“Avoid Freelancer. It’s a race to the bottom.”
That’s the first bit of advice I received when I assumed the role of ‘definitely a copywriter’.
Actually, that was the second piece of advice. You know, after, “What the fuck are you doing? You don’t even know how to use commas?!”
It was a valuable lesson from a real life writer. That’s why I ignored it.
Now five months in, and still experiencing professional freefall, I’ll happily admit he was right.
Yes. Freelancer is a race to the bottom.
Not because the money’s dreadful. That’s a given.
No, it’s a race to the bottom because most employers don’t want words, they want tripe. Or they want writers who are happy to transform their tripe into andouillette.
I guess that’s great if you’re developing a haggis-shaped, entry-level portfolio. But maybe it’s not so great if you aren’t.
As I’m going for more of a century egg vibe, I’ve been forced to trash a lot of blue collar, gourmet work.
So I thought I’d post what I’ve learned about Freelancer here. It’s expert advice. Yes, all $291.48 and €17 of it.
How’s Freelancer Different From Other Platforms?
Freelancer isn’t really that different from other online freelance marketplaces. Whether you’re comparing to Upwork, Fiverr, or Worksome. Sure one’s got a blue logo, one has a light green logo, another’s more bile-tinged, but the principles are the same.
The setup’s simple. Employers post projects, then freelancers submit proposals to secure them. In the case of copy writing, employers review the proposals then select a worthy butcher.
When bidding for a project, success depends on a range of factors. How willing the writer is to work for below minimum wage, how many times they’ve already whored themselves out (ironically, the more the better), and whether the person still has enough savings to pay for their proposal to appear first.
However, while the other sites are largely the same, my experiences on Freelancer have been strange.
Freelancer Employers Love Sex and Erotica
First, I noticed that a lot of employers on Freelancer are perverts.
The first project I won was to rewrite the SEO title, meta description and footer for a premier adult tube, let’s call it Sleaze Miners.
This job was legit and quite fun.
I thought my work was particularly creative too. Here’s a sample:
“Sleaze Miners dig deep down the shaft of depravity to bring you the hottest, wettest, nastiest free porn videos online. Cum penetrate our latest hardcore quarry.”Henry’s First Freelance Writing Project
It’s good, isn’t it?! I bet you would have taken the easy option and misinterpreted the ‘Miners’ bit.
Anyway, great. That’s a realistic, manageable project. But it’s definitely about sex.
A lot of the listings just are.
Last week I stumbled on a job listing to write an op-ed for Ian Cox.
Haven’t heard of him?
He’s a sexual-explorer-cum-inventor who discovered how to extend the duration of the male orgasm 14-fold. How? By tying cords around his testacles.
He wanted someone to pitch an article about his life’s work to Men’s Health. I would have helped, but his blog made me realise my complete sexually inadequacy. Seven minutes? Surely not.
Seperately, back in August I wrote a wonderful listicle for rather ameuturish erotic sex shop, Heated Erotica.
Unfortunately, my work wasn’t accepted. Apparently ‘Premature Ejaculation Needn’t Be The End’ didn’t satisfy.
Lesson 1: Freelancers full of deviants who need help peddling their perversions. More evidence that sex sells.
You Can Specialise In Writing Fake Reviews
You know Alibaba?
It’s the online marketplace where you can order industrial quantities of crap from China. Westerners buy goods by the container, then sell them to their gluttonous neighbours through Amazon’s Fulfillment service.
So yeah, Alibaba is the Amazon FBA Seller’s Mecca.
A lot of would be Amazon FBA Sellers commission work on the platform. So, it seems funny that a lot of Chinese manufacturers regularly post listings offering $40 for a fake review on the platform.
I guess it’s hard to police.
Lesson 2: Freelancer is the reason your Amazon FBA Business failed.
Coders Prefer Upwork To Freelancer
Why is this relevant? Well, Freelancer taught me that coders prefer Upwork.
Chinese coders regularly offer me $200 a month to use my Upwork Account and IP Address.
Don’t worry, you won’t be caught in the middle of price fixing scandal if you just say no.
Lesson 3: Freelancer and Upwork appear to be in cahoots.
Native English Speakers Can Charge A Premium
A lot of freelancers claim to be expert English writers, but don’t speak the language.
That’s why it’s so easy to make a killing on Freelancer in the copywriting competitions.
However, it’s a double edged sword. A lot of employers can’t speak English either.
This can make it quite the challenge when you’ve been commissioned to write a tagline or come up with a new brand name.
As a tip, I’ve found that they often like fancy Latin words and portmanteau name suggestions.
For instance, if they have a fitness brand and their core values are love, you’d be onto a winner if you suggested a name like LoNess, or Squit (love squeeze fit – remember, the ‘love’ is silent).
Practically, it means that a lot of the briefs are pretty shit.
But that’s a new skill for your CV, right?
Lesson 4: If the future is Freelancer, the future is broken English.
Perhaps I should stop staring into my screen, but scarily, I think Freelancer represents the future.
How can you justify hiring, let’s say an illustrator full-time at £25k pa, when you can commission a logo that’s 80% there for £5?
Maybe the road towards meritocracy is acceptance that right now, employers might be overvaluing output and skills.
Lesson 5: Perhaps the future is writing about sex and letting other people use your IP address.
Inspired By Freelancer
On a less dour note, Freelancer has been a great inspiration for Secret Santa presents.
If I get a job by December, I’m getting my secret santa these testicle tighteners.