One of the most common complaints among freelance writers and other freelancers is the issue of low-paying positions. This is especially true for those who are involved in online freelance sites such as Elance, oDesk, etc.
This becomes especially challenging when you are dealing with providers with no experience and provide us with extensive experience. The below pay rate war wages on in forums, between providers, and between buyers.
For buyers, it stands to reason that the lowest rate they can pay and still get quality work makes sense from a business standpoint. However, in many instances you get exactly what you pay for. This isn’t to say that those who work for low rates are always low quality. However, if you are not willing to pay a reasonable rate for work, you have no right (in my opinion) to complain about work quality.
For providers (that is a freelancer of any type), their rates must be substantial enough to earn a living, yet low enough to compete with their peers. One of the many challenges is the fact that while $5 per hour may be unreasonable in the United States, in other parts of the world it is more than reasonable.
So how do you win the low pay war?
The first rule of thumb is to always make sure that your buyer understands exactly what he is getting for your higher rate. It’s important to note that with the number of article sites online, there are thousands of pages of available content. In many cases, freelance writers are willing to provide articles for very low rates. Offering value for the money, may be the only way you can stand out.
Fighting low rates
If you are asked to provide a 500 word article for less than $5, you probably better off turning it down. While this may not seem to be terribly unreasonable, depending on your typing speed there are ways you can make substantially more than $5 on a 500 word article.
Take for example the website for writers, Helium. Let’s assume for just a moment that you have written a 500 word article with a very catchy headline. If you search Helium and you do not see that headline you can submit a new title request. Assuming you meet the criteria, you can earn one dollar for being the first person to write as well as an additional amount of up to $2.50. You have just earned $3.50 on that article. So how do you make up the extra $1.50? It’s not that difficult – promoting your article through social bookmarking sites, or through Twitter can easily result in that extra $1.50 in earnings. Handled correctly, your article could continue to earn $1.50 every single month. Needless to say you are giving up the “immediate gratification” of getting paid right away.
Understanding your competition
Understanding low rates in the global marketplace may be challenging. For most, it means understanding the socioeconomic conditions in other countries. What you may consider realistic others may consider inordinately high. On the same hand, what you consider “slave wages” others may consider a living wage.
What is a fair rate?
While these rates may not seem fair, it really is up to each individual freelancer to set a rate, and stick with it. The only way to fight the trend of lower rates is to say no to low-paying jobs. Fair rates are determined between you and your client, and may vary widely between clients. Much is dependent (in my opinion) on the type of work, the amount of research needed, and on the length of the time of the contract.
Only you can decide what is fair rate is for your work. Negotiating with your buyers is a matter to be handled between you and your buyer. While you must be flexible, there is absolutely no need if you have the proper skills to take low-paying jobs.
Byers who are seeking high quality work, they will not expect you to low-ball your rates. If you can prove to you work is consistent, and of high quality buyers will be willing to pay for it. Once freelance writers (and other freelancers) make a concerted effort to stop accepting pitifully low wages, buyers will be forced to pay higher freelance rates.
Chances are in the global marketplace, this process will be painfully slow. While you may consider $20-$30 a normal range, just think about somebody living in a country where $20-$30 can be considered a week’s pay.