Hire Me on oDesk

The On Demand Global Workforce - oDesk

Follow by Email

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Indentured Servitude

I have made my first foray into the world of freelance writing...or should I say, 'indentured servitude.'

It's been a real eye-opener for this perennially somewhat naïve gal. In order to get one's foot in the door, one must find someone willing to take a chance on a complete newbie. This means competing against folks from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, etc., all of whom claim they speak fluent English and work for less than a dollar an hour. It means bidding on the lowest-paying jobs, sometimes working for employers who can't write a coherent sentence themselves and arguably can't judge the quality of the work provided. But if I can get a few willing souls to take a chance on me, and if they post excellent reviews of my work product on the site, then, in theory, I can eventually command a more respectable wage for my writing from those choosier employers in America and the UK.

A lot of it's editing and proofreading non-native English but some of it's downright scandalous, it strikes me: people seeking individuals to click ads on their websites so they can reap ad income, or offering fifty cents to have someone write an article that they then turn around and sell to a website that pays them considerably more. Hard to know what's worse--that someone would pawn someone else's work off as their own or that so many folks are willing to do so to make make mere pennies.

So now I've returned to being one of the downtrodden masses, it seems. Well, I suppose it's good to be humbled every once in a while. But it is shocking to think that people will advertise for someone to ghostwrite a book based on a skeleton of an idea, pay them perhaps $20 and then try to get it published as if it were their own. Ugh.

Yesterday I spent 4-1/2 hours completely overhauling 10 review articles for someone in Lithuania who's paying me $4.50. That's a flat rate, not per hour! Kind of surreal. I try not to think of what I was paid by the hour back in the States. But if it's an investment in building up a freelance sideline or even mainstream income, then I am willing to bite the bullet. After all, I'm trying to finance what I consider to be a pretty darned idyllic lifestyle here in France, away from the massive overhead of mortgages, heavy taxes and overpriced insurance. I have to remind myself that more than 50% of my take-home pay back in the USA went solely toward the overhead on my houses.

Here in France I have a teensy house (and still have trouble finding the time to keep it as clean as I'd like) with no mortgage, and my expenses consisting of taxes, insurance, water, sewer and utilities run me less than 1500 euros per year. That's about $2500 which, itself, is not much more than my former monthly mortgage payment! So I am truly blessed.

That said, I still have to eat and put petrol ($7.75/gallon here) in the car so a dollar an hour wages isn't going to cut it long-term. But hopefully it's just a stepping stone to more lucrative writing jobs down the road.

I'd keep my fingers crossed but it's so hard to type that way....

No comments: