fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

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JasmineStone
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:10 am

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by JasmineStone »

I disagree with most of what Kevin said. However, there does seem to be a real problem with emails not getting through to support. Maybe there's a technical problem that needs to be investigated?
LauraGinn
Posts: 143
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:25 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by LauraGinn »

I'm pretty sure (though sure Kevin can comment) from reading Kevin's blog posts in the past, that when he joined CC it was during the era of broadband, credit card and energy articles that were being ordered en masse. It was a good time for many writers, and possibly the reason why he made over $2k during those first couple of months. From my experience, that's not the norm here, and relying on one client to order that amount of work is risky as if it doesn't last, you've lost your income. It happened to me, and probably happened to a lot of writers.

Now the customer requests vary in size and price, and on the whole I haven't seen any issues with them (except for the recipe one last week), but like CC say - if you don't like the price you don't have to write for it. Getting another customer who orders that amount of content on a regular basis would be a stroke of luck for CC unless they up their advertising game. But that doesn't mean things have changed here regarding pricings. It's just one customer that gave up on guest posting, and didn't require the amount of content any more.

I agree with the support email issue thing though - when I've used the online contact form my emails haven't got through. But when I've emailed Eric directly, I've received a response within hours.
Constant
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:35 am

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Constant »

Thanks to everyone for their comments here. I can assure you we’re taking them all very seriously and are looking into what happened in some cases and ways that we can improve. Kevin, you clearly put a lot of time and effort into your post and I do appreciate that. If you’d like to discuss further, I’d be happy to setup a call to go over your thoughts and concerns.

I do want to add to what Judith posted about. At the end of the day, pricing on the site does come down to what prices writers set on the catalog side of things, and what clients offer on the custom side (with writers agreeing). We’re a marketplace and while we suggest prices it does come down to the client at the end of the day. I will caveat that we do turn some clients away, and that there are many client requests that pay quite well.

Another thing to keep in mind, and one that was brought up early in this thread, is that the catalog is still a great way for writers to make sales and set their own rates. Keep an eye on the recently sold content list - in the last few weeks we’ve seen some great sales come through for articles priced well over $100. If you can add some top notch content to the catalog, you can sell it for very competitive prices. We’re also looking at adjusting the minimum article price again to reinforce that quality content should be priced at fair rates.
Abbamay
Posts: 248
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:57 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Abbamay »

That was a lovely reply, Constant. I feel like Kevin was being patronizing without being in possession of all the facts, and I'd really like to say that CC does heaps of things right and I'm grateful for all the work. I get well-priced private requests, so the days of good prices aren't over. Those of us who have been here for several years know that things change and sometimes there is more work, and sometimes less. It's true that communication hasn't been good in many cases, but there must be a system glitch making emails disappear.

On the whole, I'm happy here. The support of helpful forum friends is wonderful too - there's always someone to help if we have a question.

Thanks,

Abba
remoteriverman
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:56 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by remoteriverman »

A couple of quick things:

Judith - I don't disagree with anything you said. I think writers on this site have to take personal responsibility for underselling themselves. I even call this 'a serious mistake' in my eBook. But I think CC, by having a 'Make an Offer' button on their site, seems to be encouraging 'desperate' pricing strategies - and taps into the insecurities of unconfident writers. It's obvious that 'lowering prices to make a sale' is a recipe for financial disaster for any writer in the long term. I personally never priced any of my on spec articles at under 8 cents a word, never engaged in offers, and still sold the overwhelming majority of them. My first ever article on this site (actually a public request) was sold for $100 (gross). And as I have also noted in my book, there are plenty of authors on CC charging over 10 cents a word regularly and doing quite okay. My point was about the growing preponderance of extremely low paying requests. Yes, it's true, writers can simply ignore these (and many of them certainly are now), but my understanding is that CC is trying to position itself in the market as a provider of high quality content for discerning buyers. Bombarding its writers with a plethora of 2 cent a word (net) requests is not the way to achieve this. By setting a higher standard, they could raise the bar for both clients and writers. I would even advocate (a) getting rid of the Make an Offer button entirely, (b) placing a minimum value on the gross per-word rate of, say, 10 cents for all Public Requests from clients (and a slightly higher minimum for all client Private Requests), and also placing a firmly set minimum for all writer's 'on spec' articles (as in, no writer on the site can sell their article for less than a minimum of 8 cents a word for Full Rights, for example). Otherwise we're all on a race to the bottom that everybody loses.

