The Copywriter's Crucible

Blowing The Lid On The $1 Copywriting Racket

The internet has created a global marketplace in which products and services can be procured from anywhere in the world. Small businesses now have access to skilled freelancers and service providers globally. You no longer have to rely on your local area to find talented professionals for your projects.

Nowhere has the growth of the global marketplace been felt more acutely then in the freelance writers market. Freelance writers are now competing with each other on a global scale. The problem is that many seem to be prepared to work for a pittance.

If you look on Craigslist, or any other writer’s job site you will find companies paying as low as $1 for a 500 word article, and plenty of freelancer copywriters prepared to work for such a low rate. The mind boggles at how a freelance writer from any country could survive on such an income. To research and write a 500 word article takes me hours – or maybe I’m just slow?

A couple of freelance writers have had enough and are starting a protest movement. Their manifesto is being composed as we speak; they are already calling for fellow freelancers to join their cause. The campaign’s aim is to create some sort of agreed pay structure for freelance writers and put pressure on those writing for $1 to pump up their fees.

Whether the campaign will have any success remains to be seen – as long as some writers are prepared to write for virtually nothing then businesses are quite happy not to pay.

Am I alarmed by some of the miniscule fees being paid? Not really because I don’t believe they are even writing 500 words for $1. It simply wouldn’t be economically viable for anybody to provide original content for such a low rate.

After a bit of delving it would appear that my suspicions were well founded, and that some SEO companies have been interpreting the term ‘copy-writer’ in a novel new way.

Michael Pedone is a freelance copywriter and in a post he highlights the work (or lack of it) that goes into these $1 articles.

An unnamed SEO company advertises their copywriting service as “a team of experienced content writers who are trained in writing quality search engine optimised content.”

The same unnamed SEO Company does, however, describe this service in slightly different terms when approaching new writers:

“Writing the content is simply a case of cutting and pasting different bits of information, whilst adhering to a few easy rules such as beginning each opening sentence with a keyword etc, it is not necessary to have a journalism background, anybody can do it.”

It looks like $1 buys little more than a few quick searches on Google, uplifting the content and bashing in a few keywords. The internet has created a marketplace for thieves to steal other peoples’ sweat and tears, and simply repackage it as their own.

This practice not only disrespects the hard work of writers worldwide. But also means businesses are paying for substandard content which has cost the SEO Company virtually nothing to acquire.

Your content is the most important element of your website as only your words will engage with visitors and endear them to buy your products or services. Filling your web pages with plagiarized material will simply damage your credibility, and seriously hamper your website’s ability to create sales.

Over time this irresponsible practice should become more widely identified as these $1 articles start being discovered by their original authors. It won’t be difficult to expose those who continue to steal from conscientious, hard working freelance writers. Eventually these unscrupulous SEO companies should be forced to pay a fair rate for original material, or risk losing clients.

My advice to fellow freelance copywriters is to spread the word on this damaging practice, and hopefully we can break this $1 copywriting racket once and for all!

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