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Freelance Writing Nightmares

by on December 16, 2014


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Sometimes people do not realize that they are being unprofessional. Sometimes they just want a Freelance Writer to be part of their sweatshop.

freelance writing

Let me state up front that I really like being a Freelance Writer. I love writing, and Freelance writing and having people pay me to do what I love to do is icing on the cake. Most of the time I deal with very professional people who appreciate my talents, offer reasonable compensation and pay promptly. But sometimes…

I have used a couple of Freelance websites (Freelancer.com, elance, Outsourced). They are all good in their own way. They certainly are not responsible for the integrity of the people or companies who post projects and they are quick to remove posts that violate their terms of service.

Occasionally, though, some baddies sneak through.

One such person was a lady I shall call Fatima. She posted a job that required a “review” of another article: the article length would be 500 words, and the pay, 1¢ per word. Not a good price, but it sounded like a good gig. If the first article was acceptable, 20 more would be forthcoming.

The article in question was very long; it was about high-end restaurants around the world. It was quite difficult to get it down to anywhere near 500 words. When I sent it in, “Fatima” sent me a snarky e-mail demanding to know how a 2000 word article could suddenly be only 500 words. She said to review everything in the article, even if it was more than 2000 words, and link the restaurants to their addresses. Can you say “scope creep”?

She did not offer any additional money, and when I reminded her of the terms of the contract, she sent an e-mail saying “Fine. I’ll give it to someone who knows how to review.” She then made the mistake of telling me that she had 20 writers working for her.

“I did a minimum amount of research and discovered that she bills herself out at $20/hr, while paying her writers next to nothing”

Strangely enough, she still keeps trying to get me to work for her, saying that I am “Such a good writer.” Go figure.

Another employer (in the UK) asked me to write a sample article for his betting web site. I did a lot of research and then wrote the article to his specifications. It was quite involved, requiring a lot of links, etc.

He reviewed the article, then asked me to re-write it in a certain way, including certain references. I did that.

Then he asked me to make more changes. I did that.

Then he asked me to take out the references he put in. I did that.

Then he asked me to copy an entire graph from another website and insert that into the article. I told him I could not do that as it was plagiarism. He then told me that my article did not suit their needs and I was not paid for any of my work. Ok, – live and learn. I still expect to find my writing on their website.

Now we have “betting website part B”: The US counterpart sent me a similar project for the same website. I went through the same song-and-dance, and once again, after tons of research and re-writes, my article was rejected. Fool me once…

I’ve had several bids accepted on Freelance writing projects that changed drastically when the scope of work was outlined. In those cases, I have politely reminded the “employer” about the terms of the project they posted, and we have decided to go our separate ways.

As I said, I really would not change this Freelance writing life for anything. Most of the time, it’s fun, fascinating and profitable. Sometimes…not so much. One simply has to be careful.

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About the Author

Linda Fryant is a part-time writer for eOutsource.com. She holds a Certificate of Commercial Fiction Writing from the University of Washington. She has edited/critiqued over 150 manuscripts, and has taught writing classes at the University of Washington. She has had many non-fiction articles published, has done technical writing and has created training programs for State Agencies. She is an award-winning photographer and speaks several languages.