Freelancer and Me, A Breakup Story
Before I dish on Freelancer, I’ll throw them a LINK. It’s only fair, after all.
I have been on Freelancer for a number of years now, and while it certainly has kept day old bread and hot water on my table, it has never enabled me to break free and thrive as a professional content writer in any significant way. I highly doubt anyone in a western nation would disagree.
I think Freelancer is a great tool for ghost writers who live in China, India, parts of Africa or anywhere on the globe where the cost of living has set the price of milk at $00.50 a gallon. If you require at least the US minimum wage and you’re a writer you should probably avoid Freelancer like it’s your ex and his new girlfriend on the sidewalk because, hunny, it is a bidding war of words (–to quote Rachel Zoe), literally. There will always be someone somewhere in the world who is willing to write a 500 word article on pest control for $1. Unfortunately, we can’t do it because it would take writing 4 of those just to buy a single gallon of gas unless we wanted to create a portfolio of writing samples that were all the product of a free online spinner and turn this sentence:
Pest control products that are environmentally friendly are hard to find today.
Bug control items that are ecologically amicable are elusive today.
That will then turn with an additional spin into this:
Bug control things that are naturally genial are tricky today.
The more you spin, the crazier it sounds.
Not that there’s anything legally wrong with turning in the same basic, but crappily (yes, it’s a word–I invented it just now) reworded article for pay. It just feels scummy and jejune. When I got into writing, I wanted to be a writer, not a huckster.
I have far too many years of professional writing experience behind me to throw away on a $1.50 per 500 word gig or to compete with people whose articles wouldn’t exist without the free services of Google Translate. This probably sounds very harsh and directed at ESL speakers, but give me a moment to explain.
My parents and I came to the US many moons ago. I am not a natural born citizen, either. I just happen to have a command of the language that comes from years of study and usage, not the Internet. Moreover, my beef is not with the person in Bangladesh trying to earn a keep for his family. To that man or woman I say: WERK! And “Bravo”. You’re doing it. Keep doing it.
No, my problem is with the businesses who do not value language anymore, who do not value the written word, or the craft of writing. For that matter, they don’t even value their customers if they are willing to pay for: Bug control things that are naturally genial are tricky today. Freelancer has many, many of those and you’ll find them and be turned down by them unless you are willing to write 24 hours a day and make $30.
One of my other main issues with bidding on Freelancer, and again this is the whole Freelancer experience, not necessarily the company, is that should you choose to click on a title like Virtual Assistant be prepared to later find out that you’ve wasted a bid on a man in India that just wants to see you with your top off. You’ll find that out after you’ve wasted a bid, had Freelancer deduct their commission (and I’ll get to how that happens last), and your new employer Skype you about the special requirements. I also had that happen once with someone who needed me to edit. If you see that “Skype communication” is required in a Freelancer ad, that’s Freelancer code for “Nudie Show”. I once turned on Skype and immediately saw nothing but penis.
Thanks Freelancer, I owe you one.
Like Fiverr their helpdesk is outsourced and even when you contact them and receive a reply you’re told that it is up to you, not them, to pre-screen the client better. I’m not sure how one works that into the conversation with a prospective client on a ghost writing assignment:
Hello, must I be naked or see you naked for this job?
I’m pretty certain to the non-pervert assuming they are one isn’t exactly an endearing quality for a prospective writing candidate.
The last subject I wanted to touch on is the payment for services portion that exists with these groups. Fiverr makes you wait 14 days even though I’m pretty certain that the whole process on their end is automated and can be done much sooner, and that feels like it’s a bit lengthy. Try to get money out of Freelancer for the first time and you’ll be lucky to receive your $6.50 within 30 days.
To end this rather long blog post, allow me to say that if you are desperate for a dollar or two, if you are up close and personal friends with a free spinner, or if you like to go topless when copy writing then Freelancer is definitely the website for you. If, however, you cannot afford to work for $1.5o an article I would head over to Fiverr. At least you can make $4 there as a ghost writer.