Saturday, January 28, 2006

On getting what you pay for

So, back when I first became unemployed and I was (just a little ) panicky, I signed up with, a site that bills itself as "the world's largest online marketplace for freelance talent."

It works basically like this: Employers post project specifications and freelancers enter their skills and interests into the site's database. The site posts projects to job boards and catalogs the information, cross referencing project requirements with freelancer qualifications and sending out notifications on any matchups (on which freelancers may then bid).The site offers both paid and free memberships, Guru takes a percentage cut of any payments to freelancers (5% for paying members; 10% for nonpayers) and payments for work completed are handled through an escrow account.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But here's the rub: "Plumb" projects seem available only to paying members; in fact, free-ride members can't even bid on a good number of the projects listed on the boards. Needless to say, as a non-paying member, I've found zilch that could bring any appreciable income into my personal bankbook.

Which brings me to the notification I received in a recent email:
Dear Kathleen: Within the last 24 hours, employers posted one or more projects that match your profile(s).

Profile ID: ...
Project ID: ...
Title: Wedding Ceremonies
Category: Writing / Editing / Translation
Need interesting wedding ceremonies. (see attached for samples of good ceremonies.)

Hmmm. Could be fun. After listing a typical outline for a wedding ceremony, the description goes on:

All Rights to all ceremonies submitted and accepted will be owned by us to utilize as we wish; it will be a work for hire.

You can see some ceremonies there and there are a ton of ceremonies on the web you can review (I have reviewed many many many of them)

I want ORIGINAL ceremony scripts, not something copied off other sites. I have seen most of those.

OK, it's getting a little off-putting, but still has some potential ... maybe. So I go to the Guru site to find out more. Hmmm. They want 10 three-page ceremonies, each "very different" from the other, using different styles and tones. Still do-able, I think. I download a couple of the samples and read through them. No literary masterieces here for sure, and -- what's this? A typo? Then I scroll through all the admin information till I see this:
Project budget: Less than $250
My reaction is, "They're kidding, right?" and, "Do they know how much research and writing time possibly could go into 10 well-crafted pieces? It's a wedding ceremony for cryin' out loud. It's for the most important day in some couple's life -- it should be beautiful and poetic and ... and on top of everything, Guru is going to take 10% of what I earn?

Then I think, who the heck would pay some nobody who knows nothing about your life, your love, your dreams (who in turn hires some unknown-but-hopeful hack writer ) to concoct their wedding ceremony, vows included?

Indeed. I guess it's true. You really do get what you pay for.


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