Each time I end one writing gig and look for the next, I am appalled at what people expect writers to work for. Though there are many great editors and job providers that see writing as an art and skilled profession, it seems increasingly apparent that several people want massive amounts of work done by completely unrealistic deadlines, and they want it for next to nothing.
One example would be a job that wanted 20 SEO (search engine optimized) articles written on the exact same topic, but each had to be completely different from each other. They needed to be completed, free of errors, in 3 days. The payment was $0.01 a word, for articles of 500 words. This comes to $5 per article. Are they serious?
Making an article SEO and still a great read is incredibly difficult. Making 20 unique articles on the same topic SEO is extremely difficult. To be offered a payment of only $5 an article is pretty offensive to me. Of course, I turned down the job offer. A typical article that I've written lately will sell for closer to $100... and if i can break into print that number will rise substantially.
This makes me wonder what is going on in the world? In the writing world, it seems that many publishers just want content that is "okay" to save them money. Knowing that they can afford to pay for GREAT copy, but would rather not, makes me shake my head.
Are we becoming a society that is perfectly comfortable settling for okay? Do we no longer strive to be the best and the brightest?
I can't help but think that if it were my magazine or online publication, I would only want the BEST. Being the best is what makes you stand out and what makes people flock to your product. The reason publishers are offering ridiculous job offers like these more and more often today is simply because more writers are taking them.
Of course, sometimes you really are just desperate for work. In times like those, any job is better than no job. When you're starting out you often will settle for these crummy jobs just to build a resume and have something to put in your portfolio. I get it.. I just came out of it. To continue to settle for low paying jobs that overwork you and make you suffer "burn out," will only lead to more low paying jobs.
Dr. Phil has a great saying that I use a lot in my life. "You teach people how to treat you."
Once you teach people that you are willing to work yourself to death for mere pennies, they will continue to treat you that way. It can make some wonder why people stay in this position.
In the writing world, the answer is simply the same as in other areas of work. Desperation. The economy is horrible, everything costs double what it used to, and earning one cent per word is better than zero.
Sometimes impatience is the answer. It's really hard for me to not yank up a low paying job sometimes. It's a for sure gig, it will generate some cash, and that can be hard to turn down. The higher paying jobs are a lot harder to get. There is fierce competition and being turned down stings.
I, personally, have decided to totally turn away from low paying jobs. I have the blessing of being able to do so, considering that I've never had an income and we're used to only having Clayton's paycheck. It is a scary place to be... trying to advance. Knowing that no matter how good you are, someone is going to be better. Knowing that no matter how much work you have done, someone else has done more. It can feel impossible to catch a break. I will keep trucking on and I know that when the perfect big job comes up, God will hand it to me. He won't hand it down on a silver platter, for I am working my fingers to the bone to do my part. He will, however, make an opportunity available when the time is right. Waiting for him to provide is incredibly difficult for me. Waiting for his perfect timing, and his perfect situation, is such a learning experience.