How to compete with overseas freelancers


One of the common questions I receive from new freelance writers is “How to compete with overseas freelancers?”. Over the years I’ve had a lot of experience in this field, including some fantastic successes mixed in with brutal failures. Here’s some tips that I can offer you based on my own experience.

Don’t compete on price

If you’re thinking of dropping your rates and competing on price, my recommendation is not to. Doing so puts you on a slippery slope for failure and can affect you in many ways. First and foremost, you need to feel comfortable charging what you feel your time is worth. When you complete a freelance job and receive fair payment in exchange for your time, you feel great about the project overall. If you complete it at discounted rates, how do you think you’ll feel? And how do you think you’ll feel as you try to inspire yourself to get work done at lower than normal rates? Finally, if you’re only getting a portion of what you would usually charge, are you really going to deliver your best work to the client?

From my own personal experience, I know this can be incredibly frustrating and can suck all the motivation out of you in no time at all. I recall a large freelance writing job I took on several years ago that was about 20,000 words (40 x 500 word articles) that I agreed to complete for about a third of my regular price. I was trying to attract a customer, I was very familiar with the niche I was writing about and quite honestly I needed the cash.

The first 10 articles were delivered in no time. I was happy with the finished content as was the client. The next 10 articles I struggled with and couldn’t get complete with the same gusto as I started out with and the next delivery of content brought on the realization that I still had half the project to go.

The next 20 articles were absolute hell to complete. I was burnt out by the project, hated writing on the topic and started resenting myself for being so dumb to agree to such a low price. Once I completed the remainder, which were definitely subpar, I vowed never to do it again.

Until the next time that I did but that’s another story.

Compete on quality and sell your differential advantages

The quality of your work should be your biggest selling point and if you find yourself in competition with other freelancer writers, provide some of the work you are most proud of and really sell your differential advantage over competing bids. A solid understanding of the English language is generally something you can point out as many overseas writers are not native English writers. Let the potential client know that English is your native language and as a result you can provide higher quality content.

Are you familiar with the niche? Prove it. Tell them about your passion for the area they are looking to have content generated for. Provide them with samples of your previous work.

What other advantages can you think of when pitching your services? Brainstorm and incorporate that into your covering letter.


Don’t trash the competition

This is a generally accepted business practice but I know we all sometimes forget it. We might not come right out and say “overseas freelancers suck” but we imply it, take little digs from time to time or somehow express our frustration/dislike for others that fall in this category.

I actually have a lot of respect for these folks as they are working their ass off to make a better life for themselves. They are not as fortunate as us and the fact that they can offer their services at such a low price and still improve their standard of living really illustrates how fortunate we are in North America. I have even used writers for my own projects, getting them to provide drafts that I can then edit and expand on.

Don’t disrespect their efforts. Simply point out why your content will be better.

Try something different when pitching for jobs

Potential clients are looking for something that makes you stand out from the competition and price isn’t always the determining factor. Try and come up with some ideas that will make you stand out.

I recall there was an eBook job that I really wanted as it was an excellent paying gig and I was very passionate about the project. There were already tons of bids and I knew that I would be lost in the shuffle. I ended up taking about 10 minutes to record a personal greeting to the potential client as well as a screencast of some of the resources I would use to complete the eBook itself. These were uploaded to Youtube and I provided him with the links.

Guess who got the job? You bet.

Try to come up with some original ideas to help market yourself. Simply copy and pasting your intro letter over and over isn’t always going to cut it.

Don’t compete on price (did I mention that already?)

As it is the most important advice I can provide, I thought it only right to both start and end with it. I already outlined the main reasons at the beginning of this blog post but I wanted to leave you with the following thought.

Do you really want to work with a client who expects you to work at rock bottom rates?

If someone is not willing to compensate you adequately for your time, your best bet is to concentrate your efforts on locating clients that will. It may not seem like it when you first start out but there are a lot of them out there.

Do you have any additional tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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