This is an actual project listed today on Elance.

“I need 3 x 500 word articles written on the following subjects:”

The 7 bids range from $50 to $400. So, let’s break that down.

In the low range of $50, the provider will be paid:

10 cents per word for ONE article, which is the LOW price according to the 2009 Writer’s Market. This provider has bid on THREE articles, so they are actually writing 1500 words, which works out to roughly slightly over 3 cents per word.

In the high range of $400, the provider will be paid:

80 cents per word for ONE article, which is the AVERAGE price according to the 2009 Writer’s Market. This provider has bid on THREE articles, so they are actually writing 1500 words, which works out to roughly slightly over 26 cents per word.

* The 2009 Writer’s Market has article writing estimated in many different ways. I am basing my figures on the lowest prices they list under magazine writing.

I’m going to watch to see who that project goes to in the end. I am betting on the 3 cents per word bidder.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the buyer choosing the low bidder. Do you blame them? I can pretty much guess that the low bidder is the guy from Pakistan, and I say that not because he is from Pakistan (although we know that those regions typically will do this work for peanuts) but because he is a new provider. We all start out bidding lower than dirt because we need to make a presence for ourselves.

Here is the problem: When we as freelance writers bid on writing a 500 word article for a mere .03 cents per word, we hurt our profession. Tell someone you are a freelance writer, and they laugh at you. Tell someone, “I’m working.” When they ask what you are doing today, and they say, “Oh, that. Come on, that can wait for later.”

Well, no, it can’t wait. This is my job. This is how I make a living, pay my bills, buy groceries, go on vacation.

And I deserve to be paid more than minimum wage for my talents.

But still I write for peanuts. I write 400 word articles on Demand Studios for $15 each. That is less than .04 cents per word. I get sick to my stomach thinking about it.

Necessity. That is why we do it. Because in this economy, our full-time jobs don’t cover the bills. Because we’re one of the thousands of teachers who have been laid off (that is a subject for another blog). We do it because we are educated and talented and we don’t want to work at the Mini-Mart serving gangsters who wave guns and threats in our faces.

What SHOULD I charge for writing a 500 word article? No less than .10 per word.

So, tell me – what do YOU charge for writing a 500 word article? I am interested to see what other freelancers have to say about this.

Next blog: What Should I Charge for Ghostwriting a Book?