When I first started out as a freelance writer, I trolled Craigslist looking for writing gigs. Since morphing into a business copywriter, I still do check into Craigslist about twice a month — it only takes five minutes and you never know what you’ll find. I must admit that on rare occasion, I’ve found a few great projects, some of which even turned into longer-term copywriting client relationships.
Those great gigs really are the exception. Most of the writing gigs I see advertised online (I don’t want to just pick on Craigslist) suck. Not only do they show contempt for the professional writer they aim to hire — they are also red flags for the advertiser’s business. Companies are well-advised to avoid posting these sorts of ads if they want to keep their reputations:
writer wanted (vancouver)
I will trade handyman work..Painting, drywall, yard work, auto repair or Business related work, like sales & marketing .Trade for add content, business pitches, web content, Bio.
So, this guy will come to your home, drywall your living room and tend your garden in return for a direct mail sales letter campaign? Are you supposed to pay your bills with stucco and yard trimmings? Next.
Article Writers Wanted (Anywhere)
We are seeking up-and-coming writers who would like to contribute a related article to the first issue. Compensation is currently limited to $25/article plus 2 copies of the published issue. Word count should be no less than 1500.
Let’s see. $25 per 1500-word article. That works out to… 1.7 cents a word. Plus the 2 magazine copies, of course. Wow. At that rate, you can’t even feed yourself in Bangladesh. Where do you sign up?
These sorts of ads don’t really annoy copywriters like me for undercutting our work. I’m not really undercut, since no one will ever work for these kinds of slave wages. Indeed, why would any company bother to post a “help-wanted” ad with the following footer:
My real point is that the owners of companies that post these sorts of ads ought to consider the damage they’re doing to their own reputation.
Sure, the company often isn’t named in the ads, but if someone ever actually contacts them, their name will get out. And if that happens, word on the street will be that this company can’t afford to pay more than a few bucks for a project they apparently consider essential to their business.
This begs the question, why are they in business in the first place? If your business model is so unsustainable that you think you have to mercilessly exploit people in order to operate, maybe you need to re-think your business model.