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On a Rant About Freelance Writing Jobs

September 27, 2007 9 comments

On a daily basis, I scan through freelance writing jobs put up for bid on freelance writing job sites like Get a Freelancer. This is a normal routine for many freelance writers, but the thing that bothers me the most is over half of the freelance writing jobs offered through these bid sites take advantage of writers. The companies and individuals posting the freelance writing jobs think for a mere $5 or less we freelance writers will give them just what they're requesting -- high quality and unique content with absolutely no grammar errors! Personally, when I run across one of these freelance writing jobs, I just shake my head and move on. However, the other day I ran across one and couldn't help but laugh before moving on. The individual was re-posting his/her freelance writing job, and in the details, he/she stated they were re-posting the job because the previous writer they hired didn't complete the job. They not only stated that they wanted several high quality articles with no grammar errors, but they specified they were buying all rights for only pennies! I laughed because I wondered if the writer who failed to complete the job, discovered how much time and work was really involved for such low pay. Now, don't get me wrong, writers should be dedicated to their clients and complete the work they agreed to take on, but you'd think the individual re-posting that freelance writing job would have at least ask themselves, "If I had paid the writer what she was worth, would she had finished the job?" Should I offer a fair payment to the next writer when I re-post this freelance writing job offer?" Of course, we all know they don't ask themselves those questions. Instead, they try to sucker another writer and hope that he/she will deliver on their promise. Moreover, when that writer does deliver, you can bet the individual or company that "suckered" the writer is jumping up and down in excitement each time they make more money off that writer's work. Why? Well, because they got all rights to great content for a VERY small investment, they didn't have to do the hard work, and finally, they're making more money off another writer's hard work so they can turn around and sucker another writer for more articles, then pocket what's left of their profit. Unfortunately, the writer who did complete the job may be feeling down because of a very small paycheck for the amount of work she just did. Yes, even if she was paid for bulk articles, the paycheck was still small compared to what she could have earned. Let's compare, shall we? At $5 an article for 50 articles, the writer earned a grand total of $250 (less than that after Paypal deducts their fee). Now, if the writer had sold those 50 articles to several different trade magazines for $15 each (some trade magazines may pay more), she would have earned a grand total of $750. In addition, she would have also retained reprint rights, which would have allowed her to make even more money off the same article.

The really sad part about this whole situation is many freelance writers who are just starting out grab these worthless freelance writing jobs up like hot cakes. Because they're just starting out, they know they have to make money some way, and they feel taking these freelance writing jobs are the only way they're going to make money and build their portfolio. However, what most beginning freelance writers don't realize is they don't have to write for free or worthless pay to build their portfolios, they can still get the money they deserve by writing for trade magazines. Trade magazines may not pay a whole lot for articles, but they pay more than $1.50 per article, and they're great for building one's writing portfolio.

Come on, friends we're worth so much more than $5.00 or less. For the time you spend writing out an article for a paycheck that won't even buy a gallon of gas anymore, you could be spending that time typing out query letters and submitting them to trade magazines that will pay you what you're worth. As long as we continue to give in to these cheapskates, they'll continue to take advantage of our services. It's time we take a stand, wouldn't you agree?

With that said, I'd like to invite all of you aspiring freelance writers to read a few of the following articles. These articles will help you get started without having to work for pennies, because you're worth much more than that:

Tips to Jump-Start Your Writing Portfolio
Breaking in Through Stringing
Writing an Author Bio That Will Knock the Editor's Socks Off!
Finding Experts -- Expert-Finding Advice for Writers
How to Find Writing Jobs and Paying Markets
(Remember, apply only to the freelance writing jobs that pay you what you're worth.)
Writer's Guide to Paying Markets: How to Search the Internet for Paying Markets

Finally, do you need help finding trade magazines and other fair paying markets for your writing? Add the following two books to your bookshelf and you'll have access to several:

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9 comments: to “ On a Rant About Freelance Writing Jobs so far...

  • Michele L. Tune 10:14 AM CDT

    Great post, Misti! I guess I'm pretty new to freelance writing, considering I've only been published since 2006, but I do pass on those ads for a few dollars an article (I think that's common sense--for me). Wouldn't you agree?

    I'll go read those articles you suggested soon as well.

    I have Writer's Market, but I'm going to try to invest in your book when I can.

    Keep up the great writing and advice, Misti, you do a great job!


  • Sharon Hurley Hall 6:50 PM CDT

    Love the post, Misti. Everyone has to start somewhere, but in the long run it's better to get fair pay for the writing you do.

  • Anonymous 9:37 AM CDT

    Fifteen dollars for an article is also chump change! When will writers rebel? I guess that one did!

  • Anonymous 10:16 AM CDT

    P.S. Yes, everyone starts somewhere, but unless they know it's possible to be paid decently even on their first story, they will accept crap like this. It is dragging all fees down! Learn the craft, read, listen to knowledgeable people, join professional organizations, network, do marketing campaigns (yes, cold calling even) and don't just hold out your hands for the cuffs!

  • Amy Derby 12:05 PM CDT

    I enjoyed your rant. It always baffles me that writers will jump at those types of offers. For a writer in India, that might translate into an ok pay rate, but I don't understand why US/Canada/UK etc writers think that's an acceptable rate. Even Associated Content pays more than $1.50 per article.

  • Devon Ellington 3:14 PM CDT

    Right on, Misti! Far too many of these jobs are laughable and insulting at the same time.

  • Anne Wayman 3:02 PM CDT

    I totally agree Misti... bidding sites drive prices down and these folks who want a gillion perfect articles, well, they get what they pay for.

    I too wish fewer would work for such low rates... self worth?

    Anne Wayman

  • Misti Sandefur, Novelist/Freelance Writer 5:30 AM CDT


    Yes, it is common sense, and I'm glad to hear you know you're worth more than a few dollars.

    As for my book, it was published a few years ago, but if you do invest in a copy and find a dead link, just let me know and I'll tell you if the market or resource has gone out of business or changed their URL. If they've just changed their website address, I'll provide you with the new one. The same goes for anyone who wishes to purchase the book, or even those who already have.


    Yes, $15 is still low, but the difference is the writer gets to keep all rights to his or her article, and if you have to start somewhere, I would recommend starting with the trade magazines that pay $15 for first rights or one-time rights, and then one can work their way up the ladder to more pay.

    Amy, I'm glad you enjoyed my rant. I guess I have to rant every now and then; it makes me feel better. ;) I don't understand why writers jump on those offers either, but I think a lot of it is because they feel it's the only way they can make money in the beginning. However, what they may not realize -- and this is just from what I've been hearing -- is many of the companies or individuals posting those ads ends up not paying the writers.

    I hope that one day we'll all see it this way, and then those offering such pathetic pay will be forced to give us writers what we're worth.

  • Courtney - Web Writing Info 2:48 AM CDT

    Great post! $15 is a pretty standard rate for web writing, which often requires less research and polish. But I do see a lot of $5 articles out there that are just ridiculous.

    As you know, I just blogged about tips for getting experience in web writing without settling for these jobs.

    They can be a leg up sometimes, and I know I've written things at the beginning way below my current rate, but there's a lot more money to be made online for the same quality of articles.