Every day, many people come online to make a living as a writer — hoping to enjoy the freedom they desire by engaging themselves in content writing jobs from the comfort of their homes. Naturally, the first option they get introduced to is sites like Upwork (formerly oDesk), Guru and Freelancer.com — often unaware that there are better alternatives to sites like Upwork. Instead of freedom, they get slavery. It’s not long before they find that they are running another rat race. They quickly discover that they are stuck in a never-ending hamster wheel of servitude to “clients,” with nothing to show for it. The “earn a good living by doing content writing jobs from home” dream they’ve been sold suddenly seems like an illusion.
This is bad. I strongly believe that to make a good living as a freelance writer, you need to think beyond Upwork, Guru, Freelancer.com and so called “freelance bidding sites.” You need to look for reliable, better-paying alternatives to these sites.
I’m not a fan of Upwork, Guru and the likes, and I don’t hide this fact. This is due to how these sites are set up to exploit writers and other freelancers, and how little they value these freelancers, who are actually the driving force behind the success of their site.
Things are hard everywhere right now. There’s a world economic crisis, and a recession is looming. Over here in Nigeria, where I am, the cost of goods has skyrocketed and some goods now easily cost thrice the original price. Truth is, the cost of living has skyrocketed everywhere, yet there seems to be an overwhelming number of people, often encouraged by sites such as Upwork, who are willing to pay writers peanuts for their efforts. It makes no economic sense.
I don’t believe you should earn $3 per article: not only is earning such low pay highly insulting, it makes no economic sense. That said, it’s easier to blame and bash sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com all day, but I won’t do that. Instead, I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I went ahead and researched a list of 10 better-paying alternatives to Upwork (formerly oDesk), Guru, Freelancer.com, etc, that will pay you a premium for your work. Many of these sites do not just facilitate relationships with clients that will pay you up to $50 or more per article, they encourage paying freelancers a premium. In fact, the main reason why these sites were created is to deliver creative people like you from the jaws of sites like Upwork. More importantly, I know a few people working for some of the sites featured below, so you can rest assured that they work!
Why You Need Alternatives to Upwork, Freelancer.com and Guru.com
I occasionally get emails from people who tell me that they are doing well on Upwork, Guru, iWriter, Freelancer.com and the likes. Heck, here’s a guy who makes $100,000 a year from Upwork. If sites like Upwork work for you, by all means stick to them. However, for the vast majority of people, I don’t think Upwork and its ilk are a good option. Here’s why:
It’s a race to the bottom: It just doesn’t get better with these sites, and 99 percent of people won’t succeed with them. Below is a chart I made while analyzing jobs on these sites for one of my ebooks a few years back:
Things haven’t changed since I did the above analysis, and I doubt it will be changing anytime soon.
As you can see from the above chart, more than 40 percent of the freelance writing jobs listed on one of the sites, Freelancer.com, pays less than $15 per hour. In fact, as shocking as this may sound, 21 of the 64 freelance writing jobs analyzed pay less than $4 per hour. Yes, that’s $4 (single “four”) per HOUR. My analysis shows that approximately 33 percent of freelance writing jobs on these sites pay $4 or less per hour. You just can’t win with that!
The environment is setup to help the clients: As far as sites like Upwork, Freelancer.com and Guru.com are concerned, it doesn’t matter if they have 1 million freelancers or 10 million freelancers that are being paid peanuts; all is well as long as clients keep using their services and they keep getting commissions. Just to show you how little they care about you, the freelancer, besides creating an environment that allows clients to exploit writers who apparently don’t have much of a choice, they also do not charge clients at all. They make their money by taking a cut out of what clients pay you (which is already very low, thanks to the environment they created!). In what seems to be a new plan to start charging clients, Upwork recently announced that they will be charging clients a fee of 2.75 percent. Guess how much they charge freelancers? As much as 20 percent. Yes, they charge the freelancers who barely make a thing with them — those that need their services the most — a whopping 20 percent of the peanuts these freelancers earn on their platform. It just goes to show how much they care!
You can’t compete with their army of half-baked writers: While there are some great and talented writers on these platforms who are there because they can’t find better alternatives (they people I wrote this article for!), most are half-baked writers who are desperate to do anything to get a client. Many will happily charge $1 or $2 per article; as far as most potential clients on these platforms are concerned, these writers who are willing to get paid peanuts are YOUR competitors, and you shouldn’t charge better than them. Competing with this army of half-baked writers will drain you and send you into depression.
It’s actually the worst way to go about this: If it makes business sense to you, I’d probably have kept quiet. It doesn’t. Think about how much you pay for monthly internet access, electricity, taxes, etc. Let’s not talk about your own efforts, and the fact that you need money. You’re not even going to get close to breaking even with these sites. It’s just not the best use of your time.
