The Worst Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

Everyone tells you where you can look to find decent freelance writing jobs or blogging jobs. But are there any places you should forget? I think so. While I know some others won't agree, as far as I'm concerned the following are some of the worst possible places you can look for freelance writing gigs.

The List

  • Odesk - I'm not a fan of these "freelancing sites" as it is, but Odesk is the worst of them in my book - completely appalling from the perspective of a service provider.
    • Why They Made the Cut - For starters, most of the most awful gigs I've come across online have been with them (why I won't include them in the freelance writing job listings here). Worse though is their Odesk Share feature - you share your desktop with the client, meaning they can actually watch you work. Why? Because then they can pay strictly by the hour rather than set project rates.What's wrong with this? Well, where you live, maybe nothing. Here in the States, there are rules about what clients can do, and in my eyes requiring a shared desktop crosses a line (clients aren't legally allowed to treat independent contractors as employees, supervising them and dictating working conditions in the same ways), and I find it completely inappropriate for a service to encourage that kind of behavior in any way. And they do encourage it - hell, their slogan is "Hire, Manage, and Pay remote contractors as if they were in your office."Also, it's a good way for better writers (who can write more quickly) to get screwed over in a deal, while a new or inexperienced writer taking longer can earn more. That's half-assed backwards if you ask me.

      Remember folks - you're the professional. You set your rates and your rate structure. Clients can agree to it, they can move on, or you can decide whether or not to negotiate and make exceptions. Absolutely no one else should be interfering with that process.

      Do you pay your mechanic less if he's experienced and handles a repair quickly? I don't think so. Do you look over your lawyer's shoulder to account for every moment of their time? Umm, no. Respect yourself and stay away from services like this.

  • Freelance Home Writers - These guys have been taking advantage of freelance writers for quite a while now, and they just won't go away.
    • Why They Made the Cut - Long story short, they charge you $47 to look at job listings. Never (I repeat, NEVER) pay just for the opportunity to apply for a job or look at the ads! If someone wants to advertise, it's their responsibility to pay any advertising costs - not yours.This company also has a lot of affiliates, so you'll see misleading ads, other domains that look like something different re-directing to them, etc. So keep your eyes peeled, and don't get sucked into it. They also have ads showing up in Chitika, Adsense, etc., meaning you may see ads thinking the bloggers you read support them (because those ads are contextual and not hand-picked), when in fact they do not.
  • DigitalPoint (and other webmaster forums) - This is a tougher one for me to include, because I love this forum (and am also a moderator there). Regardless, it belongs in this list.
    • Why They Made the Cut - Let me first of all be clear that you can in fact get excellent, high-paying gigs from webmasters, including at this forum (I do regularly).The problem is with the advertised gigs, where advertisers honestly don't understand that there's more than one market - they expect quality writers with lots of experience and excellent English language skills to write for the same price as a brand new writer with no specialized experience who can barely write a coherent sentence in English. It just doesn't work that way.If you advertise "real" writing rates there, you're likely going to get some heat, and you'll find it's not worth the time when you can be pursuing work elsewhere.

      That said, it is an excellent forum for networking, and you can find clients who respect your work and are willing to pay for it. The problem is that they rarely advertise there publicly, because if they do they know they'll be bombarded with requests from the penny-per-word crowd who are unqualified for the project, but attracted by the higher rate.

      If you want to make the most of these communities, don't do it solely for the jobs. Make it a part of your networking instead (it's also a great place to visit to get help if you're new to blogging, setting up a professional site, or are new to selling your own informational products like e-books).

      The more time you spend there actually contributing to the community, the more fellow writers you get to know, and the more reputation you build with prospective clients, the more likely it is that you'll break into the underground market there where the good gigs come predominantly through private referrals.

Never waste time in any place, or on any strategy, that can't earn you the best results. In other words, avoid the time drains and the crap sites filled with gigs outside of your market, and instead spend your time networking, improving your professional site (and marketing it to attract prospective clients organically), and working to improve your skills and marketability.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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3 thoughts on “The Worst Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs”

  1. I just have to say, I disagree with you about oDesk. I’ve been getting freelance writing gigs on there for several months now and I don’t mind the desktop viewing because it means that oDesk guarentees my pay, on time every time. I don’t have to chase down my clients, and that’s worth a lot to me. Also, there are fixed price projects that aren’t logged and you don’t have to show screen shots, if that’s your preference. I will continue to use oDesk because I find that there is quality work on there, and I don’t think people should be scared away by screenshots. Just my opinion.

  2. I agree with the previous poster. At first I was not liking the idea of be ‘watched’ while working, but since I’ve been working my first client on Odesk which I got right away, it doesn’t bother me at anymore. I like the security of knowing I am going to get paid for the work I did. In fact that’s why I am leary about taking a fixed job. I did have the same thoughts at first about Odesk as Jennifer. I love the variety of jobs and the fact that I can make my own hourly wage, just don’t sell yourself short.

    • I’m glad to hear you’re happy with them Michelle. But the fact remains that there are legal issues with monitoring contractors in a way too similar to employees, and the fact that Odesk supports that kind of behavior means that in spite of anything else they may have in their favor, I cannot support them here in any way. Referring other writers to a situation where they could be asked to give up rights they have as contractors is just completely unacceptable.

      On a personal level, I’d never use them anyway because I don’t bid for work. I’ve found that the better the platform and network a writer’s built, the less they’ll need to rely on those types of services and the less likely they’ll have to worry about getting paid. The security’s there as a reputation’s built, and probably even moreso than with freelance marketplaces. They’ll never compete with a solid referral base. That said, I know some writers still prefer them because they’re comfortable with them for whatever reason, and that’s fine too. Just don’t allow that comfort to mean you’re willing to be disrespected as a freelance professional by being required to make allowances you should never be asked to make (speaking specifically to US writers and in regards to that absurd monitoring ability).


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