i was in a blogcatalog discussion about another internet writing-for-money scam when i happened by a comment about a legitimate website called getafreelancer.com (a.k.a., gaf).
so i followed the lead in smug skepticism.
and what i discovered was a sad reality that made the scam look like small potatoes.
GAF is essentially a craigslist for freelance jobs requiring internet, website, programming and content writing skills.
projects and jobs are posted.
freelancers, like wannabe me, bid on them.
sounds great really—i mean all i want to do is make a little money at this writing thing i do.
yeah great, until i paid attention to the project details.
a typical offering (actually copied from a project; only slight format changes):
"hello bidders! i would be providing you with article topics at a regular basis and this shall be a long term project. the pay rate is $0.005 per word. so 200 words = $1; 400 words = $2; 600 words = $3; and the calculation goes on. each article should: 1.) be 100% unique and original, 2.) be error free, 3.) pass copyscape (i will check), and 4. be submitted within the deadline provided, and payment will be made through paypal."
presently there are 18 bidders, and although not listed for this particular project, based on others that are, they all bid exactly as desired or better.
although i'm not a professional writer by a long shot, i have written about sixty articles for ezine that range in the 500-1500 mark and i can tell you, if i could get 500 words done in less than an hour, that would be right up there in david blaine magic territory. but let's say i could on a regular basis. then i'd pull in a hot $2.50 for my efforts, or about 35% of minimum wage.
so how do these bidding writing phenoms do it and make it worth their effort?
well, i think it requires copying articles already written and changing the sentences enough to keep the general meaning but pass the scrutiny of copyscape (i.e., a copyright infringement tool with some umph).
and with low-ball bidders with names like vijay and rajesh, i can only guess that this whole exercise is outsourcing gone nuts.
and who provides the original articles?
(this is the fool circle part)
idiots like me who post them in search friendly spirit on e-zines or blogs for all to find with a click of the mouse.
with business models like this, i am starting to get that knot in my stomach that things are going terribly wrong.
and if you don't think that this hasn't started to penetrate the mainstream press, think again.
i send you off to an article by maureen dowd on exactly this subject.
a little more witty than this one.
a penny for my thoughts