three months. If you would like to add any of my photography, the cost will be €50 for each photo. How do you propose payment?

I understand that their budget is €100 a month, but I can’t nor I won’t give away my photographic work. Work that took hours of hiking in the mountains just to capture the feeling of Sardinia.

And now, eight days after I sent the last email I’ve heard nothing. Nadda, zilch, zero. I could have sent another email asking “what’s up” but I’m not desperate and I refuse to sell myself short.

You know what I’m tired of?

I’m tired of being paid pennies for my time and hard work. I’m tired of being taken advantage of with extremely low pay and no respect for the work done. This applies for hospitality work and freelance work.

Everyone I speak with says “Those are the rules here in Italy. Companies can and will take advantage of someone just so they can have more money in their pocket at the end of the day. We are just the little people here. In the end, it’s we who suffer. The ones who cannot make a difference. You either work for nothing or starve.”

Am I disappointed with the Italian way?

Sure, I am. Does it dishearten me to know people try to take advantage of me? Sure, it does. Does it lessen my love affair with the island I’ve come to call my own? Absolutely not.

If I’m going to work for free then I’m going to continue to craft posts about Sardinia and post them here, on my blog, where the only rules are mine.

Are you a freelance writer or photographer living or working in Italy? Would you submit your photography for free? Tell me all about it in the comment section below.

Expat Speaks: The Italian postal system

Expat Speaks: The Italian postal system

At the beginning of September I was commissioned by a book publisher from England to write a detailed 38 hotel listing for Sardinia, Italy. I was over the moon at being asked by such a global brand that I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Heck, I even did the happy dance all over the house for a few days as this project was my first real Freelance job, and I was ecstatic!! I’d like to thank The Travelbunny for recommending me. Holla Girl! Grazie.

Source: Wikimedia

I finished the job and handed in the project two days before the scheduled due date. It was imperative that my contract reach London in time, to get paid. I printed two identical contracts, signed both on the dotted line as asked, and headed to the Italian post office in my town. I inquired about a courier service and she told me the price –  €35. I nearly had a coronary. Later, I asked in an Italian expat group – what the mainlanders pay for courier service to England and I was informed –  €15. A staggering difference.

I asked the postal worker if there was a cheaper, still secure method to send these ever important documents to England, and she told me that I could send the documents via a Raccomandata Internazionale – an International registered letter, which I could follow with the tracking number on the receipt. The cost of the raccomandata was €7.00. A huge difference in price, and one that I could easily afford. I filled out the necessary documents and waited, and waited and waited.  Continue reading

31 Days as a Beach Bar Waitress – Sardinia, Italy

Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life Expat WaitressThe long hot hours of work are finally over and I’m looking forward to catching up on lost sleep. Everyday I worked 12pm – 9pm without a day off, as that’s how the cookie crumbles in Sardinia. At times, it was difficult to keep the smile on my face and more often than not I wanted to sucker punch a few guests in the face for stupid remarks. Overall, it was a beautiful whirlwind working at the lovely beach bar Mistral Bar at La Marinedda beach. I met some fantastic people who quickly became friends and I saw 31 stunning sunsets worthy of a painted picture.

