Worthy Tip: This Job, Not That Job

What I’m reading: Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

Yesterday was phone-and-email day. I had a bunch of interviews to conduct, and I finished contacting all the folks I’d met at the conference. Today I’m talking with one of them in more detail about what he’s looking for.

Part of the work yesterday was putting together a conference-specific tracking sheet. No sense in meeting 42 new people in order to work with them if I don’t follow up. I’ve had informal tracking sheets before, but it’s time to get a bit more serious. So I started an Excel sheet with simple info: name, company, phone, email, and date of contact. Also, I added columns for following up. I intend to date them for about 8 weeks out and set Outlook to remind me.

I know all 42 won’t work with me. That doesn’t mean they don’t get a note in two months. Their circumstances now may change. What isn’t a potential client today could be in a year or so.

On the heels of Writers Worth Week, I decided today would be a good day to send out a little reminder that every day is a good day to change your business habits for the better. So let’s compare two separate gigs, shall we?

Job #1:
Article Writers Wanted
We are looking for American, English article writers who can write in “How to” format and who can write articles that are Content-Rich and SEO optimized. Sample article titles include: (How to Tie a Tie, How to Lose Weight, How to Get a Passport, How to Get a Home Loan, etc…).

Article Length: 200 words minimum

Originality: Articles must be 100% original and unique. All articles will be checked for plagiarism through Copyscape and other plagiarism checkers. You will NOT be permitted to reproduce, reprint, resell, or lease the articles to other clients. You must NOT have committed any fraud by copying other articles and submitting them or allowing other authors to use the same articles that you wrote!

Topics: You can pretty much write about any topic except (news, recipes, gossip, or poems). All titles of articles must start with “How to”. We do require that you select an article title from the “AVAILABLE ARTICLE TITLES” list at least once per month.

Pay Scale: (You will paid based on how many new articles you write for us)
$1.00 per new, approved article (1 – 50 articles)
$2.00 per new, approved article (51 – 99 articles)
$3.00 per new, approved article (100+ articles)

Payment Terms: Payment will be sent as soon as we finish proofreading and checking that your articles are 100% original, unique and without spelling and grammar errors….

Project Terms: Every writer hired for this project will be hired on a trial basis. Once you write 50 articles, we will let you know if you can continue with the project….

Sample Article: (Please provide a sample article in “How to” format. You can choose any topic you wish. Please be sure the article is original, unique and at least 200 words minimum.

I think the pathetic grammar and sentence structure in this one would be more than enough to send me running in the other direction. But per usual, these awful job listings never fail to entertain.

This listing is particularly heinous. First, you have to provide a “sample” article. No word on whether you get a buck for it, either. Bet not. Second, if you manage to write 50 articles a month, you get a whopping three bucks each? Wow. Look out, Trump – I’m about to out-earn you!

Third, and most disturbing, you can’t write enough articles to make it pay. You just can’t. So why kill yourself for a measly dollar or two? Try this instead:

Cyberguide is an online family guide with practical information to help make the Internet experience enjoyable, safe, and rewarding. It is a value-centered magazine that also offers our readers advice and insights into issues–ranging from legal, to financial, to the aesthetic–as they relate to the World Wide Web.

Pays $50-500 for 250-2,500 words (assigned articles.) Pays $25-250 for unsolicited articles.

Even the unsolicited articles pay more than the keyword-stuffing job. This took me less time to find than the bad job.

What gigs do you have that you can improve on? What lousy offers have you seen lately?

About the author




  • Wendy May 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    The first ad is definitely entertaining. They're putting all articles through copyscape. That fact alone has me rolling on the floor laughing.

  • Lori May 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    That's their method of "quality control", Wendy. LOL

    Ever notice how the more requirements and spelling errors, the less they're paying?

  • Ashley May 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Wow. That's really terrible. And it pains me that some people might actually consider the first job! But yes, you're right – the more requirements, the worse the pay!

    I hope you get a great response on your conference follow-ups. Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Lori May 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    So far, I have two definites, Ashley! Then there are about eight contacts with some future potential. Amen. I hope to be very busy soon. 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend, too!

  • Lisa Vella May 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    It ALWAYS blows me away when I see jobs like your first example, but it boggles my mind even further to think that there are people out there who will actually take those jobs. What are they thinking? Yes, it's certainly an appropriate post in light of self-worth!

    Thanks for another great post, and hope you have a wonderful weekend, Lori!

  • Lori May 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Lisa, I wish I knew the answer to that question. I think there are people who want to be writers, but have no idea how to start. These things sound legit enough to draw them in. The pathetic pay is more affirmation of their "writer" status (to them only) than an actual paycheck. Just my best guess. 🙂

  • Paula May 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    The funniest thing about the ad, other than the supposed pay rates, is how they make it sound like they have stringent quality standards that all writers must uphold.