Laura - Yes, that client was fun, and yes, he did add to my bank account (as well as many others on CC). Good times. However, if he hadn't been there, I still would have made a comparable amount on CC in those months - I just would have concentrated on 'on spec' articles or Standing Requests instead. My sales rate for on spec pieces has always been quite high on CC, and I should mention that I was only averaging about 16 hours a week of writing during those times. I could have worked harder than I did. CC was, for me, mostly a handy stepping stone between an already established (but admittedly sporadic) book writing career and a move into online freelance work as a whole. I have mostly moved on from writing sites in general and am now a full-time freelance writer (last month alone I earned close to $6000 from just one of my clients), so I have no problem making money from writing. But your point begs the question - where have clients like that gone on CC?

Abbamay - I'm glad you're doing well on CC, and I hope it continues. It is successful, long-term writers like you who give hope to those who are just starting out on the site. However, not all Private Requests on CC are as wonderful as yours - I was approached by CC this year, for example, to write a rush job (had to be written overnight) on a subject that I am a specialist in (outdoors), and the client wanted this done for 5 cents a word (gross). Naturally I declined, but also sent a note to the client through CC to say I'd be happy to write his Private Request for 10 cents a word (I fully agree with Judith that it's up to the writers here to 'train' clients about what is and isn't an acceptable rate - all the more so when they need it done immediately). The client didn't reply, which was his right. I actually think the opportunity for good writers (like yourself) to build up a batch of higher-paying clients through Private Requests over time is one of the positives about CC (and the reason many quality writers like Celeste Stewart and others hung around here for so many years. I doubt it was for the 3 cent work).

I don't see where my post was patronising, but I respect your right to your opinion there. I have the utmost respect for Eric - I think he's a bright spot at CC for sure, and his heart is in the right place. But he can't do it alone. The rest of the crew there needs to step up and take a good hard look at what they're doing to drive good writers away from this site. Also, Abbamay, I have plenty of facts. I've been writing successfully on this site for a year, have read all the available statistics and kept good track of other writer's comments, successes and tribulations, etc. There are plenty of posts - on this very forum and off it as well - from writers who have been banned from the site for not writing a project they hadn't even received an email about from CC in the first place, others who have written articles they should have been paid for but haven't (and can get no response at all by email from CC admin as to why), others who desperately try to reach a deadline for a client but can't get anybody at CC to answer their email to clarify a simple point, innumerable instances of confusion about what a particular editor is trying to say, experienced and competent writers with over 2000 published online articles to their name so fed up with the editing and communication deficiencies that they simply give up on CC, and a host of other less than dreamy scenarios. And what about the writer on this post who was unceremoniously dumped without explanation (and is by no means the first)? This is the sort of stuff that CC is shooting itself in the foot on, and it's happening way, way too often.

Eric - Your thoughtful responses really mean a lot to all of us, and are hugely appreciated. The fact that you're here shows your genuine concern, and your class. Thanks mate.

Cheers,
Kevin Casey
J. A. Young
Posts: 249
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2005 1:27 pm
Location: U.S.A.

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by J. A. Young »

First, I am glad I read this thread. Haha...I was beginning to take the editing personally and I see that I'm not alone. I've always said I can smell a new editor from thousands of miles away. In the last few months, there has been a new, shall we say, flavor to the editing that has been exceedingly more vigorous than I've experienced in the past 9 years. Many of the edits have been stylistic and I have voiced that to the reps and have found several comments to be decidedly condescending. I forgot a question mark once for a long, winding hypothetical question, and the editor actually took the time to write to me "questions must end with a question mark." Well duh. So, (sure I can be over-sensative), I can absolutely relate to the new tone. That said, when I am submitting thousands upon thousands of words on a daily basis, I am going to skip a comma here and there. I'm learning to live with that--and there have been many times where the editing has saved me from submitting foolish errors. So I am trying to take it all with a grain of salt and become a better editor myself.

As for the $20....I usually grab a few when I have time. Usually they aren't very difficult and I may even already have research compiled on the topic. But, of course, if you have other work that keeps you busy and you can make more, it makes sense to go that route. Plus, the $20 add up, so if I have a slow day, I guess I don't mind writing them because, in the end, I just want to hit a certain threshold and between the higher-priced work and these, it usually balances out to something I'm ok with. Also, when I view these $20....I only take what I can write in less than an hour. Something like "Travel Tips for Singles" is really going to take me 30 minutes...so if I do 2 similar easy-breezy pieces, I'm looking at $26 per hour. So, some might take me 45 minutes...if I hit a snag or take a break to make coffee or something...an hour. I like these short snappy pieces because they break up the harder work, but still keep me writing, improving my stats, and filling the till with little drops.

I don't like to comment on what people should or shouldn't sell their work for. It's personal. I don't mind saying that, for myself, I tend not to go below the $20 sale price--but it depends. There might be a bulk job--product descriptions or something that I might tackle on a rainy weekend.

