Another Website Paying Slave Wages for Writers

Do you work for less than minimum wage as a writer?  I still can’t believe how cheap people will work for writing.  iWriter is the newest slave labor writing website.   This is my rant of the quarter.  I don’t rant often and try to be inspiring, but COME ON!

Article marketing and content is in such demand that it drives prices down for all the new webmasters to jump on board.  I hate to say it, but the world of Internet marketing makes it seem like all you have to do to make a lot of money is put up a website, a few generic articles – and the riches will be coming in.  With all the auto-this and auto-that, it is like no one wants to work at building a real business.  It is maddening to me.

Here is how you get paid on iWriter.

Question: How much do writers get paid?
Answer: Writers get paid 81% of the price of each article. Paypal takes the rest in transaction fees, as well as Copyscape quality checks to ensure the article is unique. This leaves a profit of $1.62 for a 300 word article, $2.43 for a 500 word article and $4.05 for 700 word article for the writer. If you receive a “special request” from a requester you receive another 5% (i.e. 86%) earnings per article, which equates to $3.01 for a 500 word article.

Gee, thanks.  $3.01?  Really?  Really?  Who can possibly live off that? And that’s with a “special request”?  Even an average, no research involved, generic 500 word article takes 30 minutes to write. Or more.  Let’s do the math.

First, here is what you get per word for those who like to compare par per word rates.

 300 word article =$0.0054 a word.

500 word article – $0.006 a word.

700 word article = $0.0057 a word.

If you drone away and write 10 articles a day (no thanks!), you will (if you are “special”) make all of $30.10.  At 30 minutes an article, non stop, that is 5 hours of work.

5 hours @ $30.10 = $6 an hour!  That is less than minimum wage in the United States.  Plus, a LOT more brain power.  I can do a  mind-numbing job for more than that! Plus, get benefits.  Self-employed, or freelancers, need their OWN computer they pay for, health insurance, etc.

5 hours @ $24.30 = $4.86 an hour

Is that what your time is worth?

You are better off putting those hours into something like marketing yourself to businesses that understand the value of good content.  Or your own website.  Or selling hamburgers and french fries.

And this is assuming you could even get 10 articles a day of work – day after day.  This is assuming you work non-stop.  This is BILLABLE hours.  You don’t get paid for breaks.  A whole 5 days of this and you will pulling your hair out.

Math recap:

5 hours a day. 10 articles a day. 5 days a week.  25 hours a week.  For $121.50 – $150.50. 

And those buying these articles: either you are getting a) really poorly written articles from a non-native English speaker or b) a decent writer who have succumbed to slave labor.

There are times working for cheap, or even free, are beneficial (i.e. guest posts with a byline) or to get your foot in the door of a high traffic and highly respected publication.   But when are just churning out article after article for others to make money from, and you get zero credit and a measly $2.43!!! It is sickening to me.

This motivates me to work harder on my book, Calling All Freelance Writers.  Writers need to know that this is NO way to make a living.  Instead of spending 4-5 hours a day pumping out boring, generic articles for a whole $30, there are much better ways to make money writing, which will be a part of my book’s message.

I am done.  Soap box. Off.

I would LOVE to hear comments on this one.

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  1. Great post Julie, love how you broke it down to how much you’d get paid per word. But I agree, those are ridiculous rates for people, anyone who’s writing 300 – 5oo word articles for that price would be better off starting their own blog and writing them.

    Also since people are getting paid so little, it reflects in the quality of the posts too
    Robert recently posted..Pete Cashmore (Mashable) Blogger Profile

    • I agree 100%. While ghostwriting can fill the gaps when it is decent pay, it is important to get your name out there and have clips or even a decent blog. I would even say guest post on a high traffic related niche before you take a job at these rates.

  2. I would say this rates are simply an humiliation for good writers.For the beginners it is good but its hard for them to have a chance here.I agree with the comment of Robert its better to start our own blog than this.

    • You could also open up a PLR store and make more money. There are so many better ways to invest in your writing career. Besides the owner of this site is the one making all the money without paying for any articles!

  3. I’m not sure about these rates but WOW! I would never write for those fees. I’m attracting anywhere from $100 – $250 per 500 word article, depending on the niche. I’m just surprised that anyone would right for this.

    This is just down right disgusting. Why even open your site if you’re not going to compensate writers for what they’re worth.
    Barry Wheeler recently posted..Prospecting for Links

    • Thanks for commenting on this – my readers and other freelance writers need to see this. I am not quite making that much, but the rates for this site is an insult – ESPECIALLY since the owner is not paying one penny for the articles. Everyone who is in desperate need for articles will pay these rates. I can’t imagine the quality.

