Digital Nomads

Freelance Writing Sites: What I Wish I’d Known Before I Began and Where to Search

By on April 25, 2014


When I began freelance writing online, I knew I could write. Or at least I had convinced myself that I could. Grin. I didn’t know there were so many options, so many creative limitations and I could choose which type of writer I could be.

I thought I should jump on the chance, any chance, of writing online under my byline (or not, to gain experience) to create a persona and reputation online. I worked for pennies, sweated intellectual pounds and generally found myself at a loss.

Some forums were derogatory for anyone working for a content mill; not working for well-known magazines; so-called ‘idiots’ that sold themselves too cheaply. They were lumped with 3rd-world country writers. As if that’s an insult.

Yes, coming from places like Thailand and India, working for $2.00/500 words is insulting. For us. But we are not writing in a second language, nor are we under their circumstances. Nor are we ‘freshers’ straight from college that are truly exploring their possibilities.

I inherently believe everyone deserves a chance at fulfilling dreams. If it happens to be writing, like my dream, good on ye and good luck.

Others spoke of making not just the rent and general living expenses writing anonymously/ghost writing, but of saving and writing in ways they love. Learning about topics they’d never naturally explore. Growing, both as writers and as people.

Holy confusion, no?

IMG_1591I’ve broken down my personal take on different freelance writing sites, to give not just advice but a heads up for newbies. Here are my experiences (and I hope it helps):

oDesk/Elance vs. Guru. These are all (oDesk and Elance have recently merged) bidding sites. A lot of hoop jumping is involved. You can take tests to elevate your standing, for example. They want full profiles. Some writers swear by these sites, but I’ve never had much luck.

Too many writers lowballing ($0.50for 500 words, minimum of 20 articles daily-? Joking, right? Nah. The only site that’s worse for bidding, for me, is Freelancer. Which has unsurprisingly become a monopoly for freelancers, after taking over sites like Scripted. Unfortunate.)

People Per Hour is a similar format, but they call bids proposals. I’ve had some quality work from them. The biggest problems: they charge 15% until you make a minimum of £175.00, then it’s 3.5%.

In other words, if you aren’t prolific you pay. Plus VAT, if applicable, plus Paypal charges if that’s the method you use. Translate that to mean £20 equaling  roughly 20 (or less) Euros.

Yahoo! anything. I made the rookie* mistake of thinking that if I were published on Yahoo!, it would help my reputation. Ha. If I could go back, I’d take each and every one off.

It’s embarrassing- because they publish almost everyone, for pennies- and once they pay you your online reputation becomes fodder anytime your name comes up. Think forward before you write here.

Freelance Writing (Site) and Craigslist shouldn’t be overlooked, ever. I have huge kudos for both, as long as you’re smart about choices. If someone wants a free* sample, according to their keywords and no price mentioned- not a good idea.

On the other hand, they’re both great places to find niche businesses, competitions, blogs that are looking for competent writers. Just don’t fall for the fallacies. It’s easy enough to use Uncle Google to do a search on a pseudo business. It’s less time than writing an article for a fellow freelancer, for free.

Problogger Job Board is great for writers who might- or not- have their own blog, but have more to say. It’s a great resource for small to big business, magazines, very established sites and independent bloggers* that don’t have daily time for their passions. I suppose it’s a like-minds site to discover.

Ghostbloggers is a lovely site to sell your articles and posts, about pretty much any topic you choose- as long as you have an audience to buy.  At $3.50/100 words, it might seem simple. Especially when you’ve got no clue what to write about and clients put in requests for topics. But. You do have to compete with other writers for the same topic.

End of the day, clients might not choose your painstakinglywritten article, and you lost a few hours. Or you might sell at much better prices than the status quo.


Workers on Board is definitely a place I check from time to time, as is Freelance Writing Jobs for inspiration, support and leads.

I hope this has helped a few of you creative writers to activate, to find your voice and perhaps find a new way of living. I wish you all the best of luck.

For more newbie writer help, here are two links to getting started from another site of mine:

Building Your Online Portfolio

Writing for Content Mills and What It Means

One added bonus: Freelance Writing Infographic 2014



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