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Problems With Finding Work

The Internet Is Not Helpful

By Kiersten BrownPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Top Story - September 2022
Searching "freelance writing work online" in the Google Search Engine

I recently turned 18, but for the last year or so I've been trying to find online companies that will pay me for freelance writing work.

The types of companies that have you create a profile and then submit a sample of writing, and let the freelance work find you instead of you finding the work yourself.

And those are all the companies. All of them either want me to pay to use them, or they want me to just wait for weeks on end whilst I sit at my computer and hope something comes. Every single time I pass by those jobs.


Because I know my time can be used for better things than waiting around for someone to notice my work.

So, I kept searching.

You know what I find?

More sites that want my money. More lists of the same places that I don't want to use. Places that will pay me a 5 cents per sentence because they don't understand how freelancing works. And places like Upwork.

I tried to use Upwork once, and immediately saw red flags. There were so many red flags.

First, I make my account and user. Set myself up as a fiction writer looking for work, but I mostly do proofreading work. Then, I go looking for jobs.

The site wants me to use their in-site currency to pay for the job.


What's the point of making me pay $2.99 for 5 green coins, for a job that will pay me maybe $10. That's a third of my earnings, gone.

The kicker?

I have to use those coins, and then I'm not guaranteed the job.

I have to pay money to compete for the job.

'You can use more coins for a better chance,' I'm reminded.

Yeah, no.

So, I left Upwork and kept searching for more. Which leads me here.

I like the site, truly. But wouldn't I have a better time just making a blog and posting short stories on there? The ad revenue would sure be nice.

I could, in all honesty.

However, making a website look good isn't cheap. I'd have to use one of those overly priced website-making websites, and then scour the internet for a promo code so I don't have to spend $30 on a website.

A website that would make me that $30 back in maybe a month.

Websites take time. Time I don't have.

Should I make my own for others with this problem? Probably. But that's just this site, isn't it?

So, I'm stuck.

I'm still going to look for work. In the end I might just have to actually finish writing that novel and publishing that. Or get a job in a library close by.

But what's the problem? Well, the problem is that finding work sucks. You would think in this age of the internet I'd be able to find one website that's comfortable just taking my views and not my money.

In one jour alone I found countless blog posts with unhelpful lists, with more unhelpful lists hidden inside them!

It's impossible to know what you're going to find on the internet, but one thing for sure is that most of it is unhelpful.

I even found a website that said it would do just what I wanted it to. Give me a place to show off my writing and getting paid while doing it. Then, it gave me a paywall.

'Just sell me your soul,' it was saying.

What's the point of looking so deeply when all I'll find is this?

What's the point?

The point is that I'm broke and in desperate need of money that's not scholarship money.

So I guess I'll keep looking. Maybe this site will be exactly what I want. Probably not. I always find something to hate about everything.

I'm not a lazy person, either. But all this searching only to find nothing, for a whole year, wears a person down.


About the Creator

Kiersten Brown

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Comments (24)

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  • Mark Grahamabout a year ago

    I know how you feel, but I was lucky just a few weeks ago. I am now a regular contributor to a magazine that will pay me for my writing. I have tried Fiverr, Upwork and a few others and I agree with you. I like both Vocal and Medium for now these two sites will be for extra money. Good luck in your search.

  • Davidabout a year ago

    First of all, you need to gain experience

  • Genuine Facts about a year ago

    learn Earning in Digital Marketing through Artificial intelligence

  • Manisha Dhalaniabout a year ago

    The struggle. Wishing you the best in your search!

  • Ashwath Rajabout a year ago

    I just posted something expressing the same sentiment. It's nice to know others are working alongside me.

  • M.N. Negusabout a year ago

    When I was 18, I was desperate to find a writing job. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hard because I lacked the practical experience, even though I'd taken up creative writing as a hobby since I was a kid. This year, I started writing on Vocal, and even used a website called Writers Work. The subscription for one year is $40 (I think I got a discount) and slowly started building up a portfolio of things I liked to write. This website posts jobs regularly and makes it easy to apply for them. I was able to get a job as a freelance writer for a website called CBR. I write about comic books and stuff, and it's amazing. It doesn't quiet pay the bills yet, but it's a nice side hustle to bring in extra cash. I wrote an article about getting the job on my Vocal page if you want to check it out. Keep working at it! You'll get there!