    • Yes, as I mentioned to Linda, that forum is also targeting Internet marketers. For IM, these articles are probably good enough. I guarantee a major corporation or business is not going to buy articles on these Forums. I guess if people are honestly okay with these wages, than that is obviously thier choice. My concern is that freelance writers think these are actually good wages and don’t expect more. As long as writers know there are other options.

  4. I’m not a writer, but I occasionally hire ghostwriters. And honestly, it’s difficult for me to pay higher prices when I can get writing done so inexpensively. I think part of the problem is that it’s easy to hire internationally, and there are many places in the world where an hourly wage of a few dollars is an excellent wage. (In my opinion there are many people worldwide who have a very good command of the English language.) But I do use a service now that charges considerably more than the rates you quoted above. It’s worth it to me because of all the value I get for the money (they provide topic research as well).

    And I agree Julie, rather than work for less than you are worth, writers should find another way to profit from their talent.
    Linda Stacy recently posted..Start Your Own PLR Sales Business

    • I understand the overseas competition is tough. But I still think in the end, you get what you pay for. What I don’t get is why writers in the US would work for less than minimum wage unless there was some sort of means to an end.

      It depends on how important the reputation of your site is, and what type of website it is – who the customers are, etc. Cheap articles is very common in Internet marketing, which is what the website I described is mostly targeting. It’s for people that put up a website and just need content for selling affiliate products or eBooks for other Internet marketing services and products. Also, cheap articles are often used for article marketing and backlinking. A brick and mortar business or a professional online business needs quality content for newsletters, press releases, blog content, etc., and they are not going to risk their reputation on a poorly written article. This is why many freelance writers make money in corporate freelancing. I might order one of these articles just to see the quality.

  5. The sad thing is that as long as there are slaves willing to work for such low wages there will always be slave owners willing to pay next to nothing. We who value our skill and our service have to stand firm and say ‘no’ to slave labor. Great article, Julie.
    Angela Joseph recently posted..Research Before You Query

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  8. Hi Julie,

    Wow, nice breakdown. The money is just awful but $6 an hour is great money in some countries. You obviously need to assess the quality and I guess you’re not going to get top articles but you never know.

    There is one thing I do disagree with “You are better off putting those hours into something like marketing yourself to businesses that understand the value of good content. Or your own website. Or selling hamburgers and french fries.” I think when people love writing they will do it for less than flipping burgers regardless if they are worse off. As a career coach I often get people who start out with I need to earn so much and end up in jobs they love for less money (and sometimes more but still in a job they love).

    Point is people have certain needs in life and will do their best to fulfil those regardless.

    Nik
    Nik recently posted..Great Ideas to Keep Up Your Motivation at Work

    • Yes, but you have to remember it really isn’t $6 an hour because no one can write non stop for 5 hours a day each and every day. As a freelancer you get paid for billable hours only. You also have to take out self-employment taxes, no one is paying into your social security, or health care, etc. This was a “best case scenario” example, and it often takes much longer than 30 minutes to write a quality article.

      As far as doing something you love for less money – trust me as a writer I get that. :) However, you should be working towards a portfolio of some sort, or if you have to accept a job for no money, as I mentioned, work on your own blog, do guest posts, and market yourself, not waste hours and hours writing articles for peanuts that someone else is getting rich off of. That is a big difference. Being exploited for your skills is not a good career move, even if you love it.
      Julie McElroy recently posted..To Big Dreamers and Those Who Love Them

      • Hi Julie,

        I agree one should never let themselves be exploited. I do come across people who absolutely do not know how to market themselves as a writer and therefore opt to take the little money rather then no money. I also know plenty of writers who do not know how to use blogs properly or even have one.

        This afternoon I was talking to an artist who had no idea how to make money out of his capabilities. He just survived on the little jobs he could get and since he did not know better that’s what he did. He now has a ton of ideas and my guidance on how to get there but if we did not meet I think he would have just done the same think over and over.

        Nik
        Nik recently posted..BBC News – Engineering graduates ‘taking unskilled jobs’

  9. Hi Julie
    When I first started freelance writing it was that type of site that led me to open up a PLR store of my own. I would much rather write one article and resell it multiple times to earn more money.

    I find that trying to find clients that are willing to pay for quality work is difficult. What makes it worse is the amount of these sites that offer that kind of payment. What I do now is when I get a client that bulks at my rates I offer them the PLR solution. They can go to my site and purchase a package or I will write their article but retain the rights to sell it as PLR or in any manner I choose. This way I am getting new content written and know I will have a sale.

    I’m still stuck at knowing what rates to charge for articles, reports and ebooks!
    Sue recently posted..Home Business Bundle

  10. I guess the problem is that people are so desperate for a leg up that they continue to take up companies on these paltry offers. The answer is to spread the truth about these offers to writers so they stop taking them up.

