Why do freelance writers undervalue their services?

74 replies
This is something I've been wondering about, especially going through the forum here.

So many good writers advertising their services for 1 or 2 cents per word, when they could be making FAR MORE if they simply marketed themselves better.

And don't give me any of that "bulk work" BS - I'd much rather have less work at a higher rate than having to write 10 articles per day to make $100.

The thing about it is, there are so many clients and potential clients who'd be willing to pay decently for well written content - so why stoop to the "cheap writers" pricing?

One thing I'd never do is to COMPETE ON PRICE.

Cause there's always going to be SOMEBODY who's going to undercut you sooner or later.

PS - I do have a basic idea on why writers price their services "cheap", but I'd like to hear from them personally!
#freelance #services #undervalue #writers
  • Profile picture of the author ItWasLuck3
    I think for a lot of people who list their services that cheap they have a lot of factors going against them. For example:
    • English is probably not their first language
    • They are working from another country where money has a different "value"
    • It is the only skill they have (writing)
    • They have no credibility/ references

    Just a couple factors I had come to mind about why writing services may be offered so cheaply.

    Cheers,
    Ben
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    • Profile picture of the author JRJWrites
      Lol. And I thought that charging 2 cents per word was a lot!

      Frankly, I think I'm one of those "underpaid" freelance writers. I'm pretty sure that 500 words of my writing skills is worth more than the $5 I currently charge. And especially since I don't have too many customer testimonials yet, it's hard to get the ball rolling smoothly. I live in India, but unlike most Indians, I consider my time to be worth at least $8/hr, whereas most of my countrymen charge $3-5/hr which really is sad.

      Ben, you laid it out exactly. That was awesome.

      Originally Posted by ItWasLuck3 View Post

      I think for a lot of people who list their services that cheap they have a lot of factors going against them. For example:
      • English is probably not their first language
      • They are working from another country where money has a different "value"
      • It is the only skill they have (writing)
      • They have no credibility/ references

      Just a couple factors I had come to mind about why writing services may be offered so cheaply.

      Cheers,
      Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author wrcato2
    Three months ago I embark on a writers journey that lead me down a dark and frustrating path as a freelance writer. I decided to do this because of all the complaints that I have seen on freelance boards.

    I started bidding on writing jobs cheap. 10 to 15 articles for around $1 or 2 per 500 word article. I was busy for about a half a second and then Clients would come back to hire me later and they found that my prices had went up to $10 per article.

    needless to say that these clients drop me like a hot potato. I email them to find out why and all of their response were the same "I can find a writer cheaper from another country"

    Doesn't matter to me. It still makes my collar burn a bit though. I can write an article for myself and turn it into at least $75 or more. So now I am out of the freelance game.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    Set your prices and stick to them. I started low when I first began writing. Now I have higher rates and if people don't want to pay for quality, that is their loss.

    I see WSOs being published with some horrendous mistakes because people don't even proofread their work.

    There will always be people wanting to get lots done for very little money. Good luck to them.
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    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
      Banned
      Most of the freelancers offering these services are not real writers. They just think they are.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Greene
        Originally Posted by Horny Devil View Post

        Most of the freelancers offering these services are not real writers. They just think they are.
        So according to your theory, most of their buyers are not real buyers. They just Think they are or may be having fun by giving away money.
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        • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
          Originally Posted by Alex Greene View Post

          So according to your theory, most of their buyers are not real buyers. They just Think they are or may be having fun by giving away money.
          Not true! Just ask Dollar General if their buyers are real buyers.

          Also, I don't think they are having fun giving their money away, but rather are p*ssing it away due to lack of knowledge and business sense.

          It seems that as of late, becoming a freelance writer is the new trend in getting started earning money online. The logic behind that, I suppose, is that if you can talk or think, you can write. It's just a matter of putting what you speak on paper. However, that logic is flawed.

          When I was a little girl, lots of girls wanted to become successful singers and dancers.

          Anyone can sing they thought. Well that was true only in thinking in terms of " making a joyful noise". It was those who truly had a natural born talent that made it big.

          As for the dancers, if they had no rhythm and weren't flexible, they couldn't make it as a dancer.

          It comes down to natural talent. You either have it or you don't. If you don't, you are finished before you get started. If you do, you must work at honing those skills before you can become successful. This is true in the case of singers, dancers and writers.

          Terra
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          • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
            Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

            Not true! Just ask Dollar General if their buyers are real buyers.

            Also, I don't think they are having fun giving their money away, but rather are p*ssing it away due to lack of knowledge and business sense.

            It seems that as of late, becoming a freelance writer is the new trend in getting started earning money online. The logic behind that, I suppose, is that if you can talk or think, you can write. It's just a matter of putting what you speak on paper. However, that logic is flawed.

            When I was a little girl, lots of girls wanted to become successful singers and dancers.

            Anyone can sing they thought. Well that was true only in thinking in terms of " making a joyful noise". It was those who truly had a natural born talent that made it big.

            As for the dancers, if they had no rhythm and weren't flexible, they couldn't make it as a dancer.

