Hi. This is an old, unmaintained blog. You may find these sites more to your liking:

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Well, loyal readers noted that controversy produces readers and comments. So, why not be a little controversial today? Or, at the very least, argumentative... The most commented upon series of posts here was the infamous "cheeseball bottom feeders" exchange. It had seemed like that debate had died down. But this morning, I noticed this at a freelancer's forum in response to an ad offering content writing projects at a rate less than two cents per word:

"...they want their writers to work around the clock and never miss a deadline for chump change. The state of Internet writing is absolutely ridiculous, and the problem is getting worse and worse. If you are serious about writing, it is time to make a stand against these a**holes [edit mine] and the people that support them in any way by speaking up and refusing the work. If they go to the Indian companies, they will suffer in their content anyway."

Because I can't resist...

(1) It isn't necessary chump change. I don't have the energy to do the math for everyone again or to explain that it might not be a good plan for everyone, but it is possible to make lower paying markets lucrative. It requires the right writer and the right circumstances, but it does happen with some regularity.

(2) The "problem" isn't a problem for anyone other than those who are whiny. It's simply a reflection of market forces. I can just imagine a guy who wants to sell Charmin for $20 a roll yelling about how the "problem" is that the toilet paper industry hasn't organized to demand more. We'd laugh. Why? Because we have an idea of what toilet paper is worth, what competition is, how supply & demand work, etc.

(3) A massive freelancer "walkout" to force rate increases? Imagine herding cats. Then, imagine herding cats who have taken a megadose of cocaine. Now, imagine herding those coke-fueled cats in the dark of night. Oh, and remember, some of those cats already understand the first point and have an active interest in not being herded at all.

(4) The prospect of information consumers really caring how much freelance writers make is laughable. Do you ever read your morning paper and say to yourself, "I sure hope the staff writer covering the city council is making enough?" Have you ever felt really worried about how much the copywriter who came up with that slogan on the new billboard is doing financially? Have you ever looked for a movie review online and thought, "I sure hope that person was paid at least a dime per word?" Didn't think so.

(5) Quality is only part of the equation. As much as we love quality content as writers (and it is a good thing for many reasons), webmasters buy text in order to produce a profit. Thus, the bottom line is what really matters. If U.S. writers somehow organized and demanded more, the question on buyers' minds would be, "Is a possible quality shortfall combined with lower prices like to produce a greater profit than better content at a higher price?" The answer to that question may not fall on the whiny writer's side.

(6) Don't be too dismissive of India. It's home to some talented writers. Yes, there are many subpar wordsmiths from the subcontinent, but it is a mistake for U.S. writers to treat non-U.S. providers as if they are a second rate across the board. When you take your competition lightly, you can find yourself in trouble later.

Your daily dose of trouble-making controversy. Thanks for reading!