  • raamanabout a year ago

    The online world of earning is like that only. However hard you find, you won't find a single site that promises to pay well and also really pays well.

  • Barbara M Quinnabout a year ago

    Good article.

  • Pamela Dirrabout a year ago

    I completely agree with you. I can totally relate to everything you said. Although in my 40s, I'm going through something very similar with trying to be a freelance writer. I hope you find something soon. Good luck!!!

  • Gene Lassabout a year ago

    I absolutely agree with what you're saying, and can relate to it. I was a corporate writer for a long time, then I did other things, and 12 ears ago I started freelancing, using some of the sites like Upwork, and including what is now Upwork. You're right, the options are awful. They all say that if you take their tests to show how skilled you are, you'll be able to show how qualified you are for great gigs. And there are great gigs out there, but you're competing against writers all over the world, and what's clear is, a lot of potential employers will say they want the best, but if that means shilling out 5 cents per word for someone in the US or 1 or 2 cents per word for someone from India or the Philippines, they're going with the overseas worker because it will cost them half as much, and as much as they say they want the best, what they really want is "good enough." Meanwhile, that 2 cents a word goes pretty far in Manilla, but writing a full page 5 cents a word, if you can get it, gets you half a tank of gas, or maybe pays your internet bill this month. You have to crank out a lot of work to make any kind of living at it, and you likely won't get enough jobs from Upwork to make it worth your time. I learned to shoot for the bigger ones, Editing jobs, where I had to copy edit a whole book for 300-500 bucks, I can do it, I've done it, but keep your eye on time. You'll find you're spending more time writing on those little gigs or editing the big ones, and as you said, there's better stuff you can be doing. If you do the math on time vs. pay, you may be making less than minimum wage. Even 10 years ago I found that when I did that ratio, I was clearing $3 an hour freelancing, which is far less than current minimum wage. It was minimum wage 30+ years ago. It's depressing to see that you can make more flipping burgers and bagging groceries than you can writing, but it's true. As for your point about ad money on blogs - that may be wishful thinking. Typically on a blog you're using an ad placement app through the blog programming, like WordPress. You get paid for clicks. I used it on three different blogs. The first two had regular traffic of maybe 100 views a week. The most recent one gets regular traffic much higher than that. We make virtually nothing off of those ads. What makes money is if you can get a sponsor, someone who specifically wants an ad on your site all the time. And good luck getting that with a fiction blog. Then there's trying to make money doing fiction today. That's always been tough. It was a different world when the greats of fiction like Bradbury, Hammett, King, Ellison, and Chandler could crank out a story, send it off to a number of fiction mags, and make enough to pay some bills, until they developed enough of a following to get paid real money, have an agent, and get a publishing contract. Now, aside from contests, it's hard to get paid. Some places still pay for Fiction. They're few, and many of them only accept submissions part of the year, others don't have open submissions, they'll only take material they ask you for, or that comes in through an agent. Finishing your novel to publish that and make money? Good luck with that, too. it happens. My friend was an editor at Tor for years. He put it in perspective. A publisher will publish X number of books per year. They pay well for what they know will move, some hot new thing, or the new book from a hot author. Anyone else they're just trying out, those books aren't likely to sell. They lose money on those books, which they balance out with the money they make on the hot ones they paid more for. So then you look at self-publishing. First time out, you're not likely to make money. If you can do it all yourself, great. You probably can't, and whatever isn't up to par will be blatantly obvious. So you have to pay for someone to proof it, design a cover, etc. That eats into your profit. You may have already invested a few hundred dollars in the book, not counting your own time, before it even goes up for sale. And you may never make that money back on it. Or you could hit it big. The best thing to do, honestly, is to do your creative writing for the joy of it. Send out those stories, make a name for yourself, learn your craft. But write for money, too. Screw Upwork. Work for your local paper. Learn technical writing. Work up to being a ghost writer. That's how you'll make a living, and if you're lucky you can one day stop the dull professional stuff (that's still making a living writing) and be able to focus on your actual passion. That's what I do now. I get paid every week to write stuff that may not be my passion, but I'm good at it. Yet every time I sell one of my books or a story gets picked up, while the pay for it is small, it means a lot more.

