October 9, 2012

Writers now earning fractions of pennies per word


The unspeakable glamour of the writer’s life: Gawker reports on a new low in writers’ wages, stumbled upon in this Craigslist ad. The as-yet untraced company in Portland, Oregon, is searching for ‘excellent’ writers and researchers, who are detail-oriented and able to meet deadlines, to produce between thirty and sixty articles (!) each, per week, for the princely sum of $0.009–$0.02 per word. Let Gawker do the maths:

In Portland, where the living hourly wage is $9.42, according to MIT’s living wage calculator, that would mean low-end earners would need to write about 1,047 words per hour to keep their head above water. That’s easy, right, professional writers?

Writing opportunities are in the fields of ‘news articles, blogs, product descriptions, website content, magazine articles, and SEO work’, and I’m sure we’d all shudder to think what sort of news or magazine articles might be produced at a rate of 1,047 words an hour. What’s saddest is that these companies probably will have their posts filled, more than likely by English-language-writers-in-exile in developing countries — and so the cycle will continue…


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.