I’ve been a full-time professional freelance writer for a decade now. In that time, I worked with dozens of writer’s marketplaces, agencies, and services. It’s a brutally competitive business, and there are pros and cons to each one.
What Is Scripted?
Scripted was founded in 2006 by Sunil Rajaraman and Ryan Buckley and acts as a marketplace to connect clients to professional freelance writers. On the surface, this sounds like every other marketplace, but the execution is done so much better than any writing service I’ve ever worked for. That’s because of the focus on the word “professional.”
Aside from self-publishing, there are three basic income streams that earn a living as a freelance writer:
1. Direct client work is a one-on-one transaction where you act as a one-stop shop and earn all the revenue. You can negotiate rates, but you must also negotiate the full contract, perform marketing to find clients, and do all the backend work to keep that client happy. Single clients usually only have sporadic work, so you need to find a lot.
2. Agency work gives you the comfort of focusing only on writing. You’re hired by the agency to ghostwrite for their list of clients, saving you a lot of backend operational work. You’ll sometimes have editors, and your participation with each client can sometimes go overboard. Agency work pays less than direct client work but requires less time commitment.
3. Writing marketplaces are open to everyone and act as specialized job ads. There’s a wide availability of clients but also a global workforce of writers living in various economic conditions. This drives prices down to the rock bottom earning rates, although you are guaranteed to find work if you really need to get bills paid.
So, where does Scripted fit into this triad? The best part is it actually fits into all three very well, while relieving some of the worst issues I’ve had working on generic freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
They created the online equivalent of a gated community to keep out the spammers and riff raff, and they did it the exact same way IRL gated communities are built – they installed a financial hurdle.
Why I Write for Scripted
Since Scripted was in this game four years longer than even I was, you may be wondering why I’m only just now writing about them. It’s because I only started three months ago and it’s taken some time to figure out whether there’s value in this marketplace.
Their financial hurdle of $20 to take a test kept me away for a long time. I rarely “audition” for a writing gig, as I have such a massive portfolio of over 1,500 articles published online under my own name, much less my ghostwriting work. That simple hurdle is the gate that keeps this marketplace safe. When I finally took the leap of faith, I realized what I had been missing.
After a full decade of this game, I have to be very selective about how I spend my time. This is the basis of how “per word” writing rates were invented, and clients never understand this. No matter which marketplace you’re looking at, the per-word rates are abysmal – $0.03 per word if you’re lucky.
Scripted ensures it maintains a pool of quality writers by not only charging for an up-front test, but its system also encourages a $0.10 per word minimum. Even when I had an assignment rejected, I earned more than I would’ve on any other marketplace for an accepted assignment.
That 3x pay multiplier is the last point we need to touch on, because the best piece of advice I can give to a fellow writer is to know your worth.
How to Negotiate Working Writer Rates
Per-word rates are what’s typically used to determine writer’s wages, but not every writing is the same. If I’m interviewing multiple sources at a breakneck speed to verify sourced information, I’m putting in a lot more work than if I’m rewriting a product description for 87 pairs of jeans that all look the same.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan is only two words (yes, I can count to three, but most word processors count words every ~5 characters, not when you put a space). I’d be a bit upset if I were paid $0.20 to create arguably the most iconic slogan on the planet.
Clients only see the words, but as a writer, I have to look at a number of factors in an assignment.
· How much time/work will it take?
· How much knowledge does it require?
· Will I need to spend money to complete it?
· Can I trust this client to pay me at the end?
Have an answer for all of these questions when negotiating your rates.
As for Scripted, you’re guaranteed to get paid, and you control the pitch, pricing, and terms before a job is ever accepted. It relieved a vast majority of my concerns, providing that perfect mix of a livable freelance writing wage.
I was able to find a wide range of clients offering work across every industry. My specializations in technology, business, and emerging markets like cannabis and cryptocurrency were immediate assets. There are other marketplaces I can grind away at braindead content mill work, but at Scripted, I found a gig where I’m intellectually fulfilled while earning a livable wage.
But don’t just take my word for it, check out Scripted for yourself to see if it’s the right fit for you.