Freelancing Websites - Do They Make Freelancing a Bad Career Choice?


#1

Okay, this topic is a bit of a reflection of where I feel I am right now in my career. This and a choice which I feel I will soon have to make. Do I continue as a freelancer? Or do I hang up my writing overalls and stick my finger to the Internet once and for all?

First, though, some context:

To start, last October I created my first cryptocurrency news writing gig on Fiverr. It was an instant hit and I quickly thought: “Hold on, why should I be doing this for $15 - $25 when I could (possibly) be doing the same thing and accepting potentially more lucrative cryptopto payments?” You see, a lot of my clients were offering to pay me in crypto and at the time, crypto was booming.

Because of this, I started scouting for work online with clients directly. I picked up quite a lot of this between November and March. However, then things started to change. Sites I had been working with were still publishing content. In fact, they were publishing a lot more of it. They just weren’t that interested in working with me anymore.

Had I failed my clients somehow? I couldn’t see how. Many of my articles were receiving hundreds of comments just hours after being published. Hell, I even had major industry insiders like John McAfee retweet several of my articles.

Then in May, my Fiverr orders started drying up. At the same time, excitement surrounding the cryptocurrency market was dying down. In this case, I presumed that my sales slump was a result of this. However, in August, I started to realize that something more sinister was afoot.

On freelance platforms like Guru, PPH, and UpWork, a lot of people were starting to look for long-term cryptocurrency writers. Having hundreds of articles in my portfolio, I started to apply for these jobs. However, in every case the process went like this:

Client: “We’re really impressed with your articles. How many can you turn around per day?”

Me: “3-4, all optimized to pass with a green light in Yoast for SEO and readability.”

Client: “What is your price per article?”

Me: “For a 500-word article, $25.”

Client: “That’s a little too high. We pay our lead writers $4 - $7 per 700-word article. We also need unlimited revisions. Can you match this?”

Me: “Go to hell. If this were the 17th Century even a slave trader would be embarrassed to be in the same room as you.”

(I made that last part up.)

After this, I started revisiting some of the blogs I used to write for and two things became apparent. Firstly, today many of these are now clearly making more $$$'s, thanks to sponsorship deals, paid product promotions, and ad revenue. At the same time, though, many are now publishing badly spun content from news ticker sites. In other cases, content is often inaccurate and/or curated by people who seem to be non-native English speakers/writers.

To get straight to the point, something happened between October 2017 to March 2018. Websites which had been hiring writers direct had started outsourcing their content needs to agencies who hire bottom dollar freelancers and focus on quantity over quality.

I proved this to myself recently. I was hired by a reseller who was willing to pay my regular rates. Sadly, this person later decided to try and blackmail me into working for less. They informed me that my content wasn’t worth the price paid, and they would be forced to review it accordingly unless I agreed to work on a heavily discounted second order.

There was no truth to this claim. I proved this by complaining directly to the site hosting one still unpaid article. They, it transpired, were paying a market rate annual salary to a person they thought was a one-man lead writer with an exceptional portfolio.

Of course, we all know that reselling happens. However, I didn’t realize until this point why freelance platforms themselves are arguably the topmost reason why it is so difficult to succeed as a freelance writer.

Take a step back, and you start to realize that so-called ‘freelance’ platforms actually cater more to the needs of resellers than they do freelancers. They vacuum up a gigantic labor force. Then they make it easy for resellers to dive in and get what they need as cheaply and (occasionally) as rudely as possible.

You launch a business. You hire a market rate writer to curate content for you. Your blog gains traction, your brand gets noticed, you’re succeeding! Then like all business owners, you get greedy. Someone says, "Hey, why don’t you use this content marketing company I use? They can cut your content curation costs in half and double the volume!"

In almost every case, these third-party SEO and content marketing firms hire from places like Guru and Fiverr. These are platforms where there is always someone willing to work for less. As a result, prices are continually driven down across several creative industry sectors.

And so we come to my current predicament. I used to think that freelancing was working for me as a career choice. It was hard getting established. However, I eventually matched my former real-world salary. Now though. I’ve got to a point between not moving forward and possibly starting to struggle. At a point you see, freelancing on sites like Fiverr and Upwork becomes more about survival than it does progression.

Of course, the answer to this conundrum is to develop your career by hunting clients independently. Sadly though, my experience this year shows me that a perculiar paradox eventually becomes apparent. You find a great client, then a third party finds them, offers to do what you were doing for less, and takes the business you just lost right back to the Fiverr/Upwork/PHH sales funnel you started from.

(There is clearly a quality difference, However, by the time a site has become established, Google seems to care more about the volume of content that it publishes per day, rather than the actual quality.)

Another solution could be to simply try and be the best at whatever you do on whatever freelance platform you work on. However, as these platforms evolve, they increasingly do so in tandem with the erosion of basic freelancer security.

