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A grad-school dropout getting started as a freelance writer. Advice needed.


Tiffany_Case 1 | 1  
Dec 05, 2010 | #1
Yes, it's another plea for advice. I am a grad-school dropout with a lot of college teaching experience (adjunct faculty!!!) and a whole bunch of academic writing already under my belt. I am going to be spending the next three months on medical bedrest, in desperate need of cash. I can churn out college level A papers like a ********, and freelancing seems like my best bet for some income over the coming weeks.

I get that with the site rules/prevailing culture, it won't do me any good to post a request for a list of legitimate online essay brokers. It seems like such requests just prompt spam from the fraudsters and snark from the folks who are lined up with real gigs.

So how about some general advice instead? How do I get started? I don't really have time to establish freelance writing credentials on my own, but every essay broker I have found online seems like an obvious scam. Even the ones that smell semi-credible get panned on this site.

Do legitimate services actually exist? How does a person go about finding them? Where do I start? Do I just sign up with one of the services that sound borderline reputable and accept that I will have to fight like hell to get paid even a portion of what they promise? I can do some damn fine work, but I'm getting the impression that I'll need some real street-smarts if I actually want to get paid for doing it.
pheelyks  
Dec 05, 2010 | #2
There should be a contract involved, and the company you are contracting with should be a verifiable entity in a country whose legal system you trust (UK companies are registered with the Company House and have a VAT number; US companies are all incorporated in individual states and will be listed on that state's Secretary of State website).

There's no harm (except for a little wasted time) going through the hiring process with any company; feel them out, don't be afraid to ask questions, and go with your gut. For places you really think might be scams, only complete a few easy orders and see what happens. The worst case scenario is they never pay you, so the less you put yourself out for them the better. Still, if you go with registered companies in the UK/US (or Canada, which has at least one company I know of, and possibly Australia, though there is a lunatic scammer from down under that posts here regularly), you should be safe.

Red flags:

-really terrible webcopy and the writers' information pages (and the customer pages)--these are typically signs of ESL companies that lie to and cheat their customers, and they typically treat their writers the same way.

-massive fine structures (simply a way of keeping more of a writer's pay--it's not like the fines are given as refunds to the customer, and this actually gives the companies incentive to keep bad writers whose money they can keep taking, and even to fine good writers for no real reason).

-Eastern European accents on phone calls from the company.
somewriter    11 | 116   Freelance Writer
Dec 06, 2010 | #3
Ah, that sounds somewhat familiar. It's not exactly like my situation but there are some strong similarities.

How do I get started? I don't really have time to establish freelance writing credentials on my own, but every essay broker I have found online seems like an obvious scam. Even the ones that smell semi-credible get panned on this site.

One option is to apply to some of the pre-existing companies and see how it goes. Another is to make your own website, which isn't necessarily very expensive. You could always do both to increase your total workload. You don't really have to establish any credentials. Customers are always taking risk when ordering from someone for the first time, but I've found that quality work and good communication keep customers coming back for more.

There should be a contract involved, and the company you are contracting with should be a verifiable entity in a country whose legal system you trust

This is good advice but dispensible. I have other writers working for me at times and I have worked with another writer who ed me about helping fill his orders. There have been no contracts involved. My 'business' is not a verifiable entity; it's more of a non-registered sole-proprietorship. Does that mean it's a scam? No, just like guys who set up their own lawn-mowing businesses for extra cash aren't scamming anybody.

-massive fine structures (simply a way of keeping more of a writer's pay--it's not like the fines are given as refunds to the customer, and this actually gives the companies incentive to keep bad writers whose money they can keep taking, and even to fine good writers for no real reason).

This is an excellent point about the companies having incentive to keep bad writers. I've only applied to one of the online sites and have occasionally perused their orders but never chose to accept any. Anything that looks like decent pay requires about 30 pages in the next 15 minutes (I'm exaggerating just a little, but you get the point). I see what's being offered and compare it to what I can get on my own and they just don't seem worth my time. But if I had no orders of my own I might take some because any money is better than none. Since I haven't tried any from that site I can't tell you whether or not they would have actually paid me. What's sad is that the customers are paying as much or more per page and a lot of it goes to the company, leaving those small amounts for whatever writer is willing to work for wages around $6/page.