            It comes down to natural talent. You either have it or you don't. If you don't, you are finished before you get started. If you do, you must work at honing those skills before you can become successful. This is true in the case of singers, dancers and writers.

            Terra

            It's also very true of actors. I know because I spent many years involved in acting and other aspects of live theatre.
            Acting skills can also be used for sales as it gives you a great deal of confidence.
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            • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
              Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

              It's also very true of actors. I know because I spent many years involved in acting and other aspects of live theatre.
              Acting skills can also be used for sales as it gives you a great deal of confidence.
              It also comes in very handy for customer service. When confronted with a nasty customer/client with a bad attitude, you just simply slip into character and play the role of someone who is nice and sweet and has a skin thicker than an elephant's. Don't break character and you'll always be as cool as a cucumber.

              Terra
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              • Profile picture of the author Alex Blades
                I don't know about being undercut: in my mind the "poor countries" generally provide a far lower level (on a general basis) of writing services. And I think that the clients that target "cheap" work are those that I wouldn't want to work for anyway!
                You would be surprised. Every countries has their share of bad writers, but they also have their share of good ones. To say that poor countries have poor writing, is inaccurate.

                You can still charge a premium for writing, but you need to build your own clientele. The writing industry has been uncut just like the phone tech support has. I don't see any changes, because people have to eat. If you are living in a nice house, in a great neighborhood here in the U.S, you can afford to charge what you want.

                In other countries where people graduate from universities, and the best job they can find is $15/day, they can't afford to turn down work.

                As long as there are poor countries, writing will always be undervalued. Being from a poor country does not mean you are a bad writer, that is nonsense
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                • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
                  Originally Posted by Alex Blades View Post

                  You would be surprised. Every countries has their share of bad writers, but they also have their share of good ones. To say that poor countries have poor writing, is inaccurate.
                  I couldn't agree more! I have been hiring freelance writers and been opening and closing contracts from agencies in the Philippines and I must say, I have never been so satisfied with such kind of services. Their rates are affordable, they submit on time and I barely ask for revisions.
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                • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
                  Originally Posted by Alex Blades View Post

                  You would be surprised. Every countries has their share of bad writers, but they also have their share of good ones. To say that poor countries have poor writing, is inaccurate.

                  You can still charge a premium for writing, but you need to build your own clientele. The writing industry has been uncut just like the phone tech support has. I don't see any changes, because people have to eat. If you are living in a nice house, in a great neighborhood here in the U.S, you can afford to charge what you want.

                  In other countries where people graduate from universities, and the best job they can find is $15/day, they can't afford to turn down work.

                  As long as there are poor countries, writing will always be undervalued. Being from a poor country does not mean you are a bad writer, that is nonsense
                  To say that poor countries have poor writing, is inaccurate.
                  Being from a poor country does not mean you are a bad writer, that is nonsense
                  I think that you need to very carefully re-read what I said.

                  And PS - I'm from a "poor" (non US/Canada/UK) country.
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              • Profile picture of the author walterthegaul
                Originally Posted by MissTerraK View Post

                It also comes in very handy for customer service. When confronted with a nasty customer/client with a bad attitude, you just simply slip into character and play the role of someone who is nice and sweet and has a skin thicker than an elephant's. Don't break character and you'll always be as cool as a cucumber.

                Terra

                But some customers do test your patience once in a while hehe
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    • Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      Set your prices and stick to them. I started low when I first began writing. Now I have higher rates and if people don't want to pay for quality, that is their loss.

      I see WSOs being published with some horrendous mistakes because people don't even proofread their work.

      There will always be people wanting to get lots done for very little money. Good luck to them.
      I agree with Laurence. However, I think many writers lack the confidence to charge higher rates. There are so many freelancers offering ridiculously low rates, it must shake the confidence of new writers. When I started writing for clients $1 per 100 words was considered really low but now there are people writing for $0.20 per 100 words.

      I think it is a bit of a catch 22; until they have established a reputation for great quality it can be difficult to secure higher paying clients, so they have to work for low rates.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    Well, yes, I think the country where they come from is a big factor. They give higher value to dollars, thus, making them think that what they are making is already huge and reasonable for what they do for a living. Also, it is not that easy to raise your rates if you haven't built a name in the industry yet.
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    • Profile picture of the author jwmann2
      Rates are likely very competitive for writers since there are millions of them out there. So writers are always scrambling to offer the lowest rate. It's too easy to NOT get paid for work so I've never ventured down this path.
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      • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
        Originally Posted by jwmann2 View Post

        Rates are likely very competitive for writers since there are millions of them out there. So writers are always scrambling to offer the lowest rate. It's too easy to NOT get paid for work so I've never ventured down this path.
        I have to agree with this. It's like, no matter how good you are, you wouldn't be able to get hired by any client if they see that there are writers who are willing to be paid for rates that are much lower. This is true especially if you haven't established any name in the industry yet.
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        • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
          Originally Posted by Cobaki View Post

          I have to agree with this. It's like, no matter how good you are, you wouldn't be able to get hired by any client if they see that there are writers who are willing to be paid for rates that are much lower. This is true especially if you haven't established any name in the industry yet.

          no matter how good you are, you wouldn't be able to get hired by any client if they see that there are writers who are willing to be paid for rates that are much lower.
          I don't agree.

