Anybody making money at the new writing "jobs"?

I’ve seen a huge explosion of jobs for writers in the online job sites like Craigslist, Monster and CareerBuilder. The employers are, Patch, BlogSynergy and one other, forgot the name. Thing is, the pay for all these jobs ranges from abysmally low (2 cents a word) to none. ( offers a chance to “raise your profile” and broaden your base.

These “employers” all seem to be developing national web entities aimed at developing some kind of national base, probably aimed at capturing the web advertising market for urban localities, based on the nature of their ads.

I can’t believe it’s possible to make a decent living writing articles that are not simple cut and paste jobs at that 2 cent a word rate. Do the math, you’d have to write 50,000 words to earn $500 in a week. That’s pretty much a novel a week, in the form of 100 500 word essays.

But before I dismissed it out of hand, I thought I’d ask if any Dopers are making money this way, and if so … how?

My first thought is “supplemental income.” 50,000 words at 2 cents a word nets you $1000, and NaNoWriMo has shown that it’s very possible to get that done in a month on the side. I could certainly use an extra $1000 on top of my day job.

That may well be what they are trying to attract … people trying to build a second income.

What’s the nature of the posting? In other words, are they the types of jobs you would bid for or are they the type you submit your resume and they “hire” you on a semi-permanent basis? If they’re the former, you probably wouldn’t even make much supplemental income because you’d be bidding against people who would work for a penny, maybe less, per word. If they were the latter, well… you might make some supplemental income, but not much and definitely not worth the amount of effort you’d put in.

All in all, I steer clear from those positions. Another thing to consider is that the person posting those jobs is probably not looking for any sort of quality. Or if they are, they’re ignorant because they think they’ll get quality for so little money. Most of the people I’ve seen go for those jobs are from countries where $2 a project is decent money. In other words, not the U.S., and English probably isn’t the first language.

These jobs are advertised on Craigslist in the Atlanta area and also on CareerBuider and Monster, though for all I know they are advertised all over the world as well as here. I agree the writing is likely to be marginal as the pay, but I suspect it does not matter to the publishers, so long as they can qualify for Adsense with it. It strikes me more as a scheme to agrregate web advertising dollars via a huge volume of badly written glurge produced for little or nothing that fits Adsense guidelines than to create a quality product.

That makes sense. We had a social media outfit that did blogs for us. I was asked to review some of their work, and I’ve never read more horrible, unintelligible writing in my life. Reading it physically hurt. When I pointed out how terrible the writing was, I was informed that it was for SEO only.

When my fiancee freelances, it’ll take her about 15 hours of work (including research, interviewing, and writing the actual copy plus headlines and captions) to put together a 1000-word article fit for publication by a well-respected hobbyist magazine.

Based on that standard, 50,000 words is at $0.02/word comes out to about $1.33 per hour.

No thanks.

The publishing industry being what it is, she’s spent some time laid off over the past couple of years, and took an SEO copy writing job that paid twelve bucks an hour. The minimum standard was 5,000 words per day, but they really, really liked to see double that. She quit after four months due to the general scumbaggery and a nascent twinge of RSI, and I fully supported her in that decision.

She showed me some of the copy that was puked out by the employees who were regularly hitting 10,000 words per day. I’m certainly no master of English letters, but it was utter garbage. I work in IT, and I’ve seen better writing from ESL Devry grads.

And explains why blogs like mine are struggling. I strive to write high-quality, informative sites and am fighting blogs that are being populated with key-word searches being built strictly for advertising revenue.

A real pisser! :mad:

Have you tried it? It takes dedication, extensive effort, and a lack of all other commitments to churn out 2,000 words a day. That kind of output – if it produces anything worth reading – should be worth more like 50 cents a word.

That’s not the kind of content that they are likely expecting at that rate. If they are, they’re crazy, or they’re hiring people from outside the US.

2 cents a word is higher than average for web content from starting writers; I usually see 1 cent or less. Go take a gander at sites like oDesk and you’ll see many of them are requesting rates of far less (like 0.003 per word), though granted they usually don’t get native speakers at that price. Of course, once you get going and have a base of articles to use as samples and some decent feedback, you can get more money.

