Have you seen those ads for low paying freelance jobs that offer you the opportunity to work as much as you want? Have you ever applied? Are you working with one of those companies now?
Many of those low paying job ads claim their top writers are cranking out two articles an hour. And if you give yourself time to get good, you can do the same.
That means the measly $10 or $15 per article they’re paying turns into an attractive rate of $20 or $30 an hour.
Related: Want More Work? Do Big Numbers
If you have a vision of making a decent income cranking out 16 or 20 articles a day, prepare for disappointment. High volumes of low-paying work is not a path to success. It’s merely a way to survive.
A lot of other seasoned freelancers either started out working for pennies or they have taken low paying work to stay afloat during a drought. I’m one of them.
I remember writing for wiseGeek, which is a site about everything. It’s something like Wikipedia.
The rate for wiseGeek articles was $10 and each was required to have 400 or 500 words ( I can’t remember which at the moment). You could write as many as you wanted, and the company paid weekly.
At one point, I didn’t have any other work. wiseGeek was my lifeline. I’d set daily writing goals, usually aiming for eight to 10 articles a day.
The most I can ever recall writing in a day was 11–$110. But that was an extremely good day, and a rarity. Plus, it took me about 13 or 14 hours, not 5 ½.
Sometimes I hit my goal, but a lot of times, I would work 8, 9, or 10 hours and I still didn’t reach my 10-article target. I’d work all day and earn $60- $80.
To make up for missing my target, sometimes I would write a few articles on Saturday. Then, sometimes a few more on Sunday. There were times I was would work seven days and barely come out with $450.
I can remember counting how many articles I needed to cover each expense and writing accordingly.
Nine articles to pay the electric bill. Ok. Got those done. Need to go to grocery store. Another six articles. Ok. Got those done.
It was a sad existence. I’m surprised I’m even willing to admit I did that.
The only reason I didn’t end up in poverty was because I was living abroad and the cost of living was cheaper. And for much of that time, I was in a relationship where I didn’t have to pay any major bills.
Still, I always knew I wasn’t going to write $10 articles forever.
Writing for wiseGeek, content mills, or any other low paying clients never seemed like a viable opportunity to me. Like many freelancers, I realized that staying on that path would lead to a dead end.
But some people don’t recognize this. They get hooked on the pipe dreams these low-paying companies are selling. They focus on finding ways to write more instead of finding ways to write for more. That’s a pitiful mission.
Low-paying jobs, freelance or otherwise, are all the same. They’re not designed with your interest in mind. They’re designed to achieve some company’s goals with cheap labor.
A lot of people argue over whether freelancers should or shouldn’t take low-paying jobs. To me, that’s not point. If you have bills or you’re a single parent, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
What’s important is to see low-paying freelance jobs for what they are– a short-term strategy. At best, all low-paying jobs will do is keep your head above water, if that.
Devoting too much time and energy to them just keeps you from making real moves. So, use low paying jobs to do what you need to do and move on.