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Freelance Writing Woes

Posted by on Nov 18, 2008

Only one post on a Monday, which is somewhat unlike me, but I have a good reason. My main computer is down, and I’ve spent most of the day working on it, trying to get it to reboot. Computers; ugh. Then again, y’all have read about when I first took my computer to the computer guy and the subsequent visit with him, then again when I was trying to fix my computer and inadvertently deleted all my files while trying to reinstall Windows, then luckily being able to recover all my files. So, computer problems are nothing new for me, and I’m still having problems with my computer even now, so I’m on the laptop writing this post as the computer works itself through another issue that I’ll probably write about at another time.

A few days ago, in a comment on one of my posts, I said that I’d love to find a writing gig or two and make some money off that. Well, putting my mind to it, I decided to do some research online to see if I could find someplace where someone was really looking for writers.

I figured freelance writing was the way to go as far as my search term. It came up with over 4.5 million websites; that should have given me a nice grove to pick from. Instead, it turned out to be filled with guppies and nothing else.

First, I’m not highlighting any of the pages I’m going to mention except one. They don’t deserve any links, good or bad, from me because, it seems, even the freelance writing field can be filled with scams, or less than perfect situations.

The first one I went to was freelancewriting.com, which seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Man, it had jobs galore listed. However, it turned out to be mainly categories leading to other sites, which was gravely disappointing. It got worse when I checked out a couple of the sites that it was linking to for freelance writing gigs. Two of them, online-writing-jobs.com and writingbids.com, were just more direct versions of the first one I mentioned. Instead of them having writing jobs, they linked to jobs listed in other places around the country. However, many of the jobs these sites linked to were obviously scraped in some fashion, because the jobs they were highlighting were from Craigslist.

I decided, since I was on this road, to look at the jobs on Craigslist. A couple of them appealed to me, so I sent both of them email to find out more. One of them turned out NOT to be a writing gig at all, but some kind of odd deal where you go online and fill out those surveys you usually see on some of the big sites, where they promise you things such as cameras and the like, do everything to get whatever it is they’ll eventually give you, then you sell it to him for $20 and he gets to resell that item on eBay. Not quite a scam, but easily not worth any real person’s time. The other was indeed looking for writers, but “free” writers, taking the word “free” at face value. Every other listing on Craigslist was, well, less than forthcoming once you clicked on the ad. Now, I didn’t check out every major city, but I did go through ads in my local area and NYC. Very disappointing.

I actually did find one site where someone could write something, but I was kind of disappointed with it also. It’s called Helium, and they’re more of a news site than an actual writer’s site. But they do have a section where some people are looking for articles, and the pay ranges from $10 to $200, so I felt it was worth a look. Even though I ended up submitting an article, there were two problems with this site. One, there aren’t a lot of requests for articles, which is why I could only find one I could submit to. Two, these people request multiple articles for a short period of time, and the only people who know whether or not their article is used is if you get paid. Now, how does one prove that someone got paid? I don’t know, but the article I wrote, which had to be at least 950 words, was for a shot at $60; not earth shattering, but it would have been interesting. Overall, I’d rather get at least .10 a word, but it was an experiment.

So, it would seem that the world of online freelance writing is suspect at best, but hardly the place to find any work. What one can try to do, though, is go to the Warrior Forum, possibly some other internet forums, after writing a package of articles, and try to market them there. However, they frown on new people coming in and submitting articles for purchase without at least participating on the forum for a little while. But that gets one into the business of Public Label Rights, something discussed in the book 20 Ways To Make $100 A Day Online.

So, there you go. If you’re looking to be a freelance writer, find another way to do it other than looking for websites or Craigslist. I hope I’ve just saved someone major disappointments.


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14 Comments »

hi Mitch,
Sorry to hear about your computer woes. I’ve have two hard drives crash over the years – I share your pain.
I have a hard enough time writing enough posts for my new blog – I won’t be looking for any freelance gigs. 🙂
But if I was, your article was helpful. Sounds like as with so many things on the internet, there’s a lot of junk out there.
Finally, if you’re not still busy with your computer problems, can you read my latest post and see if you can help out?

