Ladies & Gents:
Hello from once again injury central. I'm allegedly getting out of this #$(*&@#$&(* boot in eight days. Not like I'm counting or anything.
But to business: the big news in the freelance world has been a serious misstep taken by Contently, a service that hooks up brands looking for writers with writers. The business model, or so we were told, is that they charged a fee to brands, which gives those brands access to a talented pool of professional writers.
On Feb. 27, Contently told that talent pool they were going to start paying too: a 4.75% fee to access the money they made through Contently.
As you might imagine, this made a lot of writers furious. Many marked their status on the site as unavailable until a change was made. They tweeted with the hashtag #nocontentforcontently. The backlash was so huge that Contently relented, and apologized.
I didn't have much of a dog in this fight – I had a Contently profile but never got any work from them, and I told them to delete my profile when they announced the fee structure. But it irked me for the obvious reason that it was a way to pay writers less, and I assumed that they'd be implementing this fee on work writers already agreed to do for the no-fee rate. If they had set the site up with this fee structure in place – fine, writers know that when they're getting involved. But to just drop it on writers, and to make the fee that high (PayPal charges 2.9% + .30 per transaction) did nothing but show what they really thought about that valuable talent pool.
Perhaps they didn't think writers would stand up for themselves, buying into the idea that we're all meek little creatures happy to get any scarp of work. I can't find it now, but I think once their blog published a post that $.10/word was a fair freelance writer rate, if that's any indication of what they think writers are worth (though I know writers have made much much more per word from clients they found on Contently). I am always encouraged by writers standing up for themselves and to demand being paid a fair wage and not being treated like leftovers. Good on everyone here.
@BlackFreelance1 had some great thoughts on this topic, about being at the "mercy of the platform," which is one of a few things that bothered me about these systems (she's also a must follow for freelancers). I tried a similar platform years ago that tried to put me on a project for a running shoe brand. When I said it was a conflict of interest, they told me I could just use another name and they wouldn't tell anyone. Yikes no. I asked them to delete my profile too.
There are certainly benefits, especially if you don't like to market. But this isn't like signing a contract with a literary agent where the commission is outlined at the time of signing. The arrangement with these content platforms change at any time, and the platform may not always roll over like Contently did.
Now, on with the rest of the show.
"Slow Enough to be a Sponsored Runner" for The New York Times
"Do You Need to Work to Recover from an Injury?" for The New York Times
"When an Injury Sidelines a Runner" for The New York Times
"Walmart bets on new high-tech consolidation center to win at 'inventory flow'" for Supply Chain Dive
What I'm Reading
- The Mistress of Spice by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. There are some books you want to read just for the writing, and this one of those. Everything else worked about it, but what gorgeous use of language.
- Void Moon by Michael Connelly. I forgot this one in my quest to read the entire Connelly oeuvre. I am SO CLOSE to catching up in real time. My dad's waiting for that so we can talk about the new novels.
- The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff. A local writer! And one touted by our local bookstore, so I bit. So far so good.
What I'm Watching
- Agatha and the Truth of Murder. AHHHHHH this is so good, a fictionalization of a short period in Agatha Christie's life that's written as if it's an Agatha Christie murder. Also it's got a lot of sass. I HIGHLY recommend this one (it's on Netflix).
- Into the Universe. What an odd duck of a movie. I'm hoping that the upcoming movie Yesterday is a better version of "a movie with Beatles songs."
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This has long been my favorite of the Jones movies (and I'm going to continue to pretend that Crystal Skull doesn't exist).
Captain Marvel on Friday! I am so excited!
Until next time,
Jen A. Miller