Be Careful Out There!

There really are all kinds of people and companies out there waiting to take advantage of writers – newbies fresh to the playing field and established pros. I’ve been writing for professional publication since I was a teenager so I consider myself more of a pro than a newbie. I’ve done some investigative work on several writing sites that claim to pay you for your creative content and the outlook is grim.

The best rule of thumb is always “if something’s too good to be true, it usually is.” And this is the case when it comes to these writing sites. I was looking to make a little bit of extra part-time money writing. As a federal employee, I can’t make over a certain amount at an outside employer without obtaining permission. So I never agreed to write any articles, but still managed to find the deep, dark secrets of these so-called writers’ sites. (Actually I would have had to obtain permission to write the articles anyway.)

The first site I investigated is called iWriter. It’s a self-proclaimed “article writing website.” Basically clients post job articles on a discussion board and writers pitch their posts and articles to them. The clients determine the pricing per post and list that in the job ad. Most of them were pretty cheap, IMO, but I’m not surprised. Plenty of people think creative content should be cheap. The clients on this site can literally nickel and dime you down on your creative content, but since you, the writer, decide which articles to write, I’m not as annoyed by that as I could be.

iWriter claims it’s free to sign up. All you need is a paypal address for the money for your writing to be deposited either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. I went through with a fake profile and entered all the info, then started searching for jobs. Here’s where it gets interesting. Job ads are posted in three categories based on the “writer type” you are – standard, premium, or elite. You start as standard, which makes sense – no one there really knows who I am and my experience.

But wouldn’t you think experience would count for something – either real world experience or actual experience on the site? It doesn’t matter. In order to become a premium writer you literally have to pay for it – to the tune of $147! They call it an “application fee” and try to assure you that you’ll make the money back. But job ads are about $10 each for 500-600 words, and I’m being generous by rounding up to the nearest $10. Most ads are in the $6-$8 range. Even if they were $10 a pop, you’d have to write 15 or so to start out even!

Many of the ads are written in poor taste, too, with terrible spelling errors and grammar mistakes. This drives me “nutz” as a writer. I realize that the so-called “clients” are seeking writers perhaps to help themselves with writing. But try to be respectful or just display common courtesy! One ad said “chick writers need not apply. No welcome.” The topic wasn’t for men’s health or car parts – it was for relationship help. Unreal! Another used ALL CAPS – beyond annoying.

I deleted my account after I found out about the $147 fee – which is basically the way the site makes money off the writers too. Writers then get screwed twice: their stupid fee, and the clients gyp them out of good pay for good content. Yes, of course, the content may not be all that great, but I’m thinking best case scenario. Clients can also reject content – so you may count on 15 stories to pay off the $147 fee and be rejected for all but one of them. Then you have to write more.

Bottom line? This is a scam, designed to prey on writers, and is solely created to benefit their “clients” instead of support the real people who create the content – writers. Avoid!

Do you know of any scams like this one? Or perhaps you know of a legit writers’ site? Email me or post in the comments so we can support each other as writers!

Happy Writing!