The Problem With Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.Com

I love tools that make any job easier. Obviously. Who doesn’t, right?

So when it comes to tools that connects people wanting writing and people wanting to write I think great! This is just what I’ve been looking for.

So I signed up with all of these websites, for varying durations, and here’s my problem with them.

They’re getting writers into a race to the bottom.

You’ve bid $10 an hour for your time? Jane and John Doe have bid $3! Beat that, suckers.

But here’s the problem.

person holding head facing body of water

Creative industries already aren’t paid enough. According to the Office of National Statistics in the UK, writers and authors earn an average yearly wage of £25k. Artists earn £23k. Musicians £21k.

When you value your work at $3 an hour (and I’m using American currency because that’s what a lot of these sites operate in. In GBP that’s about £2.30) you devalue yourself.

You’re also agreeing to get paid less than the minimum wage ($7.25 per hour for the US, £7.38 for the UK for my age bracket). If you were flipping burgers, this would be illegal. So why is it OK when you’re turning blog posts around?

Now most writers know how to combat this problem.

You work twice as fast.

So instead of $3 per hour, you’re doing two jobs and earning $6 per hour!

Awesome, right?

But guess what?

You’re still working for less than minimum wage.

Stop using content mills to find clients

adventure architecture bank clouds

Content mills like Fiverr, Upwork and will always, always take a cut. Otherwise, why do they exist? They are not benevolent entities simply wishing to connect writers and over-worked marketeers, they are businesses. And businesses exist to make money.

Even if you were to write for them for a year at a rate of $0.05 dollars a word, you’d only end up making $38k. And that’s before 20% of that gets cut in tax. Not to mention the hours you’d be putting in would be well over that of a traditional 9-5 job.

You’d also have the life sucked out of you writing product descriptions for IT products day in and day out (but who am I to say how you get your kicks?)

So how do I find clients?

  • Go through your network on LinkedIn and reach out to anyone you’ve ever had more than water cooler conversation with. Ask them for help. I did this non-stop to begin with, sending stuff like this:

Hey NAME! How are you? I wonder if I could be so presumptuous as to ask for some help. I’ve taken myself freelance doing report writing and editing. I don’t suppose you know anyone that would outsource that sort of thing and could possibly make an introduction for me? My client list is rather feeble at the moment and I’m looking to build it up – just not sure where to start!

The person I messaged above was actually looking for some support for his marketing team, and I managed to get a solid project out of that message, as well as a contact that remembered me when she moved into a new role and hired me to do something else for her.

  • Apply for freelance writing jobs being published as actual jobs. And yes, that means doing your application and possibly even having an interview, but it also means getting paid a decent wage. Here’s a list of good websites to start with.
  • Look on websites that dish out a lot of content and see whether they are hiring freelance writers (a lot do, because of the sheer volume they need to churn out. Buzzfeed and Huff Post spring to mind as places you can send hopeful submissions.)
  • Consider a website like Contena. Contena is effectively a curated job search site. I didn’t get enough out of it to warrant the membership fee, but you might (?)
  • Don’t give up. I know it sucks and it’s really hard sometimes, but if writing is what you love and what you want to earn money loving whilst you write your novel/novella/poem collection/children’s book, then you’ve got to put the hours in. You can do it.




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