Monday, January 25, 2010


I have a hard time understanding a business that expects people to pay for online content when they won’t pay for it themselves.

In my 15 years as a freelancer, no outlet has ever paid me additional money for the added benefit of putting my stories online. That is expected to be part of the deal. When I sell a story, I’m selling away my rights, and they can put it on the web, in a book, or on a billboard on the moon, and I see no more than the paltry sum I was paid when I first turned my piece in. But they can charge people to read it all they want.

In other words: newspapers like the New York Times expect to profit off of their internet readership by charging for online content. But content generators--writers--rarely see one penny of that money.

Even worse are those online outlets which now expect us to make a living at the going rate of $3-$5 for a 300-500 word blog post. Unbelievable!

A recent Craigslist ad reads:
I am outsourcing creation of 200+ articles a month. 300-500 words; I provide creative content direction. Must know how to write for KWD. Social website knowledge a big plus.

• Compensation: $3-$5 per article. Current writers making $15+/hr.

That’s a whopping penny a word! Are you kidding me? Hey, Steve Wyer: fuck you. And fuck anyone who thinks so little of themselves or what they do that they would willingly devalue their creative output this way.

Do you folks think we writers basically fart out our content? Do you expect facts to be checked or even a run of spell-check? Do you want the basic rules of grammar obeyed? This is what it's come to: writers' output is completely devalued so some middleman can rake in the profits, and who cares what the finished product is like. As long as it makes money for the Steve Wyers of the world.

And trust me, there are plenty of them. Craigslist and MediaBistro and are filled with "buyers" looking for suckers to exploit, writers so desperate for an outlet that they might as well give it away for free. And I'm sure there are folks lined up for a $5 gig because they don't know any better. Well, let me just tell you folks right now: not too many years ago I got $500 for that same article. Why are they getting away with devaluing our product? Because they can.

Listen, kids: Who needs to be exploited by the middleman (and we all know how to say that in French don’t we? “Entre-preneur” = "middle taker"). Just go straight to the source and offer your services directly. No one deserves to be treated like a Third World sweatshop laborer. Three dollars an article? That’s insulting. Write them yourself, asshole.

This is not the first time I’ve written about this but I’m still pissed off. I’m tired of people treating what we do like it doesn’t matter. What would happen if all writers went on strike for a week? There would be no blogs, no books, no newspapers, no magazine articles, no scripts. Yeah, I know it won’t happen, but a writer can dream.