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The Real Way to Find Profitable Freelance Writing Work

profitable freelance workRant warning!

I just discovered that Upwork, formerly Elance, has raised the amount it charges their creatives. I also just read and signed a petition protesting. I’m not linking to it because I think I was wrong. Upwork is honoring existing contracts and the increases are based on a sliding scale, which I didn’t understand when I first read the petition. Hat tip to Jake Poinier and his article, Upwork raised its fees, and here’s what you can learn from it which has the facts straight and is well reasoned.

The reason I was so slow to even find out about this is I no longer use bidding sites to find profitable freelance work. Back in the day, and I mean the late 1990s, I discovered Guru.com and successfully landed a couple of contracts that paid decently. As they grew and attracted more freelancers the prices tended to drop. It didn’t take me long to realize bidding for writing jobs is a losing proposition.

Bidding sites drive down the price

It’s a losing proposition for both the  writer and the client. Here’s why:

Jake’s article points out how he was tempted to view a writer he was considering hiring because her rates were too low! You have only to read some of the dreck that’s out there to see how bad writing can be.

Lori Widmer (who not so by the way is running her 9th annual Writer’s Worth Month comments on Jake’s article, “I think some writers think it’s a stepping stone to better things. That client is never paying you more — never. You’ve already settled for bargain-basement rates.”

Oh how right she is! And when you settle for less its so very tempting to do less than your best.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter says, in part, ” I find clients, or they find me, through ways that are more profitable for me and yield a better-qualified freelancer for them…” Ruth is usually right about freelance writing in my experience.

Richard Adin surprised me when he said there, “I don’t bid against myself (which is what bidding against others is), and — most importantly — I never knowingly accept work that will pay less than my required effective hourly rate (rEHR).” I hadn’t thought bidding sites actually ask me to bid against myself, and I would add, my best interests. And I love his ‘my required effective hourly rate (rEHR)!

So what’s the real way to find profitable freelance writing work?

The real way you find profitable freelance writing work is to market yourself. (I can feel some of you shuddering!)

Okay, marketing isn’t fun for many of us and the bidding sites look, at first glance, like an easier solution. Some even argue that bidding sites are a way for freelance writers to market. I don’t buy it. There are just too many ways to market yourself that don’t require you lower your price.

Yes, come to think of it, shortly before Elance morphed into Upwork, at the encouragement of a write who used the site, I did some bidding on ghost writing books. I didn’t lower my price, or not by much – I don’t remember. What I do remember is I never won a bid. I will neither write to or for the lowest common denominator.

How to market information for profitable freelance writing work

There’s a ton of solid how to market out there for freelance writers. Lori has a marvelous ebook called Marketing 395 for about $5.00. You could do every other day and come out way ahead… every day and you’d probably double your income or more.

There’s a ton of marketing info on this site – run through the Marketing Archive and figure out two or three things you will do, do them consistently and you’ll probably start making more money. Do this several times a year to increase your income even more.

Marketing is the real way to find profitable freelance writing work.

Marketing is not rocket science! It’s simply letting the people who need you know you exist and how to find you. I could make an argument that it’s your obligation to market your services and it’s one of the finest ways of being truly of service I can think of. In their resistance to marketing many make it way more complicated than it need be.

Whew! Enough! What’s your reaction to all of this? Let us know in comments.

Write, and market well and often,





{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for sharing the link here and for your comment at my blog, Anne. Your statement about it “being your obligation” to market yourself reminds me of something professional speaker Rory Vaden said when I interviewed him. (Paraphrased): “What if there’s someone out there, right now, who could desperately use your services at a mutually agreeable rate? Wouldn’t it be irresponsible to *not* help them?” I think that’s a pretty good mindset to have.
    Jake Poinier recently posted..Upwork raised its fees, and here’s what you can learn from itMy Profile

  • Thanks for adding some more context to this, Anne. I think the people who rely on bidding sites for low paid work will be worse off. Perhaps that will give them the impetus to find work in other ways, including marketing, which is crucial.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..Google Voice Typing vs. Dragon Naturally Speaking – Part 2My Profile

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