Earlier today my eye was caught by the headline, Finding Freelance Work Overseas.
“Great!” I thought. “Maybe I can pick up some tips and pointers for making my work location independent.” (I’ve posted about this before.)
In a word, wrong!
The author wrote:
The following are some helpful resources to get you started working freelance jobs overseas. These are just a couple. The internet is full of resources to find freelance work abroad, but these three I have personal experience with so I feel comfortable recommending them. ”
She then went on to announce that she’s a writer and editor. Well, I’m a writer too, so you’d think her recommendations would be worth something. Here’s what she suggested.
Let’s take them in order.
I like Craigslist for selling furniture. But for jobs? Not so much. Just for jollies I looked in the edición/escritura (editor/writer) category to see what’s available for freelance writers in Mexico, one of my possible country choices. Out of five listings, two were mis-categorized. One was for a freelance journalist/stringer, location didn’t matter. Two were in Mexico City for a copywriter and online content writer, respectively. OK, so realistically two possibilities. Except one required bilingual fluency in English and Spanish, so realistically one possibility. And the listings were old.
So I checked my other country choices. Ecuador, no listings. Malaysia, no listings. Panama. OK, here we go. Four listings (dating back to March 29). One was identical to the Mexico freelance journalist listing, two were for travel writers based in Panama, and one actually looked interesting. However, it did not appear to be a freelance position but a full-time staff spot.
Of course, you don’t have to find listings specific to the country you’re in — that’s the beauty of the internet. But I know from extensive personal experience that finding freelance writing gigs on the US version of Craigslist is pretty much a non-starter as well. I’ll admit I haven’t checked out the UK, Australia or New Zealand locations, but any postings there are most likely looking for writers fluent in British English or Aussie English, not American English. (Yes, there are significant differences.)
On elance, as a freelancer you “bid” on projects that interest you. You’re competing with “writers” from India, China, and the Eastern bloc countries who are apparently willing to write for 50 or 75 cents per 600 words. Depending on the writer’s knowledge of the subject, that could take an hour or more to write. If you add research time, it could eat up three-four hours. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to work for 25 cents/hour or less!
Similar to Elance in that the freelancers “bid” for jobs. Here are a few I found:
“Need 150 Articles – Quick” for the generous sum of $150. That’s $1 per article. Articles must be 500 words.
“Need Blogger/Article Writer for 100 Posts/Reviews” also for $1 per article, alternating between 250 words and 500 words. They also require an image to be submitted with each post and they retain copyright.
Here’s one that’s more generous. “I need writers who are able to produce 10 articles of 500 words per day.” OK, let’s do that math. 500 words, figure an optimistic average of 2 hours per article. 10 articles per day would be 20 hours. For $3.
Can anyone spell “s-l-a-v-e l-a-b-o-r”?
I’m not saying that nobody ever makes a reasonable wage for taking on a project from these sites, but how much time do you have to spend sifting through the garbage before you find something that’s even worth “bidding” on?
For those of you considering taking on freelance assignments to finance your life overseas, please don’t depend on Craigsist, Elance or Freelancer. You can do better than that — much, much better!
And Cathy Brown of Expat Daily News South America, you should be ashamed of yourself for these recommendations.
Are you a freelancer? Do you have sources for getting assignments that you would recommend? I’d love to hear about them. I’ll be putting together a post of sources I recommend in the near future, and would be happy to include yours. You can send them along by posting a Comment below, or sending me an email.