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10:17 PM
Why Are Writers So Undervalued?


gloved hands writing

Since I started writing again, I've spent a lot of time looking around the net at places offering work of various types, from product descriptions to blog posts to full-blown academic articles and everything in between.

Many of these sites are what is known in the trade as 'content mills' where buyers put up job offers and writers bid or tender for them. Sounds like a great way for a newbie to get a foothold and put a portfolio together, but there is a huge downside. A vast proportion of buyers use the process to get their work done for peanuts.

I've just seen a couple of typical examples.

In the first, the buyer wants:

  • expert knowledge in the required technical field
  • 1500 words in impeccable English
  • a thorough knowledge of SEO for web use
  • extensive research of the subject
  • a 6-hour deadline
  • video included if available
  • links to outside sources included
  • referenced and cited work

Okay, not a problem in itself, except that he's offering a fixed fee of...£8 (about $10).

If all the rest of the requirements are set aside, that's the princely sum of 0.005 pence per word. Add everything back in and whoever takes that job on will be working for about £3 per hour.

Oh, wait.... no, not even that much, as the site takes 17.5 percent of that as their fee, plus the fee Paypal charges once the payment goes into the writer's account.

The other example is a buyer offering just £1.54 ($2) for 100 words. That's only 0.015 pence per word. Take off the fees and there's not enough left to matter.

Not surprising that writers are often depicted in literature as existing on nothing and living in a garret.

The sad thing is that there were ten people queueing to get both of those jobs admittedly mostly from Third World countries where the economy makes that sort of pay more acceptable than here. The trouble is that it devalues writers as a whole and those people are every bit as deserving of a decent wage as the rest of us.


I think it's just downright insulting actually.


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