On the web, new content (even if it’s not incredibly good content) has SEO purposes. If you type quickly, think quickly, know how to stretch content well and research fast, etc. you can bang out a 1000 word article in less than an hour. Hell, I routinely got feedback that I’d far exceeded expectations by just writing a bunch of off-the-cuff stuff about a subject I knew fairly well. As long as your writing is decent and you don’t tell obvious lies, they don’t really care; it’s really just about keyword density.

My father told me that when he was in his 20’s, he had tried writing for mass market magazines like Liberty, Colliers, et al, and had gotten frustrated because they kept asking for rewrites. They might have him go through four or five rewrites before finally publishing the article. All for five cents a word, he said.

That’s right, a nickel a word. And this was in the 1930s.

So, almost 80 years later, we have people knocking themselves out to crank out work for 60% less than the could’ve earned at the tail end of the Depression.

But for anyone still interested at trying their hand at it, I have an all-purppose copy block that will help you increase your word count. Feel free to cut and paste it into your work as needed.

You know that, what with computers and all, it’s a lot easier to crank out lots of words today than it was in the Depression, right? So factor that in, and…

Wait a minute. When I started writing for money, in the '70s, the low end of the scale was something like 10 cents a word.

I had a friend who did this Examiner thing. The bad thing was that she was somehow required to produce a certain number of words on the subject. The even worse thing was that she got paid on number of impressions/views. She did not last long.

By contrast, another friend writes for an RV publication. Research & writing per 1000-word article typically takes her 4 hours, and the pay is $200 per article.

I average about 100 words/hour when producing salable output – research, outline, draft, and edit.

That rule of thumb makes it real easy to figure out whether a per-word rate is worth it to me. Anything less than $0.25/word, ain’t.

Yes, the Web is being filled with barely readable gunk churned out by ESL speakers or their US equivalents for next to nothing in the way of wges. Thank you, Adsense. I understand Adsense also has a huge problem with third-world hackers developing autoclick programs for their websites, so that advertisers get no value for their money. It’s like a lose-lose proposition.

A lot of these jobs are now outsourced and the English you are reading come from areas like India where English is not a first language. However the “English” is the way English is spoken in India. So the grammar is correct and up to standards, the way an Indian would speak English but not in the USA.

Now this isn’t a slam on Indians, or to say their way of speaking English is bad. It’s just like British English and American English is different.

In 2003 I was getting between 25¢ and 50¢ a word for manual writing and other technical writing. All these jobs I had have sense been sent to India, where the pay rate, when I checked was 10¢ A PAGE.

Livable in India but not here.

It’s just a sign of the times.

And you have to remember this is nothing new. The Nancy Drew Mysteries, Hardy Boys books were all churned out by ghost writer(s) who were paid to produced so many books, at so many words per month or year.

Many old novels were published in serial format in magazines and newspapers. They didn’t strive for great writing but content. This is just another variation

For those who have blogs that are getting run over by others, don’t focus on your articles. Key words only get you so far. It’s links that are gonna push you up high.

SEO research shows, 95% of people don’t click beyond the first 10 Google results. If you’r not in the top 10 you most likely won’t be seen.

So you need to get on that page, then get into the top three.

Remember a link to your blog from a big website is worth more than keywords.

And not all links are equal. A link to your blog from an article in USAToday or Time Magazine is worth thouands more than a most other links.

(FYI, links from comment sections of magazines/newspapers and such are almost always “no follow” so they are meaningless in terms of getting higher page rank)

Two cents a word is more than I get for posting great content on the SDMB.

I looked at Patch – it’s a local news site, so they’re looking for articles on the new ice cream shop and when the village board meets. I can think of two types of people who could make this work from a supplemental income basis: 1) a reporter for a small local paper, looking to recycle stories; and 2) owner/manager of a small store in a downtown suburban location, hooked into the local scene and often having stretches of time during the day with no one in the store.

A reporter for a small local paper would like face contract problems and conflict of interest problems by “recycling” stories.