What’s on the iPod: Modern Leper by Frightened Rabbit
Yesterday was blissfully quiet – enough so that I managed to get the bulk of my article fleshed out. After a quick review today, the invoice goes out. I’m waiting for some quotes to be approved, and I’ve given him until noon today to get back with any changes. I’d rather not keep the editor waiting.
Kathy Kehrli, who for years has brought us some of the largest project wastes of time in her Ultimate Get-a-Clue Freelance Request posts, has found a gem. It’s so bad, it bears repeating.
In the ad, the “employer” sets out the rules – you as the writer will write the first five test questions for free. Only after this guy decides you’re worth your salt will you get any payment – for subsequent work (forget those first five freebies), and for the grand sum of 25 cents per question.
Why this ad disturbs me:
Free is all you get. Newbies, please don’t ever fall for this one. They ask for free work to “evaluate” your talent, then promise they’ll pay for ongoing work. Guess what? Those freebies are exactly what they’re after and they have no intention of paying anyone, nor is there ongoing work. If 100 writers answer the ad, all supplying five freebies…. do the math.
The pay – if it were ever to come – is insulting. Twenty five cents? Per question? That’s ridiculous and not worth considering.
The client is getting much, much more from this. I’m all for folks making a profit. However, I’m not into slaving like a dog so someone else can rake in huge sums of money (think content farms and you’ll see where I’m going with this).
So what’s fair?
Never give your work away. Free samples should be in the form of your already-published-and-paid-for clips. No one gets a freebie except your mother, and only if she’s got a good reason for needing it.
Don’t settle for less than the value of your skills. Be realistic, too. You might try reasoning that in order to earn say $50 an hour you could write 200 questions. No you can’t. Not good questions, and not without killing yourself. Keep an eye on the work required to meet your bottom-line price.
Don’t break your neck for a project you don’t believe in. You have no vested interest in projects like this other than the paycheck. Why? Because the client has framed the entire ad to shift the onus of copyright responsibility/blame onto you, as well as insulted you by offering you at least 30 times under what is market value for the product (and requiring someone with specialized knowledge), and expects your first relationship encounter to cost you, not him.
Writers, have you ever been burned by an ad like this or requirements that meant you had to sacrifice something? How did it turn out?