Do legitimate services actually exist? How does a person go about finding them? Where do I start? Do I just sign up with one of the services that sound borderline reputable and accept that I will have to fight like hell to get paid even a portion of what they promise? I can do some damn fine work, but I'm getting the impression that I'll need some real street-smarts if I actually want to get paid for doing it.

As I and pheelyks have pointed out, there are obstacles involved with trying to write for many of the businesses that are out there. Many don't pay much and as he pointed out you can run into trouble with the ones that have a system of fines. Compared to at least some of the larger companies online, I pay my writers more than they do when I need help filling my workload and I'm working independently and have only been really active at this for a few months now. For instance, I recently paid a writer what I would have gotten myself per page for an order except that I kept about $4. When I hire out I keep just a little for myself, to cover the cost of processing orders, proofreading my writers' work, and website maintenance. I see this as the best way for me to keep a few writers on hand who are capable of producing work that's up to my standards, which is important because whether I write the paper myself or get one of my writers to do it, it's my reputation that's on the line and I depend strongly on repeat customers. Just don't screw people over and never accept an order that you aren't really capable of filling.
AmonsEssays 2 | 193  
Dec 08, 2010 | #4
What's worked for me and my subcontractors in a similar position (people trying to enter the industry) is to promote EVERYWHERE you can. Craigslist, BackPages... Just type in "free online classifieds", "free online advertising", etc. Start there. After that, if it's in budget start a promotion.

Just try to make sure you don't spam people. It's wrong and it's not effective.

As for working for other essay companies: This whole site is a testament to the dangers. What scares me is that many of my subcontractors report applying to other places that promise a 24 or 48 hour return time, then don't hear back from the companies after months.
wsaban - | 4  
Dec 10, 2010 | #5
Tiffany, I have your first job sitting here, just waiting for your expertise. Unfortunately, I am not permitted to you yet because I do not have the minimum required posts to send a message. However, hopefully you see this and maybe we can chat.
OP Tiffany_Case 1 | 1  
Dec 10, 2010 | #6
Thank you, guys! This is very helpful.

May I pose another question?

I floated my plan past a friend and fellow adjunct, and she flipped out a bit. She said that if I every applied again to teach college or work at a university, working at an essay mill could come back and bite me. Her take was that nobody would hire me in a university setting if they found out that I had done something so blatantly unethical.

(I hate to admit this, but my conscience is untroubled. I've been in and around universities enough to know that college in the US is a pay for degree system anyway. If I'm being pressured to give borderline-illiterate students no less than a B grade in exchange for $300 a credit, huge class sizes, a shared basement office, and no benefits - well, the system is already morally bankrupt, and I'm happy to give it another nudge towards the edge. I'm already getting paid (a pittance) to give undeserving students a useless degree. I see essay writing as an extension of my old job, but potentially better paid. Sorry to be such a nihilist.)

Still, the truth is, I could still potentially finish my doctorate, and I hadn't completely closed the door on working for a university again. I just need something I can do sedentary and from home for a few months.

What are the odds that future employers might find out? I know I will have to report my income on my taxes, but I'm not planning to put it on my cv or anything.
AmonsEssays 2 | 193  
Dec 10, 2010 | #7
I floated my plan past a friend and fellow adjunct, and she flipped out a bit. She said that if I every applied again to teach college or work at a university, working at an essay mill could come back and bite me. Her take was that nobody would hire me in a university setting if they found out that I had done something so blatantly unethical.

It strikes me that, even if this were not the case, discretion would be advised. But how would they know barring you including that on your resume? Simply apply.

I'd also say that, when you are within the university, it would probably be ethical not to write any papers.

(I hate to admit this, but my conscience is untroubled. I've been in and around universities enough to know that college in the US is a pay for degree system anyway.

That's my opinion as well. Further, you really have to ask how our educational system is designed pedagogically. Take the idea of a test. In the real world, you are never shoved into a room, not allowed to talk or use materials you have on hand, and forced to reply to questions off of the top of your head. Even at a job application, it is perfectly acceptable to refer to your resumé which is on the table. The vast majority of the time, the problems you're dealing with aren't about memorization but research, talking to others, etc.

