I got really excited when I realised I could advertise my ditch-digging services on the web. I could go onto forums where there’s be all sorts of other ditch-diggers and we could discuss the problems we had digging ditches and moan about tree roots and swap tips on how to keep your spade nicely sharp.
But you wouldn’t believe it, I went on the forums and there’s all these people who would send me messages saying, “Tell you what, you come and dig this ditch for me for free, and I’ll make sure you get plenty of exposure and people get to know about your ditch-digging services.”
Well I was polite to them and told them that, actually, I was a professional ditch-digger. I dug ditches to earn my living and I couldn’t afford to give up time to dig their ditch for free. They seemed to have trouble understanding this, and told me I was being unprofessional and money-grubbing.
At the time I just thought they just didn’t understand what ‘professional’ actually meant.
But then it got worse. Companies and organisations I’d previously dug ditches for would phone me up and offer me work. I’d ask the rate and they’d tell me, and it was less than half of what it had been five years ago. So I told them it wasn’t enough to make a living on.
And they told me that I could take it or leave it, because the world was full of wannabe ditch-diggers who were willing to work for nothing, just for the ‘exposure’ and in reality, they were doing me a favour even offering a nominal payment.
Finally I came to the conclusion the job was knackered. Well and truly screwed. The world was full of people who expected everybody else to work for nothing, but got seriously upset if you suggested that they actually take a pay cut.
So what to do?
Then I had a brainwave, I’d take up writing. After all, whilst it’s hard grind, takes a lot of time and means you work unsocial hours, often at nights after doing another job; everybody appreciates writers and wouldn’t dream of asking them to work for nothing.