Again, I’m not here to rant. Instead, I want to present you quality alternatives to sites like Upwork, Freelancer.com, Guru.com and their ilk. The following sites will link you with clients that value you as a writer, and these clients will pay you well for your work.
10 Alternative Sites to Upwork, Freelancer.com, Guru.com, etc for Finding Content Writing Jobs
Pretty much all of the sites below provide access to a variety of jobs, but — since this site is dedicated to writing — I made sure that they all make it easy to get freelance writing jobs,
Their tagline says, “Our mission is to allow every professional the freedom to work the way they want,” and I believe it clearly depicts what CloudPeeps does.
CloudPeeps aims to connect qualified freelancers with clients that value them; their environment is set up in a way that you can earn up to $50 or more per hour. While they have opportunities for web designers, social media marketers and community managers, they also provide ample opportunity for freelance content writers and strategists, too.
(As you can see from the above screenshot, they won’t allow anything less than $30 per hour from clients)
It sucks being an influencer who keeps struggling to get writing jobs. Perhaps you’ve built a profile for yourself, and then due to some challenge — having to take a maternity leave, attending an urgent casualty that you just needed to attend to, etc — that took you off the freelance writing landscape for a while, you noticed that you can’t find your footing? You don’t have to worry, ClearVoice is for you. They mainly accept influencers or established writers; if your writing has been published/featured on key publications, you should get accepted easily.
Like CloudPeeps, ClearVoice is also set up to help their writers get paid a premium for their work.
With a community of over 45,000 professionals in 60+ countries, Contently is perhaps the biggest platform that connects freelancers to premium clients. Some of the world’s biggest brands use them to source writers. You can sign up to Contently here; once you sign up and fill your profile, they automatically match you up to clients when there’s a need for your services.
As the name implies, Contently is designed specifically to help you get content writing jobs; most of the other platforms on this list cater to designers, marketers and other freelancers.
Quietly focuses mainly on linking brands with writers and content marketers. Once you fill up your profile and add samples of your work, Quietly will automatically match you with clients that might need your service when there’s a request for it.
Ebyline positions itself as a platform that connects Fortune 500 companies and small businesses with expert content writers. They focus mainly on established writers, and they currently have around 2,000 freelancers from 72 countries. It’s free to join Ebyline.
Skyword is positioned as a site that helps brands find writers that can tell their story. According to them, you only need to have the skills and they will handle connecting you with people who need your services. There are currently thousands of freelancer writers on Skyword writing for Fortune 1000 brands, and you can join them too.
Zerys is another content marketing platform that connects brands with premium writers. At the time of writing this article, they claim to have over 11,000 businesses using their services. It’s free to use their service, and they automatically notify you when there are jobs that match your profile.
Copify’s platform apparently only allows native-English speakers. Regardless, they advocate premium rates for writers, so they deserve a mention on my list. They currently have about 1,500 freelance writers and are eager to have more. Depending on where you are based, you either sign up for their US site, their UK site or their Australian site.
With over 67,979 writers on their site, Twago is another portal that connects freelance writers with clients. They are majorly in Europe, but their system is set up to benefit you regardless of where you are located in the world.
ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) is a professional association of independent non-fiction writers. They only allow professional writers; if you’ve written in a professional capacity before — content mills don’t count! — then they will be happy to welcome you into their fold. Through their Freelance Writer Search website, they match their members with clients that might need writing services. They charge an annual membership fee.
Okay, so while the above are ten platforms that make it easy for you to connect with clients and get high-paying content writing jobs, I’ve decided to put in a bonus for you: Scripted! As you can see from the screenshot below, Scripted pays much more than freelance bidding sites like Upwork, Guru.com and Freelancer.com.
There you have it, a list of ten robust and reliable alternatives to sites like Upwork, Guru.com and Freelancer.com.
Besides the fact that these sites emphasize quality pay for writers, you’ll also notice that their system is set up to put the writer in charge (which is what we aim to help you do through this blog!); most of them charge their clients a monthly fee, and they only take a small cut of your fee if you get a job through their platform.
Through their messaging and approach, they repeatedly communicate that they understand the worth of a writer.
This list was compiled by Bamidele Onibalusi
Bamidele Onibalusi is a young writer and blogger. A freelance writer from Nigeria who has been writing for a living since 2010. He has been featured in Forbes, interviewed in Digital Journal, been featured in Millionaire Magazine in Italy and on several popular blogs online.
He started this blog in April 2010 (as YoungPrePro.com) and re-branded it as WritersinCharge.com