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Market Shifts for Writing Freelancers in 2010

Despite the global economic recession, there remains at least one market where finding a job is a lot easier than elsewhere – freelancing over the Internet. Truly, freelancing has been subtly coming to dominate many industries.

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More and more people prefer complete independence rather than the tortures of office life and tyrannies of salary control. Whether you like all-nighters or work with blithe disregard for the time of the day, freelancing is readily accomplished if you are a dedicated and disciplined person. Additionally, an increasing number of businesses prefer to outsources some of their positions to part-time employees or independent contractors, in order to cut expenses, for example, for health care and retirement.

The Internet is expanding in all directions and at an astonishing rate – new websites, featuring masses of information on all possible topics, pop up every hour. Since current technology allows the creation of websites/blogs in a matter of minutes, the growth of content requirements shows increasing momentum. The demand for writing content on such sites; writing, which effectively attracts target audiences, is moving the whole field of freelancing forward.

Creating professionally designed and contextually relevant websites can become an amazingly profitable online enterprise. There’s a concomitant growth in demand for flexible human resources, thereby creating new jobs and new opportunities.

Not surprisingly, therefore, many people are trying to take advantage of this new market for talent. They seek ways to present their professional credentials and skills and exploit the outsourcing movement and its associated temporary jobs. The current recession (or whatever one calls it) has boosted the relatively new concept of creating online communities of buyers and sellers of freelance talent. The Internet offers a wealth of such avenues for connecting. Whether you are seeking a professional to handle website content for you, or a Ph.D. graduate looking for a job in your field, the Internet offers varied ways to make contacts and create opportunities for all parties.

The goal of many websites is the promotion of those self-same sites (and the services, products, or opinions they are selling). There is overwhelming pressure for drawing traffic to those sites. As a result, there is, naturally, enormous temptation to take shortcuts. This means that sometimes, SEO copywriting articles are inserted into the site without regard to their quality, just to keep the site updated and changing (this refers to Search Engine Optimization copywriting, which uses keywords to drive searchers to the site).

It is perhaps not surprising that writing such material does not require great proficiency or subject matter knowledge (although to do it well requires a great deal of these skills and abilities!). Often, foreign language speakers are employed to meet minimum quality standards. Such non-native speakers usually command a lower pay for their writing. This, of course, saves money for the site owner. What it does to the reader is another matter!

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The statistics that the collects can provide some insight into recent market changes:

Demand for freelance writing has increased substantially in the six months from August 2009 to December 2009, compared to January 2009 to July 2009. The distribution of skills and qualifications has also changed noticeably over that period for

  • The number of Native Speakers increased by 25/4%
    • Of these additional Native Speakers, the distribution by academic qualifications breaks down as follows:
      • Native Speakers with a Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree: 75.8%
      • Native Speakers with a Minimum of a Master’s Degree: 24.2%
  • The number of Non-Native Speaker increased by 47.5%
    • Of these newly added Non-Native Speakers, their academic credentials are distributed as follows:
      • Non-Native Speakers with a Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree: 63.3%
      • Non-Native Speakers with a Minimum of a Master’s Degree: 36.7%

As you can see, the fastest-growing segment is composed of non-native speakers with at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Why? One reason is the lower price. Their quality is not always optimal, but their efforts help customers reach their goals, somehow.

The slowest growing share of the freelancer corps is attributable to Native Speakers with a Master’s Degree or more. Obviously, they can command higher compensation, but the quality they can provide is unmatched as well.

Although freelancing is no longer a brand new business model on the web, there is still room on the Internet for individuals to locate writing gigs. Being ready and able to search efficiently and “sell” yourself effectively to a potential client is what is needed.

How can you demonstrate to a customer the unequivocal advantages of hiring you as their writing professional? It might even be worth it to offer an introductory discount in order to secure future business.

If your product fulfills their needs, eventually, your regular customers may feel more comfortable working with you than with hiring someone new, even at a lower price. Inertia is everything! At that point, you might be able to increase your prices if you feel that your customer has come to depend on your output.

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Some freelancers persist even at implausibly low levels of remuneration, either because their locales have an exceedingly low cost of living or perhaps because their language or writing skills prevent them from demanding more. On the other hand, what about the fact that “content is king” these days? If a freelancer possesses novel and relevant information or a unique perspective, anything that can serve as appealing, useful, substantive core content, the writing skills may be less critical. A sound and intriguing set of ideas, as long as they are clear enough expressed, can be edited later (perhaps by another freelancer) to fit the needs of the customer and the reader.

Freelancers need to be prepared to market their skills or their unique knowledge. Professionalism is now a matter of remaining interesting to customers.

Social media interactions play a huge role in this new world. Networks such as offer nearly endless possibilities in helping freelancers reap the full benefits of their profession:

  • Connecting independent professionals and customers.
  • Creating a trustworthy network of contacts.’s own statistics reflect an increase in social network participation by our freelancers from eight to forty-one individuals – a significant change. These numbers are based on our users who specifically reference their accounts. The actual numbers are doubtless greater.

We think this demonstrates the way that freelancers adjust to the demands of the market: information, interaction, authenticity, and availability.

I call it social professionalism – you need to be a professional, and you need to be professional and pro-active about how you market yourself using social media.

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