Gig economy workers working for the likes of Uber and Deliveroo, are starting to have their rights as workers championed with calls for things like minimum wage and health benefits. However, this isn’t ever going to happen with freelancers on international platforms like Fiverr.

Given all of the above, I’m starting to look very hard and logically at my choices over the past 6-years. I think I made the right ones for the time they were made in. But as it is, I don’t think I’m making the right choices now.

I work on platforms where I will never benefit from any security. The longer I work on these platforms, I help these grow and compound the reasons why it is so hard for myself and other freelancers to get established independently. Worse, the longer I am part of this cause and effect cycle, the harder it will be to pick up where I left off in the real world.

At present, I’m still undecided about my future. However, if you are new to freelancing, you might want to consider my story. Alternatively, if you have another point of view, please share it!


#2

As much as I like to work for myself and do what I want to, when I want to, I just couldn’t make any of my starter businesses go anywhere. I’ve started and closed several over the years.

I keep my full time job as it pays quite well with decent benefits. I keep my side job and getting more and more experience in the book publishing world - granted I have made little to no money from my freelancing job that I have on the side. The good part of it is that I have learned valuable lessons, the ins and outs and mostly, the experience that I need.

When I am ready to let go of my full time job, my goals is to be well versed in my fiction writing abilities with enough following to make a decent income while traveling the world.

Everything you have done to this point has led you to be where you are right now. By writing and researching on a wide variety of articles for many clients you have become an expert in your field. I’ve heard 10,000 hours makes you an expert - you’ve exceed that.

Perhaps what is happening is a good thing. You have the skills, the knowledge and the the experience to expand beyond minor freelancing. I’ve hired many, many, many writers from various freelancing sites. Many of them do not have the abilities that you have to articulate so well. You can take anything and make it interesting, and comical at the same time. People love comedy - that is done tactfully, in any article.

Andy, you’ve already taken many risks in your lifetime and have done well. What’s to stop you from taking another one?

Every time I failed at a new business that I started up, I learned to tell myself, “Well, that’s just one more thing I can cross off my list of what NOT to do.”

No one can promise you success in your next adventure, but one thing is for certain, you are VERY GOOD at writing. You just haven’t had time to do it for yourself much.

After all, Elvis Presley almost failed music class, Einstein did fail science, Marilyn Monroe was kicked out of beauty school and if a blind man (Erik Weihenmayer) can climb Mount Everest - what’s stopping you from starting up a new freelance career? You still have your sight - so - Andy, start climbing!

:mountain:


#3

Who are you? How dare you flatter me with blankets of duvet sized compliments! Don’t you know I live in the Mediterranean? You’ve practically just dehydrated me!

To be honest, it’s not being able to write creatively anymore which bothers me the most. (Aside from obvious bill paying necessities.) I keep promising myself that I will try to get back on top of my creative writing. However, freelance writing for businesses just exhausts you creatively.

I make Sunday free. I have an epic story concept. But the characters I’ve been imagining and giving life in my head during daily dog walks for the past week, just stare back at me, lifeless with no wordsmith puppet strings.

Also, no one I know reads books anymore. I know its not just me. Ask the next person you meet what the last book they read was. They will pause for thought, in that time their brain will wrestle with whether to say something non-fictional which they have read about or something fictional they read a long time ago,

Of course, people do still accumulate books to appear educated.

That said, I’m not going to let this moment pass. I will write something for you in return for your very kind words. I don’t know what it will be yet, but it will be creative and possibly comical. You have given me a bit of an uplift and I really appreciate that!

Stay tuned and and thank you for this lovely forum where it is possible to catch up with lovely people. I hope I can be of some help attracting others here. :slight_smile:


#4

There is no such thing as a “bad” career choice. Get to the top of your profession, whatever that maybe, or be satisfied with what you make. If not, look to do something else. As simple as that.


#5

Well… I was thinking about setting up a PI agency to track down missing wealthy Indians. How do you think I’d do?

Welcome. Obviously I have no idea who you are, but I hope you like it here and choose to stick around. I only found this place yesterday. So far, I have come to quite like it. :slight_smile: I hope you do too. Who knows, you might even stumble upon some familiar faces. :slight_smile:


#6

Yeah man…

I have a record of getting banned on every forum I join. It’s not like I do anything illegal or abusive or anything like that. Still…

It’s like people don’t really like me. Not that I care.

…at least the lady who manages this forum won’t ban me. Well, at least I hope not. LOL.


#7

You can let that go now. I have had it on good authority that you will alwalys be welcome here. Just don’t threaten anyone with a knife.

I have to go now as I am in bed trying to find hidden messages in the 2015 movie “The Big Short.” There is a big Van Enck Easter Egg and they just happen to be positioning the most promising Bitcoin ETF. Coincidence? Insomnia speaking? Who the hell knows.

In the meantime, I’m pleased you found this place. We will speak soon, I am sure. Just don’t pull a bloody knife on anyone! :slight_smile: