Cheap business owners

Just when you think you have seen everything, something happens to really make you wake up and pay attention.  Now before I get accused of not knowing my facts let me be clear about a couple of things: (A) I don’t work for low rates on freelancing sites and (B) I’ve never been “invited” to take part in one of these assignments. However, that does not change the facts that they are out there.

I always have pointed out to freelancers that they are working mostly at odds with clients. After all, a freelancers primary goal is to make as much as possible from each assignment while the goal of the client is to get as much work as possible for as little money as possible. This is clearly a serious conflict since freelancers and their clients have opposing goals. However, this also creates some other problems that no one ever considers.

Let’s get this straight first

I don’t care if you take an assignment that ultimately pays you $1 an hour.  At all times, you are obligated to do your best work. I am not one of these people that believes that if you are paying slave cheap rates that you are liable to get poor quality work. It should never work that way, even though it often does.  After all, one of the beautiful things about being a freelancer is that you do not have to accept any assignment. If you cannot do your best work because the rates are low, then simply refuse the assignment. End of story.

Now let me move onto my real gripe

My real gripe is with people who really believe that they are doing you a favor when they offer you assignments. I’ve seen clients railing against freelancers who have done a lousy job and saying that they should be glad that they have any work at all. For the record, I had a client like this ONCE and right after he made the comment “you are lucky you are working at home and you owe me for giving you that opportunity” I darned near went through the roof. That was the last time that I “worked” for this particular client. What “triggered” my outrage was that he was offering me the “princely” sum of $5 per hour – which I willingly accepted to get much needed feedback – and one of the things he had me doing was placing advertisements on Craigslist for a “personal assistant”. When time came around for me to post an advertisement for what amounted to a housekeeper and he was offering $17 per hour I went through the ceiling and asked for an increase. That’s when he told me I was “lucky” to be working and even luckier to be working at home. What made this even scarier was that this “man” was young enough to be my son but we’ll overlook that. At any rate, you get my point.

This is not the first time that I’ve railed against clients who are refusing to understand that freelancing isn’t FREE! In fact, I wrote a very similar rant almost two years ago called “You Want What?” ….. I did get a lot of traffic from freelancers who understood exactly what I was talking about!  Today, I have two more of these gems to share with my readers that I’m sure will go against the grain of some.  Let’s take a look:

Tired of just getting by?
We are looking for content writers for a long term project who can start right away

1)Working Hours

Monday-Friday 7:00am-2:00pm, 5:30pm-2:30am Los Angeles Time GMT-8
Sat and Sun 7:00am-2:00pm, 6:00pm-12:30am Los Angeles Time Gmt-8

2)300words=====$1.20 (turnaround is 1hour 30minutes)
500words=====$1.40 (turnaround is 2hours 30minutes)
700words=====$1.80 (turnaround is 3hours 30minutes)
1000words====$2.20 (turnaround is 4hours 30minutes)

Seriously?  I type fairly quickly in fact, I can often do 700 or 800 word blog posts in about 30 – 40 minutes. Even given that, this bozo is asking me to do 700 words for 1.80? Really….even if I could do two of these an hour then my “net” is $3.60 ….. an hour? Really?  I have a question: Do you work for these rates? If you do, then you really need to stop being in business for yourself.  Let’s not forget that the whopping “rates” that are being offered here are even below some of the lowest rates I’ve seen on sites like Textbroker for 400 words at a level 3 writing level the pay is $4 so pray tell why would I waste my time on this kind of crap. What really killed me about this one was the header “Tired of just getting by?” Seriously?  If I assume that I can write one 1,000 word article every hour based on your cheap posting, then the MOST I can make in 40 hours is $88.  This is going to help me do more than get by?? Really?? My rent is $600 a month, therefore if I work 4 weeks doing these moronic assignments then I can’t even come CLOSE to paying my rent . Honestly, be real.

Then there is this type of moron:

 Looking to Hire a full-time article writer/ re-writer ( ~8hours day / 5days week).

You will need to do 15articles per day, ~350 words long each, The Articles can be re-writes of other articles as long as they fit what I need!
The payment for the first Test month is $100/month ,if the quality and work manner will be decent we can bump that to $150/month after first test month with more room to grow.

Good written English obviously is needed for this job. When Applying Please State your previous experience of what you have done before and if you got any Writing Samples Please Include them!

OK So, you want me to supply a sample because you are too lazy to look at my portfolio AND you want to pay me $100 a month. At a stunning 15 articles per day, 5 days a week and assuming 20 working days in a typical month, you are asking me for 300 articles a month for the princely sum of $100 really?? Honestly?? YOU actually have the unmitigated gall to think that paying 30 cents an article is ok?   In this case, I won’t even bother to respond because you are clearly a frigging moron who has absolutely no respect for people.

The problem with these types of assignments is that they prey on people who have been unsuccessful getting started.  But if anyone thinks that anyone else can live on $100 a month or less then they really do need to do a gut check.  These job postings in my opinion show a complete lack of ethics and in the long run, I hope that they will come back and bite you in the ass – hard. You get what you give and you are taking but giving nothing.

About Doreen Martel

Well-rounded freelance writer who contributes to various blogs, paid to write sites and revenue sharing sites. Doreen is legally blind and has worked at home for more than 10 years. She uses the lessons learned from this experience to enhance her writing and share information with others.

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10 Responses to Cheap business owners

  1. June 3, 2012 at 9:45 am


    I’ve just joined the oDesk group on LinkedIn where I came across your website.

