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The other day I was cruising one-off writing gig listings and came across an ad that hacked me off to no end. Here’s the part that got me riled up:
“This job should be easy for a professional writer, please bear this in mind when submitting your bid.”
I’m going to try this the next time I walk into my dentist. “This root canal should be easy for a professional dentist, please bear this in mind when sending your bill. Now that’s out of the way, dose me up on that laughing gas!” Bet we’ll both have a good giggle, don’t you think?
The prospective client who posted this ad either doesn’t care about quality content, or – I very much hope – is unintentionally doing themselves a great disservice.
Professional writers are professional for a reason. They’ve put thousands of hours into perfecting their craft, and they are the ones who are qualified to determine what their time is worth. They’re also the ones who are qualified to decide how “easy” a job is, and how much skill and time it will take to complete. For a client to assume they know the full extent of the effort a copywriting job will take tells a writer they’re likely to be difficult to work with and overly demanding, and may even try to evade payment once the job is complete – under the cover of belittling the professional work and effort put forth in good faith. Not what any professional, in any field, looks for in a client.
If a client is sure that a job is so “easy,” surely they have a sister or niece or an unpaid intern happy to do it? Whatever the content, writing even a few hundred words takes time, and that’s time a professional writer is using to give their client the best possible chance at making a splash with potential customers. It’s also time during which they are not getting paid more by another client, or time that comes out of the non-work portion of their schedule. Does any genuinely professional small business want to come off as hackneyed and corner-cutting when it comes time to make an impression on their customers?
Furthermore, do they want their customers to walk in and insist that if their business is “professional,” they’ll give a cut rate for their services?
Businesses who imply that they’re entitled to the best professional efforts of others without fair payment give the impression that aren’t looking to provide quality, they’re looking to increase their bottom line. At any expense. By (intentionally or unintentionally) insulting the professional integrity of the best writers out there, these businesses shrink the pool of people who will even consider submitting a bid.
Which brings me to my next question: why even bother putting this requirement on an open job? For those unfamiliar with services like oDesk and Elance, these online clearinghouses allow clients to post the equivalent of a classified ad, outlining a writing job and opening it to bids. If a client doesn’t want to accept a high bid, all they need to do is skip it in favor of a bid by a writer working at a lower rate. No explanation or justification is required for turning down jobs that don’t fit a project’s budget. So why alienate writers who might pick up the job to fill time between other commitments instead of just letting the open market work its magic? And if, upon receiving all the bids, there are none that fit a client’s planned budgetary specifications…maybe it’s time to reevaluate the plan.
The moral of the story? Don’t expect to get the best writers to compete for your job by rolling out a condescending advertisement. If you really don’t want to deal with bids from professional writers whose time is worth more than your company can afford, be direct and place a ceiling on what you’ll accept – a simple “due to budget constraints, bids over $15/hr will not be considered” does the job nicely, and without the not-so-subtle implication that anyone asking for more than that is trying to pull a fast one or is less than professional. Meanwhile, writers who charge rates more in line with professional standards will still steer clear, but without the bad will. Instead, you’ll wind up with writers happy to work for what you’re willing to pay, whether that’s their usual rate or they’ve decided upon review of your advertisement that the job really is simple enough to warrant charging less. If their work isn’t up to snuff…it’s another indication that maybe your plan needs to be modified. (Moreover, since the economics of these sites often require newly-registered writers to build a portfolio of reviews to get higher-paying jobs, you may still get a bargain.)
I’d love to hear from those who’ve used these services as clients, regarding how they list jobs and what sort of rates they feel are reasonable, how they select their writers, and what might prompt a well-meaning business owner to post this kind of ad. Is it simply a case of a non-writer being unable to convey their intentions clearly? Or do you think it’s an intentional effort to belittle and bully a writer into accepting an otherwise unacceptable rate?
Similarly, copywriters – what’s your reaction to this sort of ad? Do you submit a bid anyways and see what happens, or scroll past the listing in favor of jobs without implied pay restrictions?
Looking forward to hearing what people think.