          This is true especially if you haven't established any name in the industry yet.
          Partially true, but there are ways around this.
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          • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
            Huge competition and strong desire to earn money to pay bills.
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            • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
              Here's the thing. Many of those who offer writing services at the lower end of the pricing scale are either uncomfortable with the process of marketing or unwilling for various other reasons to market themselves. That's why they see the content mill option as attractive and why they home in to such an extent on the price of the writing as a factor in winning clients.

              Successful freelance writing is just as much - perhaps more - about how you market your services as it is about the quality of your work, but many would-be professional writers seem to embark upon their careers as an alternative to marketing - something they can do instead of all that nasty salesy stuff - and consequently get stuck in the over-crowded, race-to-the-bottom grind of a price-determined, commodity marketplace.

              Once writers embrace the necessity to also be marketers, one of two things will happen. Either they'll start to attract a higher caliber of client and earn larger fees, or they'll become aware that working for clients, even high-paying ones, is still, effectively, a job, and they'll start to put their writing and marketing talents to work for themselves, building their own long-term assets.

              Frank
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        • Profile picture of the author Ghoster
          Originally Posted by Cobaki View Post

          I have to agree with this. It's like, no matter how good you are, you wouldn't be able to get hired by any client if they see that there are writers who are willing to be paid for rates that are much lower. This is true especially if you haven't established any name in the industry yet.

          This isn't true at all. There are plenty of clients who will only work with writers who have high per word rates.

          Why?

          Because it's a reflection of confidence on the writer's part.

          These clients know that they need quality content to secure a good rank in Google going forward, and they know that trying to get that content from cheap writers is like playing Russian roulette.

          It might surprise you know that there are places online where 500 word articles routinely sell for $50-$100 apiece.

          Actual Web content has value, especially when part of an inbound marketing scheme.

          "SEO article writing" is what most people offer, and it's just about useless.
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  • Profile picture of the author Arock
    I agree with "Horny Devil" (did I just say that?). They aren't writers. They just play one on the internet.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
      Originally Posted by Rockwell View Post

      I agree with "Horny Devil" (did I just say that?). They aren't writers. They just play one on the internet.
      This can be true. But you would not really know their difference from the people that you call real writers. If you are good at writing, you have excellent research skills for different niches and you have a laptop and a good Internet connection, you are already good to go.
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  • Profile picture of the author newtonguywoodiii
    There are a lot of factors:

    1.) The country where these cheap writers come from. If they are coming from Philippines, Vietnam and India, then, for sure, they would not consider $3 per 500-word article as a cheap rate. As a matter of fact, that is already above their standard income.

    2.) English is not their mother language. Of course, they won't be able to compete with the Native speakers if they would set their price as high as the others.

    3.) They are not experienced writers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    Competition and experience are big factors, too. Most writers do not think that they are good enough to charge high rates for the service that they are offering, especially if they are just new in the business. Plus, they feel like charging lower rates is better than losing their clients to other writers.
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  • Profile picture of the author anton343
    I think most people just follow the crowd and set their prices according to what other people are charging.

    I think what these writers need to do is to find the places where people are willing to pay well for decent articles (they are out there) and offer their work on their instead of fiverr like sites.

    Anton
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

    Why do freelance writers undervalue their services?
    Three main reasons, I think ...

    (i) Many have no real marketing skills and are (accordingly) desperate for customers.

    (ii) Many genuinely don't understand that "trying to find customers at cheap prices and then gradually increasing the prices a bit, later" is a pricing model that doesn't and can't work, to any appreciable extent, in their market. That's partly because they assume (albeit usually totally wrongly) that it's going to be easier to sell at lower prices than at higher prices, and partly because they just don't understand the different market niches available.

    (iii) Many don't actually understand what "article marketing" is and how it works (typically, they have it confused with "article directory marketing"), and because they imagine that article marketing has some connection with SEO and backlinks, their perception of what an "article" is is limited to some kind of "chunk of keyword-optimized text to which a backlink can be attached", with the result that their potential clients are effectively limited to the people who share their perception of it (and those are the ones who don't pay real prices because they don't appreciate the difference between that and a real "article", don't understand the uses to which a real "article" can be put, and are themselves in businesses that aren't usually going to survive/develop/become profitable anyway.)

    These three things are also - of course - the main reasons why one sees the writers of $5/$10 articles continually advertising for new clients: there's an enormous turnover of clients for those "articles", as they all drop out in disillusionment, so writers in that market need to replace nearly all their customers nearly all the time.

    You don't see the writers of $150/$200 articles advertising much, because they have all the work they need from their regularly returning clients who actually understand what article marketing is and "how to use the products they're buying"!

    Not that I'm a skepchick, or anything (but these are the inescapable market realities) ...

