Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Something for Nothing

The little girl in this picture is Veruca, the mascot of the Selfish Knitters group over at Ravelry. Rock on, Veruca!

This morning I was trolling the job boards, seeing if there was work out there, just waiting for me to snap it up.

I found all sorts of postings at Elance -- lots and lots of jobs. There were writing and editing jobs galore. Oh, boy! Once I checked each for more information, however, a trend became painfully clear: the people who post these jobs seem to think that writers and editors are willing to just give their work away. For example, one job was offering $10/hour. Seriously? Um, I made $10/hour when I was right out of college, and that was nearly 26 years ago. Dudes, seems to me that since you're hiring people to provide contracted services, you can afford to pay more than that. Heck, since you don't have to cough up for health-care insurance, vacations, disability, overhead, and other expenses, you're really being chintzy with the pay.

Then I took a look at the number of bids each job had. That was an eye opener, let me tell you. One job alone had 37 bids -- 37! Most of the postings had bids in the double digits. Hmm. What's up with that?
  • The writers are really good and can whip out the assignments on a dime ... uh ... without research or author revisions?

  • The writers are desperate for work and willing to work for peanuts.

  • The writers are looking at these low-paying gigs as a possible way to land a "real" job.

Vaguely unsettled, I checked out one of the "write for us and you'll make money and get known" sites. At first I was pretty excited. I could become the go-to gal in the area for information about, say, knitting or fiber-related information. I could also generate more by-lines, which I didn't have, despite years of working in the business-writing field. When you write annual reports, white papers, and application notes, your name doesn't get listed anywhere -- well, not anywhere public, anyway.

So I was ready to learn more about what I'd need to do. I read the get-to-know-us copy (a sales pitch, of course) until I hit these two points:
  • Writers are expected to post articles 3 to 4 times each week.

  • Writers are not paid.

I don't know about you, but I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands during which I can bang out that number of articles each week. Even if they're all opinion pieces, each one takes a bit of time to craft (yes, I do mean "craft"). And what extra time I do have is devoted to -- surprise! -- my family. As well, I don't give it away -- certainly not 3 to 4 times a week -- with just the promise of maybe making some pocket change.

So, to sum up, let me make my position clear:
  • I am a seasoned professional and am darn good at what I do.

  • I love writing and editing and welcome opportunities to flex those muscles.

  • I enjoy learning new things and sharing the information with others.

  • I am not willing to work for peanuts.

  • I am not willing to work for free unless it's for a nonprofit organization whose work I support.

  • I am not willing to crank out great articles that you can use to bolster your site and line your pockets with green while giving your contributors mere copper.

If that makes me selfish, then you can just call me Veruca.

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