I started working at oDesk with an hourly rate of $3. I increased it to $5 but sadly, I get a lot of "bid is too high" responses. I acknowledge that while don't fully understand the dynamics of how buyers get their funds to pay for the work they need, it is still rather annoying and disheartening to receive such notices when I know that one, my rate is not high compared to other providers, and two, what I am charging is still affordable enough for great quality work.
What many buyers might not consider is the worth of the dollar to the person who is looking for work. A dollar is worth about forty to fifty pesos in the Philippines, depending on the market, but it usually falls around in that range. It may sound big --- if you tend to think that what fifty bucks can buy is the same as what you can get with a dollar.
In most cases it is not. In order for someone to live substantially here, you have to at least earn P500 a day. That's about $10 (again, depending on the exchange rate), and that's only for the daily expenses. In other countries, a person earning $10 an hour is standard. Ten dollars a day is not enough, especially if a person has to pay his bills and sustain a family.
Some writers accept a low paying work because they accept other work as well. Totaling what they earn for all that would most likely net them a substantial amount. Then again, it would be undermining their talents and skills, and sometimes, getting bulk work compromises the quality of the articles.
I also noticed that many buyers prefer to get people from non-US countries because they will take a dollar per article rate. Browsing through some writing forums, I've learned that many writers consider a $10 per article rate the bare minimum, as it's the rate many US writers charge.
In many instances, it's a strike against me to have the Philippines listed as my location. Buyers immediately think I'll be willing to accept a very low rate for my work. While I do want to get a job, I too have my standards. I have a university degree and more than ten years of writing experience in various fields under my belt. I speak and write English as well as anyone who is from an English speaking country. In fact, I learned how to speak it alongside the vernacular language. English is not a second language for me, but one of my primary languages.
Still think the bid is too high? Here are some suggestions you can look into to help you decide what to do next.
1. Check the provider's work. Make a portfolio a requirement for applicants. Do they write in the way that you want your articles to come out? Are they up to your standards of "perfect English grammar"? Is their work original and pass Copyscape? These are common requirements I see in many job postings.
Even without asking, I include links to my blog so that the buyer will be able to look at how I write. I try to keep my blog as updated as possible, and write in a variety of styles. I am confident that my work is worth more than my current oDesk bid. I've seen some writing samples of people who bid around a dollar or so for their work and honestly, it is worth even less.
2. If you think the rate is too high even after you've checked the provider's work, don't cancel the bid just yet. Ask the provider if they would be willing to negotiate their rate to meet your budget. While many would not consider doing so, there would be others who would be willing to. If by chance they cannot lower it to the exact amount that you need, try to see if you can compromise to an amount that would be satisfactory to both of you.
3. Consider the kind of job you want them to do. Seriously, a 500 word article is not easy to write. If you could do it quickly, then I'm sure you wouldn't be looking for a writer now, right? Think of all the work that goes into it: research, writing the draft, the cycle of editing and rewriting until you get it right. I've looked into freelance forums and writing forums and many agree that a dollar for one article that includes research and editing is a very low rate. Even if the data has been provided, it still is a low rate.
4. Look into the writer's feedback, history and testimonials, if they are any (usually for sites like oDesk there would be). Is it good? Does it meet your standards? Or are you seeing low scores and ratings? I'd personally pick a writer who charges $10 per article (or hour, depending) if I am confident that they can meet my demands, versus someone charging a dollar but has issues with deadlines and quality.
5. In relation to the previous items, check the writer's credentials. With the Internet, there has been a proliferation of people who call themselves writers, mostly because they get their works published in a blog or an online publication. As previously mentioned, you can ask for work samples and use them as a measuring stick. My research showed that many prefer to look for seasoned writers over people who just blog, unless their entries are truly good.
I hope that buyers would see that sometimes, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean it's good. There are some things that are worth spending money for, and if you truly want great value for your dollar, well, you will get what you pay for.