Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the number of writers who accept writing projects for just a few dollars?
If you feel overwhelmed by writers willing to work for practically nothing, you’re not alone.
I’m still shocked that writers respond to project postings that will wind up paying less than minimum wage.
I find myself wondering how those writers can afford those jobs and whether there are any writing jobs left that pay a living wage. Also, in my weak moments, I sometimes wonder whether I can compete with those cheap competitors.
The good news is that I can compete successfully with those cheap writing competitors and so can you. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look for projects and how to present yourself.
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Where to Look for Good Writing Projects
The first step to competing with bargain writers is looking for writing projects in the right places. Be careful about looking for projects from:
- Sites that promote cheap labor. Some sites advertise workers for hire for just a few dollars. If you look for writing projects on these sites, don’t be surprised if the work doesn’t pay well.
- Bidding sites. While it used to be possible to find projects that paid well on bidding sites, in recent years more and more jobs have gone to the lowest bidder.
- Content mills. Yes, they are still around. One sign of a content mill is that they accept anyone for publication. Another is that pay is solely based on a measure of performance (such as page views).
- Solopreneurs. It pains me to say this, but individual freelancers often don’t have the funds to pay a writer a professional rate. If an individual approaches you with work, be cautious.
Instead, it’s better to look for more professional gigs in the following places:
- Sites that advertise full-time professional positions. Many companies who hire full-time professionals also have contract freelance opportunities.
- Local businesses. Meeting a potential client face-to-face gives you a huge advantage. Clients who interact with you directly are often willing to pay more.
- Former clients. Don’t be shy about checking in with former clients who have paid you a fair amount. They may have more work for you or have contacts they are willing to refer you to.
- Medium-size businesses. A medium-sized business (or publication) is a better prospect for a writer than a solopreneur. They are likely to have a bigger budget, yet probably don’t have a full-time writing staff.
Looking for writing projects in the right places is just part of the battle when it comes to beating cheap competitors. The rest of the battle is how you present yourself to prospective clients.
Present Yourself as a Professional
How your prospects perceive you affects how much they are willing to pay you. If they perceive you as a competent professional, they are more likely to offer you professional pay.
Here are some guidelines to help you make sure that your prospect views you as a professional.
- Don’t make price your main selling point. Your main selling point should never be based on how low your rates are. Instead, use other selling points such as the quality of your work or the depth of your writing experience.
- Only include high-quality writing in your portfolio. If your portfolio is filled with low-quality writing, your clients are unlikely to see you as a professional. Update your portfolio regularly and replace lower quality pieces with more professional ones.
- Make sure that the writing on your blog is also professional. Even if your blog is a personal one, unrelated to your professional writing, prospects will find it and use it to judge your ability. Some clients will also look at your social media participation.
- Limit writing done as favors. An occasional free guest post for a friend is okay. But if you give your writing away often, your friends and clients will come to expect you to always write free material for them.
- Bring up rates early in the discussion. Many writers are afraid to bring up price, but you can weed out prospects who can’t afford you by mentioning project cost early. If you wait too long to discuss price, you could spend hours with someone who isn’t a true prospect.
Remember, if you don’t portray yourself as a professional, clients won’t view you as a professional.
Get a Good Start as a Writer
Do you need more tips on how to get a good start as a freelance writer?
The ebook that Carol Tice and I wrote, Freelance Writing Success Secrets, is a great resource to help you start your successful freelance writing career. You’ll learn even more about how to find writing work and earn a living as a writer.
What other tips would you add? How do you deal with cheap competitors?