Content farm writing rates hit a new low

We all know how bad the downward pressure on freelance writing rates is these days. And with the proliferation of online “content farms” things seem to be getting worse. Over the weekend, the news and gossip site Gawker posted what they call the “worst writing job ever.”

The ad, originally posted on Craigslist in Portland, is seeking a freelancer to write “news articles, blogs, product descriptions, website content, magazine articles, and SEO work” for a rate of between .009 and .02 per word.

Yes, you read that right. That’s less than a penny a word. A fraction of a cent. The ad goes on to say that most of the company’s writers produce at least two 500 word articles an hour and thus are able to earn $10 per hour or better. Sweet deal, right? To apply for this plum job, applicants are first required to write one 500 word sample article and come up with topics for five more.

You may be too late to get your application in, however. American journalist Jim Romenesko reported yesterday that the ad had already been deleted by its author. Maybe, despite the ad’s warning that hateful responses would be submitted to the authorities, Gawker’s post inspired an overwhelming wave of freelancer outrage.

On the other hand, maybe it’s been deleted because the position has already been filled.

If you’d like to see the original Craigslist ad, click on the image above. And for an interesting view on content farms, check out this short CBC documentary about Demand Media by Ira Basen (hat tip to Don Genova for the links).


Have you ever written for a content farm? Do you see any upside to them? We’d love to hear your views in the comment section below.



Posted on October 10, 2012 at 9:10 am by Rachel · · Tagged with: , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Robert
    on October 10, 2012 at 11:49 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Well, your questions at the bottom are timely. Sadly, yes, I’ve written for content farms and wrote about this last night:

  2. Written by editor
    on October 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Great blog post, Robert, thanks for sharing it. You make some excellent points, especially the one about starting your own blog. And I enjoyed the Vampire Weekend reference, too.

  3. Written by Carroll McCormick
    on February 27, 2013 at 9:06 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I think contract farm writing is detrimental to developing one’s skills as a professional writer. I go into more detail in my latest post “Contract Farm Writing”. See:

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