    When I was briefly a service-provider in this market, in 2007/8, I started off knowing nothing about the market at all. Very naively, I worked out my initial prices by looking at what I needed to earn, how much work was likely to be involved in the "average article", and so on ... and began by selling 500-600-word articles for $25 each. Very quickly I realised what a mistake this had been, and increased that to $50. It never occurred to me to write $5/$10 articles at all: I barely even knew there was such a thing. Through inexperience and luck, and by ignoring my "competitors", I had wandered into a part of the market from which I could survive, and in which there was real demand (then, just as now) from regularly returning clients who actually knew what they were doing. (Not long after that, though, I started looking at how they were using my articles, and what they were clearly making from them, and decided I wanted to be an article marketer myself, rather than a service provider. That was a much better informed and more realistic decision for me: since then I've done no writing for anyone else (apart from a little bit of copywriting in 2008), but have simply been "my own only client" - an arrangement I far prefer!).
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    There is a high demand for writers and there is a high supply of writers, as well. If you will not set your rates lower than what well-established freelance writers charge their clients, without a doubt, you will lose. Also, if you start with low rates because of the factor that I just mentioned, it will really be hard to raise your rates, especially if you have already gained loyal clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author jfalxr
    The competitions maybe on of the factors..
    They also invest for the future.. If you get high quality writers in low costs, you don;t have any reason to find more.. People will come and come again to them..
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    If a freelancer is really good, he will eventually find his way up. He will gain the confidence to raise his rates and will still manage to keep his clients loyal to him. But that is not something that comes easily. You need to really be born to be a writer or squeeze your brains out to be an excellent one.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    1. If the guy who hires you can make money off your article, so can you.
    I really agree with this one. However, not a lot of freelancers realize this. There are even ones (newbies in the business, mostly) who will let their clients set the rate which is really depressing. Some will just learn how to make their own rates after several months of being in the business.
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  • Profile picture of the author greatwriter
    Great thread. Was just thinking of launching my own writing business
    and I am really thinking about how much to charge for my services. I
    know working for $ 0.01 per word really leads to great burn out. But I guess
    writers face a lot of insecurity when they want to charge higher prices and they
    see a lot of people charging a lot less for the same services. But then there are other writers
    who charge a lot more and still get clients, so I guess it adds up to how much experience you
    have and how confident you are in your writing skills. The less confident you are and the more
    desperate you are for money, the less you will charge.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
      Originally Posted by greatwriter View Post

      Great thread. Was just thinking of launching my own writing business
      and I am really thinking about how much to charge for my services. I
      know working for $ 0.01 per word really leads to great burn out. But I guess
      writers face a lot of insecurity when they want to charge higher prices and they
      see a lot of people charging a lot less for the same services. But then there are other writers
      who charge a lot more and still get clients, so I guess it adds up to how much experience you
      have and how confident you are in your writing skills. The less confident you are and the more
      desperate you are for money, the less you will charge.
      Wow, that's really good to hear! Good luck on your plans. Yes, it will be very hard to start. It will never be too easy to avoid desperation. You can also add frustration to that -- frustration that no client is still buying your offer despite its low price. But with patience and perseverance, you will get what you deserve and you will be successful, eventually.
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    • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
      I recommend this WSO by John Coutts whenever the opportunity arises and here it is again: http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...ml#post8263211 Not an affiliate link.

      It will tell you everything you need to know how to set up a thriving writing business and find well paying clients. As a matter of interest, whenever I recommend this WSO, I always receive a few PMs from Warriors thanking me.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        Like every other freelance skill I can think of, writing for the Internet is largely market driven. The consumers of the product ultimately determine the price they will pay. If no one looking for articles would pay $5/500 words the price would climb. But there are freelancers that will work "for cheap" and consumers that will pay dirt cheap prices so that market exists.

        In my opinion, here's the key for free lance writers: don't even attempt compete in that market.

        Open your mind to the possibilities of using your writing skills in other ways. Too many writers (many of them newbies) assume that article writing is the only outlet for their work. But it's not - not by a long shot!

