Monday, December 7, 2009

Boycott Internet/Writing Sweatshops for Fair Rates Or Be More Selective In Your Choices

Discussion about fair rates for freelance writing is always a hot topic. And if truth be told, most Writers have at some point in time approached the Google search bar seeking current rates, hoping for confirmation of what they know to be a fair rate – if that wasn’t the case, most of you would not be reading this article; hoping to get some insight as to what your writing is worth or what you should charge. This article isn’t going to tell you what you should charge, but may help you to make a determination of what assignments to accept.
Many Writers have wasted far too much time and effort applying and submitting samples only to learn that the job only pays $1 - $3 apiece for a 500 word article and demand that the articles pass the scrutiny of Copyscape, Google, and all other duplicate contact checkers.
The United States Department of Labor regulates that The Fair Labor Standard Act, for work performed on or after July 24, 2009, mandates that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour – which in and of itself is an insult – seriously, $7.25 an hour to support oneself/family is utterly ridiculous considering the cost of living in the U.S, but at least it is mandated unlike the rates for Freelancers who must perform extensive research in order to provide unique content at the drop of a hat for mere pennies. Should Writers boycott in order to receive fair rates? Some of my colleagues seem to think that can possibly be the answer to achieving the goal for fair rates. That said Writers may wish to…
Keep in mind that the Internet is worldwide and while $5/article may be petty to most U.S. Writers, for someone in another country it may indeed be a worthwhile venture. Yes, it hurts those of us who want and deserve more, but regardless if we boycott those buyers, we can not do anything about the writers who choose to work for lesser sums of money. It is a personal choice. However, if the majority of Writers make the choice not to accept the insulting rates, those choices may indeed be part of the solution.
One of the major contributors to the “lack of pay” for Writers is the Internet which has created such a huge need for bulk that lots of things are passing for "writing" and this need will continue to grow. Unfortunately there are those who yearn to write so much that they readily jump at those so-called "opportunities" and do whatever it takes to fulfill even the most ridiculous demands. Perhaps it comes under the heading of "paying one's dues," but those of us with portfolios, resumes and years of experience know what is involved and (hopefully) won't be tempted. For the most part, it appears that some think that although the money is appreciated, the recognition is what is helpful in actually getting other work. Of course one can't count on that. But learning the "art" of writing online can be valuable, and allows one to expand their horizons and look at other opportunities. The question is, is it beneficial or not to accept mere pennies on the dollar for your hard earn writing efforts, or do you hold out for more, possibly risking losing a writing opportunity? One answer is, it’s a choice each individual needs to make for themselves. Another is it’s not worth the aggravation of ones integrity to stoop to that level.
Final thoughts from some of my colleagues and myself are - boycotting on behalf of writers who are seeing a new iteration of the writing/marketing/publishing business being unleash will be ineffective. Few people care what the publisher paid for the content or who they paid. Believe it or not, some of the sweatshop content at $5 an article is not bad stuff, from writers who never learned to market their work and don't believe they can compete, so they settle - which something most seasoned Writers are attempting to forego.
Each individual makes his/her own decision - We each have to find the markets that fit our specialty, snuggle into our niches, and produce quality. And then we have to spend a huge percentage of our time actively marketing by phone, email or mail to markets that suit our niche. Surfing the web and submitting a bid along with thousands of other people, or sending an application to a website that just got 1000 more today is nonsense. As professional Writers, when it comes to the types of assignments we accept, we must be more selective in our choices. Otherwise, we may find ourselves subjected to and accepted of slave wages/rates.

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