Similarly, in the real world, if you have an assignment, a piece of writing, that you can't or won't handle, it is considered STUPID to try to slog through it yourself and produce a mediocre piece of work. You would delegate it. Yes, you'd acknowledge you delegated it, but no one would punish you for that delegation.

I think it's an empirical question whether students are better off getting an F, retaking a class, etc., or seeing a sample way to answer a prompt. In my experience, my clients get better over time and adopt some of the tricks I use in papers.

What are the odds that future employers might find out? I know I will have to report my income on my taxes, but I'm not planning to put it on my cv or anything.

It seems to me virtually nil, but I can't prove a negative. Has anyone else had a similar problem? I know plagiarism has cost people careers, but being the plagiarized?
somewriter    11 | 116   Freelance Writer
Dec 15, 2010 | #8
I've seen some things saying it's illegal in certain states to sell essays or other work to someone if you know or have reason to believe they'll turn it to a school for credit. I guess if you got caught doing this in one of those states and there was a record of it then you might have something to worry about. I'm not sure where those laws stand on papers being sold as 'example papers' or 'model papers'. It's something I've been thinking about lately and have been meaning to research, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Perhaps someone here already has and can point us in the direction of some information, but as of now I cannot.
Smiley73 4 | 382 ☆☆  
Nov 19, 2017 | #9
The way I see it, the independent writers do not have a contract with the writing companies and those who work truly free of the middleman does not have a contract with his clients that goes beyond the service date or due date of the paper. Therefore, there is no need for you to include the fact that you worked for an academic outsourcing company or as an independent academic writer in your resume. Not unless you are so wanting for professional references that even that sort of profession would somehow help to increase your work profile. The only time that you should perhaps mention that you did that sort of work is when you apply for a government position. The government might tend to investigate your professional background far more thoroughly than a university HR division might. Otherwise, I don't see how working "underground" in this industry, for a bit of time, would have any profound effect on your future as a university professor. Like you said, you are being asked to sacrifice your academic standards anyway, so why not get paid more for it?
FreelanceWriter    5 | 1,315 ☆☆☆☆   Freelance Writer
Nov 19, 2017 | #10
...the independent writers do not have a contract with the writing companies and those who work truly free of the middleman does not have a contract with his clients that goes beyond the service date or due date of the paper.

Even as independent contractors, we still have a contract with the companies; it's just able to be terminated by either party at will. As totally independent writers, our contract with customers still consists of everything represented on our websites and everything agreed to in our pre-payment communications, irrespective of whether or not there's anything specifically referred to (or signed) as a "contract," per se.

Therefore, there is no need for you to include the fact that you worked for an academic outsourcing company or as an independent academic writer in your resume.

Not sure what the connection is that you have in mind between the existence of a contract and whether or not that work experience needs to be disclosed. Contracts by themselves don't leave any paper trail, but legit American essay companies generate annual 1099 tax forms, so there's still a record of your employment capable of being identified, if that's what you're getting at.

The government might tend to investigate your professional background far more thoroughly than a university HR division might.

Not necessarily, at least not in terms of examining every prior job, anyway. When I filled out my SF-86 after being hired by the federal government, I fully disclosed the essay company for which I'd been writing as well as the "gentlemen's club" where I'd worked as a bouncer and manager. Probably the only thing they really investigate are criminal and financial history and child-support compliance.
Extremely experienced, honest, versatile American writer in NYC with a Law Degree from NYLS: Visit NYCFreelanceWriter "dot" com
ProfessorVerb    35 | 837 ☆☆   Freelance Writer
Nov 22, 2017 | #11
but being the plagiarized?

This snake has bit me in the ass hundreds of times over the years. I've even received assignment guidelines for nursing assignments that used my work product from previous assignments verbatim. My tag "Remember: I write it right with all my might!" shows more than 3,500 matches on Google, and I've found hundreds of examples of parts or all of my papers used by others. Although I only have about 18 more months before retirement, this issue still bothers me, but without a Microsoft-level legal team, what can you do? I guess we have to accept the fact that imitation is a form of flattery.



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