t_munene
Member

My challenges as a top quality English writer in a non-native English speaking country

Hello Guys!

 

I have been a freelancer for quite a while now formerly being based at Elance. I am a top English web content writer. Although I have managed to have a descent flow of work, I am finding it hard to clinch better clients.

 

The problem is that the better-paying long-term clients are not very confident of writers from non-native English speaking countries.

 

I understand the clients' concerns with quality submissions; but how can a quality writer such as I rise above this barrier when clients simply look at my country of origin and write me off?

 

Rgds,

Tim

9 REPLIES 9
mgmason1975
Member

I would suggest having a thorough portfolio. If you have ready-made example files to provide, then certainly upload them to your profile and ensure you upload the best or most relevant when pitching for work. If they don't look that far, there is nothing that you can do, but it helps to show that your English is as good as that of a native.

 

Also, push it in your profile "Hi, I know I am not native English speaking, but please look at my samples and see how highly developed my English language communication is."

 

Hope that helps 🙂

If only clients would take time to look at the portfolios and samples... 😞

Hello,

 

 

I always strive to be authentic as I believe, as you mentioned, this is the best way to build a long-term career.

 

However, I am in a non-native English speaking country, Kenya (Africa), and my expertise is in web content writing.

 

As you can imagine, it is almost impossible to get a quality client since most clients immeadiately write-off any bids that are not from a native English speaking country.

 

Despite my top skills, I am still struggling to land suitable long-term clients.

 

I really don't know how to go around this problem since clients will often not bother to check out a freelancer's portfolio or samples to verify quality.

Hi Timothy,

I can't speak for other employers, but for projects that do not require someone in the USA for compliance reasons, we have no preference as to someone's country or even time zone.  The things that I look for include:


  • Rating (stars)
  • Hourly price or proposed price
  • Comments
  • Did the freelancer write a customized, thoughtful cover letter that addresses the details of the project, or just copy/paste something
  • Whether the freelancer has longer term project experience, or has mostly worked on smaller one off jobs
  • Nature of the work - does it fit the kind of project we are hiring for
  • Can the freelancer overlap his / her working our with ours at least half of our day (east coast US)
  • Other factors are considered with less weight like test scores,

 

We will gladly discount individual items above.  For example, if a freelancer does not have much experiene, we may take a risk if the hourly rate is low.  If someone doesn't have a lot of large project experience but has completed many (dozens or hundreds) of smaller tasks with high marks, we'll take a risk.  

 

Now, what good Upwork contractors have working in their favor is that there is truly a limited supply of desireable Upwork contractors and once you've proven yourself as part of that pool, you can demand attractive hourly rates regardless of where you are.  The challenge is to break into that group.  The only way is by getting as much work as you can.  The way to do this is how freelancers in any industry have for decades with or without Upwork: applying for seeming simplistic tasks, offer low prices to build up your experience and portfolio, etc.  I see lots of freelancers join Upwork and immediately set hourly rates of $40 /hr or more without any experience or rating, and I just shake my head.  No employer will interview them.  One must be proven and one must be willing to fight for as many projects in the beginning to establish a track record within Upwork.

 

This is why the attempt by some to fake their location is a failing strategy.  It is an attempt to short cut this process.  However, by shortcutting it, you accept unethical behavior that in my view makes it easy to justify yet more unethical behavior and will in the long run cause the freelancer faking their identity or location from making mistakes in client communication that will lead to lower stars.

 

You have to pay your dues.  This is true for employers too who struggled in their earlier periods to build their reputation with their clients.  They have created a reputation for themselves they must take care to protect with quality and on-time work.  They are carefuly, with good reason.  Take the steps above to show them they can trust you and you will win.

Good luck!

Sincerely,
Mark J. Jaklovsky
Polar Design


@Timothy M wrote:

Hello,

 

 

I always strive to be authentic as I believe, as you mentioned, this is the best way to build a long-term career.

 

However, I am in a non-native English speaking country, Kenya (Africa), and my expertise is in web content writing.

 

As you can imagine, it is almost impossible to get a quality client since most clients immeadiately write-off any bids that are not from a native English speaking country.

 

Despite my top skills, I am still struggling to land suitable long-term clients.

 

I really don't know how to go around this problem since clients will often not bother to check out a freelancer's portfolio or samples to verify quality.


 I saw your recommendation from Elance and that's awesome!

Maybe if you copied some of that review of your work into your bio it might attract some clients? 

*edited by me* Where did you learn English? Do you have a certificate? If you need one join Duolingo.com (a free language learning site) and they will give you a certificate (not free) once you pass their test. You can put the badge on your profile when you get it.

Your region might be concerning to some clients, but that's them. Just find clients who don't care about where you live, but care about your quality of writing. 

How about posting a video describing your talents? 

These are just suggestions and not guarantees that people will hire you. It's very difficult these days getting clients willing to pay more than a buck for 500 words these days (sort of an exaggeration) unless you're in a totally in demand and little-populated niche. 

A great bio and a great proposal helps a lot but I can't give you advice on how to make these things great since I still have no idea what attracts clients. lol. 

Just keep doing quickie contracts and get positive reviews, and also  find another source of income while you wait for long term contracts. 😉 

 

Yeah, I get it. I know sometimes they don't bother. However, that's no reason not to keep doing it. A high quality client will give you the time of day. An attention grabbing first sentence might help too.

 

Otherwise, perhaps you should look for clients somewhere other than Upwork. Your English language skill is very high quality. Are there no businesses near you, the next town or city, friends of friends, who may have work for you?

iaabraham
Member

Being in Mozambique, I have the same struggles, especially since I provide English proofreading & editing. I remember one client on Elance demanding proof that I am a native speaker.

 

There are a few things you can do, though, some of which others have already mentioned:

 

- Upload some great samples in your portfolio

- Verify your proficiency in English

- Draw attention to previous positive feedback

- Stress your educational background

- Perfect your overview (you have some errors in punctuation, unnecessary capitalization, etc.)

- Just keep trying - that's all we can do 😞

 

*Edited: Also, and some might disagree with this, the fact that you're not top rated and your JSS isn't over 90% might discourage potential clients.

tlsanders
Member

Timothy, I truly mean no offense, but your posts in this thread contain several grammatical and/or spelling errors. Your profile overview paragraph is also poorly written, with one monster-long sentence that is difficult to follow and another that is a run-on.

 

If you hope for clients to take a leap of faith regarding the non-native country issue, then you have to show them that you do not fall into the very issues that they fear from non-native speakers.

Thank you for all your inputs. I appreciate the eye-openers.