This Job, Not That Job

What I’m listening to: Nature (I’m offline all week)

file00088158920I’m still out of the office, but you know me — I’m leaving bread crumbs. And because it’s such a popular topic, I’m leaving a rather interesting offer behind for the This Job Not That Job series.

This one comes to us via Sharon Hurley Hall, who has what I think is one sleek website. Sharon received this note and thought it was a good fit for our roundup of bad offers.

She’s right.

It goes something like this:

Dear Sharon,

I’m looking for writers. My husband and I produce web content for US sites, and we are looking for writers who can produce content fast.

The rate of pay is only $1.20 for 100 words. I know this isn’t impressive, but specialized content pays more and we can give you a lot of work. If you can write blog posts, fast, then we can supply you with regular work. A 400-word post need only take 30 minutes and pays $4.80. I know this isn’t a fortune, but the work is reliable and regular. If you’re interested, or if you know anyone else who might be interested, please email me on ridiculousoffer@whatever.com. 

Thank you.

While I get that some people simply don’t have the budget, it doesn’t make the offer any less insulting. So let’s walk through this gem, shall we?

“…we are looking for writers who can produce content fast.”

Red flag #1. While most clients have deadlines, few will start their correspondence this way.

“The rate of pay is only $1.20 for 100 words.”

That they’re including the word “only” means that yes, they know it sucks.

“I know this isn’t impressive…”

That would be an understatement.

“….but specialized content pays more…”

So, $1.25 per 100 words? I suspect not even in the ballpark of what a writer should be earning.

“….and we can give you a lot of work.”

Because every writer wants to spend their entire day churning out content for ridiculously less than minimum wage.

“If you can write blog posts, fast, then we can supply you with regular work.”

Oh. My. Word. Stop.

“A 400-word post need only take 30 minutes and pays $4.80.”

There’s that attempt to make it sound like it’s “easy” and “lucrative” — just like every other offer of this stripe. So if you’re really good, you could earn a whopping $9.60 an hour. You lucky soul you. Woo.

Let’s just stop right there, in fact. When writers with specializations are commanding upwards of $125 an hour, why? Just why?

Let’s give this one the sniff test we apply to all bad offers. For it to really be bad, it will include:

  • Shockingly low rates
  • Justification that you can do the job quickly and within a set amount of time
  • The promise of a lot of work
  • The promise of better pay for specialized work

Are you smelling what I’m smelling?

Instead of killing yourself for less than you’d make at Starbucks, try something like this:

Boys’ Life

Needs articles on science, nature, space and aviation, cars, computers, health, sports, etc. Feature article pay as much as $1,500 for up to $1,500 words; departments pay $100-400 for 100-600 words.

That one passes the sniff test, doesn’t it?

Writers, what’s the worst job offer you’ve seen lately?

Where do you draw the line — what’s your minimum rate?

About the author

Related

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Comments

  • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Lori, that offer was so shockingly bad, I was speechless, then recovered myself enough to send it to you! 🙂

    My response to the sender was ” ‘ll have to pass as the rate is well below my minimum.” I thought that was pretty restrained of me. 😀

    Reply
    • Paula Hendrickson October 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

      You totally should have added “per-word rate” to the end of that reply, Sharon!

      Reply
      • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm

        LOL, Paula; you’re right.

        Reply
    • lwidmer October 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

      That was very restrained, Sharon!

      Reply
  • Cathy Miller October 12, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Very restrained, Sharon. The nicest thing I would have done was not reply at all. UN BE LIEV A BLE.

    Reply
    • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Indeed, Cathy. I only replied to stave off the inevitable follow-up expressing disbelief that I hadn’t taken up the offer. 🙂

      Reply
  • Paula Hendrickson October 12, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Lori, that “job offer” is so rank it doesn’t even NEED the sniff test. You can smell it a continent away.

    One thing that always bugs the you-know-what out of me is when some “editor” tells you how much time it SHOULD take to write something. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to write 400 coherent sentences in 30 minutes. My guess is they crunched some mighty small numbers to make it look like someone who writes fast could (barely) earn minimum wage. This one is very deserving of the #NotWorthIt hashtag!

    Reply
    • Paula Hendrickson October 12, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Words. I meant words. I’m the one who’s incoherent this morning.

      Reply
  • Eileen October 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Sharon, you were very restrained indeed, but sometimes I think being classy like that sends a more pointed message than scolding them. Years ago I got one of these type inquiries. I responded that my hourly rate started at $150, so we weren’t a good fit and if their budget changed, they should feel free to contact me. I wanted, if nothing else, to let them know that at least some writers earn a professional rate.

    Reply
    • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      That’s a great way to answer, Eileen – I’ll remember that next time. 🙂

      Reply
    • lwidmer October 17, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Eileen, I like that response, too. I remember one place offering a penny-per-word rate. I wrote that my going rate was $1-per-word. They wrote back and said something like “If you ever think of working below your rate, please keep us in mind.”

      I wrote back “If you ever consider raising your rate, let me know.”

      The thought that any writer would go from $1/word to a penny a word is insulting, and their suggestion was rude.

      Reply
  • Anne Wayman October 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    A writing job that wasn’t a writing job but after light editing an arcane connection to 3 social media sites, using 3 programs – I stopped counting at 21 steps…

    Reply
    • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Wow – sounds like a doozy, Anne.

      Reply
    • lwidmer October 17, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Wow, Anne. That’s insane!

      Reply