What is your time worth?

There are plenty of job sites out there that offer freelance work at the rate of a dollar per 500 words, or some other extremely low rate. I won’t work for those rates, but for some people a single dollar has a sufficient buying power to make it worth their time. Consider a country like Cambodia, where the average income in U.S. dollars is $290. A dollar is more than a lot of people can make in a day, making it worthwhile.

I leave the low-paying gigs to the people who can benefit from them. Instead, I focus on landing work that meets my bare minimum payment requirements. I’d love to be able to categorically state that I work for a dollar a word, period. But my payment standard fluctuates quite a bit. I’ll take $15 for a 400 word blog entry — that works out to less than 4 cents a word, but blog posts rarely take much research or as long to write. In general, for articles, I don’t go below 10 cents a word.

I take on a lot of low paying gigs, to fill in the many gaps between articles and other projects. I would rather write a page of SEO text for $15 than not earn anything at all.

What is your time worth? What work will you just not take?

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  1. Laurie   •  

    Just to give you a little perspective on this… Sri Lanka is financially better off than Cambodia.

    Here, a house maid working 10-14 hours a day, 7 days a week with one or two days off a month will earn around US$30 a month on average, perhaps getting closer to US$100 a month if s/he’s working for rich foreigners who have no clue what the going rate is. We paid our house help US$3 a day for eight hours of work and a good meal, so our working conditions are exceptionally good compared to everyone else.

    A garment factory worker will typically earn US$20 a month, again working 10-14 hours a day, 7 days a week with one or two days off a month. A secretary/receptionist will typically earn in the neighborhood of US$100 a month.

    So, yes, when you see those adverts for 500 words for a couple of dollars, they usually get snapped up by people in this region for whom that kind of money makes a difference. Sadly, the English usually isn’t great, so it still falls back on the principal of “You get what you pay for.” But, again sadly, many small business owners don’t know what good English looks like, so have no idea what kind of quality they’re getting. Or they don’t care because it’s filler for websites used only to attract visitors, not to keep them.

  2. Thursday   •  

    Thank you for the added perspective. I know for some Americans it can be very difficult to think in terms of living on $30 a month.

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