Desperate times ask for desperate measures. But how desperate do I need to get with twenty years of experience under my belt, my name on four books, three prestigious nominations, and hundreds and hundreds of published articles in newspapers and magazines?
How desperate before I actually do take on an assignment via freelancer.com, to write a 500 word piece and get paid the gracious amount of US $ 1…?
Yes, you read that correctly…
US $ 1 for 500 words.
The normal fee for an article in Europe, the US and even South Africa ranges between $ 0,25 and $ 0,75 per word. Yes, you read that correctly too: per word.
Modern day slave drivers advertise their “projects” on freelancer.com, searching for people to write stuff for next to nothing. I can’t imagine the quality of texts produced for a mere one buck to come anywhere close to being original, insightful or creative. They’re probably indeed worth just about one dollar.
Let me be absolutely clear on one thing: I don’t for a second think that the people behind freelancer.com are in anyway to blame for the outrageously low offerings for work. They simply provide a well designed, clever concept that thousands and thousands of people all over the globe use, voluntarily. And I will gladly place an advert here on this blog for anyone keen to work through them, or with them.
Most of the bidders for ‘projects’ come from either Pakistan, India or the Philippines – countries infamous for their working conditions, extortion of employees and abuse of power. They’re bidding for work from the States, the UK or somewhere Down Under. How else but through the abuse of a tiny labour army can bidders make their profits?
No individual can write ten original pieces of 500 words, without any kind of research. Plain impossible…
With great aplomb some of “employers” brag about offering $ 25 for an entire day’s work. They offer meager amounts, and yet want the stuff they buy to be original (“We’ll check your work with copyscape for any kind of plagiarism!!!”) and also demand to have the full copyright over other people’s fruits…
Trust me, I am a very fast writer. At the best of times I can write 6,000 words a day. In sentences that actually make some kind of sense, and appeal the reader to continue reading. But I only managed that once because I’d been doing research for three months prior to the actual writing. Everything that needed to end up black on white, had been roaming around my head in the pre-writing phase for long enough to be ripe the moment I started writing. Once I typed the first sentence, all that remained was putting it all on paper in an orderly, comprehensible fashion.
That assignment was well-paid. Very well paid, actually. I received over € 200 a day. The only burden was a very strict, tight deadline. Were I to miss it, we’d all be buggered. I made sure I made it all in time. As my client told me afterwards, “We never thought it could be done – you’ve done the impossible. Thanks!”And here I am today. In the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Not having had any serious, regular assignments for close to 1,5 years. Staring at a computer screen, contemplating taking on a “project” where some people ask of other people to work their asses off and vomit ten 500 word articles – “original and well researched” – for the amazing total amount of… ten bloody bucks…! In one day.
Clearly, there is a supply of eager ants willing tot take on the jobs. The most outrageous bids fly left, right and center. Men and women all over Asia (and a tiny bit of Africa too) stumble over each other trying to rake in an assignment that probably costs them close to as much payment needed to buy bandwidth as they can ever expect to earn out of it. Someone offered to write ten articles of 500 words, in one day, for $ 25… Bonkers.
Some of the “service providers” (a fancy word for the underpaid slaves on freelancer.com) have been so successful in taking on jobs, that by now they’ve raked in up to hundreds of positive reviews from customers who were extremely happy with the loot they managed to take home and sell themselves to their customers at huge profits. Imagine that: hundreds of reviews, done for tens of thousands of words. For next to nothing. If each word were a drop of water, we’d all have drowned by now.
By the way: an impressive amount of the assignments actually come from students from prestigious universities who don’t have time to write their own essays and therefore buy tailor made articles from clever (but clearly dirt poor) guys and gals in Asia (or, for that matter, from this person in the US who has, he claimed, written over 5,000 academic pieces for ‘students’ of all sorts). The wealthy student gets to sleep off his/her hangover and pays the shockingly low amount of $ 15 for the essay he/she was never able to write due to either a lack of IQ or an excess of partying; a fraction of what he/she spends on a night out on the town.
It’s clear: in the global village with a worldwide web everything goes. And money can indeed buy every possible service.
It took me a calculator and a few hours before I realised this afternoon that the test assignment given to me by a bureau in Europe for “travel stories” for a website on traveling would probably take me about a full day to research. Sure, the templates given to me are crystal clear. Everything will have to fit into a pre-designed mold. There’s hardly any thinking needed to do the job. I only need my solar plexus to play with the facts, and surely some kind of linguistic dance will result. As long as I make sure I twist and turn all the original writings well enough to stay clear of plagiarism, I get to walk free. With a mere $ 17.50 in hand. And that is before freelancer.com takes its own slice of that.
What remains is just about enough for a cup of coffee, a few slices of bread, an apple and a glass of milk. Forget about the bills for insurance, rent, phone or bandwidth at the end of the month.
And imagine: this is one of the best paid assignments around on freelancer.com…!!!!I am sure there must be a clever trick around all of this. I mean, no one can write up to 10,000 words a day of un-researched yet inspired text, on a wide variety of themes, topics, niches and angles. Unless he/she plagiarises or uses pre-fabricated material.
No. This much is sure.
No one with real creativity and originality manages to squeeze out that many texts for so little money without there being some kind of dodgy, fraudulent trick at play.
I am desperate for work. And I love to write. Let me repeat that: I absolutely love writing.
But I believe I’m not yet desperate enough to take a dive into this murky pool of contemporary, voluntary slavery. And neither do I love words that much that I voluntarily write any kind of muck, to give it away to a slave driver for him or her to make fancy profits. One doesn’t treat words like that, because it creates ‘bad karma’.
If my words need to go out into the world for next to nothing, I have this blog. To rave, rant and write to my own heart’s delight.
No, not desperate enough to enslave myself.
Not just yet…