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Is this the going rate for writing on Upwork?

Active Member
Sherif G Member Since: Nov 25, 2018
1 of 14

I have been writing for a living for the past five years, and I have done it through Facebook, my blog and through some other freelancing sites.

Those didn't really provide a steady flow of work and I was advised by a friend who does animations as a freelancer to seek my luck with Upwork.

Now, I have been active on Upwork for almost a year, and my experience outside of it started to dwindle as I was trying to establish myself on the network as best as I can by focusing on jobs coming mainly from Upwork.

The problem is, the rates are usually quite low, I would search for days just to find a single decent enough paying job, and I am not asking for much, 0.025 cents per word, so, I am not getting a lot of work because I just can't swallow the very low pay.

The rates in most advertised jobs are as low as 0.001 cents per word.

Recently, I can't even get a new job for the last two months as the rates became ridiculously low, and I am starting to see a trend.

 

So sorry for the very long introduction, but this trend is worrying me a lot since I all but abandoned my blog and my Facebook profile to establish myself here, did I make a grave mistake? Is this the normal going rate for jobs on Upowrk?

 

Sorry again for the long post, write it off as a bad writer's habit of going too deep into details.

Community Guru
Michael S Member Since: Aug 29, 2017
2 of 14

To be blunt, if you worry about the "going rate" on Upwork, you've already lost half of the battle.

 

Don't focus on what someone else charges, since they may not have the same experience or ability that you do. Instead, focus on making sure your portfolio stands out to potential clients. Research what people with your specific knowledge and experience make in your area, and use that to come up with a rate that you feel is adequate and sustainable. That's the rate you charge. And if you've been 100% honest with yourself in evaluating that number, that's the number you stick to.

 

What you don't want to do is get caught up in trying to beat someone else's pricing. Nobody wins in a race to the bottom. And if you submit proposals below your normal rate, you're actually harming your chances. Why? Because that tells potential clients that you're not confident in your work or your experience.

 

Figure out a rate that's reasonable for you, back it up with your experience and portfolio, and bid what you're certain your work is worth (again, after being 100% honest with yourself and doing your homework). Being confident that you can deliver helps clients be confident that they can trust you with their project. And when they do trust you, do your best to show them they made the right choice.

 

Believe it or not, bidding more than what a client lists in the description doesn't mean they reject you outright. Sometimes they don't know what they're looking for, and are happy to pay a fair rate for good work. Will you still get clients rejecting you based solely on price? Yes. But you don't want those clients anyway, because they will never be satisfied. Those who who insist on paying the least, also demand the most. Let them and the low-ballers have each other.

 

As for your other means of finding work, don't give them up. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, and diversification is key. If you get caught up in a big project from another source, you can always change your availability until you've finished it.

Community Guru
Luce N Member Since: Oct 9, 2016
3 of 14

I agree with Michael. You have to bid what you think is reasonable. It doesn't work all the time, but it sometimes does. 

 

If you're worth more than what's offered, go ahead and fight for a decent price. Not all clients are looking for the cheapest freelancer, some also want quality, and they expect to have to pay for it.

Active Member
Sherif G Member Since: Nov 25, 2018
4 of 14

Thanks for the fast reply, but here is the problem, the rates are way too low on average that I can't think that the client would even consider my pricing, hence, I don't apply except to reasonably priced jobs.

 

This does limit me to applying at most to 5 jobs a month, and if I managed to get a single job, it would a happy month, one where I declare mass celebrations and free drinks to the masses.

 

Another fun fact, I never got scammed on any other site as I did on Upwork, some clients demand a discounted rate for future repeated jobs, and of course, it ends up being the one job and a bad 4.6 stars review to follow; another starts a job with a dozen milestones or so, then after the first milestone stops communicating, and so on.

 

I know that I am not a native, and this means that I can't ask past a certain mark, still seeing clients demanding an expert and offering 0.001 dollars per word is really absurd, yet the most annoying part of the whole conundrum is that they actually find people willing to work for these ridiculous amounts.

 

Sorry for babbling too much and thank you again for your kind reply.

Community Guru
Luce N Member Since: Oct 9, 2016
5 of 14

Sherif G wrote:

Thanks for the fast reply, but here is the problem, the rates are way too low on average that I can't think that the client would even consider my pricing, hence, I don't apply except to reasonably priced jobs.

 

This does limit me to applying at most to 5 jobs a month, and if I managed to get a single job, it would a happy month, one where I declare mass celebrations and free drinks to the masses.

 

Another fun fact, I never got scammed on any other site as I did on Upwork, some clients demand a discounted rate for future repeated jobs, and of course, it ends up being the one job and a bad 4.6 stars review to follow; another starts a job with a dozen milestones or so, then after the first milestone stops communicating, and so on.

 

I know that I am not a native, and this means that I can't ask past a certain mark, still seeing clients demanding an expert and offering 0.001 dollars per word is really absurd, yet the most annoying part of the whole conundrum is that they actually find people willing to work for these ridiculous amounts.

 

Sorry for babbling too much and thank you again for your kind reply.


I don't think you're babbling. There are tons of freelancers complaining about those who think it's smart to offer to work for next to nothing.

 

As for the clients who say there will be more work to follow, that's their problem, not mine. I never believe them, I know it's just to make you feel like lowering your price.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
6 of 14

Sherif G wrote:

Thanks for the fast reply, but here is the problem, the rates are way too low on average that I can't think that the client would even consider my pricing, hence, I don't apply except to reasonably priced jobs.


