Start Working For Free

Freelance writer sites are wrong.

My Universal Credit work coach suggested I pitch for writing jobs online, via Fiverr, ‘the world’s largest freelance services marketplace for lean entrepreneurs.’ The reason they are so lean, I suppose, is because they can’t afford to eat. Minimum payment for any job – or ‘gig’ – is only $5 and Fiverr takes 20% commission – one of those five bucks.

As Fiverr is a global marketplace, one competes with people in far-flung corners of the former British Empire, who are not so much lean as downright skinny. Still, their written English is OK and they are willing to work for next to nothing. Talking of which, some online hucksters suggest the easiest way money may be made, selling digital services through Fiverr, is by outsourcing the actual work via SEO Clerks.

Fiverr is like a brothel: sellers flaunt their wares – or ‘gigs’ – for buyers to choose. In order to catch the eye of a horny john, however, a whore needs a decent ranking. “So,” comments my UC work coach, “you work cheaply at first, to build  a reputation.” It is not so simple to get one’s first gigs, though. A Top Tip for new sellers on Fiverr, unofficially, is to ask friends to pretend to buy your services and then leave glowing reviews. If you don’t have friends, set up bogus accounts.

Appalled by the amorality of  Fiverr, I looked at Upwork, where freelancers bid on jobs posted by prospective clients. For instances: ‘The rate is 1.5$ per 100 words you write’; ‘Total pay for the two 1000 word articles is $5’; ‘$2.40 per 400 word article.’ Crumbs! I asked on the popular Facebook page, Stop Working For Free, ‘Can anyone suggest UK-based freelancer sites that may offer more realistic rates?’

The answer was an emphatic, NO: ‘Freelancer sites, in my experience, all suck,’ said one. ‘Stay away from the freelance writing sites. Please,’ beseeched another. ‘They don’t pay more than peanuts and they never will.’

Thing is, as any fool knows, only monkeys work for peanuts: ‘I need native English writers – $13/1000 words. Please note that we have very high editorial standards compared to most other blogs. Article must be 100% original. This is a ghostwriting position and I will retain all rights to the work.’ Buddy, if you expect to pay me £8.50, net, to craft 1,000 words, how high can your editorial standards really be?

On Twitter, the Writing Gigs feed offers, ‘an opportunity for those who have writing skills and want to make up to $79 per hour… We have unlimited work load and you can work at home remotely, part time or full time.’ It’s URL defaults to a ‘job application‘ form that lets one choose how much one wants to be paid for however many hours one is disposed to work. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Completion of the form leads to,, which hosts a very persuasive video, enticing wannabe writers, irrespective of experience, to sign up for as much well-paid work as they can handle. ‘Now Available In: England. With 16221 Facebook Fans‘. All you have to do is pay £27.50 (equivalent) to access their ‘dashboard’.

‘The intro, ‘are you ready to make $2000 to $10K just by writing from the comfort of your own home,’ was enough to know it’s a scam,’ was one comment on the absolutewrite forum. ‘It certainly has all the hallmarks of a scam: hard sell; limited opportunities countdown; offers lots of money really quickly,’ said another. ‘I sat through the really long hard sell video so you don’t have to,’ said a third. ‘Save your $34.00,’ was the consensus advice. In fact, you’ll save more than that if this iteration of the scam is exactly like it’s predecessor, Real Writing Jobs!

Earning real money writing from home – or anywhere, on my laptop! – remains an implausible dream. Still, while there’s evidently no shortage of budding writers, how many can write engagingly? Similarly, there’s plenty of prospective clients, but where are those who recognise quality and are prepared to pay for it? Not at, that’s for sure: ‘No actual jobs at this site. Use Upwork instead because it is free, you can filter out the dross, and they have 1,000s real jobs that you must be qualified for.’ I hear that!

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