Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lowest Common Denominator

What have I been up to? Lots of trawling the web and various “talent exchanges” looking for freelance work. It’s dire.

I had no idea what the working world had come to. I joined an online freelance network where jobs are posted and freelancers bid on them. There are lots of these networks, and they mostly pay in miniscule amounts that make you wonder if it’s worth the time to write the proposal and submit a bid. Here are some real ads (paraphrased):

“Write two to three articles per hour... strict $3 per hour budget.”

“Looking for quality writers - 100 original articles, 500 words - $1 each.  Also add two pictures and a video to each article.”

“Need a proofreader for a three books, each is 90,000 words. $200 for all three.”

Yikes! The thing is, people are bidding on these jobs! Some of the bids are in countries with lower costs of living, but a recent ebook job went to an editor in the US who is only charging $7.65 an hour, and she has to cover her own overhead as a freelancer.

I just did an editing test for another online agency where they advise you to change words to contractions, because otherwise the content writers are guilty of "word padding." Heaven forbid a writer might earn an extra three cents!

However, some of the editors and writers in the forums on LinkedIn exemplify this new standard of quantity vs. quality. This was posted by someone who claims to be a writer and editor, and I copied it verbatim:

 “its nice to know there is more then me that loves text and improving it.”


These must be the people who are writing for and and your-Q-my-A.crp

Using the term "content mill" is apt - it's like the old industrial days where people worked 72 hours a week just to earn enough money for a crust of bread. I’m shocked, I’m stunned, I’m depressed.

So let's change the subject and I'll show you what I’ve done in my spare time.

I had a large metal frame that I bought at a second-hand store, and it was hanging on my fence with nothing in it. When I cleaned up my Craft Cave, I found a stack of used CDs (leftovers from multimedia work that my husband did - these are all tests). So I glued some together and added other pieces of junk, and voila!

 The way they catch the light is pretty cool, but the back is colorful, too.

 Now it hangs outside my window.

I also did some more work on a little diorama that I started months ago. It's a decaying French salon. Sort of like Miss Havisham's place in Great Expectations.

The book on the shelf is made with pieces of an old French encyclopedia.

I still need to add cobwebs and do the exterior. And let it sit and get dusty. Ooooo, I need to add some drips of candle wax, too!

Okay, I'm feeling better now. I might even take this to Creative Mondays at Claire Justine.

One more thing - this is my husband's band, with the amazing Beth Milton on vocals. Also check out "Under Your Spell." I couldn't get the YouTube link to work for that one.



  1. what? Like WHAT? Your revelations on freelancing are insulting. Gosh, I'm kinda speechless Val...sorry that you have been drawn into that arena. I do hope an opportunity, one with integrity, presents itself to you soon...hopefully local, and in-person, yes?

    Now! Your CD garden sculpture is super cool! I really, really think it's fantastic! Love your vignette too!

    And Beth? The girl's got IT! Great videos, both!

  2. Hi Val,

    The first time i was laid off and started to look for work i was shocked to! It changed so much !
    I wnted to do translation work but people bid so low so i didn't bother
    Now this time around i decided that i would do admin contracts with agencies and not be tied with any particular company. I will do my contract, feck off and on to the other - i want flexibility now, i want to decide when i work and i don't want to deal with stupid office policies and hens!
    I hope for you that you find a solution - The work place is an awful place to be at, TG i have only 5 years to go!



  3. I hate hearing someone with your level of experience can't find a suitable job. You deserve better.
    I love your imaginative repurposing of the frame and the CDs


  4. Sending you good vibes, Val! I love your beautiful CD portrait.

  5. Valiant Val, do not despair, oops, don't despair, dn't dspair. This is a sad ass world when it comes to kwalidy. I am mightily pissed off on your behalf. I agree with Alicia - you deserve better, and you will have it too. Just hang in there.
    I love your CD artorama project and your completely awesome French salon. Thank goodness you have a husband who serenades you. Now I'm going to watch the video.

  6. I'm so bummed to hear what writers can command in the market! So rotten, the way we devalue the written word. Hang in, and good vibrations to you (U?). Love your CD art, and your husband's music, xox.

  7. Good Lord, that's appalling! Though I shouldn't be surprised; in my forays into looking for employment, it seems the pay is dire (although at least we have a minimum wage), the hours and conditions crap, and the jobs few and far between. Any ideas about employment rights seem to have bitten the dust, it's bloody dreadful. And don't even get me started on that "writer's" sentence - I'm bristling with indignation and horror!
    But on the plus side - and yes, there is one - your framed CD masterpiece is brilliant. And yes, cobwebs and candle wax in the salon, please! xxx

  8. Oh, Val, I am sorry that you have had to wade into the muck that is the freelance writing world. When I see ads like what you've included in your post, it just shows how devalued creative work has become. There's a whole "Fuck You, Pay Me" movement out there by writers who lament the expectation that they are happy to work for free, just for the "exposure". It's the same for photographers and other artists. It SUCKS!

