A lot of us aspiring writers have probably looked into freelance work. It’s on your schedule, it pays, and you can still have another job on the side. The question we always ask ourselves is whether or not you can really make money doing so. The answer is yes, but it’s no where near as easy as you think.
There are a lot of freelance websites out there that find the work and provide you assignments. Beware of these websites though; not all of them live up to what they say. After doing freelance writing for several years myself, I have created a list of websites and steps to succeed in freelance writing.
When it comes to websites, it can be hard to know which is legitimate and which will scam you. A key thing to look for in any freelance work website is fees. Do they charge you to search for jobs online? Will they charge you a percentage of your earnings for every job? If so, then these are not good websites to use. Any company that charges you money to work is ridiculous. The employer searching for employees should pay the fees, not the employee. Be aware of fees, many times these fees can be anywhere from $2.00 to $10.00 PER JOB. If you get a job that pays you a total of $5.00 for an article, but then charges you $3.00 in fees. You only made $2.00. Was that worth it? Always check for fees. Some require you to pay monthly subscriptions to search for jobs. This is a waste as well. You have to factor in fees, monthly subscriptions, etc into your income and see if it’s worth it.
Websites I have tried in the past and know plenty about are:
One of the best websites I have found is odesk.com. Employers must pay a 10% fee on top of your payment. Therefore there is NO CHARGE to you. You are allowed to apply to 10-20 jobs per week. By taking tests and increasing your feedback score you are allowed to apply for more per week. Odesk.com ensures payment by the employers. Therefore if you do the work and do not get paid, odesk.com will ensure the employer pays you and then they lose their profile rights.
Though this is a very popular site, it requires a monthly subscription fee to search for jobs. To me this is ridiculous. They guarantee payment as well, but some of their fees are up to $25.00 per month. For part-time work that could be 50% of your income.
This site is free for you to search and apply for jobs, but you are charged with fees after being hired for a job. As an example, I was hired for a job that paid me $5.00 for five articles per day three times per week. So my income was $15.00 per week. Freelancer charged me $5.00 in fees. That was a 1/3 of my income for the week. Freelancer.com does not guarantee payment and a lot of the companies out there are from other countries. The scam rate is EXTREMELY high with this website and rarely will you be paid for your work. I worked three jobs from this website and was paid for NONE.
Though a well-known website, you are required to make payments in monthly subscriptions for this company as well. Employers are reputable and you will receive payments and quality work, but after monthly subscription fees you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it or not.
This website is free to use, free to submit, and you can earn payments upfront for each article you write or performance payments based on the amount of internet traffic it receives. This site does not assign you work like other freelance jobs. It’s solely based on your own articles and content that you submit. Freedom of creativity and submittals is always good for freelance work.
Things to Look For
When using online job boards for freelance work, there are several things you have to look for in order to know you will be working for reputable companies.
1 – US based companies. Apply to companies that are based in the US. Companies outside the US are typically scams, but also if they do actually pay, they tend to pay very low rates. Sometimes $0.05 per word or $0.75 for 500 word articles. US based companies will have websites and contact numbers in which you can actually contact a real person and verify employment
2 – Never contact outside of the website you are using. If a company wishes to hire you but only communicate through outside email or chat, then there will be no protection from your freelance website for payment. Many companies that wish to contact you outside rarely commit to payments.
3 – Feedback scores and ratings. If a company does not have a feedback rating you should be weary. Not every company without a feedback score is a scam, but you need to be aware. Ask for payment up front after your first article or two to ensure they pay.
4 – Free samples and interviews. Some companies will require a “sample” essay or article to be written based on their content as part of an interview. If they do not offer up front payment for this sample, do not submit one. Many companies use this technique to get articles written for free because they are “interviewing”.
5 – Payments. Always ensure a company is willing to pay you through the freelance website. Paper trails are hard to keep track of and if they are all on the same website it’s a lot easier for you. Odesk.com will allow you to withdraw directly to your bank account or to a PayPal account. At the end of the year Odesk.com will send you a tax form for your filings. Any company that offers to pay outside your site can be a scam. Especially if they ask for direct deposit information. Allow the freelance website with their security settings to know this information. Not some random employer you may only work for that week.
6 – Keep Track. Always keep track of the work you are doing. I have a spreadsheet with tabs for each company showing articles and work assignments, payment amount, and confirmed payment. If you are working for five different companies it will be hard to keep track of payments and work completed. Staying organized will keep it in line.
Always remember that freelance writing is not as easy as it sounds. Some companies can offer you $5.00 per 500 word article, but the article requires hours of research. That $5.00 could take you three hours to earn. Ask yourself if the payment is worth it. You have to be quick and witty. If you cannot write up a web content page in under 15 minutes for a payment of $3.00, then you are not making money. Ask yourself how many articles and at what pay rate can you complete within an hour. Your goal should always be able to complete a total of $10.00 MINIMUM per hour in income.
You have to be able to dedicate yourself to writing and deliver a quality product. One deadline missed or one sloppy article can get you fired. Freelance work is not a guaranteed job. You are contracted for the work you produce. The second your work falls from the quality the company wants, they can fire you with no questions asked. Always give yourself enough time to complete your jobs. Do not take on more than you can complete. Writing is not as easy as you think. Many companies need you to be 100 percent original. With the mounds of web content available, that is extremely difficult to do.
If you have a passion for writing and can devote the time, then freelance work may be right for you. I work from home and do freelance writing full time. In all honesty, that is the only way you can make a valuable income. If you cannot devote your writing full-time, freelance work will not be as successful. Many companies require 30-50 articles per week. When working a full-time job elsewhere you cannot devote the time to produce 30 articles unless you plan on working all day and all night. Have a dedicated work space and ensure you can concentrate on your work. Try a little freelance writing work here and there and see how you do. There is no harm in trying. You never know, you may just find it a successful way to earn an income yourself.