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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Writers Worth: This Job, Not That Job

What I'm reading: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What's on the iPod: Untitled (Love Song) by Counting Crows

Part of understanding your worth as a writer is identifying a lousy deal when you see one. Sometimes they're not easy to spot -- they're wrapped in layers of exclamation points, copy, or details so that the smell isn't so apparent. Ah, but they still stink.

Thanks to Jenn Mattern for sending over two job listings she came across. I'll be sharing them with you, one at a time, so that we can dissect them and ferret out the stench. Today's listing:

XX YY brokerage/lending company seeks a blogger to create two blog entries per week for the next four weeks.

One entry will be geared toward borrowers, and the other toward investors. Articles will be no longer than 685 words

We'd prefer someone who has experience writing in the financial sector, or real estate. You will be expected to create genuine content that will be checked for plagiarism! There are also SEO expectations for each article, which must be consistent.

Yes, we said XX YY brokerage/lending company, but if you think that means you should bid an amount over $50 per article, just don't bid!

Okay, it takes no genius to see this for a raw deal. I hid the name of the company because I truly don't want them getting any more coverage, but let's just say the name infers there's a lot of cash coming your way. Oh, the irony! Let's see why:

They want experience. No problem, for you are a pro. However, that next line screams way too much at once: "...expected to create genuine content....checked for plagiarism!" No trust right away. Also, no clue. If  you want specialty writing, you're looking for a pro who already knows this.

"There are also SEO expectations.,," Huge red flag. On its own, this sentence wouldn't be worrisome, but coupled with the plagiarism talk, and you're now smelling something. 

And the clincher: "...if you think that means you should bid an amount over $50 per article, just don't bid!"

Why this sentence alone makes me want to reach through the monitor and throttle the person who typed it: They're asking you to bid on a job, so clearly the quality of your work is trumped by price. Instantly. Also, they expect you to compete blindly on price alone. Nowhere is it mentioned that they want samples. So the job goes to the lowest bidder. 

The real kicker? They expect to teach people about how to make money, but they're already bitching about paying $50. And that's for specialized skills. And they're telling you not to bid if you're worth more.


Instead of working for losers like this, try a more legitimate client:

Cincy Magazine

Magazine covering greater Cincinnati business, including features, news, trends, lifestyle, and other topics.

Pays $75-600 for articles from 200 to 2,000 words in length.

Seriously. A legitimate market, a clip you can use, and a client who starts the relationship treating you like the professional you are.

Writers, have you ever worked with a client who called all the shots, including price, at the outset? What was the experience like?


Jennifer Mattern said...

You know, $50 per post is better than the gigs a lot of new writers start with online. But for an experienced pro? Not a chance. The plagiarism issue also bugged me. I wouldn't do business with anyone who kicks off the relationship with distrust. It speaks to their competency in working with professionals. But boy oh boy, that last part stuck out. If it wasn't for that, I would have just closed it and moved on to find other ads worth sharing in the job listings. I couldn't believe they had the gall to take that kind of attitude. List your damn budget. Don't attack professionals that you claim to want because you're too cheap to pay for what they offer.

Gabriella said...

I stopped by here yesterday and realized I'd missed DAYS of Writers' Worth Week stuff! Good thing it's all here and I could catch up with you.

I mentioned last time you did this--I love these "This Job, Not That Job" posts. They make the case so well.

In this case, anybody who tells me they're checking for plagiarism is, like Lori said, waving a red flag that their utter cheapness has led them exactly where we know it will lead them. And then they're surprised. We're not.

Keep these posts coming, Lori. Fantastic stuff.--Heather :)

Lori Widmer said...

It was the experienced stuff that made me pause too, Jenn. That and the mention of checking for plagiarism. List the budget -- exactly!

Gabriella (Heather, ha!), glad you found it. I was going to mention it on Facebook, but I knew you'd be around. :)

Paula said...

Amen to all of the above. Maybe we should do a group project for Writers Worth and all reply to a single ad (especially one like this baby) saying offering beginner rates and treating applicants unprofessionally is no way to find an experienced pro.

Ashley said...

How insulting. Even if the pay was a pro rate, who would want to work for a client who treats people like that? Human worth deserves better than that!

Lori Widmer said...

Paula, they don't care. That's why I'd much rather reach out to people who can make a difference -- writers. If we stop answering these awful ads, these people will go away.

Amen to that, Ashley!

Anne Wayman said...

odd woman out here:

you know, I didn't find the ad offensive so much as ignorant... and I truly don't mind if someone wants to take the time to run whatever I write for them through copyscape... nor do I mind them telling me in advance... it's a total non issue for me.

And although I find the way they state their price surprising, at least it's clear - $50 per post period.

Gracious it's not, but it don't offend me the way it seems to offend you... it's so easy to ignore the ads I don't like.

Lori Widmer said...

No, it's fine, Anne. Everyone is going to have a different reaction.

For me, it was the expectation that the writer would have specialized experience for just $50 that bothers me. Add in SEO "expectations" and the Copyscape mention and it's all rather insulting to me. If I were new to the biz, $50 a post wouldn't be bad. However, the idea that I have to have a specific kind of background AND not be trusted to bring them new stuff speaks to a larger problem.

Not saying some writers don't create that kind of problem. I know self-appointed professionals who actually promote rewriting/revising instead of what they should be doing, which is creating something new.

Jennifer Mattern said...

Anne, I can see your side of it. But to me it's less about what might offend us as more experienced pros (we know how to handle ourselves) and more a warning for newer writers.

The problem is that it's not easy for new writers to ignore ads like these. Unfortunately many don't realize that the best gigs are rarely advertised. They spend (if not waste) a lot of time responding to ads just like this one. So it's less an issue of it being generally offensive and more a matter of helping new writers understand that they don't have to put up with disrespect, whether that comes from a prospect's ignorance or arrogance. And even if we choose not to be personally offended by it, accusing someone of being a potential plagiarizer before you even speak to them is, at the very least, disrespectful.

That's why I'm so glad Lori does this series. Newer writers often have a tougher time finding examples of better markets than what they find on job boards. So I think it's helpful for them to see examples of worrying ads where prospects don't seem to respect them as professionals and have those alongside examples of better options they might have been unaware of. Unfortunately you can tell a lot about a potential client and what a working relationship might be like with them from the way they advertise their gigs. This is just an example that sounded a warning bell for me which is why I didn't promote it and instead forwarded it to Lori. :)

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