    I love the little diorama - it definitely needs wax drips and cobwebs. Hang in there, and continue to make fabulous stuff like this to keep your morale up.

  9. Oh gosh, discouraging but I'm not surprised. When I was freelance editing I found some good gigs through creative agencies, though the work was never steady. Once I entered the world of journalism my pay dropped to near poverty levels, but I loved the work. But I remember interns would work for free, and now, with all the mass layoffs in the journo world, interns practically write entire newspapers (this is in Canada but I bet it's happening everywhere). Depressing indeed. It sounds mean to say, and I don't refer to our highly literate group of bloggie pals, but I do find the general attitude in blog land is, because I have a blog and write on it, I am therefore a published and publishable writer. Which devalues what true writers of quality do all the more. But then again, we're living in a world where quality isn't so valued so much, is it? But you don't want to hear my rant anymore. I bet you can find good work through the agencies, and then slowly build your client base. Discouraging as it is, you will prevail! Xo

  10. P.S. Amazing creations, both of them!

  11. Oh my gosh Val, I love your wall hanging art!!! It looks perfect on your fence. You are highly creative and definitely are tapped in to both sides of your brain. I hope you can find something fulfilling and sustaining with your writing career soon. With people who use both sides of the brain it's unsettling and feels unbalanced when we don't have both going.
    I'm waving a good luck wand in your direction!

    How about a break and coming up to Seattle for a visit again?? ;)

  12. I'm shocked, I really can't believe the appalling pay for those highly skilled jobs, so shocked I nearly swore, I won't, there was enough poor language/grammar from the 'writer' for today - I wish you loads of luck Val, I hope things start to buck up bigtime for you - your creations are wonderful, the CD sculpture is flaming fabulous as is your diorama ps your husbands band is amazing x x x

  13. That is absolutely ridiculous! How dare they devalue such work in such a way! It's like saying sod your degree and hard work! Not surprised you are aghast and annoyed!
    Ah, the CD sculpture is so so so pretty- I really like it- so attractive!x

  14. I am sad to say I am not surprised as I have seen this poor quality writing all over the internet and it seems standards are low. My rough draft unedited stuff-which admittedly ends up on my blog sometimes- is still of higher quality than what now passes for finished, polished work. There have to be some people out there who want quality and will pay what it is worth.

    Speaking of quality, I love your framed CD art and your miniature Miss Havisham room. Will you be selling it when it's done and cobwebs are added? I'd be an interested buyer!

    Great to hear the band. How cool it would be to hang out and listen to them in a pub or cafe.

  15. Your examples of how freelancers are expected to work for (almost) free are appalling, but sadly very, very true. As a freelancer myself (teaching), I have quite strict rules regarding which jobs to take: if it foesn't pay, I'm not interested, and if a better offer comes along, I'll take it and screw loyalty. It is possible to make a living as a freelancer, but you have to be ruthless: no freebies, no favours, and put your own best interest first, no exceptions whatsoever. Things will only change if we freelancers start getting more demanding. I know, there's always someone who offers to do the work for less pay... They'll learn soon enough that if it doesn't pay the bills it's not worth the time.

  16. Ugh, when my mom and dad divorced when I was about eight, my mom used to make extra money doing jobs like that. She mostly wrote for a popular trash romance zine at a $100 bucks a pop. They would take the stories, reword them a bit to make the more risqué and add these hideous smutty amateur photos with them. She wrote for that magazine for years because we needed that extra money so badly, bless her heart.

  17. Oh Val, sorry to hear it's so tough out there. Love the CD panel and I can send Alf under my kitchen units again if you need cobwebs. xx

  18. Ugh, the freelancer market sounds horrible! But, your diorama is absolutely lovely.

  19. Oh no, sorry to hear this,
    hope some good comes you way...

    Love what you have done with the cd's very creative :)

  20. Hi Val, thanks so much for your kind support on my art blog. It just sickened me as the story and realization came to mind over time as to how they actually operate. But looking back on it now, of course they've only got their own interest in mind. That's how they got to be where they're at I suppose. Still, I think what they did was a flat out lie and I hope they see what I wrote someday.

  21. I'm horrified that freelancers are devalued with the low pay that you describe. Hoping that you find something that honors your talent and pays a living wage. In the meantime, your art has brightened my day and I enjoyed listening to your husband's band and Beth Milton. Wishing you all the best!


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