For the freelance writer, the internet is a blessing.
For the freelance writer, the internet is a curse.
These sounds like the sort of essay titles you would be asked to “Discuss” in an English exam at school (or probably at post-graduate level nowadays, since 21 year-olds today are about as bright as the 14 year-olds of the seventies).
Given my generally dour view of life, you won’t be too shocked to learn I’m going to take a wee peek at the second option.
First of all, though, I will admit the obvious: the internet allows a writer to work all over the world from the comfort of their own home. You can find an employer at the other end of the country, or thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. From a writer’s point of view, the potential list of employers is endless. Excellent.
From an employer’s point of view … ah, now there’s the rub.
For what exactly constitutes a freelance writer? Really, it just takes a person saying, “Hello, I am a freelance writer”. Or, too often: “Gratings, I is a person who is doing very well the frealans righting”.
Anyone seeking to employ a freelance writer in today’s market can cherry-pick to their heart’s delight. The world and its mother thinks it can write. Take a look at some of the freelance writing websites out there. If you want a really good chortle, drop into Getafreelancer.com.
“Respected Sir, I am best for you with the flunet english. You not be disapoint with me I write the good works that is makeing you much happy. We having long times relationship in busnes. Best is me fro you.”
Do I blame these people for trying to get this writing work? Not at all. Go for it, guys and gals. Where these “writers” are living, the pay that you or I would consider a pittance is a veritable King’s Ransom.
Do I blame the employers who take them on? Not really. If you’re only looking to pay $4 or $5 an hour, these sites allow you to wallow like a pig in the proverbial.
However, the upshot for the writer who does know their trade is potentially devastating. It means you are competing against people who will happily undercut you until you simply cannot afford to work. This is even more pertinent in a down economy, where employers can plausibly deny they have the money, even when they do.
And if the fruit of these desperate relationships is destined for an English-language website, then the issue of quality has to be considered. Of course, if a website owner ends up with crap content, that’s their lookout. But the more this happens, the more the literary standards we should be fighting to maintain become eroded. What was once unacceptable becomes commonplace.
Pretty soon, there will be no percentage in an employer paying a premium for quality content, because few will care about the quality of what they’re reading, and fewer still will have the wherewithal to even differentiate.