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Friday, January 06, 2006

Calling all cheeseball bottom feeders...

Just happened to find an essay from Writers Weekly entitled "Where Are These Cheeseball Bottom Feeders Coming From?"

In addition to ending the title sentence (though a question) with a preposition, the author found a few other ways to irritate me. Star Lawrence, a freelancer, had been checking out some SEO content gigs and discovered the buyer was only bidding $4 for 550 word articles on health topics. This led Lawrence to note:

"That would be one dollar to four dollars? American dollars? For finding this fresh idea, checking with you, presumably finding sources, using my time and theirs, using my equipment, my talent, you are offering four dollars?"

She then continues to lambast what he calls "these Four-buck Wonders." She claims to have sent the would-be buyers cute little emails.

"At first, I ignore these, then I start to send them little notes. How sad about your zero key. Are you new in the business? New to the planet? This is not market rate. Ten times this is not market rate. These fees are an insult. Shame! What is your problem?"

OK, let me start out by saying that I won't work for .73 cents per word. The offer is a little low. However, I wouldn't begrudge someone who took that rate for some straight SEO content writing. I certainly wouldn't feel that the offer was less than ten times the market rate.

Lawrence's problem is that she simply does not get it. No one wanted her to conduct extensive research, make a ton of phone calls to experts for exclusive interviews or to assemble a multi-part series of articles that will change the world's outlook on medical matters forever. They wanted readable, optimized text providing relevant accessible information.

Did they under-bid? Probably. But not by a huge margin.

Star says she "...will still be standing, when they go on to wearing the paper hat and discussing fries as a possible side dish."

Hey, Star, your bio says you write regularly for a medical site. That probably means you have the necessary background info in your noggin to generate what these "cheeseballs" want. You are a writer by trade, so I am willing to guess you can tap out text at 100 words per minute. Let's do some math.

That's about 5.5 minutes of work per article. Thus, you could produce nearly 11 such pieces in an hour. That comes to $44 per hour. Let's assume you spend half of your time deep in thought, in preparation or otherwise distracted. You would still be pulling down $22 per hour.

In the time it took you to type out those nasty little emails, you probably could have made yourself some extra cash.

I see and hear this kind of crap too often. Hey, writers, not everything that gets clickety-clacked out on your keyboard has the same value. A great sales letter from a good copywriter might bring a few grand. A well-researched long article for a print market might rake in a healthy sum. There are online markets that might be willing to pay a small fortune for the right front-page materials. SEO content is worth a bit less. Sometimes a lot less, depending on the buyer's needs.

I am beginning to believe that there are a lot of print writers who are watching the industry erode in the face of online competition who believe they can simply hop on over into the online universe and command the same rates to which they are accustomed. Those rates are there in the right markets. However, not every market is the right market.

If you feel insulted by an offer of under 50 cents per word, feel free to pass on the job. Leave it for some of us who are willing to work hard and efficiently within that genre. Don't resort to insulting those things you just don't understand.

Oh, and if you happen to be a "cheeseball bottom feeder" with a job that requires a good freelance content writer, just drop me a line. I am currently writing a series of articles on a particular health related topic for 2 cents per word. The content will meet the client's specs and it will be top-notch in terms of readability and accuracy.