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Have the content mills and freelance writing job sites forced class distinction on the writer making some writers into the new snob social class?

Sketch of William Shakespeare.

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To Snob or Not to Snob – they sound like famous words

On perusing many blogs and discussion groups I have seen a variety of comments regarding whether writers would or would not write for the content mills and freelance writing job sites.  I’m not talking about ethics here that is a whole different ballgame/blog; I just mean producing articles, blogs, reviews, how to sites etc etc, for fees that a lot of people would consider low for children’s pocket-money.

The comments range from statements like “I wouldn’t get out of bed for that money” to “I love writing for them because at least it gets me some pay and I do get to write”. There’s a certain amount of poetic license in those statements but they are the gist of the extremes.

My Own Freelance Writing Experience

Although writing has unwittingly been part of my working life in excess of 35 years now I have never considered myself as a ‘writer’.  During those years I had probably written ten of thousands of words some of it good, some bad and some was definitely ugly; I don’t know why I love that spaghetti western phrase so much?  By the way that’s rhetorical before you start commenting.

What I have believed most of my life is that to be a writer you had to write fiction in some form or another.  It had always been a dream of mine to write fiction but I had never put pen to paper to bring it into reality.

It is only in the past 6 months I have really considered how wide the field of writing actually is and that I had been contributing to it in a very small way.  I am certainly not going to fill my blog with a list of ‘types of writing’ or insult your intelligence by doing so.

Freelance Writing in the Dragon’s Den

Dragon from PSF D-270006.png

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Six months ago I had a change in personal circumstances and worrying about how I was going to earn a living or even part of a living I turned to freelance writing.  For various reasons discussed elsewhere on Wrapcloth Writings I turned to writing.  I have an overactive imagination and some would say ‘quite creative’ so having read about Freelancer.com I went off to earn my fortune. (Bit tongue, again)

Well I discovered quite quickly that unless I became an octopus and worked 24/7 I was never going to make my fortune.

Within the genre of writing I was receiving over 200 job notifications per day, a large number of which were offering rates which I now know are beyond poor and even at the time appeared mildly insulting.  The demanding expectations of potential employers was incomprehensible and they would have you tied to your keyboard all day (and night).

Yet despite my harsh language here I fell for it all and spent hours reading postings, composing and posting bids, checking bids, getting annoyed at other potential buyers piggy-backing their jobs on other projects and reporting violations (What a waste of time reporting violations, again another blog)

On top of this I spent time creating my personal information, CV’s etc I was suddenly working full-time and reaping very little benefit.  The ‘invest to accumulate’ saying goes out the window when you are sewing prolifically and reaping sporadically and still unable to make any headway.

Eventually something snapped and I decided unless I could get paid a reasonable fee for my efforts I would write for fun and work somewhere else for a reasonable wage; as a lot of writers do. So crossing my fingers I went in search of some ‘good writing’ advise.

The Method

LinkedIn was a resource I had joined some years ago.  Like much we do on the internet everyone else was doing it so we join in but now I had a good reason for looking at it as a real tool that could help me.  The invaluable part of it I have used so far has been the forums.  Below is my current forum membership list.

  1. Writing & Writer Jobs, Freelance & Technical Writer Jobs
  2. Freelance Web Writers
  3. Freelance Writers Inc.
  4. All writers helping other writers – post comments, recieve comments
  5. Definitive Serious Writers Group
  6. Christian Writers Coalition
  7. Freelance Writers
  8. Freelance Writers Working For Internet Content Mills
  9. Working Writers
  10. writing4u

I was in the ‘gathering information’ stage and found a number of suitable forums and read through them.  I must say I have had some great advice, some very strong views and some equally banal views.  Some forums I left quickly and others I have remained with sticking my spoke in now again and starting my own discussions.

found the start of ‘Polls’ within groups irresistible so had to start one.

Having read what I’d read and learned what I’d learned I decided to ask a question I thought may be controversial and posted the same poll on 3 different discussion groups, hoping the diversity of the groups would get feedback from different types of writers.

  1. Freelance Writers Working For Internet Content Mills
  2. Definitive Serious Writers Group
  3. Freelance Writers Inc.
My Freelance Writing Question Was?
Am I being a snob or a fool if I do not want to write for content mills?
The required responses being; snob or fool.
All 3 groups received a fair amount of discussion and comment; there were extremes (exaggerated for humorous effect) ranging from “they are the breeding grounds of the devil” to “I have found the writing experience equivalent to paradise”; a bit biblical but I’m sure you get my drift.
By using the words snob and fool and placing it in the 3 different discussion groups I felt sure there would be some controversy resulting in strong views being aired and a bit of banter and I’d love to tell you it happened, but alas no, it all remained rather civilised.
The Conclusion of Freelance Writers

The comments made from the 3 groups were very similar;

  • several felt there were good reasons for not writing for content mills some felt the opposite
  • several were making money from the content mills others had not seen a bean (metaphorically speaking, I think all of them had actually seen a real bean)
  • most felt that it was personal choice whether you did it or not and didn’t look down on those who did
The actual result of the poll was, snob 0, fool 0.
What I did learn from the survey was that people thought I was neither a snob or a fool for not wanting to write for content mills.
The other very important lesson I learned from running the poll was the definite need for a ‘neither’ button, because, that answer would have won hands down..
You can read the comments from the poll at the following links:

Without sadness, happiness would become mundane