I received a freelancing request last night, and the communication spilled over to this morning.

The request was to create a 15,000 word piece on female masturbation. In the job spec, they were looking for writers from the UK, USA, or Canada, and wanted a number of sample pieces before the interview process began.

This came through oDesk (a freelancing site that I used at the start of my career and still keep a profile on). I don’t actively seek out work on oDesk any more, but I do keep the profile up and running as sometimes those looking for adult writers come across my info, then make their way to my site. I tend to brace myself when I get oDesk job interview requests through, for a number of reasons. First, it’s not unheard of for the interviewees to take the samples you send them and do a runner. Get 100 people applying to a job, you’ve got yourself 100 free pieces of writing. The site is also used by a large number of contractors from countries where the standard of living is quite low, and as a result, the payment rates are very minimal. I’ve often seen writing jobs posted for less than half a penny a word.

Given the fact that the job poster was very specific about wanting native-English speaking writers, though, I was thrown for a bit of a loop with the offer – $250, or around $0.017 per word. I usually just click the ‘Decline’ button on these and send the reason as “Rate Too Low”, leaving it at that. For some reason, I thought I’d find out a bit more about this, so I accepted the interview and sent this message.

“Hello,

Thank you or this invitation to interview. I do have a quick question about your listing before I go into your questions…

You are offering a $250 payment in exchange for 15,000 words? As in less than two cents per word? 

If that’s the case, I’m afraid I’m not the writer you are looking for. My minimum rate on these types of work is $0.04 per word, meaning a 15k piece would cost you $600 plus oDesk fees. 
If that is within your budget, please let me know and I’ll send over the interview questions in the morning. 

Many thanks.”

Now, I must confess – my miminum rate for this kind of work is greater than $0.04 per word, but I think if I went any higher, I wasn’t going to get any dialogue back. Just an immediate “End”. Looks like my technique worked, as this was the reply.

The company’s reason for ending the application: Rate/bid too high

Additional Message from person posting the job:

“You answered your own question. You are not the writer I’m looking for, at least not for this project. This is my first project on odesk, but has been using freelancer for a long time, and never paid any more, because there are people who write very well down to 1 cent a word. And as long as some are that stupid, I rather outsource, than write it myself and get someone to translate it. Still, with your pricing, it would still be worth to outsource it.  
 
Thanks anyway, maybe I will ask you for other projects later.”

Best regards,  
Erlend Walle

[Erlend Walle is searching for contractors on oDesk under the company name "Walle Marketing"]

Seriously. Read it again : “As long as some are that stupid, I rather outsource, than write it myself.”

I’ll leave this post as it is. I don’t want to rant and rave about people undervaluing their writing. Just keep in mind that there are many folks like Erlend Walle out there who think you are a sucker for selling yourself short.

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