Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Craigslist not all bad

I like to complain about the writing jobs I find on craigslist. So many of the people looking for writers for their blogs or Web sites expect to get one for free. Then, when someone complains, they bring up that whole "you should write for the love of writing" garbage. Sometimes, they'll boast that by writing for their site you'll gain valuable exposure.

That's nonsense, too, by the way. You won't get any exposure by writing for some lame, mistake-filled Web site.

That's a tangent, though. I really wanted to give some credit to craigslist. The site has actually helped me land a string of fairly well-paying jobs lately.

For instance, last month, I wrote my first story for a health magazine after responding to a craigslist ad. The story brought me $750. That's a whole lot of content stories.

This month, I'll start working on an anthology book of strange statistics and facts. Again, the pay is decent if not great -- $120 for 500-word stories that require no interviews and very basic research -- and I found this opportunity on craigslist.

The problem with craigslist, though, is that you have to wade through so much garbage to find the good posts. Here's a rule: Don't respond to any craigslist ad that's shorter than three sentences. And don't respond to any that don't even tell you what kind of stories you'll be writing.

Most importantly, don't ever provide fresh writing samples for free. When posters ask for this, they are usually scammers hoping to gain free content from gullible writers for their Web sites.

By the way, I'm in an unusually positive mood today because I received some wonderful comments on a trade-magazine story I wrote not just from the editor but from the magazine's publisher. This is good because I'd like to make this magazine -- which I've only recently started writing for -- one of my regular clients.

It's easy to forget sometimes, as we concentrate on pounding out as many stories as quickly as we can, that quality still counts. Sometimes, the only way to get good assignments is to turn in your best work on a consistent basis. Eventually, people notice.

Or at least that's the hope.

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