There are plenty of paying gigs to be found in online marketplaces, where employers hire freelancers to complete quick mini-tasks like transcribing interviews, verifying info listed on websites, and committing quasi-plagiarism. The only problem with this system—well, the only problem besides the plagiarism—is that even the most diligent and productive workers shouldn’t expect to earn anything close to minimum wage.
A BusinessWeek writer tells of her day’s experiment as a “micro worker,” during which she nets a total of $4.38, or a whopping 63¢ an hour. BW writer Rachael King signed up with Amazon Mechanical Turk, where employers post pay-per-piece HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) that anyone with an Internet connection can take on. I took a look at the site this morning, and more than 110,000 HITs were listed.
King pulls in 50¢ during her first hour’s work, verifying museum contact info and operation hours, and moves on to consider more lucrative writing gigs. “More lucrative” being a very relative phrase:
A post for a 400-word article about “why you should use video in your company” catches my eye. The requester wants an informative and original article. The potential wage is $2.00—one of the highest-paying writing jobs I’ve found. What’s worse, I’m not eligible to apply for this job until I have proven my ability on other tasks.
That assignment breaks down to a rate of a half-penny per word—roughly 200 times less than the going rate professional writers could have expected to make a decade ago.
Another gig required a rewrite (or somewhat plagiarized version) of a NY Times story on the president’s state of the union address. That one paid 77¢.
In related news, CNNMoney reported that the vast majority of newly created jobs aren’t ones that pay particularly well:
[National Employment Law Project policy co-director Annette] Bernhardt’s analysis of the first seven months of 2010 found that 76% of jobs created were in low- to mid-wage industries — those earning between $8.92 to $15 an hour, well below the national average hourly wage of $22.60.
I suppose “low-wage” is another relative term.