In this series, we personally test traditional online freelance marketplaces to share first-hand experiences and honest assessments of marketplaces and resulting jobs, as many freelance writers turn to these outlets to find writing gigs. You can read all the posts in the series here.
I’m depressed. Yes, yes, I know this isn’t LiveJournal but still…depressed. Huh? What? Tear myself away from this jelly doughnut and tell you my problems? Huh? …whatever…sure…
This week, as I explored writing markets to report them to you here, I tried to break into the market at Digital Point Forums (DPF). When I was a new online freelance writer working for the content mills, people used to stop by my blog and suggest I try to pick up clients in the Buy/ Sell/ Trade forum on DPF. I did and got some gigs that ranged in price from .01 per word to about .03 per word.
Of course, the underground market on DPF (as I think Jenn refers to it) is much more lucrative than the Buy/ Sell/ Trade (BST) forum. In the underground market, webmasters send you unsolicited private messages and offer you fantastic gigs because they've been watching you and liked your style. I've scored many ongoing clients this way, and made some good deals. But many people don’t have the patience to wait around for those super secret private messages to start coming in and instead apply for jobs in BST.
Since my goal in this series is to help you find variety and fulfillment in your career and start increasing the amount you get paid for your writing NOW while continuing to put food on your family, I decided to go to BST just like I thought you might.
And now I’m sitting here covered in jelly like a toddler eating her first birthday cake.
So why am I so traumatized? Because they didn’t like me…they really didn’t like me. No, wait—don’t be angry. I tried everything, I swear. I bid sorta low…then sorta high. Then, out of complete desperation, I started offering to flash people if they at least let me write for them for free.
Nothing. No takers. Not. A. One.
I played by all the rules. I bid on only those gigs I was impressively qualified for. I tried to craft my responses so they sounded open and eager without feeling desperate and victimy. I double checked my spelling and didn’t use any of those made up words that often fill my blog posts (‘cause I’m trying to get style points). I did everything that a million condescending blog posts written by my very own fingers have told you to do. And now, instead of working, I’m licking jelly from my knees.
The Verdict...I Guess
So what’s the moral of the story?
The moral, I guess, is that everyone goes through hard times when trying to get gigs. Luckily for me, this is just an experiment. My cats aren’t going to start gnawing on their own paws as they fade away from starvation. But in the anxiety of trying to have something to write about for this series, I started to get a little desperate in my bids. I know how that desperation feels when it’s money you need not a story for a blog post and it’s not pretty. It’s almost impossible to focus, write well, be a good spouse and parent, feel calm, and have a good life when you are facing that kind of desperation—and that is the one good thing about the content mills. They are there for you when you just can’t seem to find anything else.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to look. If I were doing this to find work I needed, I would not lament my inability to get a job on DPF right now. I would not lament the fact that I had to suck up one more week with boring work or extremely low paying work. I would move on to another market. Period. Because, as Jenn mentions in this old-as-dirt post, there is not just one writing market that we are all corralled into--there are many.
New writers and inexperienced bloggers might try to convince you that all web content writers are sharing the same market--but they are really just showing their inexperience. Every topic, outlet, niche, sub-niche, type of website, type of client, type of content has it's own little market in this big, fat world. Just as there are many different ways to monetize a website there are many different markets to approach--each with its own pay and protocol. The DPF market that advertises in the BST is not a barometer of all the markets out there--neither are the content mills, Elance, Craigslist...etc.
The Secret (no...not that Secret)
The secret is to find your market and write the hell out of it. Also, there is no Santa. Sorry folks but someone had to do it.