And Yes, We Should All Be Outraged

It seems the world is conspiring to make this Writers Worth Day more necessary than ever. Devon brought up on her blog a segment she’d seen on CBS’s The Morning Show in which Daniel Sieberg interviewed a woman who writes by her pool all day (the segment is called Selling Online Expertise). I won’t call her a writer, for a real writer wouldn’t work for what she does – $1 to $20 an article. And she’s serious. She claims to make $1,100 a month, but I wonder – does she sit by the pool 24/7 in order to accomplish that? Why in the world would ANY writer bust ass to put out 2,000+ articles a month when I can make the same money with, oh, ONE article? I’ll tell you why – because that’s one uninformed wanna-be.

I’m trying to be nice here and I really don’t know why. Yes, you may sit by your pool. Yes, you may make that much money for all those articles, but why? Is it because you have a spouse who covers for you if you don’t make your quota? Is it because you really don’t want a career but just a hobby? If so, take up knitting. Spare the industry any more pain. Do you really sit by that pool all day or are you locked in the house until all hours because you have to churn out article after article? Or…do you, God forbid, just rework someone else’s writing and get paid for that?

I sit by a lovely cherry tree. I have a wonderful view of trees and grass and the occasional deer or fox. I work hard, but I don’t kill myself. And guess what? I make much more than that in a month. All original content, all at a fair rate, none of it paying anywhere near what this woman accepts.

We shouldn’t be allowing this kind of report to go unanswered. We should NOT allow the notion that this woman’s lack of discretion on what she’ll take for a job is anywhere near a fair wage. I’m going to contact the show myself and let them know. And I’m spreading the word here and now.


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  • Devon Ellington April 23, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    You know how angry I am about the segment.

  • Kimberly Ben April 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    See, the problem with this type of information appearing on a show like this is that people will take it as the gospel truth. A person thinking about freelancing who see this show and then visits bidding sites will assume this is how it is across the board – unless they dig deeper in their research and come across blogs like this one,Devon’s, Jennifer Mattern and the like who want people to know the real deal.

  • Devon Ellington April 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I repeat: You get what you pay for. If these employers pay for crap, that’s what they get.

  • Susan Johnston April 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    How can only live on $1,100/month? That’s peanuts after taxes! My very first article paid $100. It seemed like a princely sum at the time, but after that I could never wrap my head around $1 or $20 article. If a total newbie can make $100, then that woman needs her head examined.

  • Anne Wayman April 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Has anyone contacted the morning show and offered to be interviewed?

  • Amanda Nicole April 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Oh my LORD. I wonder which “reporter” uncovered that story? For shame.

  • Lori April 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Daniel Sieberg. He’s actually quite nice, but come on. If the media spreads this type of notion, even those spreading the stories will be adversely affected.

  • Eileen Coale April 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Even people who should know better take blatant advantage of writers. I recently answered an ad for a writer (something I almost never do), because the one doing the hiring was one of proponents of the “making 6-figures a year copywriter” course. But they wanted a 500-word article with starting pay at $50. Better than $20, but still egregiously low.

    Note to self: don’t even BOTHER with ads!

  • Lori April 23, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Eileen, great point. Most ads these days are for gutter-low wages and phenomenal amounts of work.

  • Katharine Swan April 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Lori, you said something that I think hits on the most important point: How many hours is she working in order to get to $1,100?

    In general I don’t think per-article or even per-word rates tell the whole story. You could be getting $1 per word, but if you are a very slow writer or if there is a ton of research work involved, it still might not be worth it. But if you’re writing short, simple (i.e., blog-type) articles for $20 each and you can churn out two in an hour without giving yourself a stroke, that’s not a bad hourly wage for someone fairly new to the business.

    Of course, no amount of math can make $1 per article look good. And since most people are going to be a little generous with their estimates, she is most likely doing most of her work down around the lower range. :o(

  • Katharine Swan April 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Susan — I was actually wondering how one lives and has a pool on $1,100 a month. Clearly hers is not the only income.

    If anyone contacts the show please let us know what happens!

  • Lori April 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    She probably rents a condo complete with a pool. LOL

    Very good point, Katharine. There have been articles I’ve written that seem to have paid well, but nearly put me in the hospital from the stress. 🙂 Then there were the ones that paid very well that took no time at all to complete. More of those, please!

  • Katharine Swan April 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Lori, I hear you on the first scenario. I’ve actually had a few of those where I’ve refused to work with the client again, because as good as the pay looks on paper, it’s simply not worth it in the long run!

  • Angie Ledbetter April 24, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Those who work for less than nothing make it harder for everyone else to make a real living wage. gark!