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There's an article in the Los Angeles Times about the freelance marketplace. It's not a pretty picture but does jibe with what writers have told me personally about their freelance careers. These are the vicissitudes of the freelance life which like everything else bottoms out at some point and starts to go back up. I think the key is finding only those markets where professional writing skills make a difference and where thousands of non-professional writers can't get entry unless they do become professionals.

I know there are a lot of professional writers in this network that have a better take on this than I have. What is going to have to happen to push freelance rates up, given the fact that you can't control the market? Editors and web site owners want cheap material and there are plenty of writers willing to deliver it. So, what is the answer if there is one?

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That's a good question, and I'm not sure what the answer is, except to keep honing our skills and becoming better writers and editors, and refusing to work for ridiculous rates.

I had an interesting experience recently as I had some overflow work and decided to go to one of the freelance sites and hire some cheap writers myself to see how good they were. Well, they were cheap, ranging from $2.20 to $6.50 an hour, or willing to write articles for $2 each, but all four of them turned out to be pretty useless. There was barely a single sentence I could use. The article one of them wrote was just plain cut-and-paste plagiarism, while the others just didn't have a good command of English.

Web site owners want cheap material, and there are writers willing to deliver it, but how many of those cheap writers are really any good? When I started writing for online instead of offline markets, I admit I started off on the freelance sites taking low-paid work just to get the feedback. Now I keep putting my rates up, and I get more work, not less.

I suppose the answer is to just not work for peanuts. Many of the job ads in the freelance sites are a joke: "Native English speakers with exceptional language skills and perfect grammar wanted. I'm after quality, so I'm willing to pay $2 an article." It's ridiculous. Just don't take on those jobs and the website owners will one day realize if they want quality they really do have to pay for it.




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