Writers Worth Monday: This Job, Not That Job

What’s on the iPod: Flaw by Bastille

Thanks to Paula Hendrickson for this job posting. Paula sent it over last week — she thought it woudl be perfect for the This Job, Not That Job feature. She couldn’t be more right.

Here it is in its entirety:

Freelance Content Writer Position
XXX Marketing is a digital marketing agency focusing on search engine optimization for eCommerce businesses.

We are currently seeking a Freelance Content Writer to assist our efforts in helping manage and fulfil the scope of work our rapidly increasing client base. 

Job Duties:
• Have a very thorough knowledge and writer ability. 
• Be able to understand basic SEO practices like interlinking and keyword density. 
• Have an open line of communication with the SEO Director, Account Manager, & CEO and be able to work on tasks assigned to you. 
• Be able to write content in the specifications we require and meet all deadlines. We will send manuals so you understand how to write for us.

• A HUGE PASSION FOR CLIENT’S SUCCESS. You must love our clients and want to make them as successful as possible. 
• Bachelor’s degree in English, Writing, or a similar field.
• A background in digital marketing.
• A good understanding of SEO.
• Ability to thrive in a small organization without constant direction or coaching. 
• A great attitude and desire to learn (this is important!)
• Proficient with basic computer programs (word, excel, powerpoint, etc. . .).
• Detail oriented, and very organized – even with constant distractions and multiple priorities.
• Strong interest in the SEO field and digital marketing as a whole.
• Be able to commute to our Midtown Office and on site client visits.
• A very strong knowledge of SEO. 
• A master’s degree in English or related field.

More about XXX Marketing:

Since its inception in 
October 2012 XXX Marketing has found its home as a digital marketing agency with a focus on search engine optimization for eCommerce stores and local businesses. We take our client’s investment and commitment in us very seriously. After that, we do not take ourselves seriously and promote a fun, creative, and futuristic working culture. We do not tolerate any negativity in the work place and will not demand more than 40-50 hours per week. This is not an agency where you will work from sunrise or sunset. We have grown 300% year over year for a reason. We are on track to grow the same this year.

Starting compensation will be below. We have three levels of content needed:

500 word editorial content pieces – $20 per article
750 word blog on client’s site – $30 per article
2,000 word power page – $100 per article

As we grow, you will grow. You will be handed a stable of clients and will grow as we build up a larger client base for paid search

So let’s break it down:

The beginning sounds like your average job posting — decent. Okay, they misspelled “fulfill” but everyone gets one break.

The requirements — again, decent. No surprises. Sounds good so far.

It’s right about here that things start to unravel:

Be able to commute to our Midtown Office and on site client visits.

Wait. This is freelance, right?

Let’s just skip down to the compensation, for that’s where the stench is strongest. See that? Those are content mill rates. So you have a dilemma to unravel — should you work your ass off for content mill rates given that this is a seemingly legitimate business? (I think you know the answer already.)

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • A master’s degree in English or related field. Not to mention a slew of required skills. For twenty bucks? Seriously? 
  • Be able to commute to our Midtown Office and on site client visits. Let’s just point out that this is a freelance job, not an employer/employee relationship. So why do you have to travel to their downtown office for $20 a pop? 
  • We have grown 300% year over year for a reason. We are on track to grow the same this year. Then where’s the money, you putzes? Keeping it for yourself, right? If this company has grown that much, they should be quite capable of paying competitive rates. 
  • We do not tolerate any negativity in the work place — and yet they still want underpaid writers in the office. Go figure. 
  • …and will not demand more than 40-50 hours per week. Damn right you won’t — this “freelance” job just became a full-time staff position. And they’re fools if they think anyone with a brain would take the job and not sue them for benefits. 
  • As we grow, you will grow. Oh, please. That’s the oldest line in the book. Besides, you’ve already grown. And while I suspect 300 percent of one client equals four clients (putting it into perspective), you grow when you place value and money in the right places — starting with your writers. 

I can almost hear the justifications now if you were to tell them their requirements far outweigh their compensation rates –“We are offering a golden opportunity for someone to get great exposure, rub shoulders with new clients, and learn SEO while getting paid. And the compensation will increase as we increase our business.” No, they didn’t say it, but isn’t that the usual comeback when you call someone on a raw deal?

So, how can we do better than this? Quite easily. Here’s one example, via All Indie Writers job board:

Feature Writer

Everyday Feminism is an online magazine looking to help people “work through and stand up to everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization.” They’re looking for feature writers to contribute at least one article per week. Payment is $100 per post plus potential traffic bonuses.

You should have at least one year of publishing experience.

So $100, no long list of requirements, and you don’t have to pretend to be an employee? Sounds better already, doesn’t it?
Writers, what kills it for you in ads like the first one?
Where do you draw the line — money, requirements, or both?
What’s your minimum acceptable rates/conditions?

About the author




  • KeriLynn Engel June 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Wow, this sounds EXACTLY like a full-time job posting in every way… except compensation. Sounds like they really need to hire someone in-house, but they're too cheap, so they're trying to scam some inexperienced writers instead. I HOPE no one would ever apply to postings like this, but unfortunately that's probably wishful thinking :/

  • Cathy June 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    KeriLynn, that is the scary thing, isn't it? That someone would actually respond to that ad? Depending upon the location of the Midtown office, the $20 probably wouldn't cover the commuting expenses.

    This ad is like a freight train building up speed for a disastrous crash.

  • Lori Widmer June 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    KeriLynn, exactly what bothered me about it, too. I think that's why Paula sent it over — it was masquerading as something much, much more than it is.

    Cathy, Atlanta. And no, it wouldn't cover gas even to downtown Ketchum. 🙂

  • Paula June 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Ah, but they never said the "freelancer" would be compensated for those Midtown meetings and client meetings, did they?

    Hmm… How many times did they squeeze SEO qualifications/responsibilities into this one ad?

    My personal favorite was the line about a Masters degree being preferred. Isn't it amazing how much they're (not)!willing to pay someone with an advanced degree?

    I also loved how they said they'd grown 300% for "a reason" but never said what that reason was, or in what ways they had grown…Client roster? Revenue? Number of lawsuits from "freelancers" working more than full time (yet somehow not from surprise to sunset) for about one tenth the minimum wage and no benefits?

    This listing raised so many questions everyone should run from it while warning others to avert their eyes.