Can Freelance Writers Make a Living on Micro-Job Sites

make a living on micro-job sites

Can Freelance Writers Make a Living on Micro-Job Sites

make a living on micro-job sites
Could you really make a lot of money using micro-job sites?
Image: ThinkStock

Is it possible for freelance writers to make a living on micro-job sites? I’ve got to be honest and say that I personally don’t think so.

Micro-job sites are useful. You can offer your services and build your portfolio. Since you set the parameters for your gigs, you can clearly state that all work still belongs to you or that you have the right to use as samples of your work. It is a lot more freedom than you get writing at content mills.

You also have the freedom of setting the amount you offer for the pay. If you’re on Fiverr, you can choose to only write 100 words for $5. So, a 500 word piece would cost the buyer $25. That’s not a bad rate, even when you take the 20% commission off. But you need to get enough people buying those gigs to make a living on micro-job sites.

There are other considerations to make.

What Is the Cancellation Policy Like?

Most of these micro-job sites have a cancellation policy that allows buyers or sellers to request mutual cancellations. It is then up to the other party to agree or decline.

However, there are other ways to cancel. And one of those is by going directly to customer support. If you check the Fiverr forums, you will see a lot of sellers complaining about Fiverr customer support cancelling orders after they have been completed.

According to Fiverr, this happens due to PayPal chargebacks after the gig is completed. The buyers’ accounts are suspended until the buyer reverses that chargeback, but is never forced to pay for the gig again; just encouraged to. Some buyers don’t even bother reversing the chargeback. One complaint that many sellers have is that Fiverr won’t fight the PayPal chargeback, and the seller can’t do anything. They’ve done all that work for nothing in the end.

Check reviews before you sign up to any site. You don’t really want one too one-sided.

By the way, I have a way of handling these situations (and they’ve happened a handful of times out of over 2,000 orders). I put the blog posts up on a blog that I’ve designed specifically for work that isn’t paid for by clients. That way I have the time stamp to say that the work is mine and I have copyright on my side. I let buyers know if they’ve cancelled that they have no rights at all to use the work, unless they agree to pay again. It works, and I get to make money on a blog that is powered through AdSense.

Setting Your Own Gigs

It’s really important to think about your gigs. If you want to make a living on micro-job sites, you need to think about the amount of time you’re willing to spend on the pay.

I don’t want to spend any more than 15-20 minutes on a $5 job. That’s the maximum I’m willing to spend, but I prefer to spend 5-10 minutes on work. So, I set my gigs with all that in mind.

I refuse to do a lot of research and I keep the word count for articles and blog posts short. I offer a separate sales copy gig (since people are going to make more money off this type of copy eventually), which forces the buyers to pay a lot more for the content.

Building Up the Extras

make a living on micro-job sites
It’s important to really think about the amount of time you’re spending on your work.
Image: ThinkStock

The way to make a living on micro-job sites isn’t through the initial gig. You need to think about all the extras that you can sell. For example, I will offer my time to research keywords or find royalty-free images for a price.

Another extra that I offer is to shorten the delivery time. All my gigs have a 12-day delivery time set most of the time. Sometimes that’s reduced to 10 days and sometimes it’s increased to 20 days.

I offer an extra to cut the delivery time in half, for those who want it slightly quicker but don’t have a lot of money. And then I offer another one for 24-hour delivery. That’s not always available due to my own time constraints, and I’ll sometimes include the price depending on how much I really want that to happen. It can be between $50 and $100. If someone is willing to pay the money, then I’m willing to do the work.

Getting People to Buy Your Gig

The only way to you can make a living on micro-job sites is if people continuously buy your gigs and get the extras. That means you need to think about the keywords used in your descriptions and the tags that you add. Think about what words people will use to find something that you offer.

Marketing outside of the site is also important.

But stop right there…

If you’re going to market your gigs outside of the site, why not just market your own services at a higher rate? I don’t get why people market their $5 when they can charge $100 or more on their own website. Think carefully about this. You don’t need the micro-job sites to make a living freelance writing.

What do you think about micro-job sites? Would you ever try them or have you done in the past?

Last week, I focused on a handful of micro-job sites. If you’d like to read about them, here’s my weekly roundup to check out.

