Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job

What I’m listening to: Dazz by Brick

You who know me know how much I don’t enjoy passive marketing (such as spending most of one’s time on job boards). And I loathe cheapskates who don’t value what we  freelance writers do.

That must mean it’s time for another installment of our series, This Job, Not That Job.

Today’s Horrible Job of the Day was sent to me by Sharon Hurley Hall, who has championed the cause of writers for years. Thanks, Sharon. This one is pretty bad!

So let’s see where the stench is coming from:

I’m looking for Native English-speaking writers to help out with content for many websites both internal, and external client sites.

The content falls under the following types – you will be given instructions and examples for them but you must be comfortable writing these types of content –

…..(truncated to avoid boring you completely)

Please only apply if you can write at a native level in English and are comfortable writing a wide variety of web copy. There will at times be some research required, but you will be given enough information sources to work from.

We need folks who can produce quality content, in a quick turn around time so that we can keep the content flowing!

I will give you detailed instructions and also work with you, not simply give you a random topic and expect you to guess my desired outcome.

To start with I am offering $12/1000 words but I will happily pay a little more once you’ve completed a successful task. You’ll be given an assignment in the 500-1500 word range to start so the actual pay may vary, but it will be at this rate. The biggest thing is I need dependability. If you accept an assignment, I really need you to be able to get it done on time. As you can see I have done a lot of business here, and have plenty of work to keep you busy!

I will not accept poorly written filler content. The content must be informative and provide real value to the reader. There is enough crap on the internet so let’s not add more!

Successful applicants will receive ongoing work from me and referrals to other clients also if they wish. 

Application Instructions

Please send a note along with any samples you have. Please also answer the following questions as well –

1. What holiday / travel location would you most like to visit and why?

2. What is your previous writing experience? Please list the types of content you are comfortable writing (Website copy, blog content, product review/affiliate content, etc)

3.Have you used xxxx.com (name removed to protect a decent company from bad exposure) to edit your work before? Please note you’ll be required to use it before turning in content, it’s free and pretty easy to use.

Okay, stop laughing for just a few minutes. We have to get down to dissecting this “offer”:

First thing I notice is the mention of native English speakers. That’s red flag number 1. Why? Because this company is telling you what level of freelancer you’re competing with.

Please only apply if you can write at a native level in English and are comfortable writing a wide variety of web copy.

Wow, a second mention of the language requirement. This can’t be good. Also, I find it insulting that the poster has to remind us to be sure we can do the job before applying. Red flag number 2, for now you’re apparently competing with people who will take nearly anything and may not know how to do it.

We need folks who can produce quality content, in a quick turn around time so that we can keep the content flowing!

I bet you do.

I will give you detailed instructions and also work with you, not simply give you a random topic and expect you to guess my desired outcome.

Gosh, that sounds so reassuring. I’m so glad this person is framing themselves as a really nice person. That makes it so much better, don’t you think?

To start with I am offering $12/1000 words 

Uh, no. Not better. In fact, worse. Twelve dollars for 1K words. I think I may have tripped over someone as we all rushed toward the door.

…but I will happily pay a little more once you’ve completed a successful task.

Happily pay a little more? Like what? $12.25? $12.50? $13? I’m dizzy with anticipation…no wait. That’s high blood pressure.

You’ll be given an assignment in the 500-1500 word range to start so the actual pay may vary, but it will be at this rate.

Oh, fuck. Enter the wonky math. Now you have to determine how much you’d receive if you happen to write 563 words. Because clearly, you’re not worth the whole $12 at that point. Dreamer.

The biggest thing is I need dependability. If you accept an assignment, I really need you to be able to get it done on time.

Well, then let me put those clients who are paying $1/word on the back burner! They can wait because every one of those $12 is calling!

As you can see I have done a lot of business here,…

Since I don’t frequent this job board, no. I haven’t seen you doing a “lot of business here” and frankly, that doesn’t make this shitty offer smell any better.

and have plenty of work to keep you busy!

Too busy to find serious clients, is my guess.

I will not accept poorly written filler content. The content must be informative and provide real value to the reader. There is enough crap on the internet so let’s not add more!

Oh, the irony, for here we are reading — and analyzing — one rather large wad of crap.

Successful applicants will receive ongoing work from me and referrals to other clients also if they wish. 

Oh yes, please refer me to ALL your low-paying friends! I want to be stuck in this writing Hell forever! You’re so generous!

Then there are the questions.

Holiday travel? Huh? Am I supposed to start writing for you now? For free?

3.Have you used xxxxx.com to edit your work before? Please note you’ll be required to use it before turning in content, it’s free and pretty easy to use.

No. No. NO. Real writers, professional writers don’t need to be subjected to insulting requirements  because we know what we’re doing.

Okay, now that we’ve seen the insulting, let’s move on to the legitimate.

Alaska Airlines Magazine is the monthly inflight magazine for Alaska Airlines. Looking for writing on business topics, and local writing that lends inside perspective to the airline’s destinations.

Rates begin at $150 to $250 for short articles in the Journal section (200 to 600 words); $150 for business shorts (500 words); $500 for columns (1,600 words); and $700 for features (2,000 to 2,500 words). Expenses, if agreed to in advance, are paid on invoice. Expenses and rates vary in special circumstances. Submission Guidelines

So here’s an example of how spending a few more minutes vetting these job postings can net you more income and a better byline.

Writers, what are some of the lousy offers you’ve seen?
What’s the most ridiculous offer you’ve ever received? How did you respond?

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Comments

  • Sharon Hurley Hall February 3, 2017 at 7:36 am

    That one was pretty awful, wasn’t it, Lori. Good dissection. 😀

    Reply
    • lwidmer February 3, 2017 at 9:45 am

      It was, Sharon. Thanks for sending it over!

      Reply
  • Devon Ellington February 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Walked away from s job this week where client tried to talk me down to 1/11th of market Rate & was worried I would charge for “imaginary research.”

    Reply
    • lwidmer February 6, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Oh hell no. The minute they assume you’re untrustworthy, they’re gone! Good move on your part.

      Reply
  • Paula Hendrickson February 3, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Hmm. Maybe if they had a better and more equitable business model they would have a stable of good, reliable writers and wouldn’t need keep looking for them at the same job sites.

    This one seems ripe for a lot of replies rejecting their not-so-generous offer.

    Reply
    • lwidmer February 6, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Bingo. This exactly, Paula.

      Reply
  • Sarah Handzel February 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    UGH I got a stinker this week! First, throughout the entire email, the prospect referred to me as “Rhonda”. Um, my name is Sarah. It’s definitely on my website, and it’s a part of my business email address. Red flag #1.

    Then, the project was “a lot of content” produced every month. That’s it. No more detail than that.

    Speaking of no more detail, there also wasn’t any mention of payment. Maybe he was thinking I’d bring it up? Or maybe he thought I’d be willing to write for exposure?

    Finally, this client mentioned he really prefers to work with writers who are on staff at his company. This apparently isn’t something he was willing to negotiate on. I’d have to close my business and give up my existing clients to be able to write for him.

    Jaw, meet floor. Needless to say, he didn’t get a response from me.

    Reply
    • lwidmer February 6, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Wow, Sarah (or should I call you Rhonda?). That’s bad! A lot of content is a huge red flag! What the hell does that mean, anyway? Did he offer a phone conversation to discuss further? If not, another flag. That he called you Rhonda suggests he was copying/pasting and not interested in finding the best writers, but any writers. Another flag.

      On staff? Then why is he advertising for a freelance writer? You really did find a stinker!

      Reply