Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confessions of a Content Farm Animal

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, you know?

Anyone who has been a reader of this blog or the forums of No Surrender, knows that money is tight. It is for everyone, not just non-profits. But take a small non-profit and put it up against one of the big guns and the donation dollars can be doled out just so much. We may be small, but our work is tremendous. That is something that makes it all worth while. However, to keep things up and running and helping women from all over the world, it takes money. So, a couple of months ago I became a Content Farm Animal.

Here I am, a published author with a wonderful book that has rave reviews and is changing the lives of breast cancer survivors, stuck in a crowded pen on a Content Farm. It sure goes against the glamorous image of a writer. People think that once you get a book published you turn into millionaire. Not quite. You get the book published, you go on speaking engagements, book signings, etc., all for free. No one covers the transportation costs or the outfits you must wear on television. You learn that you cannot wear the same thing twice on TV, and it has to be a certain color, fabric, etc. You also learn that there is no hair and makeup at the studios, and you had better cover that yourself if you don't want to appear on screen looking like What Ever Happened To Baby Jane. It costs money. Your own money. At every speaking engagement, however, copies of the book are sold. I sign them for the women who buy the books from my publisher, who then keeps the money from the book sales.

This glamorous lifestyle and the rising costs of running the Foundation are what led me to the Content Farm.

When I wrote for magazines, before print media went belly up, I earned money for my articles. Good money. Maybe that is why print media has gone the way of eight track tapes. There is simply no more money. Moo-ove over old media, the Content Farm is here.

What the heck is a Content Farm? They are huge websites who "hire" writers to write articles within a very specific parameter that you must adhere to. The topics are built on search engine key words. They comb Google or Bing for questions the average web user poses. The following are actual titles you can choose from:

"Projects Using Mountain Dew Bottles"
"How to Find a Surveyor's Boundary Pin"
"How to Use Solderless Crimp Terminals"
"Can You Get Dog Urine Stains off Ceramide?'

The Content Farm Animals, also known as freelance writers who previously worked for print media and are now competing to write about dog urine, race to "claim" their assignment. If you are lucky, you get it before someone else snatches it up. Depending on the topic and how much research required and the sources that must be cited, it can take anywhere from two to five hours to write an "approved" article. There are Content Farm Hands who handle the Animals and they are very, very precise when it comes to the proper documentation of Mountain Dew Bottles. After approval, your article appears on the humongous website and you are paid. The fee? If you calculate the time it takes to research, write, document, edit and submit: $2.35/ hour.

Published writers, with advanced degrees, are fighting over articles that pay them no more than $15 a piece.

This is the New Depression. Times are tough out there. We are in at least three wars. Gasoline is $4 a gallon. Health insurance, for those of us with pre-existing conditions, is astronomical. And we live under the constant threat that if we are late with  one payment we lose it.  As if that wasn't enough, when you have rent to pay, websites to run with the rising costs of servers, bandwidth fees, file uploading charges, and the escalating costs for maintaining your lifesaving programs, a Solderless Crimp Terminal starts to look pretty darn tempting.

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