Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AllVoices for Writers: All of the Work, None of the Pay

Several months ago, after seeing a Harlan Ellison rant on YouTube where he said he considered blowing up a movie studio that asked him to do a DVD interview for free, I've been a strident opponent against writers being asked to write for free.

And I felt my blood pressure rise a little bit when I saw an invitation on LinkedIn to join allvoices, the open source media site for new writers.

You don't need any special qualifications. They're looking for writers, any writer, who has "Good English." Here are the qualifications:
Qualifications: Good English. Bloggers, part- time writers, students, professionals, journalists. Anyone who has an interest in writing and would like to earn through writing is qualified to sign up.
In other words, if you talk with good English, you can journalist for this here news sight. 4-real? OMG!

Puh-leeze. As one commenter to the invitation said, "The fact that I can add and subtract by no means qualifies me to work as an Accountant, but it appears that you only need to be interested in writing, not actually be good at it."

Well, it's not all bad. Allvoices offers an "incentive" to its writers. Wowie-zowie, a really-and-for-true incentive? With, like, real money?
Incentive: Allvoices.com offers a unique incentive program for every member who signs up. For more information log on to http://www.allvoices.com/journalism.
I checked out the website, and found how you can earn "cash up to $10,000!"
How To Get Paid

When you reach the first milestone of 10K pageviews, please submit the following:

1. Completed and signed tax form (only required once). Fax to xxx or email to xxx.
2. Write your Allvoices username and email on the bottom of your tax form.
3. We pay via check only. Checks are processed every 2 weeks.
In other words, if I can construct a complete sentence using "good English," and I get 10,000 people to look at a particular page, I'll get paid by a check. They don't say how much the check is for, but I'll get "a check."

So how big is this check? One cent? 10 bucks? How about that mythical "up to $10,000?"

Why won't they say how much it is? Do they not know? Do they not want to say? Is there really any money?

To make matters even, well, funnier, the person who posted the "invitation" also works for PETA. I debated whether to send her a link to my last PETA column on them calling fish "sea kittens." (I didn't.)

There's a general rule of thumb when it comes to writing: people who want you to write for free will never be in a position to pay you. If you don't mind writing for free – and I do it for selected outlets – then by all means, write for allvoices

But if you'd rather keep your dignity and respectability, hold out for a real writing gig for real money. I hear IndyStar.com pays their bloggers 5 bucks a post.

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2 comments:

  1. Most of the time when writers don't get paid it's because they have had their ego stroked by someone or do so on the promise that it will lead to paid gigs.

    The other side of the coin is that a lot of writers that write for free will not work for small dollars.

    Can I have $5 for this comment now?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I want $5 dollars, where do I sign up.

    Seriously, Erik you make good points here. For those of us who are honing our writing skills and developing content, I have a question.

    What is the protection on blogs on blogger? Can anyone copy or use these without permission? Does that constitute writing for free?

    If so, is there a way to limit that practice?

    ReplyDelete

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