    I am new to oDesk, but am not new to freelancing.

    In fact, I’m ranked in the Top 1% of all workers on a site called vWorker:

    I am both employer and worker on vWorker, and the same on oDesk.

    In my experience as both worker and employer, I find the following rules usually help me not only to land the kind of gigs I want at the rate I want (mostly), but they also help to hire the best people for the gigs I post myself, and get the best quality work.

    I will not say that I am the one who championed this, but I heard it somewhere, and have applied for the last 7-9 years, and it has worked remarkably well for me, so here they are:

    In most freelance work situations, you will be able to get 2 out of the 3 things listed below, and typically the one you don’t pick becomes the converse.




    In a typical example, let’s say you are looking to hire someone to write 15 articles for you, and your requirements are that these are articles be done quickly (i.e. you want *FAST WORK*) as per your terms (which is relative), and you want the articles to be high quality (i.e. you want *GOOD WORK*), then it stands to reason (again, remember the last is converse) that said work will need to be compensated fairly well (again relative) (i.e. meaning it won’t be *CHEAP WORK*).

    In my experience, I find that most employers are looking to get *CHEAP WORK* (relative again, since cheap to one person could mean crazy to another), which is high in quality (i.e. *GOOD WORK*). This typically means that they will need to exercise a little flexibility in their schedule (i.e. conversely it isn’t something that will take priority to the worker [read: *FAST WORK*] unless the employer is paying very well).

    Typically I explain this to clients, and they get it almost immediately and modify their maximum budget since in a lot of cases, they don’t realize what they’re asking for (i.e. my specialty is server administration) is a bit excessive and not balanced with their budget (i.e. secure my server to prevent hacks [max budget $5/hr] for example).

    So typically I’ll explain that while they may find someone to help with this, odds are the person will cut corners (because $5/hr isn’t realistic for high-quality, scalable, server administration work) and will deliver a solution that may not be scalable in nature, or won’t be something that will really work to prevent a specific problem, thereby costing the employer more later on (which ends up increasing the factored costs).

    In conclusion, I guess the best way to put this is:




    Hope it helps, since it’s just my 3 cents. =0)

    - Eric Gillette

  2. May 10, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Heh…this post sounds a lot like the gripes I presented in my own article on freelance writing site scams…

    • May 10, 2012 at 8:53 am

      The dangers of freelancing ;)

  3. May 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I had someone approach me wanting me to write 5-10 500 articles a day for around $1.00 per. I asked her if she thought the over 250,000 (at the time) words on my site wrote themselves. She gave me samples of unsatisfactory work she had paid for (for the same assignment) and asked me to rewrite them.

    I cannot afford to waste valuable time on cleaning up other’s mess when they got what they paid for in the first place.


    • May 8, 2012 at 7:14 am

      Been there, done that :). I bid on a lot of jobs at oDesk and I often tell clients that they may not want to pay me $30 an hour to write but that in the long run, they’ll save money because I will get them to them perfectly the first time. No rewriting needed. Or, they can pay me $50 for proofing and editing per hour ;)

  4. April 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Hi Doreen!

    I’ve seen job pots like these in bidding sites I frequent. It’s very saddening, but the thing is those of us who live outside the US, UK, Canada, or any other Native-speaking countries are often the ones “victimized” by these kind of jobs.

    It really makes me ask if clients are hiring us as freelance writers or as Filipino freelance writers. It’s like they’re paying us on the basis of nationality and not skills

    I admit though that my rates are considerably lower than yours, but only because I’m just starting out. I try my best not to give in to jobs like these even when its a dry spell.

    I know I need to put myself at a higher standard if I want to be treated fairly.

    Sadly, no seems able to control the way jobs like these are run. The very new ones who need feedback are most likely to bite.

    What can we do? Like really, what?


    Thanks for voicing out my, and a hundred other freelancers’, concerns, Doreen!

  5. April 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I’m not sure that I’d consider myself at odds with clients… I charge a rate that is reasonable for someone with my experience and skill, and those who appreciate quality are happy to pay it. While I agree that everyone should work to the best of their ability no matter what the rate of pay, you simply are not going to get a dedicated professional writer at less than professional rates. So, while you may get someone who earnestly toils away at your job, they just are not going to have the ability to craft quality copy that gets results.

    Your survey is not working properly (there is no place to enter a rate for 500 words, and the second question seems to only address buyers) so I will answer here:

    - I am a freelance writer
    - I do believe that you get what you pay for
    - I would quote a price between $25 and $75 for a 500 word article, depending on the need for research, first-hand interviews and other factors.

    • April 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Thanks Lara, I fixed it ;) I do often find that we are at odds and like you I feel like I charge reasonable prices for work. I typically charge about $20 for a 500 word article myself but I’ve seldom had to do a lot of research or other types of “heavy duty” work. Thanks for commenting!

      • April 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

        I get the occasional piece that requires interviews, possibly because my background is in journalism. I’d love to do more, since new information from outside sources adds more value to the ‘net.

        Just read on the sidebar that you use oDesk. When you take into account oDesk’s cut, the effective minimum rate that we are charging clients is probably about the same. I probably spend more unpaid hours on customer acquisition, though… six of one, half dozen of the other, right?

        • April 23, 2012 at 11:42 am

          I suspect you are right. I have both oDesk clients and private clients and I also do some content mill work. All in all, it keeps me busy. I have a fairly steady stream of work so I’m pretty lucky there and I seldom post for new assignments at oDesk, they typically come to me at this point. :)