        Here are some other ideas for you writers:
        1. Use your writing skill to produce your own reports, whitepapers, freemiums, etc. Focus your list building on business owners, especially targeting a niche or two. Offer the complete finished product (ideally including graphics) and include branding with the business owners logo/contact info/etc. Sell the finished products "ready to go" so the owner can use it out of the gate. Charge custom prices.
        2. Your skill could be used in selling hot sheets. I'm specifically thinking about the entertainment industry, gaming industry, dating industry, etc. Subscribe to several hot niche magazines (like People Mag, for one) then focus on "putting your own take" on what you read. Don't copy or rehash. Be a commentator and produce a weekly or monthly "hot industry news" kind of writing. Build your list of people that can't wait to hear from you. If you had 1,000 faithful subscribers that devoured everything you published on a weekly/bi-weekly basis at $2 a pop, you would be happy, right? What if you had 5,000 addicts?
        3. Write your own how-to books, novels, plays, stories, magazine articles. If you're good, this road could lead to some major income. I think the key would be to find the genre that appeals to you and that you can find avid readers for. Think about selling "serials" where readers get caught up on wanting to know what happens next with your characters. The same type of book can be written in the non-fiction space with things like gardening (just as one example). How to grow tomatoes, carrots, corn, etc. Dig down deep and specialize.
        4. Do technical writing if you can learn that skill. There is a great need for manuals, instructions, how-to booklets, etc in technical fields. Those who already "speak the language" could focus on areas of their expertise. Even those without experience could sell their writing in less technical markets.
        5. Write to create your own products. Every "how to" niche is ripe for product creation where you explain something that needs doing to those who want advice, hand holding, or reassurance that they're doing something right. The sky's the limit on this one.
        6. I almost hesitate to mention this one simply because it is so powerful if you grasp the idea. The market is online business owners. The idea is to write short yet authoritative instructions of various tasks that business owners have to do but don't know how to do or at least would like to learn how to do better, faster, cheaper. Think business execution steps. There are so many things you could write about: getting customers, nurturing customers, promoting services, building or maintaining a web site, doing business taxes, dealing with angry customers, keeping employees happy, outsourcing billing, and on and on and on. But here's where you make your writing valuable. For each set of instructions you write, make it specific to one type of business, one market. For example, "How to promote your Dental services online." Be very specific. Then with just a little bit of "tweaking" you can change your report to "How to promote your Bookkeeping services online," or "How to promote your Investing services online." By being specific you will attract a much larger and hungrier crowd of prospects because they see you are writing for their business.
        OK, this has been long and wordy but I wanted to help you to start thinking about writing as something other than producing articles. The field really is wide open and you can make a substantial income if you get creative, differentiate your writing, be specific in your business model, and provide outstanding service as well as writing!

        Good luck to all you writers,

        Steve
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      • Originally Posted by AnniePot View Post

        I recommend this WSO by John Coutts whenever the opportunity arises and here it is again: http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...ml#post8263211 Not an affiliate link.

        It will tell you everything you need to know how to set up a thriving writing business and find well paying clients. As a matter of interest, whenever I recommend this WSO, I always receive a few PMs from Warriors thanking me.
        Annie,

        I virtually never buy WSOs anymore, but stumbled across this one, and snatched it up.

        IMHO, EVERY SINGLE writer on the WF should buy this if they are not making $20 and up per article.

        I still have loyal clients I love to work with that get 400 word articles from me for $10 (awesome Warriors right here on the forum), but I actually had never thought of this method.

        John points out that if you want to sell your writing (or any other service for that matter) for top dollar, go where people appreciate what you offer.

        Annie, you are right, this is an outstanding WSO, highly recommended.

        Patrick
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  • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
    It's very simple. It is very easy to find buyers willing to pay $1.00-$5.00 for an article. It is much more difficult to find buyers willing to pay $50.00+ for an article. As Alexa pointed out in her post, there are far more buyers in the former category; however, they do not stay in business very long, so sellers of cheap articles have to continuously advertise for more clients. There are far fewer buyers in the latter category, but those buyers tend to stick around, and the sellers do not have to continuously replace them.

    It takes a lot of prospecting to find buyers who are willing and able to pay premium prices for premium writing. Most people don't want to do the work involved, and/or they have no idea how to go about prospecting and selling. It's much easier to just reply to job listings on oDesk and Elance, or run ads on Fiverr or the WF, and most people will take the easy way out.
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  • Profile picture of the author JR Rich
    In my (not so) humble opinion, most freelancers are starting-off with both hands tied behind their collective backs. What I mean to say is that they have no real portfolio from which to point when they're drumming-up new clients.

    They - perhaps - have a few articles they've written... maybe even a very short story in their arsenal, but nothing they can really point to to prove their writing 'chops'.

    Here's an idea: Create a couple of short stories (10,000-20,000 words each) and publish them to the Kindle store. Spend a few bucks to get some decent covers made.

    It doesn't really matter if they sell a tremendous number of copies... what you're aiming at is to simply get published and to use that publishing experience as a proof that you can do what you say.

    Of course, this all depends on whether or not you actually DO have some sort of writing talent to begin with!

    --JR
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    • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
      Originally Posted by JR Rich View Post

      In my (not so) humble opinion, most freelancers are starting-off with both hands tied behind their collective backs. What I mean to say is that they have no real portfolio from which to point when they're drumming-up new clients.

      They - perhaps - have a few articles they've written... maybe even a very short story in their arsenal, but nothing they can really point to to prove their writing 'chops'.

      Here's an idea: Create a couple of short stories (10,000-20,000 words each) and publish them to the Kindle store. Spend a few bucks to get some decent covers made.

      It doesn't really matter if they sell a tremendous number of copies... what you're aiming at is to simply get published and to use that publishing experience as a proof that you can do what you say.

      Of course, this all depends on whether or not you actually DO have some sort of writing talent to begin with!

      --JR
      Unless you have already proven something great about your business, knowing how to start and having the confidence to give value to what you do will always be complicated. To be a successful freelance writer, you also need to make investments to be able to excellently promote yourself to clients.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Blades
        I don't think they undervalue their writing, they have no choice if they want to find work. They are uncut by poor countries who are willing to write for cheap
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        • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
          Originally Posted by Alex Blades View Post

          I don't think they undervalue their writing, they have no choice if they want to find work. They are uncut by poor countries who are willing to write for cheap
          We are talking about freelance writers in general. Freelance writers from other countries are a part of this, too, and yes, they seem to be the first ones to undervalue their writing. But with that being said, I must say, if you won't accept the work being offered to you, you will lose it to others, until you are already left with nothing.
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        • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
          Originally Posted by Alex Blades View Post

          I don't think they undervalue their writing, they have no choice if they want to find work. They are uncut by poor countries who are willing to write for cheap
          To all those who've responded:

          Didn't mean to make a "hit and run" post, but haven't had the chance to visit the forum again until just now!

