Monday, May 23, 2016

Upwork - Where Writers Go to Die

Upwork - Where Writers Go to Die - Brad Cole

(and students go to pay others to do their homework)

What if I were to tell you that there was a website with LITERALLY THOUSANDS of freelance writing assignments available? That there is a place where you get paid REAL MONEY to write novels, stories, and articles - all freelance jobs just waiting for someone to click on them. Would you be interested in that?

Oh, and kids also pay people to do their homework for them; but we'll get to that in a second.

The site is called UPWORK, and it is a website that connects freelancers in every field to those with jobs that need doing. One of those fields is writing. In fact, multiple fields are writing - article writing, creative writing, etc, etc... And, the best part is, writers get paid in REAL MONEY for their work (assuming you click the correct search box, that is). This is a writer's dream come true! Having used a freelancer-friendly article writing system in the past (WiseGeek), I was both happy and excited about my future prospects on this site. So, let's see the first set of assignments my search revealed:

My eye quick fell on "Elders." Would this be an internet article about the Elderly? Maybe an assignment writing entries for an older generation-focused blog? Reading the job description, I discovered the following:

Huh. Writing about "The role the elderly can play in our lives, especially the lives of high school students" is a very specific subject, but it just seemed odd. But, hey, the potential client was willing to pay $5 for what would be maybe a half-page of writing - that's hard to pass up. But I was unsure, so I clicked on the client's history to see what other jobs had paid people to do.

I've blacked out the names of the freelancers that did the jobs, but the list of past assignments made what was going on obvious: this kid was paying people to do his homework for him. Ingenious, considering how many schools now scan papers into plagiarism-detecting databases, but still not a particularly ethical job. And, to confirm my suspicions, one of the past assignments literally linked to this page:

Yes, this is an assignment for students in some sort of computer class. ::sigh:: I continued my search for a more professional job. The next one that stood out was....

This is actually an assignment I can understand, but didn't really see a future with - the potential client wants to pay a maximum of $70 for a 7000 word ebook on a non-fiction topic they supply every seven days. The assumption is this will go up on their website or and generate them money long term. My comment would be: if you're doing that much writing, why not just put it out yourself on a website or Amazon and collect the royalties? But at least this is a decent job without ethical issues, and one for a client that seems legitimate.

This next assignment, though...

That's right - a MAJOR SHAVING BRAND that is going to work with ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR ATHLETES is looking for a freelancer to pay between TEN WHOLE DOLLARS and TWO HUNDRED BUCKS to for a commercial script. Maybe they spent all of their millions on the athlete to do the commercial, and couldn't afford to pay the scriptwriter a real wage? It doesn't help that this client is listed as "NEW" in regards to hiring history. This definitely seems legit and in no way a SCAM (I'm sure the prince will pay me right after he sees the finished script and sells off those diamonds... and I send him $100 so he can pay the appraiser).

I felt thoroughly dejected now - were there no ethical jobs within my skillset that would actually pay a fair wage for my writing? This final assignment answered that question for me:

 This die-hard romantic wants to hire FOUR PROFESSIONALS to chat up potential love interests on various dating apps like Tinder, Hinged, and OKCupid so that he can get his freak on. I especially like that he is willing to provide the writer that gets him the most phone numbers (assuming per week) a CASH BONUS for his/her game-spitting skills (or whatever the electronic equivalent is). But, hey, $200 is $200, right?

There are no doubt MANY legitimate jobs for freelance writers on Upwork - and, by playing with the search settings and filtering out the vast majority of assignments, I was able to find a few. Still, the key word is "FEW." Best of luck to those of you with the courage to try - keep your sense of humor with you at all times, and make sure to get paid in advance.

- Brad Cole

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