Should U.S. Freelancers Be Worried About Competition Overseas?


Like typewriters and evening deadlines, many of the staples of print journalism have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Stories are now uploaded, optimized, tagged and tweeted on a never-ending news cycle. With 266+ million website out there, the demand for content is endless.

That’s both good and bad news for freelance writers and content producers. It means more work, but it also means more competition from foreign writers willing to work longer hours with shorter turnaround time, for less pay.

Terry Aldershof, an Illinois-based freelancer with more than 20-years experience called the trend, “the biggest travesty to hit freelance writers since the inception of the industry.”

“It’s essentially turned freelance writing from a pay per word, to a bid-for-service industry,” Aldershof said. “It’s a losing proposition when you are bidding against someone in India or the Philippines where 1 USD is the equivalent of 70 USD in their country.”

Barry Maurice, co-owner of Thought Mechanics, LLC works with clients who need everything from website copy, to content writing, to blogs for their websites. Having hired both US and foreign based writers for his website and his clients, he shed some light on the industry and the nature of competition American-based freelance writers face.

Q: What kind of writing projects are you tasked with finding writers for?

A: The biggest one is when the client wants a blog. A lot of clients like having a blog because of the search traffic it brings. Unfortunately, they don’t like to actually write the content themselves. In cases like that, we will usually use above average writers unless the client doesn’t have the proper budget, then we will find lesser quality writers.

Q: What are the key differences you’ve found between using US-based writers and writers from other countries?

A: Obviously North American and European writers are best. Indian writers are usually not necessarily “bad” writers as they have great spelling and technically are good writers. Unfortunately, they use that classic English-type writing. So they will write in ways that looks abnormal. For example, in their emails they will start off with “Dear Sir or Madam”. Which, there is nothing wrong with it, but it’s not common for people to talk like that.

As for Philippines writers, their first language is not English. So not only do they speak differently but nine times out of ten, they have at the very least mild, broken English.

Q: Is the main reason for hiring overseas because of the money-saving aspects, or are their other benefits?

A: Usually money. It’s also easier to get 500 x 500 word articles banged out super-fast if you are in a bind, by using people from India. They work hard and they aren’t afraid to grind hard.

Q: Can you give me an idea of the pay range writers overseas charge versus American writers for various projects?

A: You can get $2 per 500 words that is “decent” from overseas. My most-used American writer is $10 per 500 words. But I have paid well over $50 per 500 words before when I needed really super good content. And, there are certain sites and forums you can visit with “real” writers where they charge very high prices like $1-$2 per word which I would probably never pay.

Q: How do you go about finding writers?

A: These are pretty much all the places I use:

Need an Article
Digital Point
Warrior Forum

Q: Do you think US freelance writers should be worried about the future of their field?

A: No, not the good writers who don’t mind working for a living. But I do see a lot of $1 per word type writers who are sitting around waiting for the New York Times to call. I’m not sure what they have in store down the road.