          I don't know about being undercut: in my mind the "poor countries" generally provide a far lower level (on a general basis) of writing services. And I think that the clients that target "cheap" work are those that I wouldn't want to work for anyway!
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          • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
            Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

            To all those who've responded:

            Didn't mean to make a "hit and run" post, but haven't had the chance to visit the forum again until just now!

            I don't know about being undercut: in my mind the "poor countries" generally provide a far lower level (on a general basis) of writing services. And I think that the clients that target "cheap" work are those that I wouldn't want to work for anyway!
            I agree. "No speeka English" writers from the 3rd World (as well as functionally illiterate Americans) aren't competing with professional, English-speaking copywriters anymore than Saks Fifth Avenue is competing with Wal-Mart. Saks is not trying to attract Wal-Mart shoppers; discount retail is not their market niche.

            There is a market for bad writing on the cheap. In fact, there's probably a much bigger market for low quality, cheap writing than for high-cost, quality copywriting. There are also far more Wal-Mart shoppers than Saks shoppers, but Saks isn't attempting to race Wal-Mart to the bottom. Saks dedicates its efforts to serving its niche of high-end shoppers willing to pay premium prices for luxury products. They don't need as many customers as Wal-Mart does, because each Saks customer spends far more than each Wal-Mart customer. Saks doesn't worry about Wal-Mart; they worry about other luxury retailers, like Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, and Bloomingdale's.
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  • Profile picture of the author johnben1444
    Most of those cheap content suppliers don't really believe there is traffic after quality content.

    The worst scenario are those who don't write or buy these cheap contents.

    They believe they can use bot to manufacture one...

    While they dig their timely death i think we should celebrate our long life.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cobaki
    Well, I am not saying the people who have English as their first language should not consider themselves as real and hardworking writers. I just have bigger respect for freelance writers from other countries. They really take the time to study and be good in writing articles in English and they give high value for grammar.
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  • Profile picture of the author trader909
    Banned
    market price/competition.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claire Koch
    there is the little aspect that if you are offering services in the WF you are supposed to be giving warriors a better price. DUH!

    You get more on the WF then fiverr even so...so that about sums that up.

    If you want to compare pricing for freelancing you need to compare off warrior freelancers.

    There will always be people who charge too little because they are insecure about their work.
    Theres nothing strange about that IMHO.
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    Hi George:

    There are a lot of retired English teachers on Fiverr living on meager social security income. They are ready and willing to write an article for $5 and they have a plenty of time on their hands, but little or no money. This is your competition, not some young guy. Most of those realize that they can make more money mowing grass.

    Most people know by now that they cannot use cheap ESL writers with content that is full of grammar errors. Those will cost your company... Basically, there is an incredible amount of labor in excess. That drives down prices. Perhaps you can focus on high end technical writing for a specific niche such as day trading stocks or currency.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by seobro View Post

      Hi George:

      There are a lot of retired English teachers on Fiverr living on meager social security income. They are ready and willing to write an article for $5 and they have a plenty of time on their hands, but little or no money. This is your competition, not some young guy. Most of those realize that they can make more money mowing grass.

      Most people know by now that they cannot use cheap ESL writers with content that is full of grammar errors. Those will cost your company... Basically, there is an incredible amount of labor in excess. That drives down prices. Perhaps you can focus on high end technical writing for a specific niche such as day trading stocks or currency.
      My main point is, the clients that I want aren't going to be on Fiverr in the first place.

      And while admittedly Fiverr and other marketplace freelance sites have their place, I can't see a GOOD writer deciding to concentrate on getting the bulk of their clients from those places either
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      • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
        Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

        My main point is, the clients that I want aren't going to be on Fiverr in the first place.

        And while admittedly Fiverr and other marketplace freelance sites have their place, I can't see a GOOD writer deciding to concentrate on getting the bulk of their clients from those places either
        Yeah, I tried Fiverr for a short time, but then I realized the folly of Fiverr. In general, people who purchase services on Fiverr have no money. I don't want to target that market. Remember the oft-quoted mantra about how nobody ever gets a job from a poor person? You're never going to earn money if you target customers who don't have any.

        Going after the luxe market is far more difficult, because there aren't as many customers on the top of the food chain as there are at the bottom. The percentage of people who can buy Bentleys and yachts is tiny, but those companies thrive because they don't need more than a few people to purchase those items at those prices.
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  • Profile picture of the author sarwine
    I agree with the others on this post. For most needing a freelance writer, they need someone cheap because they haven't enough income.
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  • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
    An IM'er or a very small non-IM business might be willing to use Fiverr because it's cheap, and they themselves are barely paying their Internet bill. They can't afford to pay $30.00/hour. They can't afford to pay $5.00/hour.

