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Web-based Work Sites for Freelance Writers

June 28th, 2013

On-line work for freelance writers is becoming more popular by the day. These sites generally fall into one of two categories:

1. Sites where people (individuals and organisations, including magazines and newspapers) post their requirements as a ‘job’ and you, as an individual, have to make a pitch to win the work, and

2. Sites where you submit your own writing work, sometimes on themes requested by the site or third parties and sometimes whatever you like, and then sit back and wait for the work to be sold. These sites either use your work on other websites where the subject itself drives traffic and creates an income from associated advertising, or they’re picked up and used in other publications that pay a fee.

All of them, regardless of type, require you to complete a ‘profile’. This, essentially, is what other users see when they check you out. It needs to be comprehensive, persuasive and honest. If you haven’t had 20 books and 50,000 articles published, don’t claim that you have! You will be found out and you will be banned from using the site. But, if you do have published credits, show them off. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

Most of these sites are very happy for you to include as much detail as possible, including your jobs, your qualifications, and your specialist skills and interests. They also allow you to upload photographs and direct links to published work, your blogs and websites. It’s a pain having to repeat everything on different sites though, so get it all down on an A4 page and save it so you can copy the bulk of it to different sites.

Almost all of them have ‘qualifying tests’. These tests are a boost to your ‘expertise rating’ on each particular site. I’ve taken several on different sites and they’re fairly similar. One site, for example, has over 200 different ‘skills’ tests. I took an ‘English Grammar’ test consisting of 40 questions, each with five multiple choice answers and a time limit for completion of 60 minutes. The pass rate is 75% and you’re graded according to your result. A fail doesn’t necessarily ruin your chances of finding work and the results can be hidden from public view, so don’t be afraid to have a go. Tests can be repeated after a qualifying time. A pass raises your profile in the eyes of employers and you’re likely to win more business as a result.

I passed this test at 92% (which I wasn’t overly thrilled about, but it was American English and what do they know!) I got a rating of the top 1% (whoopee) on my home page, marking me out to potential employers as an ‘English’ expert, and many job postings emphasise ‘Native English’ as a requirement (an odd phrase but still…). It’s no coincidence that I now receive direct requests for work of between five and ten each week.

The pay, it has to be said, isn’t brilliant. I regularly see adverts asking for 50 articles of between 300 and 500 words for a TOTAL less than $100. At today’s exchange rate that’s 0.13p per word. My advice is simply, don’t do it. People who expect professional work should expect to pay professional rates. Whilst these sites are good, competition is so fierce that it has the effect of driving rates down. And they’re all US based and they seem to work more cheaply over there.

However, there is a chance to earn repeat income from one piece of work, so it’s worth bearing that in mind. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it can pay to do some lowly paid work, merely to be able to show your earnings on your home page because it’s a direct indicator to employers that you have been hired before and are, therefore, pretty competent.

The best way, by far, to get to grips with these sites is simply to check them out and see which ones work for you. They’re all pretty easy to navigate and they all offer tutorials. My advice: read all the tutorials before you start. It’ll save you time and effort in the end.

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Andy has been a tutor with the Writer’s Bureau since 1994, a freelance writer and journalist for 25 years and last year launched his own author’s support and literary agency, offering a wide range of services. You can find him at: www.allwrittenthings.co.uk and contact him directly at allwrittenthings@gmail.com.




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