Years ago when someone needed a writer, that person went through a marketing firm or relied on queries received after a call for submissions. In today’s “sharing economy,” writers can be found on the Internet easily, alongside people offering to design a company’s logo for $5 and manage entire marketing campaigns for $20. Unfortunately, this has led professionals to assume that the sharing economy is for amateurs.
As someone who earned half her income last year through Elance, I’m here to tell you that professional writers do have a place in crowdsourcing. Businesses of all sizes use these sites to find talent and some of those businesses are eager to pay professional rates. If you’ve dismissed crowdsourcing as a way to supplement your freelance writing income, here are three reasons to reconsider:
Even the busiest freelancer has slumps. One week your inbox is full of assignments and the next, you’re wondering if you’ll ever work again. Crowdsourcing gives you an option when it feels like all the editors have flown off to a tropical island somewhere. You can place a few proposals and maybe land an assignment or two. A couple of those assignments may even lead to ongoing work. The cost to join these sites and start bidding on jobs is minimal, so the only real cost is the time you’ll put into searching through all the requests for bids.
Experts Can Be Choosers
Before you sign up and begin searching for jobs, be aware that if you command a high per-word rate, you must learn to be selective. You’ve probably already discovered how to identify the low payers through their use of terms like, “Great opportunity to build your portfolio” and, “We don’t have a big budget, but we promise plenty of work.” Many of your proposals may be met with complete silence. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can find clients who will pay your rate.
Finding Your Niche
Many freelancers learn that having a niche allows them to set themselves apart from others. Medical writers can command top dollar, as can those willing to write about science and technology. In the crowdsourcing arena, you’ll likely find that postings for articles and blogs are highly competitive, which means clients can pay ridiculously low rates. However, clients are willing to pay far more for important content, and you’ll discover that you can bid top rates for landing page content, sales copy, and press releases. Focus on these areas and you’ll avoid wasting time bidding on jobs requesting 20 articles about wedding dresses.
Due to the competitive nature of crowdsourcing, many freelancers quickly get frustrated with the work required to successfully bid on jobs. However, when funds are low and jobs are scarce, crowdsourcing can provide a valuable source of income and possibly lead to regular, reasonable-paying, maybe even long-term work.
If you’re ready to get started with crowdsourcing, here are some of the best sites to find writing gigs:
Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of two middle grade novels, 25 Roses and 30 Days of No Gossip, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan chapter book series. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she worked in information systems for 13 years. Her work is regularly featured on a wide variety of blogs and websites, both under her own name and as a ghostwriter. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Neil. Visit her at http://www.stephaniefaris.com/.