Every once in awhile I contribute a post here exposing the latest and not-so-greatest scams perpetrated upon my brethren in the contet writing community.
Whether it be the slimy Craigslist people who are making a living off of free samples or the wannabes with empty pockets promising “higher rates in the future”, I detest all of those creepy scam monkeys and love ratting them out.
However, the job of a scam hunter is complicated when his own compadres litter the search engines with specious claims of being scammed.
Here’s the dealio, folks. There are very real scams out there and they deserve attention. It doesn’t do any of us an iota of good, however, when we mislabel certain kinds of arrangements as scams.
A lousy offer doesn’t constitute a scam. If someone offers you 1/10 of a cent per word to write a technical manual on the disassembly of nuclear submarines (100% original, perfect English, experienced only need apply), that isn’t a scam. It just sucks. A stupid offer doesn’t a scammer make.
But it goes beyond mislabeling goofballs as scammers. The practice of labeling any arrangement that doesn’t meet the expectations of a particular writer as a “scam” extends to other jobs and opportunities.
Case in point, Associated Content. These folks will pay you a few bucks for an article and they’ll give you a few dollars more if that article gets a lot of look-see action. You get wee bonuses for high page views to your submitted content.
Some people are happy with what Associated Content pays. Some think it’s a royal screw. Those who don’t like the numbers seem to be more than willing to call “AC” a scam.
It’s not, though. They make an offer. That offer is clear. The writer can accept or reject the offer. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that AC makes a habit out of pulling a “take the content and run” approach. They pay. Period.
You don’t like the pay rate? Fine. Don’t write for AC. It’s that simple.
Labeling it a scam, however, just isn’t fair. And it makes it harder to separate the true ethically-challeged bozos who screw writers with regularity from those who just don’t throw enough coin at those of us who write for a living.
You have a number in your mind. That number represents the amount of money you’re willing to work for. If the offer is below that number, you walk away. That makes perfect sense. You can set that number wherever you’d like.
If someone doesn’t offer you that number or better, however, it doesn’t make the individual a scammer. It just means that aren’t paying what you want.
And that’s true whether it’s AC or a guy building a content site about the best way to build a patio.
Best I can tell, most of us are out of are underoos and into big kid underpants these days. We are adults who are capable of making our own decisions about our writing and our financial lives. If we decide that it’s worth writing those patio construction articles and we get paid the agreed upon rate for them, there’s nothing criminal or nasty happening. It’s what we call business.
And when we turn down the patio job because the rate is too low, that’s business. It’s not a scam.
The moral to the story? Stop calling things you don’t like a “scam”. Feel free to call it like you see it, but do so accurately. There’s no reason to malign the innocent with the “scammer” label. We should reserve that honor for the evil creatures who prey upon writers with promises that are never fulfilled.
If you cry wolf/scam over and over again it begins to lose its bite. It becomes harder for people to differentiate between dishonesty and perfectly legitimate negotiations.
If you wanna rage about rates, rage. Rage until you turn purple and collapse in a pool of your own angry sweat. That’s a-okey-dokey with Lil’ Herbert. Just don’t call it criminal and don’t call it a scam. Let adults make adult decisions about what they’re willing to do and the prices at which they’re willing to do it.
Otherwise, it gets that much tougher for people to recognize who’s really out to scam them vs. who’s just not paying enough to keep every writer out there happy.
Okay, I’m hopping off this soapbox. Next time, we’ll address a real scam.