  • Lindsey Donatabout a year ago

    I resonate with this. I have always loved writing and kept many journals as a child. I used to keep a log of all the new vocabulary words I learned. But life took me down a medical/healthcare path and now I'm trying to claw my way out of the field and into writing. I've looked into medical writing, copywriting, freelance, and I feel like I hit a wall each time. So I'm trying to relax a bit and just write for fun. Maybe letting the universe take over instead of gripping so tightly to the steering wheel will yield positive results. Best of luck, friend.

  • Cindy Readabout a year ago

    It seems the world of storytelling is becoming more like blogging. Try being in your late 50's with no social media network and see how many times your stories are even read. NOT ONCE!!!! I have been on Vocal for over a year and not a single person has even read one of my stories. I don't get involve with social networks because most of my life I was a manager or director in health care. The last thing you want is your employer seeing what your employees think of you......especially if your purpose was to look out for the greater good, and not the selfish individuals we have all become. I have learned by reading others stories ways to improve my writing. So I guess there is always something good to be said.

  • Lennox O'Suilleabhainabout a year ago

    Been working independently for the last six months (I have worked as a ghost writer in the past for a meager payout), and I can say art of writing is extremely devalued and we are all basically screwed unless we are really lucky and/or connected.

  • Robert Willsabout a year ago

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  • Writer Tigerabout a year ago

    Don't think so, at first you do business with really low wages. But then it increases! That's why you have to agree to work for a low price at first :) Don't worry about money for the first 6 months, just focus on building confidence. If you build trust, customers will come naturally. Thus, you can work with higher wages. Definitely make a portfolio because this is a must!

  • James Pittaroabout a year ago

    PS I am published author with a number of books published and now I am releasing them on here for free.

  • James Pittaroabout a year ago

    You are trying so hard to get to a position that suffering emerges from your frustration at not being able to get there. Try this instead; practice writing for the love of it in the moment and don't try to imagine your work is only successful if you get to a position with it. The true reality is that your work is unique and it is priceless as it contains the information form your unique position in the universe. Appreciate the position you are at and stop this misery emergent from not attaining positions that would make you no happier in reality. Good luck on you mission.

  • Sid Aaron Hirjiabout a year ago

    Great story-I struggle to find meaning in life without purpose. Sometimes I am too unwell to do a regular job so rely on writing. However it doesn't pay

  • Rich Monettiabout a year ago

    Find someone interesting in your community, interview them and see if any of the local papers would like to publish. That's how I started my career 20 years ago and I'm still going

  • Sarah Loydabout a year ago

    I feel you. I've been looking for freelance work only to find sites that look like scams. I've been using Vocal for the past five years or so. I don't make a living off it, just extra cash, which is fine for now. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to use this site to get your name out there. There are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to Vocal users. Check it out!

  • Tinaabout a year ago

    I completely understand you! Somehow it is normal nowadays to first invest (even if it is just offering something for free for a while = investing your time) before getting anything back...

  • When most people do freelancing or blogging, it often starts off as a side hustle due to minimal earnings. Freelancers and entrepreneurs have to work a lot harder to reach the phase of passive income. I understand your struggle which is why I always prefer to have a plan B. Although many platforms continuously ask for money, I do believe Vocal has something in store for creators to earn extra income along with more ways to receive engagement.

  • Carly Bushabout a year ago

    Thank you for drawing attention to this problem. I admire your persistence and grit at such a young age.

  • Demi Oni about a year ago

    I can totally relate with you on this.

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