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Help from the NJFM Community

Helping Hands

Writers Helping Writers

Sometimes I get emails for help that I feel would be handled better if I share it with the NJFM community.  I like helping folks, but my experience and knowledge is limited.  Another of my favorite sayings is, “You don’t have to know the answers; you just have to know were to go to get the answers.” So, I’m coming to the NJFM for suggestions and answers.

Here’s the Problem

One of our fellow community members is in a situation that, quite frankly, really pisses me off (no, I didn’t have coffee yet, I’m just angry about the situation and my language can get a bit salty on occasion)!

Rather than attempt to explain the situation, I’m posting her email here and am asking for suggestions to help this person out. Here’s her email:

I am fairly new to the online freelance writing arena and need your help. I’m currently working for a company based in Pakistan; they are only paying me $300 per month for 30,000 word count ($5 per article). I also have to pay my own Western Union fees ($23), so I’ only left with $277 per month. I accepted this amount because I’m not a professional writer or even a good writer (need to build confidence…lol) I’m basically doing this job so that I can stay at home with my kids and earn some extra money on the side. Anyway, they told me that now that I’m a “Senior Writer” with the company, I have to do between 3 to 10 FREE articles per month which will not be included in my word count. I really need the money but I also want to make it clear to them that I can not commit to anything over our initial agreement. I really need your help, not sure if this will get me fired or not. I value your opinions and would appreciate any help/suggestions.

When I asked for her permission to share this with the community, she quickly responded and added the following:

… Thanks for responding, didn’t expect a reply so soon. I also forgot to mention, they also said in addition to being a senior member, they think I’m a dedicated worker who they can depend on – so I guess this is how they show appreciation. As Dr. Phil would say “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Ya, Gotta love her wit and sense of humor! 🙂

Now to Resolve this Issue

Ok folks.  There you have it. Suggestions and/or direction would be much appreciated.

BTW, the reason for posting this on the NJFM blog is because I’m sure she isn’t the only person going through a situation like this.  It really gets my goat when folks are blatantly taken advantage of.  Not only are we helping her, but I’m sure we’re helping folks in similar situations.

Thanks in advance!

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Mandy January 26, 2011, 9:24 am

    Your email is well-written. You definitely have the writing skills to work elsewhere. Confidence has been a huge problem for me, too. But I’ve come to realize that low self-esteem is holding me back. We have to value ourselves rather than wait for permission to call ourselves writers who deserve success and a decent pay rate. You’ll make a little more money at Textbroker. But, you won’t have to pay the Western Union fees. More importantly, the editors at Textbroker treat the writers well and with respect. You’ll soon have the confidence to apply at other sites as well. As difficult as it is, wrestle with your own sense of self-doubt; it will bring value to the entire realm of your life even if you decide in the future that writing just ain’t your thing. For me, my efforts to write have been a wake-up call to some other seriously weak and lacking areas of my life. As I’ve wrestled with my own confidence issues, I’ve become reacquainted with the confident girl I was. When you tell that Pakistani company that you are worth more than they are offering, you’ll reap dividends that go beyond the pay raise you’re sure to find elsewhere.

  • Crystal January 26, 2011, 10:20 am

    First off – are you in the US? I ask because there are many opportunities available only to US writers.

    Second – this is total BS. When you get a “promotion,” you don’t do more for less – you do more for more. Yes, they are just trying to flatter you into giving away work for free.

    As Mandy mentioned, Textbroker is a reputable company that may be a good option for you. If you are a US writer, apply there asap.

  • Grandma January 26, 2011, 10:44 am

    My heart goes out to you if you are living in one of those “other” countries where women are endangered, disrespected and treated like property or even killed. Girls, it could happen here too, in this country, if we don’t watch out who gets elected. Nobody wants to be on the bottom of the totem pole.

    That is a vicious and unscrupulous company. I hope you can find your way to get income without further work for them. Whether or not you are in a position to tell them why and where they can shove it is unknown to us. Do not jeopardize your livelihood until you are sure you can do without them. If they want you to work for free, you should at least get profit sharing.

    Women’s rights are precarious, ladies. We have not had them in this country that long, either, and the pay scale is still tipped. There are far deeper issues here than just getting screwed on the job. So sorry.

    But, on the positive side of things, there are great resources for you on this website, and on the Internet. Good luck!

  • Allison January 26, 2011, 11:26 am

    Self-confidence will take you further than you can imagine. I suggest you apply somewhere like Textbroker, as the above commenter suggested. They pay about the same, but you will never be asked to work for free.

    You are worth more than you are telling yourself. Don’t waste your time with anyone who doesn’t see the value in your writing.

    While your at it, throw some articles up on Constant Content. You can set your own price for those articles, and it’s a pleasant surprise when one sells on occasion.

