I have been freelance writing for about 18 months now, and I sometimes do not get the hate for content sites – at least, not for odesk and elance. These sites have given me access to an audience and industries with whom I may never otherwise have had contact. Without odesk, I may never have got to write for train ticket giant Trainline.com or an Environmental education resource, an informative job blog or a human interest magazine and get paid for them (and these are just some of the credited links).
About 18 months ago when I started this, I had to take some low paid contracts fairly early on when I was trying to build a reputation – or at the very least get my first ratings under my hat. I had heard of Elance and an old school friend introduced me to Odesk. The sites looked similar in content and jobs, and as anyone who has already heard of them knows – they are both now part of the same company. I didn’t expect to get lucrative contracts or earn a lot of money right away, and indeed from the perspective of a professional content writer, I probably am still earning below what I should be per article. Yet it seems, I am still earning more per article than most people with more experience than I have are willing to charge – and it surprises me.
There are horror stories on the internet about people working for and being expected to work for a pittance, bring expected to churn out 20-30 articles per day (and i find it difficult to believe they can maintain the quality) rarely getting paid and having all the excuses in the book thrown at them for why they won’t get their $15 for their 1000 word post.
Even with my very limited experience, I do not understand why people would sign up for sites with zero reputation that pay such low rates in the first place with no guarantee of payment. That article is a mixed bag, some featured sites have good reputations and others not so much, but still have awful pay rates and people stick with them for years.
I chose Elance and Odesk for several reasons
For starters, these sites are facilitators – which means they only host the jobs. In the case of a dispute, they are obliged to help (whether you are a client or a contractor) resolve the issue. They are not the people who will use their content but they will gain financially from successful deals. This does not seem to be the case with some of the sites in the article above.
Secondly, you are the master of your own business and your rates are negotiable. You choose to work for $10 for a 1000 word article but there comes a point where you must take that tentative step in being a bit more picky than you have been. Once you have a few jobs under your belt, and a few ratings, you are no longer a risk for clients as a new user without a reputation. The more work you have or have had, the more willing clients should be to work with you. This means more job queries, more contract offers and a greater willingness to pay your higher rates. By all means negotiate. If a client offers you a big bulk job then be open to negotiating your rate downwards a little.
Most of the complaints about content sites is that they are cowboy outfits, and though I am sure some are, it is possible to earn quality money and get satisfaction from your writing when you exercise good personal judgement.
There are clients on Odesk and Elance willing to pay very high rates (I’ve seen jobs clearly stating they are willing to pay $50ph or more for the right person) but it takes time to build the reputation to get them. Just don’t do yourself a disservice on the journey by debasing your writing for keyword-stuffed copy for paltry rates of pay – that’s if they decide to pay you.