Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pros & cons of writing for low pay, pay-per-click

"Anyone can be a writer."

It rubs a lot of writers the wrong way, but it's true. Anyone can be a writer and just about anyone can have an ego-gratifying "job" writing for a website with a pay-per-click/fraction-of-a-penny-a-word/write for exposure sort of payment plan.

I don't like those sites, but I can argue both sides of just about any issue :)

I'll start by defending those in the $15 per article range (like Demand Studios, for example).

Assuming you can crank out a (good) article in an hour, you're making $15/hour. Sound good? It's not, really - that's less than 20% of the low end of the pay scale for professional writers. So why do it?

  • You'll have 15 bucks fast. (Demand Studios and other sites typically pay via PayPal.) That'll buy you lunch or maybe refill your printer cartridge. 
  • If the site's attractive and fairly well-managed, you won't look bad, and 
  • Some sites offer residual income, meaning the initial investment of your time may continue to pay for years into the future. Not much, but 'residual income' has an awfully nice ring to it.
Here's why you might NOT want to do it:

  • Few people can crank out a decent-looking article in under an hour. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it's true. No matter how much help you think you get from grammar- and spell-checker, no matter how fast you type and how fast you think you can think, the fact is lucid writing takes time. Lucid well-informed writing takes more time. (We in the business call that 'research.') 
  • The articles live practically forever, which means if there's an error, or even a typo, in one of your articles, the error lives forever, too. With your name on it. 

If you're considering writing for a no- or very low-pay site, think hard before you do. There are a lot of 'good' reasons, but when you look really closely, I think you'll find most of them really aren't that good. 

This may look like an obvious segue into a "why blogging is better" article, but it's not. I'll leave that topic for another time. 

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