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Monday, May 16, 2016

Freelance writing ... slave labor?

As a freelance writer I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities. So, when I noticed a headline that read “Writers Wanted” I clicked to read the details.

The ad read as follows:

Writers wanted for a high volume of work for a newly created website. Must be experienced in informative article writing, on subjects such as fashion, personal care, nature, architecture, and technical writing. Please send resume and two samples of your work to ... (and there was an email address).

Twenty-four hours later I received a response that the manager was pleased with my submission and could I please let them know my rate expectations.

This I thought a little strange. I’ve worked for a few websites and there’s never been any room for negotiation. The project manager informed writers of a set rate for their work, and writers could take it or leave it.

Not knowing what to charge, I Googled “Writing rates” and “Writing rates per word” and found out that the going rate is anywhere between $0.40 to $2 per word. 

So that’s what I communicated with my potential employer.

Another twenty-four hours later I received the reply that my paying standards could not be met. Okay, I was flexible. If it meant regular work, I was prepared to work for less.

The next email was a bit of a shock though. The website owner informed me that for a 1,000 word article he was paying his writers $4.

If you’re like me, you just leaned a bit closer to your computer screen, squinted a little or adjusted your eye glasses ... $4 for a 1,000 word article? Did you read that right? Yes you did, that’s the offer I got.

Needless to say, I turned it down. This wasn’t just working for peanuts, or shells of peanuts, this was working for dust of shells of peanuts. Now I do wonder ... did he get anyone to agree to this rate? Is anyone desperate enough to work for so little money?

People in general are against sweatshops, which is considered slave labor, but isn’t getting paid $4 for a 1,000 word article considered slave labor too?

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