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  12. Hi Julie,

    Great article. Great perspective too. I would like to comment that I am seeing the same trend in India too. I am the director at Content Crossroads, a content services company with clients in the US and India. I see Indian companies paying peanuts to writers for content that would pass no known plagiarism checker! I also see Indian writers signing up to earn those peanuts. While some of them are housewives wanting to earn something or to while away the time, most of them are freelancers who do not have a choice. I know businesses need to make money (and I am part of one), but there needs to be a balance between money and quality.

    We pay Re .50 per word for SEO blogs for our Indian writers – 250 word blog with content from client websites. We charge our clients $6. A writer gets approximately $2.50 per SEO blog and the rates go up for informational and researched blogs. My point is that we are getting great quality because we pay well (for Indian writers, this is pretty good – you can reel off 2 SEO blogs an hour, and make close to Rs 240/hour!) and on time – something that does not happen to most of the writers who work as freelancers. By the way, we lost the US client after we had belted 1000 SEO blogs over 6 months because they were getting these blogs for $2 from a content farm in the US!

    End of the day, writers (in India or in the US) need to put a firm foot down and refuse rates that are below minimum wages. Or not adequate for the efforts they put in. I have been a writer for over 3 years, and know the enormous effort that goes into creating, researching, editing, proof reading an article and ensuring every word is placed exactly the way it should be.

    I know it is small consolation to know that writers everywhere are facing the same problems and I want to make clear that exploiting writers is a universal issue.

    Regards,
    Revathi

  13. Julie:
    Don’t forget proofreaders–it’s becoming a lost art. For example, you make a wonderful case for quality in writing and then you blow it with a line like, “there a much better ways to make money writing, which will be a part of my book.”

    We proofread because we care.

    Best,
    Sue

  14. Thanks for a great post. You delivered my sentiments exactly! It is disappointing to find yourself, as a professional writer, out bid by other ‘professionals’ who will work for so little pay. It is disheartening. I have thought that persons who hire writers, that are willing to write for pennies, get what they pay for. I have come to the conclusion however, these employers don’t care. This is evidenced by professionally designed but shoddy websites which deliver poor grammar, punctuation and little creativity or imagination.

    Your ‘rant’ is warranted and I thank you for it. I also look forward to reading your book when it is completed. Please keep us all posted.

    Ray
    Ray Burow recently posted..Outsourcing: Good Sources for Wedding Industry Startups

    • I will! I have started outlining the book and will provide an update post here very soon. Some DO care if they take their business serious. Content is everything and having words that stand out on a website is becoming more and more important with all the competition today.

  15. I joined iWriter several weeks ago and I agree; there has to be somewhere out there that will pay more for articles. I have written enough to make my minimum payout; why should they get to keep the money I have earned? I am concentrating more on writing my books and updating my blog and website regularly. I have made $25.00 for a single article for another site, so it seems like a kick when I only earn a couple of dollars for one. I agree with Michael Robinson 100%; it would make more sense to put all those articles into an ebook.
    Diane Ziomek recently posted..Walk for Wishes Update

    • Diana – thank you for commenting here! I beg you, as a writer, focus your efforts elsewhere. Writers need to stop feeding these slave sites. If you want to take yourself serious as a writer, focus on your blog, books, reputable publications, etc. If you have to participate in ghostwriting, $5 or less is hardly worth your time. When you submit these low paying articles, you are also not getting the benefit of an editor to help improve your writing. As writers, we should always be striving for challenges and improvement; not just putting out low quality SEO content, which is all these low paying sites expect and want. And if they do expect higher quality, than they should pay for it.

  16. I am really glad I visited this website. I was looking for a part time job and was wondering where to invest my time. But, are you sure this site pays for your efforts done on writing quality articles.

  17. those numbers are rather nice. I would say that it’s more like $3 an hour in the real world – unless you are an absolute machine. Everybody goes through writers block. Wages like that are ridiculous. Glad you ranted

  18. I can only agree to this article. But you also havre to remeber that there are maybe more factores involved. I thing that the article writing “agency” takes the most money. They also want there cut. For the buyer the articles are more 0.015 to 0.025 $ per word..this would equal around 5-10$ for a 500 word article which is not that cheap anymore. Well in conclusion you will have to pay more for quality work…thats just how it is. If you are a quality writer, expert on a specal field you will also be able to charge more.

    • I am not sure what your angle is, that $5-10 is too expensive (HARDLY) or that the agency needs to make a cut (of course – but it doesn’t mean paying slave wages – it is still slimy!). This is just an arena I avoid, since my clients are professionals, who care about the reputation of their business. There is a use for cheap, mass produced articles, but it is just not for me. Google has gotten smart to this as well and poorly written articles in the end just won’t work anymore. There are better sites for this service, I just came across yesterday – ThemeWriters.com. These rates are more reasonable, although I can’t vouch for their business plan or quality of their writing. And there is no contact page. Thank you for commenting.

