On Cheapskate Publishers

I really can’t believe this ad.

This morning, I was cruising Craig’s List for some part-time/fill-in work to help get me through my slow winter season. As a writer, I figured I’d check out the writing/editing jobs category. And that’s where I found one titled “Rockstar eBook Writers Wanted (FAST Pay + REPEAT Work!) (Virtual).”

Let me say upfront that I knew from the title that the job was going to be full of hype. (Rockstar? Really? Do people still use that term?) But I never expected it to offer a whopping $3 per 200 words (yes, that’s 1-1/2¢ per word) starting pay for original content that the writer wouldn’t even get his/her name on.

To qualify, not only would you have to submit a 200-word minimum sample of your writing work, but you’d also have to have a 15-minute long Skype interview, review (or possibly fill out?) a questionnaire and outline, read other relevant resources, and sign a contract. Then, for each job, you might have to have a 1-2 hour Skype session with a client.

All to earn 1-1/2¢ per word.

The way I calculate it, if you can generate 500 words of original, researched content an hour — which is a lot faster than most people can write — a 1000-word article would take 2 hours. Add 2 hours spent chatting with the client and another hour to prep for the job. Do two of those a day and you’ve made $30 a day. I don’t know about you, but I can’t survive on $30/day.

Because I was so repulsed by the ad, I decided to make a point. I emailed a reply using the magic phrase in the subject line and including a writing sample. Here’s what I sent:

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1990 and have authored numerous books and articles on a wide variety of computer-related topics. I am intrigued by your Craig’s List ad. Here’s my writing sample.

What amazes me most about the current state of the publishing industry is how little some “publishers” are willing to pay experienced writers for original content. Just today I ran across an ad for a company willing to pay $3 per 200 words—that’s only 1-1/2¢ per word! Am I showing my age when I share memories of the days when I was paid $1.50 per word to write for print publications such as MacWEEK and MacUser magazine?

Fortunately, the offer in this Craig’s List ad isn’t representative of the entire industry. The 1,000-word article I wrote yesterday morning, for example, earned me $500. Although not generous, I consider that fair compensation for an experienced writer creating original content for the Web—even if that content includes screenshots and captions.

Back when I began writing for a living in 1990, I learned that success as a writer meant producing content quickly. After more than 20 years, writing now takes very little effort. I don’t need to labor over words like others do. My writing flows naturally, with a good rhythm, and requires very little editing, either by me or my editors. It’s for this reason that I’m able to get enough work to keep me busy—and plenty of offers of additional work.

It also makes it possible for me to whip up a quick writing sample to educate a cheapskate publisher about what experienced professional writers expect to be paid.

I sent it from my NoReply account so it’s unlikely that I’ll hear back from this offensive idiot.

A waste of time? Probably. But it’s all about venting and I needed to vent after this one.

From now on, I’ll stay away from ads looking for rockstar writers.

Construction Posts a Big Hit

A quick note about site stats.

I just wanted to share a quick note about this blog and the new home construction posts I’ve been sharing for about a month now.

Traffic Stats
The weekly stats for this blog clearly show a consistent overall rise in hits since May 20.

I can only assume that the huge bump in popularity of this blog is due to the construction posts — the timing of the bump roughly corresponds to the timing of the first few construction posts. Site stats show about a 100% increase in total blog hits beginning around that time. The fact that these posts are on the radar (so to speak) is confirmed by a recent request by an advertiser to place a banner ad for construction materials on the site. (I don’t do advertising so you won’t see the ad here.)

What’s odd, however, is that none of the construction posts have ever appeared as the most popular post on any given day. For the past few years, the post with the most hits is “The Real Cost of Helicopter Ownership,” which gets about 60 hits almost every day. The construction posts fall at various points below that and sometimes don’t even appear on the list of the 10 ten posts for the day. Instead, older posts about flying and my divorce remain very popular every day.

So why the bump? I suspect it’s an overall increase in “Google Juice” — the mysterious calculation that makes sites appear high in Google’s search results. Somehow the construction posts have caused a rise in my site’s page rank, which had taken a hit when GoDaddy and Bluehost Hosting caused numerous slowdowns and errors. When a site’s response time is slow, Google page rank suffers. About half of each day’s hits come from Google searches with a handful of others from other search engines.

Is this boring? Probably. But I’m a stats person and this information fascinates me.

And I’m thrilled about the new attention this blog is getting.

Facebook Crosses the Line. Again.

Facebook is now posting advertisements from my account.

Yesterday, a friend sent me an email message that included the following shared Facebook update:

An Ad I didn't Write

Yes, it’s a Facebook update apparently written by me that is promoting a magazine I don’t read or care about. This appeared in one of the groups on Facebook that I’m a member of.

When I clicked the link to see the ad for myself, Facebook prompted me to log in with my friend’s account information. It actually filled in the user ID field with his account name.

I was appalled.

Let’s look at what’s going on here: this is a Facebook update that looks like it was written by me to promote a product I don’t care about.

Is it unreasonable for me to be outraged?

And yes, I checked the Facebook Ad settings. This is the only one that seems as if it should apply and I’ve got it set to No One, meaning no one can see my name attached to any advertisement:

Ad Settings

Why has this happened? How many other times has it happened? Is it happening to your Facebook account, too?

How many more liberties will Facebook take with our privacy in an effort to maximize their bottom line and bombard us with advertising?