Freelance Round-up: This month in writing - November

Who Gives a Crapp?

The CRAPPs were launched earlier this month. The light-hearted awards aim to honour the ‘special relationship’ that PRs and journalists have. PRs can nominate journalists for awards including the ‘most likely to tell you to sling your hook’, ‘least twattish Twitterer’ and ‘journalist you’d most like to bring to the dark side’. Awards are also available for the ‘best blogger’ and ‘the journalist that makes you feel warm and furry on the inside’.

Drop a big hint and send this link to your PR colleagues if you want to be nominated!

Bloggers’ Guide to Libel Law

Sense About Science has published a guide for bloggers on what they can do if they have been threatened with legal action for blogs, comments or articles that they have posted online. The guide - So you’ve had a threatening letter. What can you do? – leads bloggers through an overview of what defamation is and gives guidance on assessing whether the letter is a real threat and how bloggers can respond. It also covers who else a legal threat against a blogger may have implications for and defending your writing.

The publication of the guide has come in the same month that Yahoo!, AOL UK, Mumsnet and the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) wrote to the Prime Minister calling for urgent reform of our libel laws, and that a summary of the effects of libel law on bloggers was shared with the Ministry of Justice.

Down on the Farm

Ever wondered what it’s like to work for a ‘content farm’? This is the name given by some to companies such as Demand Media, Associated Content and The Examiner.

These organisations generate large volumes of SEO-friendly content and sell advertising space on their sites. Rates for writers are often relatively low or linked to page views.

This month, two freelancers have given accounts of their time ‘down on the farm’. 

Jessanne Collins recounts her summer as a copy editor for Demand Media. Anyone recognise this account of how she got there? “ I have this compulsive condition, borne out of a cocktail of overoptimism, workaholism, and poverty, in which I troll MediaBistro, rampantly applying for freelance work. NB: without fail, a telecommute gig that advertises flexible hours, free-flowing assignments, and upwards of $20 an hour is too good to be true. This is a lesson I’ve personally learned and seem to be determined to keep personally learning until I retire.”

She recounts the labour-intensive process and the “widely variable” standard of the work she was edited, coupled with article titles which didn’t exactly grab her interest. In the end, Jessanne only edited three articles (earning herself $10.50). It doesn’t sound like she’ll be going back…

Jodi Jill on the other hand, claims she earned $100,000 last year, writing for Examiner. Examiner pays its writers between $1 and $7.50 for every thousand page views their posts generate, based on a formula. Ms Jill posts between 100 and 130 articles a week, mainly on entertainment topics.

Don’t all sign up at once, though, in the hope of getting rich. Examiner CEO Rick Blair said: “Many writers cover some of the more obscure topics, like if you're in Tulsa and you're the Yoga Examiner. But if you're in New York or Los Angeles covering celebrities, there's going to be a big difference in the amount of people viewing you."

Both are worth a read for anyone considering this type of work.

Sarah Wray


24th November 2010

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