Here is a little list of what I endured in the 31 days as a Beach Bar Waitress

  • “Do you live here?” Me: No, I fly in from Canada every morning. Ryanair now offers a direct flight from Alghero to Niagara Falls.
  • “Where are you from?” Me: You have to guess. Guest: Finland, Denmark, Australia, South Africa, England, Bulgaria, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, America … (they never, ever guess Canada).
  • “Why are you here?” Me: I hit the love jackpot.
  • “Wow, what sport do you do? You’re very fit.” Me: I serve drinks all day to idiots like you.
  • “Where are you from?” Me: I’m from Canada. Guest: Oh, you sound American.
  • “Excuse me? But why is the beach half of what it was last year? Did the sea eat the beach?” Me: (mouth hanging open) Uh, yeah, the sea was very hungry this year.
  • A woman walks into a beach bar full of guests eating lunch. She stands naked but for the small g-string attached to her curvy hips and she just stands there… her fake mountainous cleavage obscuring the view of the diners.
  • Three men from Napoli sit down and ask for three beers. When they have finished the first round I ask if they’d like a second and this is the response “well, we can’t eat the bottles now can we?” I quickly retreated behind the bar and popped open three fresh beers and brought them to the table when I’m greeted with “Ma che cazzo – chi ha ordinato questo? What the fuck – who ordered this?”
  • Two couples come in to eat and drink on the busiest day of the month – the Frozen Open Surf contest. They are polite, happy and after three hours one of the men ask for the check. When I deliver the check to the person who asked I am greeted with anger and really, really bad swear words from the other man. He told me that I should have given the check to him, and I’m an idiot for not knowing that. I told him “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t read the minds of raging lunatics.”
  • My Mizuno running shoes kept a lot of the customers talking for 31 days.Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life (9) A four-year old girl said “Your shoes are ugly. They are not beach shoes.” People would obviously stare at my running shoes and make all sorts of comments. I had an argument with a marathoner (N.B. never get into a conversation about running with a multiple time marathoner … it will never end) about me being lazy and not training for a marathon even though I told him I have zero interest in running marathons.
  • I cleaned up enough pee on the bar floor to last me a lifetime. Parents … I know it’s a beach but please put a diaper on it when entering a bar.
  • I learned that if you do your job efficiently that Italians do know how to tip.
  • I saw 31 stunning Sardinian sunsets, surfers and a popular Italian minister.

For this year it’s over, and it seems so is summer; I watch a storm roll in over the mountains of the Gallura and rest my weary waitress head to the table and dream of Mom’s chicken noodle soup.

What did you do that’s spectacular this summer?

8 things you should know before moving to Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia_MapThis blog My Sardinian Life receives daily hits from people looking to move to Sardinia, Italy. So, I’ve compiled a little list for those out there searching for a life less ordinary in paradise. The search engine terms which brought people to my little blog are always written in English: Sardinia cost of living, move to Sardinia, jobs Sardinia and so on.

Canada, England, Australia and America want ‘in’ on this little island secret but before you pack your bags, take these pointers into consideration. My intention with this post is to put into perspective what day-to-day life is like on the most stunning island in the world – Sardinia, Italy. Disclaimer: these are just my opinions.  Continue reading

Top 10 Reasons I’ll Miss the Italian Job

It would be a complete injustice if I wrote only about the horrors I faced this year with my Italian job(s). There were a few good points to waiting tables in Italy and I’ve listed them for you in a fun Top 10 List.

Top 10 Reasons I’ll Miss the Italian Job
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10. The fabulous multi-cultural clients.

9. The extra €20 slipped into my pocket, every other night.

8. Being offered to sit and drink with clients during my shift (was offered many, many times but never took anyone up on the offer).

7. Nightly raids of the (permitted) gelato station – pistachio here I come!

6. Well-behaved gorgeous children from all walks of life.

5. The Russians. They were hilarious, generous and polite.

4. The blazing orange sun-set.

3. My Italian, Sardinian, Czech, Hungarian and German colleagues. They were all a fabulous bunch of people.

2. Packing take-away lunch and dinner for my husband from the staff dining-hall. The food was good – plus I had to pay for it!

1. Speaking English to Italian clients; speaking Italian to English clients and speaking a mix of both to the Russians. They laughed, I laughed, and we all laughed together. Priceless moments.

What are some of the pros and cons of your expat work?

Related articles:

Top 13 Reasons I Quit the Italian Job
The Raw Reality of Expat Life in Small Town Sardinia

My Expat Job Struggles | Sardinia, Italy

Landing a decent job in Sardinia is no easy task. Finding a job that I feel comfortable and happy with is proving to be difficult. Last week I wrote a post called My Expat Lives | Celebrating 4 Years in Sardinia, Italy. In that post, I highlight some of the struggles I’ve faced and overcome in the last four years. I’ve decided to write this post in hopes to inform people who Google: expat Sardinia, expat work in Sardinia, expat life in Sardinia and so on.

I’ve received several emails from people all over the world asking me questions about life on this beautiful Mediterranean island. Questions about daily life, working life and language.

There is a lot of competition for jobs on the island at the moment, the unemployment rate is through the roof and the employers are using that to their advantage, by paying the employees a lower wage. It’s a sad state of affairs for the unemployed in Sardinia, now imagine being an expat.

This post will highlight some of the struggles I’ve faced in the last few months while trying out new jobs. Continue reading

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