Like most writers, I don’t make enough money from writing. Recently, I signed up on a couple of freelancer web sites to see if I could find a local writing gig or two, and now I have oodles of writing “opportunities” emailed to me each day.
I haven’t responded to any of these “jobs,” and probably won’t, because so many of them read like this:
50 Articles- $1.00 For 500 words
Let’s do some quick math. At my top writing speed I can jam out 500 semi-coherent words in about 15 minutes (I used to work at a newspaper). It is not quality work by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be done. So if I really work at it, this contractor will pay me $4 per hour. And since it’s contract work, I get no benefits and no paid breaks. If I work an eight-hour day under these conditions, I’ll make $32. And that’s if the contractor accepts the articles. Plus, I’ll probably aggravate my carpal tunnel.
More math: Fifty articles times 500 words is 25,000 words. That’s about a quarter of a novel. For $50.
Pure and simple, this is exploitation. Such “contract” deals should be illegal. You might think minimum wage laws would be applied to contract work as well as employment, but apparently not.
Yes, I understand the avalanche of court cases and legal challenges that would result from such a requirement, and yes, I realize I would be unfairly burdening our free enterprise system by requiring contractors to pay fair compensation. But I am concerned that the state of writing, as a profession, is going the way of the Taco Bell order taker or the guy who blows the grass and leaves from your patio. Writing, a skill that requires intelligence, perspective and years of education, lumped in with robotic blue-collar pursuits?
The writers who perform this type of work could do better picking lettuce.