If this headline and meta description made you angry, good. If you came here thinking you were going to get free content for your websites or blogs (or anything else) and learn how to treat writers like crap so you can get what you want from them for nothing, then congratulations: you are what’s wrong with the world.
Over the years, I’ve written for several websites that commission writing. Some are known as “content mills,” and some of them deserve that title. I did pretty well writing for different sites, and moved on from that to better work. The last week in July, I received an email with a list of paying writing jobs, and I checked out a couple of them. A few on the list were clearly rip-offs, and this post is about how the owners of those sites and other “buyers” treat writers. Here are some wrong (but overwhelmingly common) things to do if you’re wanting to hire writers.
Lie to writers.
Several of the websites which curate content, and companies who hire writers just flat-out lie and mislead writers. You say you’ll pay writers $20 to $30 an hour (which is not “too good to be true,” it’s actually on the low end for a professional commercial freelance writer). But you don’t pay us. You send the piece back over and over, so the writer ends up making $5 (or less) per hour, or you send the writer a check for 10% of the agreed-upon amount. Or, here’s the real kick in the crotch: you steal our writing and use it as your own.
Change the agreement
Well, what if you just don’t know what you want, or you change your mind? When you hire an electrician, you have a plan; you don’t change things on that professional unless you’re ready to pay some big bucks. It’s the same with writers, other Creatives, and other service providers. If you want to change the agreement—add more work—it’s going to cost you. Otherwise, you’re yanking the writer around, and that’s just low.
Make promises you don’t keep
Or, as in the case of Suite101 and eHow, you start off paying the writers as promised (a shameful pittance, but pay nonetheless), and then decide that you are going to stop paying the writers, but the writers should keep writing for you for free! “Oh, please, keep creating content for us, so we can make (and keep) all the money. After all, you’ll get your name out there and it might lead to paying jobs,” which brings us to…
“Pay” them in “exposure.”
As one person so aptly put it (and I’m sorry, I don’t remember who), “People DIE of exposure! You don’t want exposure, you want paid!” Writers deserve to be paid just as much as anyone else does. If you’re just starting a company and you don’t have the money to pay a writer, then bootstrap it yourself or find something to trade. Some writers are open to barter arrangements. Nearly any writer will be if you have something worthy to offer in return. This video shows just how ludicrous it is to refuse to pay a writer (or other Creative or service provider).
Don’t treat writers like crap
So do the right thing: Pay the writer. Pay the writer well. Know exactly what you want so you don’t make the writer do it half a dozen times. Hire someone who asks questions, listens well, puts himself in others’ shoes, and gets it right pretty quickly (with perhaps a revision or two). Don’t hire a tw0-cent cranker. The world is far too full of those already.
One more thing: If you’re a business owner wanting to lie, cheat, or steal, do the world a favor: go out of business now. The world is far too full of those already, too.