Sites like People Per Hour are part of the problem when it comes to low wages amongst freelancers. They need to install a minimum hourly wage and bring the site in line with every other worker in the UK.
Who’s to blame for sites like PPH, the owners, the people looking for cheap labour or the freelancers themselves? By refusing to implement a minimum wage PPH have downgraded writers allowing the cheapest to prevail. In a race to the bottom PPH are going to be left with only the worst writers on their site and a badly damaged brand.
There will always be someone looking for cheap labour. People like a bargain. They like to think that they’re savvy, outwitting the man (even if they are the man); it’s pretty easy to become quite tight when you set up your own business.
Yes. There are people who send out jobs ads like this, “Need Sites to Publish Posts, Budget £15”, “A web content writer to rewrite 10 pages of content for £120”, “A 16 page booklet on home care options for £35”, “10,000 words for a website content writing for £60”, “400 well written articles for a website with a budget of $500” ($1.25 for each article).
Is it frustrating? Yes. Do you have to take them? No.
Yes, I’ve been told my £40 an hour writing fee is too expensive by some. I remain unmoved. I know what my writing is worth. I was once told by an Indian entrepreneur via a PPH message board that I was “greedy” because I wanted more than £4 an hour. Buy cheap, buy thrice as everyone’s mother has said.
But I don’t blame those people. They are merely responding to a culture endemic on the site. And you can hardly hold responsibility at the door of those posting low job offers when those pitching their rates come in much lower.
No. The people I’ve got a problem with and who I think PPH need to tackle are the freelancers themselves.
Every morning I get an email of the Hourlies on PPH. A couple of years ago the site began pushing these as a way to get paid for Hourlie jobs. This is from this morning;
“I can write a 500 word blog post on any topic with unlimited revisions for £8”
“I can write an engaging book or movie review for £20”
“I can create an eye-catching digital hand drawn video for £25”
“I can write you a travel article on any destination for £15”
“ I can translate Korean, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Indonesian or Hindi to English for £6”.
“I can create an online marketing strategy plan and scheduling tool for £80”
Not one of those jobs a) takes just an hour orb) is priced accurately.
A minimum hourly wage would not only bring the site inline with UK employment regulations it would also bring a sense of professionalism to a site that really needs it. More and more talented copywriters are leaving PPH, so they tell me and my own profile is lying dormant. It’s just too damn frustrating, tiring and pointless to try to compete with people who place no value on their own work.
If you think your work is worth so little, why should anyone pay you more? PPH has long disavowed any sense of responsibility when it comes to low rates. In a lengthy blog post and infographic (I wonder how much they paid the designer), the site’s founder argues in both micro and macro viewpoints that PPH can’t be driving down rates because the UK minimum wage is £6.19 and the average of all of the cheapest proposals on PPH is £11. The average hourlie pay for a job is £28. Plus, he writes, 60% of PPH’s jobs don’t go to the lowest bidder.
In my honestly held opinion; Tosh.
By endorsing creatives who post vastly undervalued hourlie rates, PPH downgrades the whole industry. Suggesting that a skilled creative who has probably a swathe of qualifications, most likely a degree or professional qualification, not to mention sector experience and the savvy to manage their own time independently is worth only twice the minimum wage is insulting. The minimum wage is there to make sure workers don’t get ripped off. But it isn’t the benchmark of where every professional should start out. If you’ve invested in your career, if you’re a professional, you should probably be earning more than minimum wage. Minimum wage works out at just over £11k a year. The average wage in the UK is around £18k, rising to £26k for those with degrees.
It is impossible to run your own business if you’re hoping to operate purely on minimum wage. My survival budget when I was working from home was £9,000 a year. My office rent (an office space which has, unsurprisingly, made me more visible and brought in more work) is £1,600 a year; over a tenth of my income if I was content to earn minimum wage.
I wish every worker was paid the same as I earn. We would be in a much happier place. I don’t believe the answer to inequality, however, is to pull everyone down. By refusing even to implement a minimum wage agreement, PPH doesn’t even do that, and its copywriters are complicit in that.
I don’t blame PPH per se. people like cheap labour and they want to make money. I am shruggingly aware of that and while I can work and campaign to get as many freelancers to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work I can’t make PPH do anything.
The creative freelancers and the copywriters on PPH are another thing, however. By downgrading and having so little value for their own industry rates they create a vastly unequal playing field. By undercutting their rivals and pitching themselves on low rates they make it even harder for serious creatives to illustrate and argue for a fair day’s pay. Good clients appreciate your work and know you’re worth a wage. They trust you. But not every client is good, and not everyone can afford to just work for good clients (would that we could).
If the pressure for PPH to implement a minimum hourlie wage came from freelancers themselves it would be much more effective. Without it they’re able to maintain the moral high ground and pretend they’re doing the best for freelancers.
Yes, as they say the majority of jobs might not go to the lowest bidder but when they endorse and rate hourlies like the ones above (and that’s just one email) it devalues the work everyone is doing. Plus, PPH never says how high over the lowest bid the others go, £1, £5, £10?
If more people are going to work independently and freelance then we need a site that will fight for us and encourage us to pay what we’re deserved for our work, not a couple of quid more than the cheapest offer.