Of course, we all want the high-paying jobs to roll in, but the site has to offer a nice range to accommodate all types of clients, all types of budgets. I usually range all over the place depending on the level of time and research involved.

As for the CC communication stuff--WoW, I am shocked. I have nothing but positive things to say. The reps have been wonderful to work with and I don't think quality has slipped whatsoever. On the contrary, I've seen an interesting range of work come through and see only positive signs that the site is continuing to grow. I love the variety and honestly don't mind the range of pricing because--it is a range. Like always, you decide for yourself what you're willing to write for or not and that's what's so wonderful about this gig:) --Jennifer
Isabelnewth
Posts: 304
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:15 am

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Isabelnewth »

Unreasonable rejections wouldn't matter if writers were not fearful that they might lead to adverse consequences, such as suspension, or failure to gain approval for pools. It seems as though the rules for all that sort of thing have evolved over time and the info on the site hasn't kept up. Once the rules have been clarified, a lot of the problems will presumably be solved.

I think when speaking of reps, J.A. Young must mean the individual members of CC staff you can exchange emails with sometimes on particular projects? Yes, it's true that they are usually extremely helpful, but the Support email address for general enquiries has been a Black Hole!
Lysis
Posts: 1529
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:08 pm
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Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Lysis »

J. A. Young wrote:First, I am glad I read this thread. Haha...I was beginning to take the editing personally and I see that I'm not alone. I've always said I can smell a new editor from thousands of miles away. In the last few months, there has been a new, shall we say, flavor to the editing that has been exceedingly more vigorous than I've experienced in the past 9 years. Many of the edits have been stylistic and I have voiced that to the reps and have found several comments to be decidedly condescending. I forgot a question mark once for a long, winding hypothetical question, and the editor actually took the time to write to me "questions must end with a question mark." Well duh. So, (sure I can be over-sensative), I can absolutely relate to the new tone. That said, when I am submitting thousands upon thousands of words on a daily basis, I am going to skip a comma here and there. I'm learning to live with that--and there have been many times where the editing has saved me from submitting foolish errors. So I am trying to take it all with a grain of salt and become a better editor myself.

As for the $20....I usually grab a few when I have time. Usually they aren't very difficult and I may even already have research compiled on the topic. But, of course, if you have other work that keeps you busy and you can make more, it makes sense to go that route. Plus, the $20 add up, so if I have a slow day, I guess I don't mind writing them because, in the end, I just want to hit a certain threshold and between the higher-priced work and these, it usually balances out to something I'm ok with. Also, when I view these $20....I only take what I can write in less than an hour. Something like "Travel Tips for Singles" is really going to take me 30 minutes...so if I do 2 similar easy-breezy pieces, I'm looking at $26 per hour. So, some might take me 45 minutes...if I hit a snag or take a break to make coffee or something...an hour. I like these short snappy pieces because they break up the harder work, but still keep me writing, improving my stats, and filling the till with little drops.

I don't like to comment on what people should or shouldn't sell their work for. It's personal. I don't mind saying that, for myself, I tend not to go below the $20 sale price--but it depends. There might be a bulk job--product descriptions or something that I might tackle on a rainy weekend.

Of course, we all want the high-paying jobs to roll in, but the site has to offer a nice range to accommodate all types of clients, all types of budgets. I usually range all over the place depending on the level of time and research involved.

As for the CC communication stuff--WoW, I am shocked. I have nothing but positive things to say. The reps have been wonderful to work with and I don't think quality has slipped whatsoever. On the contrary, I've seen an interesting range of work come through and see only positive signs that the site is continuing to grow. I love the variety and honestly don't mind the range of pricing because--it is a range. Like always, you decide for yourself what you're willing to write for or not and that's what's so wonderful about this gig:) --Jennifer


I lurrvvve you.

Whenever I get pissed over something that happens here, I walk away, cool down and remind myself that it's about the customers not me.

Good to hear from one of the seasoned writers that I'm not going crazy about the edits! I might dip my feet in again and see if I can get 1 of those 10 rejections I've yet to go back to from 2 months ago approved. lol

I feel better about the reassurance from Eric.
gators18
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:46 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by gators18 »

J. A. Young wrote:I don't like to comment on what people should or shouldn't sell their work for. It's personal. I don't mind saying that, for myself, I tend not to go below the $20 sale price--but it depends. There might be a bulk job--product descriptions or something that I might tackle on a rainy weekend.

Of course, we all want the high-paying jobs to roll in, but the site has to offer a nice range to accommodate all types of clients, all types of budgets. I usually range all over the place depending on the level of time and research involved.


