I came across an article called "The Reason Freelance Writing is in Such Piss-Poor Shape" on TumbleMoose.com. In it, he claims that freelance writing is in bad shape because of sites like Elance where the so-called global market leads to extremely low bidding (making it hard for other writers to earn a decent living). While these kinds of thoughts are common, they're not exactly correct. Here's why:
- If you judge freelance writing as a whole based on a single site or type of site, you're choosing to look at the situation with blinders on. There is far more out there -- high-paying freelance writing work at that. But if you rely on it to be advertised and laid out in front of you to bid on it, you're going to be sorely disappointed. That's not how the bulk of the pro-level markets work.
- Yes, some writers do choose to "whore themselves out." But why should you care? You shouldn't! (At least not in reference to your own ability to find work.) If you're above the jobs and rates on Elance, then stay off of Elance! It's not that difficult. You need to go where your own target market is (the people who want work in your specialty area, and who are willing to pay within your rate range). In this case, the author's target market obviously doesn't look to Elance when looking for writers like him. When you work as a service provider, it's your job to make yourself visible and accessible so potential clients can find you. It's not their responsibility to throw jobs out publicly just to make it easier on you.
More interesting is that the author mentions wishing he could organize a writer's strike over things like this. Look. If your mission is to help other writers realize there are better options out there, then go ahead and discuss the issue and share other ideas. If your concern is just finding jobs of your own, then a strike will do nothing. Why? Because those clients weren't in your market in the first place. They couldn't care less if you go on strike. There will always be other low-rate writers to replace the ones who leave. On the other hand, to people who actually would pay you higher rates to begin with, you just make yourself look ignorant and you risk alienating the people who otherwise would have been happy to hire you.
If you aren't happy with the freelance writing marketplace you're immersed in, then get out of the pool. Specialize. Choose the right target market. Understand your own value to that market. Focus on building your writer platform. Build your network to get referrals. And if you need filler gigs while you're doing those things, then start looking at other places to find freelance writing jobs. It doesn't take as long as you might think. Also remember this -- all of the time you spend hanging out in the wrong places (like Elance in this case), complaining, or planning strikes is time wasted that could have gone into making you more visible to the clients who actually matter -- those that will pay you what you're worth!