    But when a large company, one with receivables in the millions, needs website copy or hard copy sales materials, they are not going to outsource that work on Fiverr. They will pay $30.00/hour or more. They can afford it, and they are willing to pay for high quality work. What they are not willing to do is entrust the image of their million-dollar company to god knows who on Fiverr.
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  • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
    I have John's WSO, too. It's very good, and it goes over many of the points raised in this thread, especially those about selling to IM'ers who are on their last nickel vs. selling to established, profitable firms that are looking for the highest quality work possible.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cali16
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Three things:

    3. Most people looking to hire writers wouldn't know good writing if it slithered up their legs and bit them on the crotch.
    You took the words right out of my mouth! (Although my version would have been a little less, um, graphic! )
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  • Profile picture of the author Ghoster
    One reason I know of is that it's a great way to get reviews without actually working for free.

    Other than that, I completely agree with the OP.
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    • Profile picture of the author Josh Rueff
      Originally Posted by Ghoster View Post

      One reason I know of is that it's a great way to get reviews without actually working for free.

      Other than that, I completely agree with the OP.
      ^^Second that^^

      This is exactly why I worked for next to nothing when I first started out - to build up quality testimonials and a professional portfolio.
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  • Profile picture of the author rickdangelo
    The usual game here is "lowest price wins." Of course along with other factors like country they live in, the value of their currency, no marketing experience, etc. But it's also worth noting that there are writer that charge thousands for a sales letter (of course, not to be compared with typical article writing). But the point is, if you can, offer high quality writing and then charge accordingly.

    I've outsourced some writing to fiverr and the Philippines before and I can say there are a lot of good writers who do not know how much they undervalue their service.
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  • Profile picture of the author inyourway
    I've been looking for someone who's able to make a great sales letter. About 300-500 words. Most of the people I've been talking to are willing to this for anything between $300 and $500. I guess I'm just lucky since I haven't met anyone offering their writing skills for less than $300.

    (I don't count writers on Fiverr and such.)


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  • Profile picture of the author Patbinc
    There's also a "group/herd mentality" factor in play...newbies come online and the first thing they think they can do is write articles or stuff. Then they look around most freelance sites and see these ridiculously low prices, so what do they do? They do what everyone else is doing (reasoning everyone else can't be wrong or who am I to go against everyone)...

    So basically most people do this because other people are doing this...pathetic but true.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Patbinc View Post

      There's also a "group/herd mentality" factor in play...newbies come online and the first thing they think they can do is write articles or stuff.
      Indeed ... that's partly because when first-time-posters in forums ask what they can do to make some quick money online, there are always a few replies suggesting - regardless of their apparent standard of literacy - that they should start by "selling articles".

      Originally Posted by Patbinc View Post

      So basically most people do this because other people are doing this...pathetic but true.
      To be fair, that is how many marketers make many of their decisions, though, so there are well-established precedents for it. People don't like to test things for themselves. It's so much easier to look around, see what "most people are doing" and copy them on the assumption that "it 'must' work, otherwise so many people wouldn't be doing it this way". This is how the teachings of the Urban Myth School of Internet Marketing have become so lovingly perpetuated and propagated. It accounts for all the pop-ups, awful squeeze pages, prices ending in a "7", fake urgency, fake scarcity and countless other everyday features of internet marketing which cost so many marketers so much lost potential profit.
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      • Profile picture of the author Patbinc
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        To be fair, that is how many marketers make many of their decisions, though, so there are well-established precedents for it. People don't like to test things for themselves. It's so much easier to look around, see what "most people are doing" and copy them on the assumption that "it 'must' work, otherwise so many people wouldn't be doing it this way". This is how the teachings of the Urban Myth School of Internet Marketing have become so lovingly perpetuated and propagated. It accounts for all the pop-ups, awful squeeze pages, prices ending in a "7", fake urgency, fake scarcity and countless other everyday features of internet marketing which cost so many marketers so much lost potential profit.
        This is very true. Sadly most people don't stop to learn and understand the workings of what they are copying. Ever wondered why there are so many failures and so few gurus and yet all failures are kind of copying from the gurus?

        Well its because they are copying the gurus mistakes. Gurus don't trumpet what works for them as much as they trumpet their trials and errors - and use the gullible masses to experiment what works and what doesn't. So most people who copy only end up copying half baked ideas and outdated methods that Gurus are supposed to be using.

        And the proof is in the results: Gurus flourish while pretenders crash and burn, despite one copying from the other. Only 1 explanation: What the gurus say they are doing might not be what they are actually doing!!
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  • Profile picture of the author PeterMFL
    Keep in mind that sometimes these undervalued services are converted to a pretty high pay depending on which country their from...
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  • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
    Frank - a lot of writers don't know how to sell. I admit that I do not. That's why I am taking a professional selling class as one of my MBA electives; the class starts next week, and I'm really looking forward to it.

