The time I accepted 10 US Dollars to write an article for a client

Accepting 10 US Dollars for an article as a freelance writer, is that even something someone should do?


I did write an article for that amount some time back. It was a quick review article for three web hosting plans.

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The client wanted a short article and wanted it quickly. And yes I was the one that pitched them via email to see if they had any work they were looking to outsource.

They had a blog in the WordPress niche and I wasn’t busy with other client work at that time. So, when they replied to my email and sent me the headline (and a quick outline), I said yes to the work, did it and got paid.

This would have been considered low-paying work by many – something that you hear many freelance writers being warned against.

But I took it. Wrote the review. Uploaded it to Google Docs and shared a link to the document with the client.

After reviewing the work they paid me via PayPal.

Don’t take work from low-paying clients: why they say this to freelance writers

Usually it is to protect the industry as a whole – to protect the gig economy. To make sure everybody gets paid fair rates. To compel clients to dig deep for quality work – ‘forcing’ freelancers to also do their best every time a task is outsourced to them.

Quality. The quality of your work will be much better when you are paid well. Which works both in your favour and the client’s. When you create something of high quality, they get to reap lots of benefits from it. And when they get great results, you in turn will get more praise / word of mouth marketing done for you or repeat work.

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And if your portfolio has lots and lots of quality material (examples of your past work) in it, that will always win you direct clients that pay well. So, it is a cycle that benefits the whole industry at the end of the day.

Good rates, makes everything good for everybody.

Motivation. If you are paid little money for your work, you won’t be motivated to give your best. You will always rush through a project so you can get to the next one – or go out there and get a new client. Low rates will force you to be always out there hunting for new clients all the time. And when you get them, you will ways find yourself doing the bare minimum.

And then you will be paid, and you’ll be back on the treadmill, shouting and calling – asking for anything – so you can do your bare minimum and move on to the next thing. But if you are paid well, you will be motivated to do your best. To prove that you are worth the high rates you ask for. And you will spend less time chasing for work, which in turn will motivate you to give your best to every project / task outsourced to you.

Timeliness. Why mess a good thing? You have heard that said a lot in your life. I’d somebody pays you well, you will usually want to make sure they are satisfied with your services. You will want to please them, to impress, to show them you care about their needs. And one of the ways you will do that is by delivering good work to your clients on time.

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If you get that combination right (timeliness and quality), more clients will flock to you, which will motivate you to get even better and to help the people that hire you get the most out of the money they pay you – which in the end will be a good thing for you, your clients and all the freelancers working in your niche.

Why sometimes you got to take freelance work even if you think the pay is little

If you are just starting out, you can take some of the low paying work to gain experience, to have more material to add to your portfolio, generally to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

After a long hiatus, you can also just go with any task or project you find as long as the pay is not too low. The goal is to work your way up, to make low paying working a temporary thing.

To outsource the work you get can also be another reason to say yes to low-paying work. For example, a client can hire you to write an article, then you can sub-contract the work to someone else, get the work done, send it to the client and then get paid. Then you can send the money you get paid to the person you sub-contracted the work to, minus a finder’s fee.

Getting access to a client’s tools can also be another reason to take low-paying work. For example, if they have access to an expensive subscription service / software / tool that you would like to use (plagiarism tools or competition analysis tools for example), you can accept their low offer. Then you can use the tool for some of your own projects.

The rates I have charged for articles / blog posts I have written as a freelancer

Over the years I have had clients sending me work and paying rates that I consider reasonable.

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I have written 2000 to 2500 word blog posts for USD 30 – 75. I have also had the occasional article in the 2500 – 3000 word range that netted me 125 US Dollars.

I have also had articles in the 600 – 1500 word range that netted me amounts in the range of 25 to 40 dollars.

Usually I charge a fixed rate. For example $0.03 to $0.04 per word, which I know is on the low side for some freelancers. But it has worked well for me. I know of people who command rates of $0.08 to $0.11 per word and they still say it is little.

Sometimes I take the view of someone shopping for a smartphone. You can work hard and save KSh 10,000 for a smartphone and be happy with your purchase. Someone else can put all their time and effort towards saving for a KSh 100,000+ iPhone to get the same satisfaction. So, whatever works for a person, that is what they should charge.

How to command better rates for articles you write for freelance clients

As you grow, your experience will grow and naturally you will want higher rates for all the content you create.

One of the things that I have found works well is to just be confident, raise your rates, then go out there and tell the people you pitch about your new rates.

Another thing you can do is to specialize and then work for many clients in your niche adding the content you create for them in your portfolio. Get testimonials from them. Or just use some of the work you have done as examples when pitching similar businesses.

You can decide, for example to just create content for publications / blog and websites in the parenting niche. Or you can go in the WordPress / blogging niche like I did. When you specialize, and the people you pitch like your work, you can gradually increase your rates and you still get a lot of people willing to work with you.

So, specialize, gain more experience (become more skilled as writer) and just have the courage to increase your rates and tell people interested in hiring you to match those rates.

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