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Alexandria Ingham is a professional writer. She predominately ghost-writes in various niches, including fitness, finance and technology Everything is fully researched and well-written. Under her own name, she writes in the technology, business, history and weight loss niches

22 thoughts on “Can Freelance Writers Make a Living on Micro-Job Sites

  1. Good info here. I don’t offer services on micro-sites and I have to agree with you that unless you have repeat customers, I don’t think it can really pay well. But it may be good for people who want to get exposure and find new clients. Something to think about.

    1. It definitely is something for newer writers to think about. There’s no wrong or right answer here; just what would the writer be willing to do.

  2. Great info and tips, micro-sites may not pay well, but can bring about exposure, so I guess the only thing that would have to into consideration is if that little amount of exposure is worth it.

    1. It’s something writers will have to decide for themselves. It could also be another basket for eggs just in case projects with private clients all finish at once.

  3. I do freelance write as part of my work, but I haven’t tried a micro site and I have to agree with your points that it doesn’t seem like it would work in the long run.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Salma. It doesn’t really, although I managed to keep the basket for the last three years. It’s an option for on the side, especially for full-time writers just starting out.

  4. Still loving this topic Alexandria! I’ve sold a couple of article content packs on Fiverr, which I preferred doing. The reason being, I could do the work once, and just fill the order when someone paid – no research, writing or time limits.

    Recently I completed an animated text video which didn’t take long because I had a video template. Just plug in their text, change the bkg color and I was done.

    However, I imagine for more complex gigs, it would require more time, which would require knowing what to do and how long it takes you to do it, and as you mentioned, you’ll have to provide extras in order to increase your payout, which doesn’t happen until you’ve reached Level One I think.

    I think for sites like this, some buyers expect a lot for $5, while others know that $5 is just an entry point. Some people make their living on sites like this, but I would rather use it as an extra source of income, because if you can make a living by charging your own rates at your own pace by having your own website, why not?

    However, micro job sites are good starters for newbies to learn time management, providing services, and customer service.

    1. You’ve made a great point, Cynthia. I was just saying to Jenn that I’ve never considered PLR packs on the site, but it would certainly make sense. I love the idea of the video template and the minimal work.

      There are buyers who expect the world for $5. I’ve gotten better at sniffing those people out before they order (most will message me) or before I even start the order. If I get a bad vibe, I’ll cancel the order right away. I don’t have time for their demands. I actually find the ones who are buying more gigs are the easiest ones to work with.

    1. I’ve never considered selling PLR on there, but you’re not the first person to suggest it. The more people suggest it, though, the more it seems like the perfect idea. I’ll definitely have to look further into that idea.

  5. I’m guessing the best use of sites like this would be to start building a portfolio and testimonials to then be in a better position to go build a private buyer’s network. New writers or those starting out are probably not too marketing-savvy and so having an instant audience saves them time which they can use for writing.

    Alexandria, maybe a post explaining what all these different type of sites (eg micro sites, content mills etc) are and examples would be useful as an overview or definition – maybe you’ve done that and I missed it!

    Also perhaps you could do a series or post for writers on how to market themselves and build a client base, with its benefits and risks. I’m sure it’s in your plans.

    Great series by the way.

    1. I’d say so, Mel. It’s also been a side gig for me, just to keep my skills up and keep some money coming in.

      I’ll include the descriptions explaining them in my weekly roundup at the end of this week 🙂 I have done overviews in the past, but they’re hidden somewhere within the 200+ posts on my blog now. I’m definitely looking at a series on marketing. Next month is a series on monetization options (after requests from others), so I’ll look at that for November.

      Thanks 🙂

  6. I think that you can make a living from these sites if you live in certain countries where the cost of living is a lot lower.

    But it is best to try and leverage any business you get from there and try to branch out as soon as you can.

    1. It really does depend on location, Victoria. Sometimes I really wish I lived in a country with a lower cost of living. Britain isn’t the place to be for some of these sites! But I still believe everyone should branch out. Location shouldn’t stop someone commanding more. I know of a writer in Nigeria who is earning way more than me for freelance writing. He’s an inspiration for many others around that area.

  7. Micro job sites have their place, but I think you’re right about earning a living on them. It would certainly be possible for some people, but I don’t think it’s the norm. You have done a great job highlighting different sites and breaking down the good and bad of each site. A great resource for writers.

    1. Thanks, Crystal. Those who make a living on the sites have found a way to automate their services. That certainly helps.

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