You would be better informed and potentially more productive and happier if you would stop thinking (or stop "can't think"ing) and listen to what seasoned professionals here are telling you about bidding your worth. You are not applying to "reasonably priced jobs," but unreasonably priced jobs. For an idea of reasonable prices, the Editorial Freelancers Association rate survey is a good place to start. My clients have no trouble paying those rates.

Active Member
Sherif G Member Since: Nov 25, 2018
7 of 14
Thank you for supplying these prices, but in all honesty, I would be very worry of trying to apply them to my work, as there is the certain fact that I am not a native of any English speaking country. I might have lived for some years in the UK, and I even have my master degree from there, but still, clients see me as a non-native English speaker, and this makes a big difference when everything is put on the table of discussion. I speak three languages, and I have been published in all three of them in some really prestigious publications, but most clients don't really care for that, they just look at my location and my price bracket is settled for them. I don't mind a 3 cents per word contract, as long as it is a long term one, and I usually charge between 3-5 cents per word as a regular rate, what I am complaining about is the ridiculous rates that are as low as 0.1 cent per word, and the fact that some freelancers actually accept this kind of work. One last note of importance, I have been only on Upwork for a single year, and even though at heart I am a novelist, I had to accept other forms of writing to make ends meet over the years, I don't have a special degree in English to try to get editorial work, hence, I try to get what I can at a reasonable rate, which became rather difficult of late. Again, thank you for the reference payment sheet, but I don't think that I can charge that much for my work for all the reason mentioned above.
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
8 of 14

Sherif, I understand and sympathize with your situation. The market here is dominated by US buyers. We Americans are notoriously ignorant—at best—about the wealth of professional talent that exists outside our borders. I would never discount difficulties related to US prejudices.

My point in posting the benchmark rates—including for writing, not just editorial work—was not to suggest that you can command those rates at will. I do suggest that they are, practically as well as psyhologically, a better basis for calculating achievable rates here than trying to work upward from the rates of the bottom feeders.

I would urge you not to second-guess what "most clients" care about. You can't read their minds. And you don't want most clients. You want the clients who will recognize your worth and pay for it. Foreground your experience and qualifications, with the twist that you orient everything to meeting client needs: "If you are looking for publication in prestigious journals, I am a writer who knows how to get there, as shown by my publications in..."

Again, I would never want to make light of the well-documented challenges you face on Upwork. I do suggest you give some of your concerns more weight than they deserve.

And I have no formal qualifications for the work I do.

 

Best,

Michael

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
9 of 14

Sherif G wrote:
Thank you for supplying these prices, but in all honesty, I would be very worry of trying to apply them to my work, as there is the certain fact that I am not a native of any English speaking country. I might have lived for some years in the UK, and I even have my master degree from there, but still, clients see me as a non-native English speaker, and this makes a big difference when everything is put on the table of discussion. I speak three languages, and I have been published in all three of them in some really prestigious publications, but most clients don't really care for that, they just look at my location and my price bracket is settled for them. I don't mind a 3 cents per word contract, as long as it is a long term one, and I usually charge between 3-5 cents per word as a regular rate, what I am complaining about is the ridiculous rates that are as low as 0.1 cent per word, and the fact that some freelancers actually accept this kind of work. One last note of importance, I have been only on Upwork for a single year, and even though at heart I am a novelist, I had to accept other forms of writing to make ends meet over the years, I don't have a special degree in English to try to get editorial work, hence, I try to get what I can at a reasonable rate, which became rather difficult of late. Again, thank you for the reference payment sheet, but I don't think that I can charge that much for my work for all the reason mentioned above.

______________________

 

Sherif,

 

Your English is excellent, so stop worrying about being a native speaker or not. Believe me I have edited (or rather, tried to)  native speakers whose English is so bad, I haven't known where to begin. What is important about writing is that you get your point across as originally and as concisely as is possible (nutshell). 

 

You absolutely do not want to work for clients who look at your location and think they can get you cheap, and who assume your writing will not be up to native level. This sort of client will not only bleed you but will demand refunds on the slightest pretext.  

 

On Upwork, as Michael says, you are up against thousands (perhaps millions) of writers, so you may have to refine your niche. Specialize in a few areas: Egypt, for example - history - the hospitality industry etc.

 

You could also consider doing hourly jobs (with Upwork's tracker), so that you are sure of being paid correctly. Whatever you do, do not give up any work you may already have or get away from Upwork. 

Freelancing is not exclusive to Upwork - so take work where you can, and IMO you can comfortably claim that you can write in English, but find a niche. Most important, is that you stop underestimating yourself.  

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 14

Personally I think your profile could be hugely improved. As a writer you must surely know that starting 7 out of 9 paragraphs with "I" is poor. It does not read like a writer's overview, more like a half-hearted list of what you do.

 

If you are a doctor, you may want to specialize in medical writing, where the fact that your English is not native matters far less and the rates are considerably higher. You'll get paid for your expertise, not for your English level.

 

As a generalist, you will encounter the low rates AND will get marked down for your English. You also do yourself no favours claiming "native" English skills on your profile, when that just isn't true.

 


Sherif G wrote:
I might have lived for some years in the UK, and I even have my master degree from there,

If you have a Masters degree, why is that not mentioned on your profile?

 

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