The Content Mill as Crime: A Look at Urban Writers

January 3, 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 Originality.ai. Good luck.

https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/

Original article:

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

I once did a number of writing jobs for Catalogs.com. 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 idiots. Here’s their poorly written and grammar flawed appeal. My comments in brackets.

​​​​The Urban Writers – Ghostwriter Application

About you

Name *
First and last name

Are you older than 18? Unfortunately, we’re unable to accommodate freelancers who are younger than 18. *

Digits: Email and Phone Number Please 🙂 *

Did somebody refer you to us? We’d love to know so we can say thanks!

Where did you hear about this opportunity and then get really excited about it? *

Hey Earthling! Where are you on the globe? * [Hey, morons! You need a comma after ‘Hey.’]

Which Writing Role are you applying for? [So, ‘writing role deserves’ capitalization? Is that penny a word job they are pushing so exalted?]

SEO Article Copywriter
Manuscript/Book Writer
Both

Have you recently completed a writing project of 20,000 words or more? *

Do you have training/advanced knowledge of SEO Articles along with experience? * [Again with the capitalization, these time on the word ‘articles.’ They know what CMOS is but they don’t know how to use it.]

Other:

Got Style? Which style guides are you familiar with? *

APA
Chicago
MLA

We use Google Docs to complete our projects in because it ensures that no work is ever lost through its nifty auto-save software! Are you familiar with working in Google Docs or willing to learn how to use it? * [Actually, you can lose work if two people happen to be working on the same doc at once. That’s what’s nice about content management systems like Wrike; it locks a file down to other people when someone is writing or editing it.]

Are you willing to working [sic] directly with an Editor? TUW Editors are the friendliest around! *

What’s in it for me? We bring customers to you! No scouring the net for gigs and taking risks! Our community is warm, supportive, and growth-oriented! Upskill opportunities? You won’t find a place more chock full of them than The Urban Writers! TUW is known for its culture and for being transparent. Our rates are no secret. We offer variable fixed rates, ranging from $1 to $2.20 USD per 100 words. You start of at $1/100 and go up from there. You can apply for special rated niches too! We increase our rates at least twice a year. Does that sound like a fair trade for a great environ ment and consistent work at your fingertips? *

Other:
You can write in US English. Can you also write in any of the following languages? We also have the world’s coolest Spanish and German translation teams!

Spanish
German

Which niches are you most comfortable writing in? *
Non-Fiction
Fiction
Children’s Stories
SEO (pays $2.20 per 100 words)

Please list your qualifications (not all qualifications are academic – if you won a hot dog eating contest in the third grade, we want to hear about it – because that shows spirit!) *

{Continues . . . ad nauseam]

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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2 Responses to The Content Mill as Crime: A Look at Urban Writers

  1. 16 cents a word?????

  2. dannilynn03 says:

    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.

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