As a freelance writer available to write online content for any industry – but particularly for clean technology if that’s your game – i enjoy the freedom that the globalized Internet marketplace offers me. It is the reason why i can afford to clutter my life up with Maslow’s first few hierarchy levels of need (collect the set!).
Living in Barcelona and being available for hire as a blog writer has only been possible because of this new(-ish) global marketplace in which i can peddle my wares and connect with clients. As my portfolio page can show you with an interactive world map, i have a regular client in Tel Aviv, I use Canadian and Australian platforms to sell my work, I am beginning to publish on a European blogroll, I write for American magazines and websites, and am building a portfolio of work with a Spanish clean technology leader. And this still gives me ample time to build new relationships with customers who need good quality, unique, search engine primed content.
I also think there are some great environmental and social benefits to freelance labor market relations:
- Reduced reliance on fuels and real estate as people don’t need to be located in the one place to work
- Reduced use on valuable resources like paper as online communications become the norm
- New employment opportunities for those who have traditionally been marginalized from work because of age, gender, race or difability
- A more creative, mindful life as work becomes integrated into lifestyle.
You don’t need to read Dr John Vanston’s Minitrends book to have figgered out that this is a global phenomenon that is going to continue to grow. The economic crisis that has affected so many people and businesses globally has driven many to explore the potential of online work. There has been a recent proliferation of online platforms offering a chance to connect a global workforce with willing employers, and then another sector has emerged that blogs and markets product to freelance workers participating in this labor market. Opportunistic businesses are trying to earn money off people who are looking for ways online to earn money. Of course, some are offering a great service and i for one am grateful of the chance to meet new clients creating imaginative and innovative new businesses that require Internet marketing or online content as part of their model.
But the new markets are not being matched with protections for workers in this labor economy, or for businesses who need to source quality contractors.
While i do advertise my professional availability on Freelancer, for example, it is increasingly an undervalued market for me, as i bid for projects against a global workforce with wildly different ideas about what five American dollars is worth. It is disappointing that the site’s owner has won 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year for a site that trades other entrepreneurs and freelance workers under a banner that proudly boasts “How would your business change if you had virtually unlimited labor at next to no cost?” (Incidentally, through the site, i was offfered work for another client who wanted to set up a competition site to freelancer by having me copy all of the freelancer webpage text, and rewrite it slightly for about $2 an hour.)
The lack of oversight and fairness in the labor market is reducing its worth to employers as well. One of my clients is struggling to find quality writers to work alongside me and grow his business, as advertising on sites like freelancer is simply connecting him to IT-savvy workers who define English language writing as using a software program to spin vaguely appropriate content located elsewhere on the web.
Analyzing the growth of the freelance labor market and the protection of workers and businesses in this marketplace will be a theme i return to here on my main blog site. Why don’t you add a comment to let me know your take on the industry and where it is headed?
An important part of building my client base is, of course, being able to demonstrate my experience and skills. This website’s blog offers potential customers a chance to review my work quality and consistency, while enjoying interesting content. For me, it is also an opportunity to tweak my SEO skills and keep up with Internet marketing techniques, so that i can offer up an excellent service to my clients. My initial SEO goals include appearing on page one of google search results for:
- ‘hire blog writer Barcelona’
- ‘Mark Boyd freelance writer’ and
- ‘hire journalist wireless sensor’.
In a month or so, you can start to try these terms in google to see how i am faring!
Deciding on a cohesive theme for this site’s blog posts was a bit unsettling as i am loathe to offer up yet another blog site navel gazing at the Internet marketing industry. The February feud between Stephen Colbert and the Huffington Post is case-in-point for wanting to avoid blog posting that describes the padded room of SEO and Internet marketing from the inside, or that tries to post items sourced from other sites as rehashed news.
In February, Colbert launched tongue-cheeked warfare on Huffington during his “Wag of the Finger” segment, after the $315m sale of the blog to media company AOL. With so much of his material accessible on the HuffPost, he wanted a cut of the sale profits. The HuffPost is not alone in reprinting other content. Much of the world’s blog archives are made up of vaguely reinterpreted other people’s material, or direct publication of company press releases, reprinted verbatim. (In fact, if you googlesearch Colbert Huffington you’ll find a swag of blogs all showing The Colbert Report segment as their content for that day, i guess a bit like i have just done.)
Meanwhile, get-rich-quick-schemes like Google Sniper are monetizing the internet revolution by setting up an endless series of sites that point you on to another site. This is my equivalent of a moral dilemma in Internet writing. One of the most frustrating aspects of the Internet in 2010 was the uselessness of searching to find anything you actually want. Instead, the top ranked results were all marketing sites that had opportunistically used the words you entered for your search. The thinking is that these are the popular terms that anyone would use to find what they are looking for, so sites optimize their content to play up the use of these ‘keywords’ and improve their ranking in google (this is part of what is called search engine optimization, or SEO).
The result by the end of 2010 was that instead of having sites that take you to the information relevant to your keyword search, you were taken to sites stuffed with SEO trickery. You were greeted with a jumble of product ads selling something related to your keyword search, or that directly linked to sales products, enabling the sites to get a commission cut from the sale because you clicked on their site in order to then click on to the product you want to buy. It is like asking someone for directions and they point you on to the next person 20 meters up the road who will point you on to the next 20 meters, rather than just giving you information about the final destination of wherever you want to go.
(BTW, Google Sniper is a technique that shows you how to set up a top ranking site that points you on to the site you really wanted to get to in the first place. It involves writing a pseudo-objective review of a product and then recommending you buy it by clicking on their link which shares a commission percentage of any final purchase made. Without these sites, you would probably have found the product directly in the google search results and the company could have sold you the product for cheaper since they didn’t have so many commissions to dish out.)