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Are Freelance Marketplaces Killing the Web?


In-between long-term projects this month, I’ve been using Twitter to keep an eye on the opportunities available to freelancers as they are announced, using the #writing hashtag.

The results have been interesting; while I’ve been able to communicate with some other writers (something for another blog, I think) I have also discovered several new online marketplaces for freelancers to find work. These are in addition to Elance, Guru, Freelancer, iFreelance and many others.

Now I generally steer away from this type of website as they tend to offer projects at horrifically low prices, like $5 for three articles or some such nonsense. Over the past few days, however, I’ve noticed that things are a lot worse than this.

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Hello Prospective Freelancers!

So, something strange happened last week.

Regular readers or those that have spent time checking older posts will know that I have been busy setting up some other blogs to join Kasterborous in a small network of websites. Cult Britannia is going well, while Quintessential Comedy, Atomic Karma and The Gadget Monkey are trundling along waiting for contributors.

As a way of sharing some tips with one of my collaborators, Tom Spychalski (who has recently turned freelance) I shared a few thoughts on this very blog a few days ago about my experiences writing for a living. Since I started the freelancing back in 2004 (of course I only turned professional in 2010) I felt that there would be adequate material here to share.

Thanks to some Facebook conversations about missing comments fields (now resolved, if you care to scroll down…) I knew that Tom had read the article and taken heed of a few points.

What I wasn’t expecting was for him to share the material. According to one of the posts, it has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+! I knew social networking was powerful, but this is ridiculous!

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Don’t Undersell Yourself

This is going to look like something of a rant, but bear with me…

Over the years as a freelancer working predominantly online, I’ve come across a bewildering array of low paying websites. Just a few moments ago a gig offering $1.25 for 500 words popped up in my feed.

My jaw no longer hits the desk in shock and disgust; I simply click the next button. However it is clear that as people are paying these prices that there must be writers out there who are happy to work for this sweatshop-esque pittance.

Without sounding pretentious, being a writer is a calling. In many ways it can be vocational, although that largely depends on who you’re writing for. Like musicians and artists, writers write because they have thoughts and opinions and a voice that has to be heard.

No One Is Going to Hear You at $0.0025 per Word.

Even if they can faintly detect your tiny, minute voice, the reader won’t care what you have to say.

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Finding Freelance Gigs Online

One of the things I’ve been planning on featuring here at my homepage is a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over years writing freelance.

It was back in 2004 when I completed my first freelance gig and while brainstorming another project recently I realised that I know more than I’d ever imagined.

While I might not know the secret of life, the universe and everything – or indeed how to call a sperm whale into existence above an alien planet – there is an amazing (and somewhat scary) 8 years of experience to be tapped.

As a result of this, I’ve recently started work on a completely different project, one inspired by this sudden realisation.

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