New Media, web content, Google AdSense, SEO articles, Elance, ebooks, ecourses, I thank you all. Without these editorial introductions of the 1990s and beyond, some writers might still be starving. (Thanks to the new McDonalds dollar menu, we starve no more.) As a writer, small business owner, and Cubs fan I've noticed that there seem to be three inalienable facts in the profession of online article writing: good writers will have their content stolen, and new writers will be offered absurd and many times unethical jobs.
First let's talk about absurd jobs. You have to love these, because they certainly add humor to the day and give writers something to talk about (like now.) These jobs are always presented on a silver platter by the buyer as if he/she is doing an angelic service by selecting you out of alllllll the interested parties, to pen 10,000 original articles in three days for a total price of $2. The buyer promises euphoric after results, like a stellar reputation thanks to five star feedback, or repeat business, but, oh goodie, next time it will be 40,000 articles in one day for $4. These are usuallly the same buyers who state that if you don't take the job, someone in India will (will laugh is more like it.) There are several reasons why you should not take these jobs. First, you're setting yourself up for failure. Second, some buyers want everything, right now, and for free. They aren't happy no matter what, how much, or for how inexpensive a price you deliver it. And thirdly, if you don't deliver this in the unrealistic deadline you agreed to, be assured the buyer will leave you the worst feedback known in the history of words. These buyers prey on writers with no confidence. Don't take jobs for pennies per article because you feel you need the feedback to become established. You won't have time to be established because you'll be dead from article writing overload. A lot of good the buyer's feedback will do you then. To avoid this, know your hourly rate and your limits and hold out for the thousands of excellent and well-paying buyers out there.
Have a Heart
Not every job is on the up and up. While working as a freelancer, I was contacted by a third-party who wanted me to create fake profiles for their client, a dating site. The goal was to regularly email members with ?chit chat? to keep them interested in the site and continue paying a subscription fee. I was presented with a ?formula? used to create quick and fun five sentence emails. Of course I turned down the job--I never accept jobs with ?chit chat? in the description?no good can come of that.
A year later, I signed up for a popular dating site to do research for an article (doh, that's what they all say.) After not accessing the site for a while, and a week or so before the subscription expiration date, I received an email alert that I had a message and?woo hoo?the guy looked exactly like Joseph Fiennes (probably because he used a picture of Joseph Fiennes.) It was no surprise that the email (heck yes I read it) was the ?formula? I had seen a year earlier. And that's the sad truth about these jobs--there is always a taker. The point is, if a lack of ethics continues to dominate online business practices, then how long before the Internet defines ethics?
(Don't) Take it From Me
As an online writer, you definitely receive a crash course in ethics and intellectual property rights?usually because yours have been violated. This may be cynical, but it seems that some people review and scrutinize intellectual property laws to see what they can get away with. And if that scrutinizing eye likes your content, and lives in another country, they may very well get away with the evil scheme. The issue online with intellectual property is that while content you create is protected by laws in your country, that doesn't necessarily mean a person in another country has to obey them. And if said person from said other country copies your content, you must hire lawyers and pursue the matter in the offender's location. Which is why it is so easy for people to steal online---they assume you won't have the know-how, money, or inclination to pursue the matter because they live in a land far far away. My only advice here is to code your site to disengage the left-click/copy option and always use trademark/copyright symbols.
That's All Folks
Love it or hate it, the Internet has provided an extraordinary amount of jobs for writers--be it good or bad or somewhere in between. In a profession of financial highs and starving lows, the line between good and bad can be blurry. I wonder what George Orwell would think about the state of online business? I bet Abraham Lincoln would vote that we cut the Internet from the Union and let it float away. It would bang up against the coast of England like an old tin can before it sank to the bottom. Thousands of years later explorers might search to uncover the ?Lost Internet? once rumored to be an unsinkable metropolis. They could make a movie about it, ?Tin-Can-It.? Mark Twain would probably just light a cigar, cough, and scream, ?Shut up, and write the 10,000 damn articles for the client, and when no one is looking, sell them in another country.? Of course if asked if he thinks the Internet will ever return to its non-money hungry, or non-search engine obsessed, information/resource roots Hemmingway may say, ?Yes, isn't it pretty to think so.?
Christina Bultinck is a professional writer with ten years experience. She currently sells her content through Constant-Content.com and writes original content for clients at BuyContentOnline.com. She can be reached at [email protected].