Writers Worth: This Job Not That Job

Let’s round out this first week of Writers Worth Month with a favorite of many readers here at Words on the Page — the This Job Not That Job series.

For those of you who are new to the blog (and welcome — I appreciate you all), we examine some of the more, well, interesting job postings we’ve seen. This one comes to us via Jenn Mattern, who maintains a vetted job listing page on her All Indie Writers site. Jenn came across this one and nearly posted it. Then she came to the fine print.

Let’s see why this has qualified for the worst job of the week:

 

We’re looking for experienced and talented writers to write pieces that cover career advice on LousyWebSite.com (not its actual name). We’re a popular blog with over 600.000 monthly readers.

Requirements: 

  • You are a native speaker of English with experience in writing.
  • You can produce original, conversational, and engaging content.
  • You can follow simple requirements (we will provide guidelines) with minimum supervision from our end.
  • You can adapt to our style.
  • You are willing to write the BEST+2000-word articles on a given topics.
  • Your content must be well-researched and must have links to authoritative sources of information.
  • Your advice must consistent with the advice we publish.

Rate: $300-500 for a guide based on the quality and amount of editing we have to do (around 2500-3000 words)

How to Apply

  • ….. Please send us a link to your Twitter and Linkedin
  • Please include your rate requirements for a published article.

What to Apply – a 600-word sample on “How to Write an Accountant Resume”

So what’s so bad about that? They’re paying more than $20, right? Let’s dig in:

  • You are a native speaker of English with experience in writing.

Get used to this equation – “native English speaker” = low pay.  Don’t think so? Why would they have to make this a requirement? Because the pay appeals to foreign writers in places where that rate would seem like a fortune. Red flag #1.

As for the mention of original content, of following “requirements” and “adapting to style” let’s focus on that word “simple.” I’ve seen far too many job postings that claim the work and the parameters are “simple” only to resemble the origami of convoluted, difficult terms. While this poster may in fact have “simple” terms, any time that word is used sends up another flag because it rarely is “simple.” Red flag #2.

  • You are willing to write the BEST+2000-word articles on a given topics.

This one is just damned insulting. Anyone who starts a relationship with assuming they have to tell you this is already dismissing your value. Because I decided to sit down today and give you not my best, but my mediocrity. Not. Red flag #3.

  • Your content must be well-researched and must have links to authoritative sources of information.

Add that to the amount of work it will take to finish this job, and you’re looking at a bit more time invested in each of these “simple” projects. And I can’t get over why this one feels vague to me whereas other bullet points were specific. Red flag #4.

  • Your advice must consistent with the advice we publish.

Huh? That doesn’t make sense. In other words, if you, the writer, find something that is new and counter to what they’re preaching, you have to ignore the facts and write what they want you to write. Red flag #5.

Rate: $300-500 for a guide based on the quality and amount of editing we have to do (around 2500-3000 words)

Okay, that sounds good…until you do the math. Let’s just say $300 for 3,000 words (a range like that is meant to have you justifying the $500 when in fact the $300 is the real number you’ll get). At 3,000 words, you’re getting paid an earth-shattering… 10 cents a word. Yep. And how long does it take you to write 3,000 words? For me, that would be about six hours of my time without the required research. The research could take two more hours. Your hourly grand total: $37.50. If you charge like a professional (meaning over $95 an hour), that’s one massive pay cut. Red flag #6.

  • ….. Please send us a link to your Twitter and Linkedin
  • Please include your rate requirements for a published article.

Oh hell no. This company that bragged at the outset that they have over “600.000” readers (did they mean that as 600K or 600 with an added zero after the decimal?) now wants your social media juice. And they’re damn well going to tell you later “Once you blast that out on three social media outlets, we’ll cut the check” which is not what you signed up for. But get used to their doing this, for companies that start out with such vague terms tend to pile it on without warning. Red flag #7.

What to Apply – a 600-word sample on “How to Write an Accountant Resume”

The hell you will. If they can’t determine the skills you have from your existing samples, then they need to pay you for the sample. Even a $50 stipend shows good faith. They’re not doing that. They’re requiring a freebie. Red flag #8.

In fact, this entire ad is a red flag. Here are some of the typical indicators to look for:

  • The more requirements stated, the lower the pay
  • The looser the descriptions become the more wiggle room they create for themselves
  • The more they preach to you, the less respect you can expect from them
  • The ad that starts out assuming the worst of you indicates a client who will never value your skills or professionalism

Let’s move on to something much, much better.

The Sun

We publish essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. We tend to favor personal writing, but we’re also looking for provocative pieces on political and cultural issues. And we’re open to just about anything. Surprise us; we often don’t know what we’ll like until we read it.

We pay from $300 to $2,000 for essays and interviews, $300 to $1,500 for fiction, and $100 to $200 for poetry. We also give contributors a complimentary one-year subscription to The Sun. We purchase one-time rights. All other rights revert to the author upon publication.

That’s how you do better. You look for reputable publications, not fly-by-night clients you’ve never heard of.

Writers, what’s the worst you’ve seen out there?
What red flags do you pay attention to?

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Comments

  • Devon Ellington May 5, 2017 at 11:41 am

    THE SUN is a wonderful publication to deal with. I like them a lot.

    Currently, I’m in discussions with a half a dozen editors on various articles. All pay $1/word. I’ve paid my dues, put in my time. I’d rather not do the piece if I’m not being paid appropriately. I’ll go do something else.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 5, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      I love when you stop by the blog, Devon. I miss your style and attitude. 🙂

      Agreed 100%. There are plenty of great publications out there that value the skills we offer. Ten cents a word is an insult, and often with the amount of work involved, it comes out to less than minimum wage.

      Reply