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Choosing to pursue writing as my main source of income was difficult and the risks are many. Luckily, I have a wonderful support system that allows me to finally take my dream of being a writer seriously and focus all my efforts in this area. However, in my haste to acquire some modicum of financial success, I have leaped before I looked and created an account with hirewriters.com. This is a bit of a cautionary tale that I'm sure other writers may have experienced when they were trying to begin their careers and I thought I would share my experience with those that are interested.
Let me begin by explaining how hirewriters.com works. On this site, clients can post writing jobs such as product reviews or perhaps advertisements for their business; basically whatever they need to be written. They make a post with the instructions, keywords to be used, and the word count, which is part of what determines what they will pay for the piece. The other part that determines the price is the individual writer's skill level. When you as a writer create an account you start off at the "beginner" level. These beginner jobs pay very little, but you can increase your skill level by completing jobs and being reviewed with 4-stars or above. The higher your skill level, the higher the pay is with "expert" being the highest skill level and $20 is the maximum you can earn on any particular job.
One example I have from my own experience with writing a beginner level article was being paid $3.17 for a 500-700 word article on the topic of car wax. The client gave me twenty-four hours to complete the work which was ample time. Two hours later, after researching everything about car wax and its alternatives, I submitted the work, the pay was added to my account and the client was very happy, giving me a 5-star review with a comment that made me feel good about the work I had done. Even though I had a nice feeling that the client was happy with my work, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being taken advantage of in some way. Knowing I'm just starting out in this field of work, I expect to make very little money but something similar to minimum wage would be far more acceptable than what I had made for my work on this job. Two hours isn't a long time and maybe I'm lucky to have been paid at all, but I worked hard for the client and my time is more valuable than that. Especially because I can't keep what I wrote to include in my portfolio and could have been writing something else that would have moved my own career along. That's right, there's nothing to signify that what you wrote is your work and can be claimed by the very people that hire you.
What I began to notice as I searched more jobs, were clients really not even trying to hide the fact that they were taking advantage of new writers. Some job posts included threats of bad reviews if any mistakes were made (even though these were "beginner" level jobs) and others would post a job to pay for a 500 or 700-word count but then in the instructions demand the article be over 1000 words. The pay is so little that it even seemed some students would post jobs to have writers do their homework for them. There is no proof of this but I think I definitely answered somebody's essay question for their psychology class.
So far, I have found that getting my name out there as a writer is very difficult and things like hirewriters.com can make new writers feel like there's a fast track to the monetary side of writing, which I myself am learning that the road is longer than I thought. That is in no way disheartening to me, but what is, are people that would take advantage of my, and other writers' desires to succeed and be told we're good at this. Perhaps I'm wrong here and maybe this is what I should expect. It seems to me, however, my time would be better used writing for myself, to advance my own career and not have someone else take credit for my work and throw their pocket change at me.