Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writing For Hire On oDesk

So I started freelance writing for hire right after Christmas of last year (2011). Getting started, many are overwhelmed and often lose hope very early on because they don't get hired. Being that I've only searched for and done writing work, that's all this article will encompass. Any other kinds of freelance work, you'll have to get advice for on your own.

I did a Google search for "looking for a writer" or something similar, and found mostly freelance sites. I had tried eLance quite a few years ago but felt like I was out of my league. I no longer feel that way except one thing; their tests. I know damn well I can write and have the 5-out-of-5-stars to prove it - time and time again. What these tests do is test your absolute school-taught abilities and even if you know what you're doing, if ya don't know what a certain kind of grammatical error is called, ya don't get that question right. One common mistake I tend to make (for the more anal retentive end of the writing spectrum) is overusing commas. I believe it may be called comma-parsing or something. Don't quote me on that.

The point is, I can spot errors but can't necessarily call it by it's uber-technical name. Therefore, I'm not likely to ace a grammar test. But, I know I can friggin' write. It's frustrating. This is not exclusive to eLance either. The testing, while admirable, is kinda universally harder than they have to be. Your work will have to speak for you.

I ran across oDesk during the aforementioned search, and it piqued my interest. There were tons and tons of listings and being new to doing this for hire, I wasn't sure what to charge. Then I started looking at the employers' (the people hiring you) so-called budgets in the listings.

Now, let's get one thing straight. I don't consider myself real hard to get along with or to even please, but I despise having my talent or intelligence insulted. A shitload of oDesk employers (some...not all) are cheap pricks who don't deserve the pixels their hopeful writers waste on them. Any writer who writes above a 5th grade level and has any pride whatsoever, would never, ever, ever take a writing job asking for 25,000 words where the pay is $5-$20. If they do, then they're desperate to just get their resume going or live somewhere where the cost of living is exponentially lower in comparison to most places. I won't even open Microsoft Word for less than $50, most of the time, (depends on a lot of things) and I charge $300 for 10,000 words. Do the math.

Now, I should state that I'm likely above-average in what I charge (not necessarily in my talents), but I'm the only example I know. $100-$150 is a good price for many, for 10,000 words. This article isn't to slam oDesk - it's to slam the cheapskates who can't dig a little deeper in their selfish pockets for quality work.

Other examples are things like, "I'll pay $0.025 per 300 words," or "I need five 700+ word articles done a week. I will pay $20 total." That latter is one is actually on the generous side.

Why do they do it? Easy; because the desperate jump on it. What do the employers get? Plagiarized material. What do they do? Bitch, whine and moan that they can't find good talent on oDesk.



The Signs of a Bad Job

  • Newbies Welcomed - What listings that include this popular tagline mean is essentially that, "Hey...I don't plan on paying much so if you just want to be seen as having been hired, I'm your best bet!"
  • Get 5-Star Feedback - So, let me get this straight; you're gonna promise me a 5-star rated feedback for this contract...before you even see if I did it worth a damn?!? Riiiiiiiight. This is another red flag saying, "I'm looking for cheap rates for excellent work."
  • Listing is in ALL CAPS - This indicates the employer has already had bad experiences with previous contractors and is gonna be super touchy on the job he's trying to hire for. They look like this: "NATIVE ENGLISH-SPEAKERS ONLY!!!!!!!!! I'M TIRED OF PEOPLE APPLYING THAT CLAIM TO KNOW ENGLISH, BUT DON'T!!!!!!!!!!" etc etc etc. They take out their bad experiences on the contractors (those for hire - the freelancers) before they even deal with the rest of them/us. Stay away.
  •  Listings That Will Only Pay If... - These kinds of listings are employers planning to submit what you write to article sites, etc, and are expecting someone to bust their ass writing for them only on the off-chance that they might get paid for it! (If the article is rejected, they don't feel like they owe you a damn thing) Then they wonder why they get shit work in return?

oDesk Isn't All Bad
There are tons of cheap employers but the reason why is there are tons of people willing to do half-assed work just to get their resume filled up. This is another reason employers get so riled up in the first place.


I don't have my pick of any job listed on oDesk, but I damn near do have my pick of the ones that interest me. Every single time I even apply for a job, even if I don't get it, the employer writes to tell me that he "loved my application and will keep me in mind for future work."

So why the hell are my applications so special?!? That's just it, they're damn near the exact opposite of what you're usually told to submit. Most advise you act as if you're applying for a global corporation to be a CEO. Ya know what I do? I talk to them like one adult to another; in a conversational tone. I list why I think I'm good for the job, why I'm charging what I'm charging, and my availability, etc.

Because of my positive experiences on oDesk, I've decided to venture out on my own in between projects, and author some ebooks. They will be my first real attempts at fiction, but my confidence is high after reading some of the competition. ;o) By the way...ya won't know it's me. Can you say, "Pen Name(s)"?

P.S. I didn't even go back and look over this article for mis-wordings or bad grammar. This was free. :op~~~

Until next time, my friends...