Compensation: nil – writers’ revolt

Some time ago I posted about the lamentable state of affairs, whereby writers are encouraged to work for nothing on the basis that this will give them experience and raise their profile. That profile presumably being of someone who doesn’t think they have sufficient experience and who will therefore work for nothing.

Since then, I’ve noticed a bit of a fight back or perhaps ‘bite back’ is more appropriate. On Craigslist, for example, there has been a flurry of reply postings to requests for scripts or for those oh so affordable article writers, focusing not only on price but also on common sense (even if the spelling needs a little work).

“Why would you send your scripts to someone you don’t know without first signing a release?
Wanne be a pro? Act like one… and expect the same.”

RE: Writer Needed — Not even up to slave labor!
“This guy is offering to pay a whopping $3.50 per 300 word article. That’s 1.1¢ per word! That’s not even at the level of slave labor, which at least feeds you! Minimum wage — uh uh, not even trying.”

re: Writer Needed
“pay scale is identical” to whom, exactly? perhaps companies based out of a third-world country? because i write for several and NONE are that low. Compensation: 350 pennies in a jar. you must supply jar.”

I have emailed some of these protestors and it’s a familiar tale of frustration and disappointment. But I suspect that the root cause of their malcontent lies in the recognition that not every one who wants to write is cut out to be a writer. And that even those who persist have no guarantee of success or even subsistence from their craft.

As I stated before, there will always be a tide of newcomers willing to try their hand, certain they can rise above the pile to become a ‘proper writer’. In a sense, every beginner starts off from a similar position. While there will always be success stories to inspire and motivate us, the cold truth is that we are, in part, at the mercy of mathematics every bit as unforgiving as those that operate in the world of nature. You can tip the scales in your favour by writing well, by being professional and by working diligently and tenaciously. But ultimately, it will always be a numbers game to some extent. If all of that still doesn’t put you off, congratulations- you’re probably a writer. And I can recommend a few freelance websites for you to avoid!


  1. ahab says:

    Another one to watch out for is the website reviewing or publicising offer, e.g what seems quite an attractive rate for writing website reviews, until you realise that you're expected to do all the research to find the websites in the first place, keep track of those reviewed ad other admin, which brings it down well below the minimum wage. Alternatively (possibly less pernicious)a 'review OUR websites' offer, the catch being that you then have to place the reviews on blogs, other websites etc, i.e. publicity for old rope. Of course, if you're desperate…

  2. Derek says:

    Yes it all comes back to that old chestnut 'professionalism'. I have found some good clients and work contacts through the web but sometimes it is a little like sifting for gold! The rule of thumb, as in any other business endeavour, is that whatever people are paying you, they will be making something out of your efforts. And the other rule is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

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