    It's often said here that copywriting is the most important skill for an IM'er. I don't agree with that. I think that selling is the most important skill, not just for IM'ers but for everyone. You could have the greatest product or service in the world, but if you don't know how to sell it, no one will ever buy it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I think at the most BASIC level people tend to think that because you
    can construct a few sentences then you can write. Writing is thought
    to be easy because, 'doesn't everybody do it?'

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
    Further to your comment, Raydal, someone mentioned earlier that retired English teachers sell "writing services" on Fiverr. A former English teacher is a great candidate if you need something proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But just because you have terrific language skills does not mean you know a bloody thing about marketing or business writing, or even creative writing.
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  • Profile picture of the author fsiegel
    Banned
    Indeed, writing is a market driven trade. Writers are paid less, and undervalue their services, mostly because the perception on writing is... it's an easy trade. Some marketers even think that those rewriting/rewording software can replace writers. Come on, guys.
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  • Profile picture of the author ibarena
    I belong to so called "third world" mentioned in few posts. I am not a Native writer by birth but writing is my passion and I am learning every day.

    An important point is the "potential customer base" which a writer is targeting. There is a market for $50 articles and a different market for $5-8 article. There are n number of buyer who need articles at dirt cheap price or they just need articles for directory submission, syndication or are startups and can't afford the best. They are willing to accept a little less than perfect articles against the premium they are saving.

    In many countries like I belong to, dollar currency conversion value is high and more than 70% writers who think they are master of trade make less than $200-300 per month. Given that, if someone charges $2-3 per article and is able to write even 10 articles a day he/she is still making 600-900 per month. It is simple conversion factor and writers are not confident to compete over price as they are non-native speakers.

    I would like to share an incident which happened with me recently. I bid $xx per 100 words to a client to which a client responded "$xx for 100 words.. what is this? I know in India it is a lot of money. I am looking for writers for $1-2 for every 500 words. I will have continuous work.. blah blah". I politely refused. But the second group of $1-2 writers will still see this as an opportunity.
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  • Profile picture of the author Moneymaker2012
    English is probably not their first language
    They are working from another country where money has a different "value"
    It is the only skill they have (writing)
    They have no credibility/ references
    I want to add,
    They decreased their price because they were not getting clients on higer prices,
    They want to make permanent clients, and later they can increase the price.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
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      Originally Posted by Moneymaker2012 View Post

      They want to make permanent clients, and later they can increase the price ...
      ... or so they mistakenly imagine.

      In reality, this doesn't work - and there are reasons for that, and they're good and valid and reliable reasons.

      Selling articles is a slightly artificial market. In fact, it isn't really "one market" at all.

      In the "up to $10 article market" there are nearly as many service providers as customers, and what attracts the customers to the writers is the fact that the articles cost up to $10 each. If you acquire some customers and put the price up to $15, what happens is that you lose all the customers, who have (literally) hundreds of other article-sellers from whom they can buy at lower prices.

      To many of these customers, an "article" is a chunk of text of a certain length, with a certain number of keywords in it, to which a backlink can be attached. Their concept of "quality" is fundamentally different from yours and mine.

      These are typically temporary customers: their own businesses tend not to survive indefinitely, because they have an "SEO-centered" approach to article marketing which will ultimately let them down (to put it politely).

      To charge more than this, you need to choose to compete in different markets.

      Those different markets do exist.

      Writers producing $5/$10 articles need permanently to replace their clients, whose businesses gradually fold up. They're advertising and promoting their article-writing services all the time, for this reason. We see hundreds of them advertising here, and thousands elsewhere. What you don't see to the same extent is writers of $100+ articles advertising their services in the same way. That isn't because they don't exist (as some people mistakenly imagine). It's typically because they're fully booked up with regularly returning customers who know how to use the products they produce and whose own businesses therefore tend to flourish.

      Making a living in this market requires marketing skills as well as writing skills.

      It's possible that some of the resources linked to in this post may inform you: You must be a superstar professional writer BUT I can only pay you $2 per article - say WHAT?

      But note that "attracting clients first and then increasing prices" is typically the wrong approach - any highly paid, successful writer will tell you this. The people who will tell you something different are not typically making their livings as writers.
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      • Profile picture of the author teresarothaar
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        But note that "attracting clients first and then increasing prices" is typically the wrong approach - any highly paid, successful writer will tell you this. The people who will tell you something different are not typically making their livings as writers.
        Really, that doesn't work in any industry. Say I start a dog-walking business. Most professional dog walkers--the ones who are bonded and insured, and who can be depended on to actually show up and not rob your house--charge about $18.00 for a half-hour walk. I decide that, in order to "attract" clients, I'm going to offer to walk your dog for $5.00. I'd likely get lots of calls, and my schedule would quickly fill up. However, I would quickly go broke walking dogs for $5.00, so I would have to raise my prices. I guarantee that as soon as I raised my prices--even if I raised them to $15.00, still below what other people are charging--all of my $5.00 clients would drop me.

        You could replace "dog walker" with any service provider, and the result would be the same. Customers who scrape the bottom of the barrel will not suddenly agree to pay more, because they don't care about quality. They care only about price.
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  • Profile picture of the author elijahdean24
    I think because of sites like odesk and elance people are competing with outsourcers from other countries offering services well below the market
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