What I’m Learning from Freelancing on Elance

I decided I would try out one job on Elance to see how I like it. Thus far, I’m really enjoying the assignment I took on. I’m writing 5 articles about guitars–something I’m genuinely passionate about–and it’s been a good exercise in making me feel like less of a writing failure. Also, it’s been good for motivating me to write at least 1,000 words a day. But after this assignment, I don’t know if I want to take on anymore jobs at Elance.

I’ve been looking for any follow-up assignments that would be similar to this one. But so far, all I’m finding are people looking for ghost writers to write their e-books, and it’s making me lose faith in the e-book author community. Do any of you write your own books?! I scrolled through 7 pages of lazy e-book “authors” (and I use that term, author, very lightly, because so many of them don’t even have a story layout for you to go by and just expect you to do all the work for $85). If I really want to sit down and write a 20k 50 Shades of Grey style romance in e-book format, I would do so and sell it under my own name and take the profit for myself. It would be better in the long-term if I am really going to devote the amount of time it takes to write a book THAT WOULD ACTUALLY SELL if I did it for me, instead of someone who wants to give me a pay-out of $85 and wants me to have it done in 6 months. Um no. That’s not how writing a book works. Try again.

I’m not finding any assignments similar to what I’m doing now, just these propositions to get cheap freelancers to write books for people who would then market themselves as authors. Since I’m considering e-publishing my book when I am finished with it and if I don’t find a traditional publisher for it, I’m fairly active in the e-publishing community. If I read a good e-book, I like to promote it and help the author out. But seeing this is disheartening and making me honestly question an author before I actually help them out, because I have absolutely ZERO respect for people who market themselves as something they are not. (And no, you’re not an author and you have no right to call yourself that if you didn’t write your own book and I won’t read your book, because marketing someone else’s work as your own is dishonest and cheating.) It is insulting to me that I put in all this time on my book because it is an act of love and something I am very passionate about, as are most other people who write for a living, and there are people out there who approach this industry as a way of making “easy money” and can’t even be bothered with penning their own works.

Anyway, this isn’t just about how many fakes there are out there marketing themselves as authors. I actually wanted to write a pretty good review of my experiences so far with Elance, for anyone who is considering trying the site out. I originally signed up on Elance for translation jobs, but there aren’t a lot of translations for the particular skills I have (I do German to English and English to German translation). Or, if I do find a job in that area, they are asking for a native German speaker (and I understand why, because American universities have such low standards for how much formal training you actually need in order to get a Bachelor’s degree in foreign language, that a lot of the majors I’ve met who haven’t spent any time abroad for real-life language practice are not equipped to do certain translations) and refuse anyone other than that, no matter if you have the credentials or a very good portfolio. They just won’t even look at your proposal. The translation thing hasn’t really been working out on Elance for me.

But if I could find more jobs similar to what I’m doing now (in-depth informative content writing jobs for around the same amount of money I’m being per article), I’d totally be content with Elance. I’m not finding that though. I’m really disappointed with the types of jobs I’m finding there. There are so many firms that want you to write 10 articles in a very small amount of time for only $1-$5 per article, and I just don’t think that’s worth it. If you want me to write 10 articles in a day, you need to pay me more than $5 per article, especially if you want something that’s more than 500 words and you require extensive research into the subject. Research takes time and if I have to do 10 of these in a day, it’s just not happening. . .especially not a $1 per article (and I’m not exaggerating, the pay is really that low).

My experience with Elance ultimately has clued me in to what society seems to think of freelancers. They seem to think we’re gullible, desperate sods who would do huge amounts of work for basically free. But it hasn’t been an entirely negative experience. There are some good jobs on there occasionally, but they do get claimed pretty fast.


10 thoughts on “What I’m Learning from Freelancing on Elance

  1. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Sucks that writers are treated like chattel. Oh well, at least it wasn’t entirely negative. Hope you find the assignment/s you’re looking for sooner than later!

    • nikkibausch says:

      Well, the guitar assignment was a big success and I am hoping to get a gig translating an English children’s book to German soon. But I am competing with a lot of native speakers on this one. It might not happen.

  2. ellisnelson says:

    Hey Nikki-
    I’ve seen the ridiculous ads on elance for ghostwriters too! I saw one where someone wanted help to bring their idea to market and get it on Amazon’s bestsellers list as quick as possible. Yeah, right!!

    I wanted to point out that not all e books are self-published. My novel is published by a small company and my book is available as an e book and paperback. Most people who self-publish really do write their own books. So it’s only a small group who are on elance looking for a sucker to write a novel for a ridiculous sum. I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I’m sure these jobs are awarded and no doubt some of them go on to being self-published. Take comfort in the knowledge that they’ll never make any money. Yes, in these cases, someone does claim being an author, but nowadays it means next to nothing unless you’re on the NY Times Bestseller’s List.


    • nikkibausch says:

      Hey, sorry it took me so long to get back to your comment. It was my first week of classes and I was a bit overwhelmed after doing nothing for a few months. One particular job listing that stood out to me was someone asking for a person with connections to the publishing world to write their book for them and to get it published. LOL I can’t even begin to fathom the amount of entitlement in that post.

      When I wrote this, I forgot all about people who are published by smaller presses and firms, or by larger ones and have their books out as e-books too for wider accessibility. I was speaking strictly on these kinds of people who aren’t really interested in the writing process itself, just on making money quickly and would rather not have any involvement with publishers and just sell their works online.

      Personally, I think the NY Times Bestseller’s List is overrated. I mean, Snookie is a bestselling author. Snookie!

      • ellisnelson says:

        I know! I know. Unfortunately many people think they can write and when they finally get something book length, they go ahead and self-publish it thinking they’ll make big bucks. The book industry is not good at telling people that it is rare for a book to make money (even for big publishers). Those few rare commercially successful books pay for the rest (so that’s where Snookie’s star power comes in, her success actually allows a real writer the opportunity to get a book out into the marketplace). It’s a sad industry in a lot of ways,
        but it does reflect how Americans don’t value reading overall. I won’t go into those depressing stats!

  3. I totally agree with you! I wish I could find an online writing job but I believe that i should improve my writing skills first. I tried Elance once and it was a good experience. about writing our own book! oh i wish! i am waiting for that day LOL! but i always try to motivate myself and work on my skills, imagination and writing styles!
    I just found your blog and i am glad i did!
    Today i got nominated for the the LIEBSTER Award! and now i nominate you! Congratulations and enjoy! http://writinggallery.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/writing-gallery-is-nominated-for-the-liebster-award/

    • nikkibausch says:

      Hey, thanks for the nomination!
      As far as the jobs being lucrative, they’re not really, but they’re a great way to motivate yourself to do some more writing and inspire yourself while being productive.
      And why do you have to wait to start writing a book? I say dive right in and give it a try. The main struggle with writing a book is frequency of writing and getting to that book length. It can get kind of hard to keep going on book projects, sometimes, but pushing yourself to write more is all a part of practicing as well.

      • Thank you for the encouragement! I have many ideas on my mind and that’s a problem because I need to focus on one thing only!

      • nikkibausch says:

        I have the same problem lol. See my entry like 3 blog entries ago lol. I’m working on my fantasy project and my novel that I’m supposed to be finished with next summer simultaneously, along with random translations, articles, and short stories. I’ve got too much I want to do!

      • You make everything seems real and inspiring! Good luck! I have got to start too!

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