  19. I’m glad you ranted. Yes, as I mentioned to Linda, that forum is also targeting Internet marketers. I know good writers won’t write for these rates, but for writers coming from Asian and Latin American countries, it is not a bad rate at all.
    Margret Rich recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

    • It just depends on your goals and how valuable your time and money is. And for the buyers – how important the reputation of their business. Yes, for those living on much lower economies, it is “not bad”, but still not great.

  20. Glad I googled Iwriter before trying them, One of the things I like about constant content is you set your own prices, and the site bans you from selling an article for less than $7.00

    OK they take 35% of your charge, but you can factor this in when setting your prices

  21. I’m glad to see you put numbers to those “payments”. I’ve always suspected it, which is why I never fell for such a scam myself (yet…). One thing is for sure, people should never sell themselves short!! I’m definitely going to tweet this article. Awareness needs to be raised about this issue!.
    Rita recently posted..Countdown

  22. ugh I had another low paying article rejected . They pay slave wages and reject for a few spelling errors. The only reason I stay here is because i was bumped to Elite and need the money
    A.Roddy recently posted..Sample of paint

  23. Hi All,

    I’ve read your comments with interest.

    I write for iWriter and have been doing so, when I can fit it in, for around five months. Yes, I agree that the rates aren’t great, and yes, I agree that a good writer can earn far more on other sites, or in other ways.

    The thing is, nobody is forcing me, or any of the other writers, to write for iWriter.

    I started, like everyone has to, at the bottom, and worked my way up to the top writer level. I will admit, that when I first joined, and was getting paid around $2.50 for 500 words, that pretty much sucked, but if you’re a good writer, you don’t stay at that rate of pay for long.

    Since I signed up, I’ve only written 120 articles, never had anything less than a five-star rating, made over $250 in tips and earned just over $1,500.

    I have a number of regular clients now, many of whom pay me $20 for a 500 word article. Some of you may not think that’s much, but I’m certainly not complaining, and considering I only write in my spare time – when I want to – I don’t think that’s too bad.

    I also love the flexibility that iWriter gives me to choose what I want to write about, when I want to write.

    As far as being “exploited” goes, like I said, everyone has a choice, and if people are prepared to work for lower wages than they could earn elsewhere, who are any of you to criticize or judge them?

    iWriter has given many people the opportunity to earn more by writing for their clients, than they will ever earn doing something else. OK, that may not apply in some western countries, but elsewhere, I know for a fact that this is the case.

    And are you really telling me that if you couldn’t get good content for low prices, you wouldn’t want to pay for it because you’d feel you were “exploiting” the writer?

    Give me a break.

    Deb

    • Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments! Yes, working for iWriter is a choice. If a person is fully aware of other options and still chooses to work for these wages, you are right, that is their choice. Absolutely! I am not here to judge these writers, but to educate. But my point is I don’t think that many realize there are OTHER choices than $10 (or less) / 500 words. (I wasn’t when I started.) If this is more of a “spare-time” thing for you, than this is probably fine. But for those who feel stuck and want more out of their writing or want to make it a full-time career, I just wanted to point out there are other choices. It’s hard writing queries, it sucks getting rejected or criticized. But I think this is how you grow as a writer. Having editors and more challenging writing jobs. Truthfully, I feel quality writers DO deserve more, so I am willing to pay more for that. This is just like anything – you get what you pay for, so it depends on what your goals are or how the content will be used. Good luck in your writing career!

  24. Me again,

    Just realized that my last paragraph should have read

    “And are you really telling me that if you could get good content for low prices …” not “if you couldn’t.”

    A good writer should always proofread their work ;-)

  25. I write for iwriter only occassionally, since I work on other sites as well. iWriter is my “last resort” when my other queues are dry. I’m a premium writer, so my rates are a little higher, but not much. However,iwriter did not pay me this last time. The site also offers next to zero author support, which is worse than the low pay. Requesters reject for little or no reason, and writers cannot give feedback on rejected articles, although requesters can rate writers for the same articles. This can ruin a writer’s ranking and decrease their pay.

    I’m crossing my fingers that I will eventually get the $27 it took me 3 weeks to make.

  26. Absolutely Right! It drives me up the wall looking on those “Freelance writer” sites. People working for peanuts and buyers expecting first class results for $1 per article of 500 words. When I look through the bids, I see there are always a large quantity of writers who aren’t native speakers… good post, educate freelancers to have some professional integrity.
    Sean recently posted..Beggars and Buskers on the Streets of Madrid

  27. You are better off putting those hours into something like marketing yourself to businesses that understand the value of good content. Or your own website. Or selling hamburgers and french fries.
    And this is assuming you could even get 10 articles a day of work – day after day. This is assuming you work non-stop. This is BILLABLE hours. You don’t get paid for breaks. A whole 5 days of this and you will pulling your hair out.