    The best line was, "Once you write 50 articles, we will let you know if you can continue with the project…." How many people do you think would want to continue after cranking out that much copy for a whopping $50?

    Wait, no. The best part is that this place seems to expect their "writers" will plagiarize and commit fraud.

  • Lori May 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I have to agree, Paula. I wouldn't want to work for a place that has to screen for fraud or plagiarism – or doesn't trust its writers enough. Oh hey, could that be because they aren't PAYING enough? Hmmm….

  • Anne Wayman May 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    My wish, of course, is that no one would ever respond to the mills… they would either raise their rates or go away.

    OTOH I applied for a $2/word ad… and ended up in the middle of a scam… I didn't get ripped off because I tumbled, but back in the day I might have.

  • Devon Ellington May 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Honestly, I haven't been looking. I'm up to my eyeballs in current work and proposals, and then I've got to get back to work on my brochure and do a direct mailing.

    And I'm doing PR for the upcoming release.

    I haven't even found the time to go out and buy ink — which I desperately need!

  • Lori May 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Devon, Canon does deliver. 🙂

    Anne, that's my wish, too. 🙂

  • Jenn Mattern May 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Wow. I can't believe people are still posting ads like these. Just when you think garbage like ehow.com can't get any worse, you see the rip-offs that try to do it for even less. When are these tightwads going to realize you don't get quality work unless you're willing to pay for it. The fact that they have to threaten to check the originality of each piece up front in the ad says it all. When you hire real writers, you don't have to threaten to hold Copyscape and similar services against them. Mention it at all, and it's an invitation for content spinners / "rewriters" to apply and try to beat your check (and unfortunately those tools are so flawed that they're not hard to beat anymore). Just sad.

  • Lori May 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Jenn, it's odd to see any ad starting out assuming the respondents are plagiarists, isn't it? There's a huge red flag.

    I can't wait for the day when these ads no longer populate the Internet. It will happen the day writer wanna-bes stop taking them seriously.

  • L.C. Gant May 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Ads like this make me sick to my stomach. About a year ago, when I was still getting my feet wet in freelancing, I wrote an article for a certain content mill that shall remain nameless. When I compared the work I had done to write it to the measly $15 I was paid, I knew I'd been robbed and that I could do better.

    However, I'm a firm believer that ignorance often breeds more ignorance. Hop on some of the writer's forums out there and you'll see what I mean. People just keep trading misinformation until someone with more experience tells them otherwise.

  • Anonymous May 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Gosh it really looks to me like both of these gigs suck — one just sucks slightly harder than the other.

  • Jenn Mattern May 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Lori – It was so bad when I first started working with webmasters and online business owners that I actually had to include something about it in my business site's FAQs. I very plainly tell them if they so much as mention Copyscape up front, therefore accusing me of being a potential plagiarist before we ever begin a working relationship, they can take their job elsewhere. Sadly it still happens once in a while, even on the upper tier gigs. They get a "buh-bye" and they're welcome to find some pansy who doesn't mind being pushed around and insulted. That won't ever be me.

  • Jenn Mattern May 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    L.C. – What's really sad is when that ignorance spreads so far that people assume there's truth in numbers. Then they ignore the people who have real experience and try to help them do better. Over the years I've finally come to the "let 'em rot" mindset where I don't even bother getting involved in those cesspools anymore. Anyone who wants better for themselves has to be willing and able to separate themselves from the mob mentality and seek out better information. I've taken solace in the fact that at least a handful will in any of these groups. I wish it were more. But that won't happen until someone pulls the rug out from under the group as a whole. It usually happens and we have a big "I told ya so" moment. But it tends to take quite a while.

  • Kimberly Ben May 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I saw that ad. Like Jenn I'm amazed that people still post ads like that, but sadder still is the idea that someone must be responding.

    Your post is timely as usual. I'm looking to work with a coach this year. I think it could be a worthy investment. Your post is a good reminder for me to do my research and choose carefully.

  • Lori May 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    LC, I see that same mentality on a few writer's forums, too. It's scary.

    Anon, it does seem that way, but let's look at both jobs. The first obviously sucks. The second – a legitimate market that pays a lot more than a dollar. Okay, it's not a job I'd take, but I'm well into my career and shouldn't have to. Someone starting out could do well to earn $500 in one article. Not so bad, really.

    Jenn, that's insane. That they would try to start the relationship out based on lack of trust is a stupid business practice. And I have come to the "let 'em rot" point too – many times. There are those people who refuse to change their habits no matter how much their habits are holding them back.

    Kim, that's a super idea! I think your business rocks, but only you see it from the inside. I have one recommendation, if you like. Drop me a note…