Thanks, Steve (aka the trade show guru)

Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Please help Will

November 18th, 2008 | 11:30 AM
Rodney@Blogging with WordPress:

I’ve found more or less the same thing when I’ve searched for freelance programming jobs in the past. Either they’re scams, or filled with kids bidding for the work saying “oh yeah, that’s easy, I’ll do it for $25” when I know it’d take me several days to do it properly. So I’ve never bothered. I’d much rather work with people I’ve had some prior connection with, whether online or offline. Otherwise it’s all just too anonymous for my liking.

November 18th, 2008 | 11:56 AM
Mitch:

Fully agree, Rodney. The Lazy Slacker was able to find someone to pay a penny a word to and was able to get 10 articles for $25. It’s just hard to compete against that sort of thing.

November 18th, 2008 | 12:27 PM
Barbara Whitlock:

Hi Mitch!

Wishing you luck and prosperity in your freelance writing pursuits. Helium has lots of publishing options, from the Freelance Marketplace you explored a little to open ended publishing options for both upfront payments plus ad revenue share.

We also have citizen journalist awards through Pulitzer and One World, where you can earn $125 per article, plus One World gets your article on Yahoo.

Our Freelance Marketplace has new titles daily, so keep an RSS feed there so you can catch the new titles each day: http://www.helium.com/marketplace.

Feel free to email me if I can help in anyway: bwhitlock@helium.com.

Barbara Whitlock
Community Development Manager
Helium.com

November 19th, 2008 | 5:32 AM

Mitch, My experience has been very different. I have so far had three sound relationships established through guru.com
One of them has been a very fruitful one since very long and is currently on going. Another project started off well and I decided to opt out of it because I could not meet the deadlines. I have just been approached by another party wanting to use my services and I am having a one on one meeting tomorrow. I believe that it will pan out.

You might like to give guru.com a shot and see what happens.

rummuser´s last blog post..Down Memory Lane.

November 19th, 2008 | 8:26 AM
Mitch:

I’ll have to give that one a shot, Rummuser, as it’s one that didn’t come up on the search engines when I was looking.

November 19th, 2008 | 10:23 AM
Mitch:

That works when you “know” someone, Dennis. If you’re just starting or trying something new, you don’t know anyone. That would be me. 🙂

November 20th, 2008 | 11:56 AM
Deb:

While I don’t freelance in the same industry (writing), I did find the same problem finding legitimate work when first starting out. It’s interesting that guru.com didn’t show up in your search results, as I believe it’s one of the largest (if not THE largest source) of freelance work out there. Based on the need for this kind of info, I put together a guide to help find sources of freelance work out there. Normally, I would assume that newbies would need it, but it seems some of us more long-term freelancers are looking, too.

November 22nd, 2008 | 12:48 PM
Mitch:

It may not have come up, Deb, because I typed in “freelance writing” specifically, and it seems there’s lots of companies online that have that within their name and not only are optimizing for that specific title.

November 22nd, 2008 | 4:32 PM
Sue LaPointe:

Hi Mitch –

Know what you mean! Most of the freelance writing gigs you’ll find doing a search like that are kind of recycled.

The best jobs I’ve found online were on Guru.com – I know rummuser mentioned that site above, but wanted to second it. As my Guru writing business has grown, I’ve also found a lot more work off the board as well from people seeking me out (very flattering!).

My blog features some gigs each day, but I suspect there are thousands of writers going after them – because they’re free to apply for. The paid membership sites (especially Guru) help to kind of thin the herd : )

November 22nd, 2008 | 3:25 PM
Mitch:

Thanks for sharing, Sue. Yeah, when you’re competing with a super large group of participants, sometimes it’s hard to stand out. I figure that’s what acting is all about, so one has to also have sort of a thick skin about these sorts of things.

November 22nd, 2008 | 4:33 PM
Sire:

With Helium though Mitch you can submit articles in whatever area you choose and these over time will earn you some money. I haven’t earned all that much, some $40 or so but then I haven’t been an avid user. I reckon you could easily submit most of you blog posts as the quality is really high.

Also good to see how people rate them

May 11th, 2009 | 6:55 PM
Mitch:

I missed that part, Sire. I thought you had to bid to write, so I guess this means I’m going to have to check it out again, and fairly soon.

May 11th, 2009 | 10:00 PM

No worries mate, you know how I just love to steer you in the right direction. 😀

May 11th, 2009 | 10:16 PM