Neale Orinick

Neale Orinick

Freelancing In The Free World

I have been busy building a freelance writing business and have signed up on a variety of sites to find work. I thought it would be useful to other writerly types considering doing some freelancing to share what I have learned about a few of those sites.


Elance - I have three good clients that I write for pretty steadily and the compensation good. However, a word of warning. I have written articles in good faith or done editing work for some people on there and was completely stiffed to the tune of about $400. Elance admin says they can't make people pay and don't do work for anyone until they fund escrow. Lesson learned.


Thumbtack -  I have not found a single job with this service. Useless site with too many hoops to jump through. They want me to pay them before I even get any work and they want to find the work for me. Thus far all they have sent me is crap that is clearly not in my field of expertise, which is detailed in the account I set up. Don't waste your time with them.


Scripted - A lot of hoops to jump through. You have to apply for a specialty and they want to know what makes you qualified. I am qualified because I know how to research and write about most everything (and I do!) Most of the "specialists" like IT people, engineers, physical therapists, etc are good at  what they do but lousy writers, because it's not part of their job training. This site offers the best compensation that I've found,so I obediently jumped through the hoops, but have yet to tackle a job on there due to my other clients keeping me so busy.


FreeLancer - This is another site that wants me to pay them to help me find work. How about when I find work I share the windfall with you? This is a low-rent site with jobs posted that read like: Need 20, 500 word articles with research, totally original, perfect English, no mistakes. Will pay $1 per article.

What? A buck won't buy you a vowel from me buddy.  If you put so little value on  well researched, grammatically correct, 500 word articles under a tight deadline then why waste the $20. Write that shit yourself.

There are thousands and thousands of people on these freelance writing sites looking for writers. Why? Because writing is  hard work and it is a skill that takes a long time to master. It has value. I probably decline four or five offers a day to submit a proposal on jobs due to the budget being ridiculously low on Elance. Freelancer advertise with "hire freelance writers at a fraction of the cost." Thanks for devaluing our hard work and encouraging low pay.


Blog Mutt - This is a Boulder based site where businesses sign up and post keywords about articles they would like for their website blogs. Some hoop jumping involved and the pay is lousy ($8 for a post). I signed up just for filler work when my regular clients are not keeping me busy.


Pros:  there are lots of topics to choose from and you just write and submit, then wait to see if the company likes what you submitted. You can post as much as you want across a broad range of topics.


Cons: low compensation and you can't interact with the client so it's a bit of guessing game as to what they want in the blog.


I believe your competition for many of the jobs are foreigners who speak/write English as a second language (barely) because you will see a lot of posts that say "Native English Writers Only!" I am guessing they got someone who took a low offer and sent back sub-par work with a lot of mistakes. Let the writers from India and Thailand work for nothing and stick to your guns about your rates. If you are clear about why you charge what you do (I have a journalism degree, English is my first (and only) language, I always meet deadlines, make revisions promptly and am available to start immediately, etc. etc) then you will find work with good clients who understand the value of your services.


So check out these sites if you want to jumps tart a freelancing business or just want a few extra bucks from time to time, but be selective with which ones you sign up with. Those that want you to pay fees to find you jobs, skip. There are plenty of sites that you can sign up for free and bid for free (you may have to pay a few bucks, less than $10 for a background check which I think is okay) and then give the site a cut when you get paid for your work.



I highly recommend signing up for the newsletter Freedom With Writing. It covers all these sites and offers tips for finding work. Don't take low paying jobs and waste your time slaving away over something for pennies. Writing skills are valuable and take time to develop, just like any other skill. If you have been putting in the time to develop yours and continue to work on becoming a better writer, you have a valuable service to offer. 


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