In this technologically advanced culture of ours, it seems as if it is almost a lost art to know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” or when to use “its” versus “it’s,” much less how to use a thesaurus to arrive at the exact word to describe the waning sunset.
Not to say that writers are anomalies. But the practice of writing is an art form that takes time, skill, and dedication. I spent years in school, and tens of thousands in student loans, to acquire this technique. I did it, not for money or fame, although in my most honest moments I will admit those were part of the equation. I did it simply because I love to write. And, I believe in the power of crafted words to influence, to shape a culture. I wanted to be part of larger conversation.
I have found in this journey of mine, even entering the conversation, seems to be nearly impossible. True, the Internet, made largely of text, has created opportunities for fledging writers other generations would have killed to have. But, with that, has come a variety of slum employers, aka content mills, to harness desperate young writers for slave wages. They lure them in with the promises of “work from home,” and “be your own boss,” and end up paying them a miniscule fraction of what they are worth.
Take for example, this last ad I answered. It asked for ten articles of 250 words each. There was no mention of the article topics, and it was paying a whopping $25 for the whole booty. I needed money, so answered many ads hoping to get some dust moving. I didn’t expect to hear from that one. When I did, the site owner wanted the first within 24 hours, and required some research. Now, some of you that have done Internet writing, are reading this and saying, “Yeah, that’s pretty common out there.” I know. That’s my point. Doesn’t that seem a little screwy to you?
Once the “finder” website took out its obligatory commission, I would end up making about $2.00 per article. If I did a good job, a job that I am proud of, it should take me about an hour per article. So, I would have made $2.00 per hour. If I did a crappy job, and just threw something together, it would take me about half that, making my earnings $4 per hour.
After much consternation, I accepted the job. I was new to this finder site, and I needed good ratings. I tossed and turned all night dreading the coming Saturday of working for slave wages. Finally, at about four a.m., I declined the offer. I apologized and told him I couldn’t make the turnaround time (which was true). He sent me back saying, “Thanks for this waste of time.”
Thanks for the waste of time? First of all, you have a pool of thousands of writers you could choose from. I didn’t waste your time. Secondly, what about my time? What about the time that I spend laboring over your researh? What about the time I spend crafting sentences and paragraphs for you? For not just one…but TEN articles? For what? For $20. Come on. I may not be Hemingway, but I’m worth more than $2 an article.
The saddest part is, that these site owners are all over the Internet. So much so, that this is the industry norm now. Don’t even get me started on CPC sites. You craft articles, and put them out there and wait. You hope that someone will click on the ads, in which case you will make a fraction of a cent. Maybe, if you work hard at promoting your articles, at the end of a quarter, you’ll earn enough to go to a movie.
Why don’t people pay writers what they’re worth? I suspect it’s because anyone with a computer can churn out sentences and call themselves a writer, regardless of whether they know the difference between, “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” Well, website owners across the globe, there are better writers out there. It just takes more than $2 an hour to get them. (Or does it anymore?)