    • Felicia January 26, 2011, 11:35 am

      Thanks for the support and advice, but unfortunately, she won’t qualify for Textbroker as she’s not a US citizen.

  • Amanda January 26, 2011, 3:12 pm

    It might help to spend some time finding other private clients.
    I recently hired a few writers to do some articles and did not require they have extensive experience in internet writing. Looking for something like that might help.
    Good luck.

  • sue January 26, 2011, 7:01 pm

    You may not qualify to write for Textbroker, but it might be worth it to contact them and ask for their advice. (They did try to open their registration to international writers, but tax issues prevented them from doing it) At the very least they may have a staff attorney who could let you know if you have any recourse, or options.

    Can’t wait for you to be in a position to tell them what they can do with their three-to-ten-free- articles-requirement.

  • Andrea January 27, 2011, 1:36 pm

    This writer clearly has the skills and experience to market her writing to places like Freelancer.com, eLance and oDesk, where she is sure to earn at least the same rate she is getting now, if not more so, and where many clients don’t care where you’re located as long as you have impeccable English (which she obviously does). I say she should set up a writing portfolio blog and start looking for clients on her own. With a little support, I have no doubt she could easily surpass her current income and be treated with a LOT more respect than she is now. Just my $0.02!

  • kidgas January 27, 2011, 4:07 pm

    Although I am not one that stays at home looking for extra money, I think finding some private client work is a good idea. It could involve writing or doing other online work at an hourly wage as a virtual assistant. I am not sure where this individual is from and how payment might be facilitated but I am sure where there is a will, there is a way.

    • Felicia January 28, 2011, 6:51 am

      Thanks for all of the great ideas. My focus was limited so I tend to provide advice based on what I know (or think I know). You guys came up with things that I didn’t think of.

  • William Tha Great January 28, 2011, 9:22 am


    Thanks for sharing with us here at NJFM!

    I’m no freelance writing expert so, I’m going to try and help best I can. It seems as if they are ripping you off. Maybe not right away, but in the long run. If you are continuously writting 30,000 words a month wouldn’t it be better to sign up for article marketing sites such as associated content?

    For the amount of words you write you won’t get as much right away, but long term you should have the possibility of making far more than 300 a month on auto-pilot. You could also market your articles on other marketing sites.

    Hope that helps some!

    Thanks again!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  • Jackie January 29, 2011, 12:46 pm

    Maybe she can use some of those articles in a portfolio and get some print jobs in her local community or for magazines? And post a resume online as well? It’s not an immediate solution but it may help in the long run.

    Also, I don’t know enough about google adsense yet, but maybe she can set up some blogs for residual income. Although, I’m guessing she would have already done this if it was a possibility…

  • Ignatius January 29, 2011, 6:47 pm

    Associated Content only takes non-U.S. writers on a very limited basis.

    Considering the low rate you are getting for your writing, you might take a look at Mturk.com. It is run by Amazon and there are writing jobs posted along with lots of little odd jobs like proofreading, transcribing, finding web addresses, etc. I’m pretty sure non-U.S. workers are allowed, but some jobs are only available to Americans.

    Amazon is not the employer there, it just runs the operation and you do the work for other companies and individuals. Some of these folks aren’t all that ethical so you need to be careful, but Amazon handles the payments so you will get paid what you are owed. I would suggest you read the rules and sign up and give it a try if you are eligible. You can always do it in addition to the writing. A lot of the tasks only take a few minutes and you don’t have to work anytime you don’t want to. There is a minimum amount to make payout though.

  • IM January 31, 2011, 6:12 pm

    Love the Dr. Phil quote!

    The book, “Games Mother Never Taught You” by Betty Harragan would be a big help to you. Great book, I need to read it again.

    I don’t feel the company is ripping you off, I feel they are (probably guys) negotiating and expect you to do the same. Your extra work will mean a pay raise for one of the execs. They are guys in business, that’s what they do. You have to learn how the game is played and play it.

    It sort of sounds like you will be paying them for the honor of a title.

    You said you’re working with a company in Pakistan, I assume that means you are IN Pakistan? You can’t jump ship until you thoroughly research what other options are available and open to you. That’s negotiating power. There might not be any other options open to you but you must find that out (internet research).

    Another book is, “The Good Girl’s Guide to Negotiating: How to Get What You Want at the Bargaining Table.”

    You might also want to read about debate and assertiveness.

    By the way, I did market research surveys for years (thousands and thousands of them) and in almost every survey the income of the women was nothing compared to men. One woman made great money but she was a doctor.

  • Grandma February 1, 2011, 12:09 am

    Then our govt takes the income…I owe between $1700 and $2000 income tax this year on my writing income, mostly social security tax. Take from me and give to somebody else. Great incentive to work, eh? Oh yeah, I knew it was coming, but not that bad.

  • Grandma February 1, 2011, 6:23 am

    Excuse me, I meant self-employment tax.

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