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The Content Mill as Crime: A Look at Urban Writers

May 12, 2023 Update: If you’re really desperate to work for these fools, try using the A/I tool ChatGPT to produce your content. You’ll get nicely done writing in literally seconds on any topic imaginable. If they say it’s A/I generated, e-mail me and I’ll give you a hint to defeating the latest detection schemes, principally the method used by Good luck.

Original article:

One cent a word. Going up to two cents a word.

I once did a number of writing jobs for They’re a content mill and I was paid $25.00 to $35.00 an article, depending on if I supplied photographs. Articles were about 750 words.

Although that was the lowest I had ever been paid for my writing (I think my best was 73 cents a word for American Heritage), I accepted it because I could pick the work, I got a byline, and it was resume building while I did other things.

Today I got an automated invitation to apply to Urban Writers. (external link) Another content mill. Fine.

The application started out well because they preferred a knowledge of SEO, CMOS or other style guides, and whether one had recently finished an MS of at least 20,000 words. All that meant decent skills which implied decent wages.

Totally wrong. A penny a word, advancing to two pennies a word.

Outrageous, disgusting, and totally disrespectful to the writing community. My cat can’t live on a penny a word.

In my years of editing, I found the fastest writers could complete 750 words in about two and a half to three hours. That includes simple research. Other writers might take six to eight hours if the subject was complex.

Given that time, a penny a word means $7.50 for three hours of work. That’s $2.50 an hour provided the text doesn’t have to be rewritten and if it passes Copyscape. That’s not poverty wages, that’s prison pay.

Send out query letters instead, apply to other employers, volunteer to write articles for a local newspaper, do anything but buy into this built in misery. I’ve written on this before (internal link).

Oh, and they need an editor:

“Are you willing to working [sic] directly with an Editor?”

Nice. I doubt I would capitalize the word editor, either. But I’m sure they want perfect copy for that one cent a word. Not only are these people criminal, they’re illiterate idiots. The rest of their pitch was as pockmarked with grammatical errors and poor English as was their opening. Enough said.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

3 replies on “The Content Mill as Crime: A Look at Urban Writers”

Oh yeah, I had an interview with them and the word count pay was so low I would be making $4.00 an hour or less. They pulled the lame excuse of “this is a great opportunity to become the writer you have always dreamed of being.” Way to take advantage.

Hey, I’m actually an editor (sorry, Editor, despite your very kind remarks) with TUW. It’s meant to be a side gig, not sure if you can understand that? Also, trust me, we are necessary for quality control. Anyways, thanks for posting how you are training people to cheat! I’ve had multiple writers removed from the platform for using AI; this just helps me get more dishonest people, like you, fired for doing so, opening up more work for ethical people. Have the day you deserve, Thomas!

1. You’re not sure that I can understand that TUW is a side gig? Well, I graduated from high school and a step or two beyond, so yeah, I think I can understand that. I never thought that TUW was anything else.
2. “We are necessary for quality control.” You sure didn’t have quality control over what you wrote as an appeal to writers. Or, can you understand that?
3. I am not training anyone to cheat. No one has asked me how. Just an offer. And the landscape on A/I is constantly changing so what worked yesterday may not today.
4. Dishonest people like me? Actually, I make sure anything I write passes Copyscape at a minimum. And that’s usually a requirement anyway. I’ve worked part-time for a single company for the last eight years and am now mostly involved with special projects as well as the work for my company that I create myself, mostly pioneering work in on-page SEO. I’ll match our content creation against anything you do. And then some.
5. “More work for ethical people.” Don’t talk to me about ethics when you pay a penny a word. That’s disrespectful and insulting, prison wages, for American writers and probably everyone else. If you want to put that pay structure out, advertise on foreign job boards. In sum, you are enriching yourselves by making writers poorer. You are deliberately lowering the wage floor across the world with your devastatingly low pay. Thanks.
6. Know this, when considering whom to trust, myself or TUW. I’m giving my readers my honest opinion. I have nothing to sell, indeed, you won’t find any advertisements on this site nor any fees for anything. I sell nothing online and only a few pieces of artwork in person. The Urban Writers, on the other hand, are, of course, pimping their services. They are out to make money since they are a business. Fine. Represent. But they lower writers to the level of street beggars so they can profit. Fact is, you undoubtedly will make more money begging than you will from this bunch of corporate criminals. Possibly worse is this gleeful attitude they show, saying they are doing the best for writers when instead they are doing the worst. A pox on their houses.

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