Friday, 19 August 2016

Writing job websites

In looking to expand my client base and also diversity of writing projects, I turned to the internet. I read a bunch for websites referring me to this or that platform and I registered with three of them.

Registration is time consuming because it also involved creating a profile and adding examples of your work to build up a portfolio for a prospective client to look at.

Two of the sites are of the 'Don't call us, we'll call you' format where they'll connect you with jobs that match your skills. I've heard from neither of them in six weeks.

The third came with many recommendations, Here 'employers' looking for people to create content put out job descriptions for which writers can bid and apply. What I like about this is that I can look through a list, see whether my skills match the employer's requirements and then I can apply.

A nice feature is that you can see if there is feedback from writers who have previously done work for the job poster, how much in total they have paid to writers, how many jobs they have paid for and whether they have any unpaid invoices. I've seen very few posters with a history - most of the numbers are at zero.

Aside from this, the site has two major problems.

The first is that very few employers know what they want. Job descriptions rarely mention the theme of the writing, even fewer offer a reasonable rate and many want a ridiculous amount of content; but they all want high-quality writing by experienced writers who are native English speakers. They want content that is original and free from plagiarism. They also regularly mention 'long-term work' or 'ongoing work'.Take this example that came through today:
"I am looking for an article writer to join my team of writers for a long term job. I need someone who can produce quality articles with a great speed of writing. The applicant should be able to produce 5,080 words in a day with grammar error free, therefore we need mostly native speakers as well as the Philipinos and anyone who can only write an article without grammar errors. Samples should be attached. Thanks"
They are offering +6 months work at around 30hrs/week and $20-$47/hour.

I did a search on Google to find out how many words a day well-known authors write. The result came up with: "Jack London wrote between 1,000 and 1,500 words each day. Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day".

There are many posts looking for super-high wordcounts from writers.

Their numbers are set at zero. I don't know whether they've posted any jobs before but they certainly haven't hired anyone and they have paid nothing.

And this brings me to the second problem with the site.

Most jobs stay open for a few weeks and they receive between 10 to 50 quotes from applicants. Most of the job posters have never employed anyone on the site and not all jobs that are posted end up hiring people.

Of the nine jobs that I've applied for two haven't hired anyone (this goes back six weeks). One job was deleted. One hired an agency that has a profile, not an individual. One hired a retired doctor who specialises in medical writing (at $50/hr) to write blogs on inspiring senior citizens (huh?). One that needs "hundreds of articles in a short time" for a unique online magazine has hired an agency (makes sense). The last three jobs are recent postings.

Of interest, jobs posted vary greatly - from needing people to write ebooks, grant applications, sponsorship letters and reviews. How's this one... An establishment that pays people to write good reviews and to post these online (they have clearly done this before because their status reflects how much they have paid in total thus far):
"Hi, we would like professional reviews posted for our establishment. This can be done per hour or in bulk. Reviews to be posted to trip advisor."
These platforms can work and there are some genuine and interesting jobs posted. Sifting through the non-genuine content to get to these gems is the challenge and when you find them there's no guarantee that you'll land the job.

I recently paid $5 on Fiverr for a logo design. Although I liked the logos the guy I chose designed for me, I'm not using them as they are. His designs gave  me was the creative kick I needed to develop my own ideas and to modify his logos for my purpose. This was a good online job-commissioning experience.

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