Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hacks vs. Writers: The Financial Fight

Either I have just been educated or I am about to do some educating. I'm not sure which. My writing world has been turned topsy-turvey and I'm not sure difference between up and down.

I'm a writer. Please excuse me when I say I am use to making a writer's wage. I make no apologies for wanting to get paid what I am worth. Doctors make a doctor's wage. Customer service reps make a customer service rep's wage. McDonald cashiers make a McDonald cashier's wage. That is the way it always worked. Until now.

Writers aren't making a writer's wages. The reason is quite simple: There are too many hacks disguised as writers (HDAWs) that will put words on paper (I won't call it writing) for next to nothing. It is embarrassing to the writing industry that such people do what they do. Here is an example:

I ran across several internet sites where "writers" bid on different projects. It sounded interesting so I gave one a good look over. I was shocked by what I saw. I had no idea things like this went on in the world. Yes, I need to crawl out from under the rock I've been living under and get out in the real world more often.

A client of this site needed 20 articles written, 500 words each. The client had explained what was required of the writer and seemed quite professional, promising payment as each article was submitted through PayPal. I was the first to put a bid in on this project. Lowering my normal rate considerably (by more than half, to be honest), I bid $30 per article - stating that I would write a minimum of one article per day, depending on the subject matter. I include a brief bio, highlighting my two degrees from Smith College and over 20 years experience as a freelance writer. I even suggested the client Google my full name to see samples of my work. I truly thought I might have a chance at this project. It seemed simple enough. Boy, was I wrong.

I received an email, stating the project had gone to someone else. Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to see what bid was accepted. The bid accepted read "I rite you 20 aritcles for 10$. I rite you arictles in one day all." This HDAW was going to accept 50 cents per article? 10,000 words for $10? And, do it one day?

I had to laugh. This poor client accepted a bid from a HDAW that does not know how to spell "write" and "articles?" This HDAW even spelled "articles" two different ways. Two different ways on a website that underlines misspelled words. You have got to be kidding me! I won't even get into the poor grammar of "I rite you..."

I'm not a spelling champion or a grammar queen by any stretch of my extremely vivid imagination, but I'm also not that stupid. Stupid as the HDAW for writing such a bid or the client who accepted it? The jury is still out on that one.

Thinking this was a fluke, I kept looking around on this website for writing gigs. The spelling and grammar improved in the bids, but the rates - Oh my God, the rates. I am using the term "rates" as loosely as a possible. They were more like "I'll write for you and you can toss me the change you find on one street corner." These HDAWs are writing entire articles for 50 cents and less. No wonder I'm not getting any work there.

I did run across a few that look promising. I've gotten emails from them, asking that I write short paragraphs about the subject so they can see my writing style. That is great. I'm finding some clients who have a clue. Remember, you get what you pay for. I hope I never have to read what some of these clients are paying for.

I understand the other side of story as well. These clients are shoppers and they want to pay as little as possible. They want to keep as much money in their pockets as possible. I shop like that. To a point. I'll pay more for quality. I want as much money in my pocket as possible, too.

When it comes to writing, is it a buyer's market or a seller's market? Judging by what I have seen, it is a buyer's market. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, what they are buying must be bad. I know that times are tough, but I had no idea that times were this tough. Clients are willing to pay "riters" next to nothing and, more than likely, get next to nothing for their money.

What is a real writer to do? Jump on the bandwagon and get paid pennies for a skill or talent or gift or whatever you want to call it or do we starve? I'm not jumping yet and, thankfully, I'm not starving either. I'll be picky with the gigs I accept, not taking less than what I am worth. Until clients get tired of paying for junk, I'll teach my writer's workshops and hold my writer's seminars. There is still good money to be made trying to turn HDAW into writers, although most of the hacks out there don't realize they are hacks.

As with most things in my life, I have more questions than answers. I suppose that is okay. I've always liked a little mystery.