Looking to make money online and possess decent writing skills? If so, the easiest, quickest path to working where you want, when you want, is to start a freelance writing service. Due to the Information Age, with thoughts and ideas traded in the form of written content on a regular basis, writing skills are more marketable than ever before in history.
Unfortunately, most people who consider writing as a business model stop short almost as soon as they begin researching the possibilities.
Understandably enough, they cannot stomach what they see on various job boards and freelance sites splattered across the Internet – a multitude of gigs that explicitly and publicly reject bids for more than $5 an article (and sometimes 5 X less than that).
And even more disheartening, a shocking number of eager candidates bid on these jobs.
With this kind of competition out there, I don’t blame people one bit for tossing back their temporary dream of freelance writing. But they are missing a bigger picture. Plenty of work exists for the self-respecting writer too. Let those cheap writers have those cheap jobs because we don’t want them…
Never compete on price in the writing business – make that your mantra starting right now. Cheap writers exist to serve that market; we exist to serve another – unless you plan to bring a lack of sense into this business, that is.
Let’s look at some reasons why cheap writers are not even on our competitive playing field.
1. Lack of Writing Skills
As you might have guessed by now, a lot of these cheap writers simply don’t have up-to-par writing skills, and the clients who hire them constantly hire and fire in an effort to find a halfway decent wordsmith willing to work for pennies. While some of these low-paying clients wake up and smell the ink, others just don’t get it and go on for years, all the while groaning about the lack of writers who can write.
Some people never learn…
The point is that low-paying clients end up spending a lot of time editing documents delivered to their inbox – time they probably didn’t factor into their profit margins (in whatever business they are in). Grammar, punctuation, misspelling…you name it and they get it.
Us premium writers, on the other hand, get paid more because we spend time on our writing and edit it like any good writer should. We take pride in our command for language, but since good writing takes time, we charge more.
2. Improper Grasp of English
Believe it or not, the vast majority of writers on the freelance markets these days were not born speaking the English language, and it often shows. All over the web, you find websites that are doing a great job ranking in Google but a horrible job at having anything intelligible (or intelligent) to say, and it’s quite clear which ones owe up to a lack of English fluency rather than poor writing skills.
That’s not to say I’ve never met a Filipino or Indian writer who writes fluent English. But even though I’ve done a ton of online work with virtual assistants from these places, I can count on one hand (probably 2 or 3 fingers) the number of them who write like a seasoned, native-English speaking writer.
I mean nothing against Filipinos or Indians, of course, and I don’t mean to offend at all. Most possess an admirable command of the English language, especially Filipinos.
What they often lack, however, even when they have flawless mechanics, are the cultural nuances of language – the simple turns of expression and hints of humor that are impossible to teach in a classroom environment.
To put things in perspective, could an American writer go to one of these countries and start a business writing in Tagalog or Hindi, competing against native speakers of those tongues? Perhaps they could pick up a job writing magazine articles or blogs about their unique experiences living in the country, but these rare positions would go to a select few, the best of the best.
Can Filipino and Indian writers get work as writers? Of course they can, and their pervasiveness in the market shows they indeed do. But the vast majority of them grab up bottom dollar work. The ones skilled enough to charge even somewhat premium prices serve as outliers, further testament to my argument.
3. Poor Business Ethics
Another problem you get with the bottom dollar writers is a real lack of professionalism, a trend sometimes caused by mere cultural differences (in cases where foreigner writers are used). American culture, specifically, places a huge importance on the need for punctuality and formality in working relationship, but those from other cultures often approach work in a different manner.
The cultural gap can be a challenge to handle for Western clients, and many writing clients originate from the U.S.
Other cheap writers don’t have any cultural misunderstandings at all; they know exactly what clients expect but simply act in an unprofessional manner, for several different reasons.
To understand a writer with unprofessional habits, look at the business from their perspective. When you charge $2 for a 400 word article, you probably haven’t factored admin costs into your time, and you end up stretching yourself really thin. To go on, it’s hard to take pride in your work at these prices.
If you end up flaking on a client and miss out on the $2, you’re probably not going to lose a lot of sleep, right? So faced with the dilemma, an underpaid writer will often take the low road.
A professional, premium writer gets work done ahead of time, responds quickly to queries, and goes out of their way to ease the mind of dissatisfied clients so they can maintain the working relationship. And thus, their clients are happy to pay higher prices for a solid business relationship.
4. Most Cheap Writers Don’t Last
Another reason cheap writers are not your competition is because they just don’t last that long in the business and either quit or become a different animal altogether. It’s taxing to write articles day in and day out, especially when you’re being paid next to nothing.
So, many just give up the game after a while.
The ones who do last, who have a bit of business sense, eventually see the bigger picture. If they hold on to their writing talent and professional business habits (sometimes the cheap writing market ruins their potential), they realize their value and begin charging higher rates.
They learn marketing and become higher paid writers.
Now, they ARE your competition, but they are no longer $5 writers either, are they? And there is plenty of work to go around for a writer worth his or her salt.
5. Their Writing Doesn’t Breathe
Take a look around the Internet these days. Analyze the websites you find to determine the difference between the ones that move you and the ones that send you clicking the “back” button. Not only do you find tons of articles like the ones discussed above, teeming with grammar and spelling mistakes, but even when the mechanics are sound the difference between quality content and lifeless content is clear.
High quality writing doesn’t just lay words out on the page; it informs and entertains as well. Writing needs to have some real meat – not just a bunch of fluff. It should provide an air of authority and teach readers what they aim to know, and it should accomplish that goal with flair and personality.
This takes time. This takes effort. Yet another reason we charge more for our writing than $5 writers, who simply cannot put that kind of time in at their prices even if they live in a place with rock-bottom living costs.
6. Different Customers
Finally, the main reason you needn’t worry about bottom dollar competition, the one reason that ties all the others together, is that premium writers don’t share the same customers with the “for-pennies” writers.
We serve a completely different segment of the industry.
Clients who buy cheap, tossed-together articles know exactly what they are getting. They might ask for native-English writers and quality content, but they already realize the articles in their inbox won’t win any awards. And if they do expect to run across the next Steinbeck scrounging for writing work on Elance, it won’t take long for them to realize the error in their thought process.
Here’s the thing: most of these people just want half-readable content to build backlinks and SEO their sites. Cheap writers provide what they need.
A premium writer, meanwhile, focuses on a different group altogether. We market to clients who know the source of real money in the internet marketing industry – high quality content that attracts readers rather than search engines. They need content that speaks to people, hooks their attention, and makes the sale.
We work for these top internet marketers, but we also work for offline companies (who also “get it”), like insurance brokers and travel agents (just two small examples), who wouldn’t dare mar their company image with a website or brochure full of bland writing.
And the future looks bright for writers like us.
Google constantly strives to make it more and more difficult to “cheat” the search engines with low quality backlinks, an aim showing real progress of late, especially in the case of the Panda update. The more efficient Google becomes at doing its job, the more bottom-dollar clients will have to change their tactics to survive, realizing the need to reach their customers in a different way.