The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, September 30, 2011

For $4.84, I'm a Door? A Bore? No, I'm a ____!

      Some day when I get a gig as a speaker at some conference, I'm going to use the shortened version of this title: I Was a $4.84 Prostitute ____. It says so little I would accept for my conscientious I was about my writing craft, despite the miniscule much a challenge could drive me...

     ("I want to do it, too. Tell me! Pleasepleaseplease!" Do you really want to be on an opposite street corner from me, wearing snagged-up fishnet stockings, thigh-high boots, a miniskirt and a bustier?  I think not. I'm not going to make it that easy for you by giving you the link so you can just click on it and then ruin yourself. It's interactmedia (dot) com. If you're determined to dive to the lower depths of hell, go for it.)

    Quite a while ago, a friend gave me the link to an online copywriting site. She had written an audition piece for them, got accepted, and filled up her evenings writing for them. Since the paypal paychecks came every two weeks, the realization did not come immediately: she was writing for less than a penny per word.
Two Prostitutes in Paris
painting by Di Ceglia

    When it dawned on her, she argued with me: "Surely it's a misprint. They must have put the decimal point in the wrong place.  Who would work for .7 cents a word?" When I utilized my rudimentary grasp of math to reason with her (after all, I only teach 3rd grade. If she wanted to know how many legs 6 spiders have, I could rattle that off easily. Decimal points are a little more difficult.), she ran off in a huff and hasn't written another thing for them.

    It was too late for me, however. I had already gotten sucked in.

    The reasons why I still write for them occasionally (but never for .7 cents a word anymore):

    1) Writerly pride. Each piece gets rated by an editor and the client.  The articles can get 1-5 stars or--shudder--they can get declined.

    2) The money. Granted, earning $12 or $14 while I sit and watch yet another evening of Mark Harmon on NCIS ("I've only seen this episode three times!") is not impressive. However, it's more than what I'd earn if I was sitting on the couch knitting while I drooled. (Some of the earliest pieces I did write for only .7 cents a word; the writing was worth more than $4.84, but I was just beginning, and the subject intrigued me.) 

   3) The challenge.  This is the primary hook for me, and a wonderful source of amusement for my husband lately.

     Because, you see, with each piece, you have to masquerade as an expert. About a myriad of topics. Some of the things I've written about:

  • ductwork
  • reimbursement specialists for medical practices
  • the SEER rating
  • top-rated hotel beds
  • industrial laser marking
  • dental veneers
  • oil boilers (this one really made my husband guffaw)
  • automated broadcast graphics (I cannot even say an intelligent word about this topic, but I wrote hundreds of knowledgeable words about it)
  • motocross racing in Idaho
  • laser tattoo removal
  • locum tenens
     So when I have not posted for a while...if I have not commented on your post for a while (and I'm having trouble commenting on some posts lately--I cannot comment with a google account, and cannot comment with a URL name, etc.)...perhaps I'm too busy writing about some subject I know nothing about as I pretend to know everything... 


  1. Wow--I am very impressed! To heck with the pay--I don't have a clue what many of those ARE!!!

  2. As Tammy once said, DUR. I have no idea what some of those things are either!

  3. Actual knowledge is so 20th century! Just keep talking!

  4. An ex-boyfriend of mine had one of those writing gigs for a while, and his list of topics was equally eclectic. Hell, I think it's great that someone can earn money while watching TV! Why not? But, what I really want to know is this: how many legs do 6 spiders have?

  5. Your writing is worth waaaay more than that! It's hard to find good writing gigs these days, but some of the time you are currently spending being exploited could be spent on finding those gigs.

    If you'd like to do some travel writing, check out Gadling's SEED pool. There's even a category for travel advice in 100 words or less:


Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...