I started offering my services as a professional freelance writer on July of this year. As I got accustomed to the ins and outs of the freelance writing industry, I became appalled by what I called the native-bias phenomenon. Clients from countries where English is first language seemed to be predisposed to hiring only writers from countries where English is also the first language. I almost gave up bidding for freelance writing jobs in elance. What was the need if my bid would always get sidelined?
At first, I thought that this was an unfounded prejudice against non-native English freelance writers by ignorant clients. That was until I started getting loads of freelance writing work and decided to hire writers from the unprivileged countries to assist with handling some of the writing assignments. I have particularly been fond of hiring freelance writers from Kenya but honestly, I had to swallow my words back after my experience with the non-native English writers in Kenya.
- A lot of freelance writers from countries which do not speak English as a first language have trouble expressing themselves in the language.
- I have hired and fired writer after writer after seeing their shoddy work. Misused vocabularies, poor grammatical constructions, lack of creativity in the creation of copies all characterize their work.
If you are a freelance writer in Kenya who has trouble writing as well as the native-English writers do, I propose you take a break from vying for jobs. Take a creative writing course during this time. Attend writers’ webinars, read a lot and even write more. Start a blog where you can practice writing. Getting into the market simply because you have heard that freelance writing is where the money is will not do any of us good. I will personally be starting a free online writing course. You can take advantage of the limited-time free offer by joining my mailing list.
The Problem with Non-Native English Freelance Writers
Here are my observations of what might be killing the talent of non-native English writers.
- Writing entirely for the search engines
One of the things I have noticed about non-native English writers is that they tend to write entirely for the search engines. They care more about infusing keywords in the copy than they care about the ease with which the audience will have reading the copy.
I have said it time and again. There is nothing like SEO writing. This might aghast the SEO mavericks out there, but it is simply the truth. Whether you are writing copy for article directories or for a client’s website, you just can’t afford to have it read like hogwash. Think about the person who is fetched the article directory copy by the search engines. S/he is looking for an informational and readable copy. If the first sentence does not captivate them, there is no way they are going to read to the end where the resource box is placed. A client would have lost a possible lead.
- Writing for content mills
If you want a writer who delivers work like an automated mill, try hiring a Kenyan freelance writer. Many of them will submit work within the hour! This is characteristic of a person who is used to writing for content mills. I have written an article about the benefits and disadvantages of writing for content mills that you can read here. If you have been writing for content mills that demand you submit so many articles per day, take a break and try writing for a client who is not rushing you with their projects. You just might be able to revive your dying muse.
- Taking jobs from the wrong writing niches
I will be surprised if there are any freelance writers in Kenya who have even discovered that there is something like specializing in a particular writing niche. A lot of writers will bid for any job that is advertised.
Taking jobs from whichever niche is advertised affects your freelance writing career in two major ways.
Firstly, taking writing tasks from niches that you are not familiar with will make it harder for you to deliver a professional copy. You might deliver by blubbering and beating around the bush but a client will notice this and ultimately take the job to a more able freelancer. Secondly, being a Jack of all trades tells clients that you are a master of none. This predisposes them to offering you low rates.
- You are not cut out to be a freelance writer
There is money in freelance writing. A lot of it. This tends to draw in every Tom, Dick and Harry who has access to a broadband modem, a computer and a low-level familiarity with the English language. The result is an overflow of non-native English writers who do not have an understanding of what it takes to be a writer.
Unfortunately, clients do not want to know whether you have a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism or whether you can write better than John Grisham. Once a poor Kenyan freelance writer has given them shoddy work, the client will group us into one big bracket. We are non-native English writers! We cannot write if our lives depended on it. If we can write then we do not deserve professional rates for our services. If you are the type of ‘freelance writer’ committing these sins, it is never too late to change. Start by joining my mailing list for my free online freelance writing lessons. It will definitely change the way you view freelance writing.