Surviving Competition for Freelance Writers and Editors

Freelancing freedom for writers2As a freelance writer, I receive many opportunities to write, edit, and ghostwrite on a number of different topics. The issue is seldom that there is not enough work to go around. More, it is an issue of what a writer feels their talent is worth.

Of course, we all feel that we deserve fair compensation for our work and our talent. What is “fair” in this economy? The cost of living varies from state to state, not to mention from country to country. So how does a writer compete with others who are willing to work for less than a penny a word?

A Google search of “average freelance charges” in the literary vein provides quite an array of choices. Frankly, every time I do a search for average charges, I feel as though I am under-cutting myself. More often than not, I find myself charging less than what the market supposedly calls for.

Perhaps a more realistic view of “average charges” can be derived from searching through those “freelance” connection sites that offer an array of contractors for clients to pick and choose from. A contractor bids on a perspective client’s project, and the rest is history.

My favorite source for pricing my work comes from writersmarket.com (http://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf). This organization takes a great deal of time to put together a reference for various freelance services. Yet, there is a wide gap between the rates listed in the pdf file and the rates many freelancer’s are charging on freelance work-for-hire websites.

When I began my quest to work full-time as a freelance writer and editor, I swore by the information provided in the Writer’s Market guide. Then reality set in. The simple fact was, I wasn’t getting much work. I wasn’t winning those bids. I was, however, becoming quite discouraged.

Alas, I found myself giving in to the need to feed the monster. I began adjusting my rate to more of a middle ground between the ridiculous 0.001 cents per word often bid by those freelancers residing in third world countries and the lowest charge in the Writer’s Market guide of .25 cents per word. I was devastated.

The fact remains, there are always going to be those companies that fail to recognize the adage “you get what you pay for.” Now, when I lose a bid to someone who did the “ridiculous” bid, I tell myself, we’ll see that client back looking for an editor. And most of the time I am correct in that assumption.

I suppose the lesson here is that it takes time to build a reputation as a freelancer. It takes even more time to build a pool of reputable clients that recognize the value of quality work and are willing to pay for that quality. Even more important, it takes a long time to learn what to do and what not to do when bidding for freelance jobs.

Here is my advice for the day:

  • Build your portfolio
  • Decide what you can live with for pay (how much you hope for and how much you can get by on), start in the middle.
  • Bid on jobs that the content is something you already know about and already of the necessary source material to refer to
  • If the pay sounds too good to be true…it is
  • Never do a “free trial” sample…that is what your portfolio is for. If you do not have an example that fits that type of job, make one up
  • Check your copy scape often to make sure that your work is not being copied
  • Self-Brand
  • Self-Promote
  • Network
  • Be flexible
  • DON’T GIVE UP

I am by no means an expert on freelance writing and editing. I am, however, and expert on surviving to make my dreams come true. I have fumbled, dropped the ball, been sacked, and even crossed the finish line a few times. It is an amazing journey to self-fulfillment and accomplishing your goals.

Slowly, I am finding the path to ensuring that writing remains my passion, while making it my living as well. You can too!

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  1. Pingback: The “Changing Mind” Client | Brenda Walker

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