The problem is that CC's brand image is top quality. Why buy this $50 article right here right now instead of ordering the same title on textbroken for $5? There's tons of business literature out there about how higher prices and perceived exclusivity leads to customers perceiving a brand as better and being willing to pay more and how McPrices lead to perceptions of McQuality. Interestingly, this idea has been one of their main reasons for not allowing writers to set multi-article discounts. If CC allows the site to be overwhelmed with lower prices, it's harder for the other stuff to stand out before customers form their opinion. (textbroken writers know all too well how teams think that a .3 cents per word (i.e., $0.003) increase means they're paying gold because that's that site's image)

That said, time and effort do vary so I'm in no way saying set site-wide fixed prices. Just a bare bones floor of say, 4 cpw use, 5 unique, 6 full, or whatever (not trying to start that debate now). And for requests, make it in cpw instead of broad, vague price ranges. And bump it up if they choose a short deadline.

Also in terms of brand image, the website really needs an overhaul. Both a modern design and new landing pages explaining what it's about and maybe promoting some of the categories.

And a referral program really should be implemented. Sure writers have some interest already in linking their articles on their other sites, but I think anyone who is putting any more than passive effort into promoting their work offsite (to their own customers who know nothing about CC) would end up just deleting their articles from the catalog or writing new ones and selling those directly. And it would also give them an interest in telling people who come to them, that's not my strong subject, but I know where you can get some great work.
KinsleyRoyale
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:23 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by KinsleyRoyale »

If this question is about writing for the general pool versus private, let me say I think I just tried my last private project. Not worth the disappointment!

I have had a couple in the past that went well. The last two, however, pissed me off. One wanted a total rewrite after I'd slogged to meet the deadline. The other began with the client requesting a phone call. Do any of you do phone calls? His price was $.08 a word for max 800 words. The most I could clear was $41.60 per article. Both came back for re-editing. I didn't do the phone call and the client sent another message asking for a phone call again. Why the heck would I use my time to call when I'm already making probably only $10 an hour on the writing?

In the end he didn't buy. Maybe he was pissed off I didn't do phone calls.

He wanted first person which pretty much guarantees a writer putting words in the author's mouth and if they're the wrong words, we're hooped.

All clients should be reminded they have the privilege of editing the full rights articles. That's where they can add first person. That's where re-writing can come in--their re-writing.
Lysis
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Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:08 pm
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Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Lysis »

I've done several phone calls before. It's a feat to get Vancouver, Florida and Sweden or Hungary on the phone at the same time. :D

I try to stick to things I know, so at the word count and price you mentioned, it would only take me an hour to write. I've undersold myself a couple times on here and other places. I just finished up a project where I way underbid but I just remember that I agreed to it and just do it. The edits get me too when I know I've already underbid. I think we've all been there at some point.

I think you hit a bad apple with a customer. Usually, they aren't too bad on here. My favorite part of this place though is that I can write anything I feel like for the open pool and sell pretty well, so when I feel like I keep getting hit with bad customers, I stick to the open pool. It's not as guaranteed but it's less stress.
KinsleyRoyale
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:23 pm

Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by KinsleyRoyale »

Lysis, you say you'd take an hour, but what about research? I have written on online marketing tools often, but those fields change rapidly and this client wanted a few things mentioned that are pretty new terms. Are you suggesting I should not have taken the project because I wasn't familiar enough with it?
Lysis
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Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:08 pm
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Re: fairly priced spec vs. underpriced team: which is better

Post by Lysis »

KinsleyRoyale wrote:Lysis, you say you'd take an hour, but what about research? I have written on online marketing tools often, but those fields change rapidly and this client wanted a few things mentioned that are pretty new terms. Are you suggesting I should not have taken the project because I wasn't familiar enough with it?


I can't tell you what to do, but personally, if someone hit me up for something like home improvement articles, I'd pass because it would take me too long to write. At the 35% cut, one article for me is about $32. At an hour (for example) that's half of what I want to make per hour. So, for me, adding on research and cutting that figure into half is not worth it for me when I know that I can write an article that will sell in the open pool for more.

I'm pretty OCD when it comes to my money, so I have everything calculated in every certain situation. I don't think there is any 1 rule for this industry. I'm just saying that you have to figure out what you're worth and then take jobs accordingly. I think everyone has knowledge in something. Mine is technical, so 800 words on most things technical doesn't take any research from me unless I'm writing about a specific company. The same could be said for someone with skills in another industry.

I wouldn't let this one gig get you down. I've had customers who love my work and customers who hate it. Same with editors. I know it sucks when you have a fallout with a customer. Had one about 3 months ago who refused to pay me (and actually won a dispute with elance) and it killed my mojo for a while. Now, I have a customer who pays me awesomely to write technical learning books and it's a great customer/writer relationship. That's the way this biz goes. They hate you or they love you. Try not to take it too bad and just take it in stride. You'll get a lot more of the good and bad if you do this for any significant amount of time.
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