An Open Letter to My Fellow Copywriters about Content Farmers

An Open Letter to My Fellow Freelance Writers:

As a freelance direct response copywriter, I’m constantly looking for opportunities through pushing and pulling.

Pushing is contacting companies and agencies I think will need my copywriting services. Pulling is cruising websites like Elance, Linked in, and the like for opportunities.

I stick to copy and I write mostly for agencies and corporate creative departments. However, I’ve been lured into assignments for content farms and these frauds are the subject of my blog—and my ire.

Early in my career, someone I knew pretty well came up to me hyperventilating about ‘an international business opportunity.’ They were trying to get me into a pyramid scheme selling cleaning stuff—not exactly an ‘international business opportunity.’

It’s the same with the content farmers like Demand Studios and CopyPress.

The Internet needs good, meaty content and these two companies, and similar outfits, extract it from writers; the content primarily bolsters SEO results.

Lured by big promises, I went through the tortuous application process hoping to get some regular work for sensible pay—from both CopyPress and Demand.

On Tuesday, CopyPress breathlessly offered me five 500 word articles for $8.25 an article. The pay is well below minimum wage as each article will take at least three hours to write. And that’s before some hyper anal copyeditor has obsessed over every colon.

You can say it’s thievery on the part of CopyPress and Demand or stupidity on the part of the writers for taking jobs for ridiculously low rates.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. But I have these thoughts. 

  1. It’s insulting for the content farmers to offer low pay.
  2. The low pay will be reflected in quality.
  3. It’s criminal for writers to write for this level of pay: the content farmers will pay what they can pay.

If you’re a writer and you’re in this part of the game, then leave. Whenever CopyPress asks you to work for them, say no, and tell them their rates are terrible. The more writers who say ‘no’ to the content farmers, the better. The farmers will have to pay more.

I’m not a union guy and I’m not advocating collusion but until writers say ‘no’ to bad gigs, then we’re always going to get people smashing our teeth in. There’s plenty of good work around WITHOUT having to deal with the content farmers.

Oh—and a special note to Demand and CopyPress. Please tell the truth.

On the CopyPress website, you’ll read this:

"CopyPress Loves Writers."

No you don’t. You love STUPID writers who will work for $8.50 an article.

On the Demand website, you’ll read this guff:

“Join our freelance community and earn significant income while building your portfolio.”

So—how do YOU define significant? I’m sorry but $15-$25 per article isn’t significant.

Click through and Demand promises 'recognition' and a 'byline' and all the typical tactics that bottom floor publishers and agency owners employ to get writers to write for nothing.

Message to Demand...you may have a big website and fancy photos but you're treating writers like dirt. Message to writers: stop letting people like Demand and CopyPress treat you like dirt.

I’m sorry I wasted my time even thinking about writing for these two companies. If you work for one of these outfits, you should be deeply ashamed...you're better than this! Read as many marketing books as you can and find the good gigs with the great clients.

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I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting CopyOr contact me here for a direct response copywriting quote.