I have been pretty busy the past month or so with some excellent assignments and terrific clients. I learned, or rather I should say re-learned a valuable lesson about selling oneself cheaply. Don’t do it. I agreed to write a novella of 35,000 words or so for US$800. Never again. The client took forever to fund the project via Elance escrow and only after I had finished it and was hanging on to the manuscript awaiting payment. He also tried to cut our agreed fee because he was having money issues, mostly from not taking into account the exchange rate and the Elance fees. Not my problem, basically as I wrote the book on time and to the highest standard. Anyway, no more ‘quick, cheap jobs’ for me as they are more trouble than they are worth. Funny how when you have a client who is wiling to pay a fair fee for your services you never have problems, only when you do favours or cut your rates.
Prospecting for work on Elance lately I have come across numerous dreamer jobs. Not dream jobs, but jobs put up by dreamers. One wants a 244 page book read and reviewed in 2,000 – 2,500 words to academic standards for, wait for it, $0.003 per word. That’s a third of a cent per word. Another wants 1,000 words, again they must be academic standard, for an eighth of a cent per word. What amazed me was that not all those chasing these jobs lived in India, Pakistan, the Philippines or Nigeria. I appreciate our writing colleagues in these countries can work for much less, but some respondents were in the USA, UK and Canada. I did notice they were new with no jobs up or feedback given and I was willing to work for free to get some runs on the board when I first began, too. I would still caution anyone about working for someone with so little budget, or worse, so little regard for a writer’s skills and time. Don’t do it.
Unless you are absolutely cash strapped or desperate, hold out. Pick and choose the jobs you bid for. Specialise and make one or two areas your own. I do ghostwriting, particularly eBooks and high end articles. If they don’t work out around the $50/hour mark then I really need to either love the project or have nothing else to do to chase them. Never forget, time you spend working on your business is as valuable and vital as time spent working in it. Spend the time prospecting, networking, finding better clients rather than toiling away for fractions of a penny.