UPDATE: After posting this, I received what I’d like to think was an apology from the person who inspired the article. I’m going to leave it up in its entirety, but I do respect people admitting they were wrong. It would, therefore, be disingenuous for me not to prefix it appropriately.
I’m in an incredibly bad mood.
Admittedly it’s not helped by the fact I’m 14 days into giving up smoking, and I’m not entirely sure I’m going to have the will to get to day 15. But that’s a side issue.
What I’m wound up about is that I’ve once again had my integrity questioned on this site.
I’m not going to go off on a massive rant today. I have neither the time nor inclination. But there are a few things I want to say.
As I make perfectly clear at the start of EVERY article on HomeWorkingClub, I earn an affiliate commission when people click through and purchase some of the products discussed on this site. It’s a perfectly normal business model. If I didn’t have a way of earning from the site, I wouldn’t be able to work on it. This doesn’t mean I freely recommend products I don’t believe in.
That’s why my reviews of Writers.Work and Contena are both over 3000 words each and cover all the pros and cons. They’re both controversial services that charge a fee for aspiring writers to learn about writing and find jobs.
Plenty of people object to this business model; You only need to look at the rage in the Facebook comment sections underneath the reviews to see that. However, the vast majority of commenters appreciate the fact that I’ve taken the time to thoroughly review the products, rather than just cynically “review” them, say nice things, and wait for the commission to roll in.
In the case of Contena, the product that causes the lovely Darryl, above, to label me a “fraud,” I say in my review that I have a “feeling of discomfort with the company’s ways of doing business,” acknowledge that I’ve heard about “problems claiming under the money back guarantee,” and use the word “sinister” to describe the company’s practices.
If people still choose to sign up to the product after reading that review, that’s entirely up to them. I’m hardly expecting to maximise commission with those comments!
The fact is, products like this are NOT shortcuts to writing careers. I make this abundantly clear in the reviews and in the numerous articles about freelance writing on this site – all of which took me hours to write and are here for people to read and act on without paying me a single penny.
These products sell because their marketing messages tell people what they want to hear. Some people do still click through and buy them after reading my reviews. (And with that in mind, imagine how many people buy such products after reading all the other dishonest and salesy reviews all over the internet?!)
I liken this to how many people buy snazzy new sports clothes before forgetting about their new gym membership and ordering pizza.
People love buying stuff, starting stuff, signing up to stuff; People are a lot less interested in doing the hard work it takes to actually achieve something.
I discussed this before in an article about lazy people. I included a referral link in my review of Clickworker, a micro-working site. That review’s been read by well over 5000 people since I posted it.
Despite the work being rather monotonous, Clickworker offers a decent stream of it. HomeWorkingClub is a site dedicated to helping people find work they can do from home. And there’s lot of those people. As you can see from the stats below, literally millions of people look for such opportunities every month.
So, with over 5000 people reading the review, how many actually took two minutes to sign up?
The answer is 148.
And how many of them actually stuck with it long enough to earn the paltry €10 needed for me to see a referral fee?
(Whoever you are I’d like to give you a hug!)
I made more than this on ClickWorker while I was reviewing it!
The thing is, these shocking statistics are far from unusual.
Going back the gym thing, statistics suggest nearly 70% of people never use their gym memberships.
Another piece of data I uncovered that surprised even me was that only 5% of people who start online courses bother to finish them. The internet is brimming with fantastic resources to help people learn, grow and move their careers forward, but the vast majority of people don’t actually have the tenacity to even complete a free course.
Is it therefore any wonder that stuff like Writers.Work and Contena, both of which are marketed around how much people can earn, is so popular?
It’s the working online equivalent of shiny “beach bodies” on a gym brochure.
Both Writers.Work and Contena include some useful tools for aspiring writers, just as the gym is home to some useful machines to build those abs. But none of these things work unless you actually put work in. A LOT of work in.
Sadly, plenty of people don’t seem to realise how obvious that is before they start bitching online.
Ah, so spending 50 bucks didn’t magically turn you into a wealthy writer overnight? Well, what did you expect? Did you complete all the training? Did you send out dozens of perfectly crafted pitches? No, I thought not.
Marketers in Disguise
People who wind me up just as much as dipshit keyboard warriors like Darryl are those who come across all “holier than thou” in the comments, such as this individual:
Is this person trying to help my readers?
It may seem so, but what he’s actually doing is breaking a really basic rule of online etiquette and using my comment section to spam a link to his own website.
And what does he sell on that website?
Yep, you guessed it – an eBook teaching people to become freelance writers.
His promises are just as lofty as those thrown out by Contena and Writers.Work. He implies you can make “$4000-$10,000 a month for work you can do at home in your jammies.”
What a crock of shit.
Average writers make less than minimum wage.
Yes, it’s possible to make good money from writing. I do myself some of the time. But the reality is that the majority of people who buy the books and sign up to the online services will do about as much with them as the majority of people do with their gym memberships and online courses.
There’s actually some good news in amongst all this doom and gloom. Some people do get to follow their dreams; They’re the people who actually follow through on the advice in the articles, the books and the training courses.
I’m sure there’s plenty of wisdom in Kevin’s eBook, for example, for those who actually want to put the work in. But there’s nothing in the cheesy sales blurb that says how hard it is in reality – any more then the promotional materials for the gym state how unlikely it is you’ll actually attend regularly and achieve that beach body.
The moron who called me a fraud this week really upset me, as you can probably tell.
That’s because I genuinely set out to do something different with this site.
I spend about two hours of every day sending personal responses to dozens of emails from readers. I earn nothing from this. Furthermore, I often tell people straight when they’re being unrealistic about a specific freelance ambition, or discourage them from buying a product that would earn me commission.
I’d rather gradually earn from this website and keep my reputation intact.
And that’s why it hurts when people question my integrity.
There are books out there (like this one) that literally teach you how to psychologically manipulate people into buying stuff online. This site now has enough traffic that I could easily implement such techniques (“tripwires,” “upsells” and “false scarcity”) and make a lot more money.
I’ve never wanted to do that. One day, I hope I will find the time to write a book and sell it to readers of this site. But my “unique selling point” will be honesty. A lot of freelancers (especially writers) really struggle, but many would rather struggle to pull in enough work than struggle with a daily commute and only ten minutes with their children each evening.
I’m here to help the people who want to make a success of freelancing enough that they’re willing to put the work in. For those who’d rather read about it and talk about it than actually do it, at least all of my content is free!
If you’re determined to convince yourself that your route to success is going to come from buying stuff rather than working hard, I can’t help you. But, don’t worry, there’s a whole queue of people ready to convince you that their eBook is the one that’s going to change your life.
But be in no doubt: You’re basically that person posing outside the gym in your new activewear, with no intention of working up a sweat. “All the gear and no idea,” as they say.
It’s not nice to be called a fraud when you’re anything but. Only a couple of weeks ago I talked about how much of a financial struggle freelancing can be, even when you’ve been doing it for years. I hoped that such candour would be a lot more useful to people that the cheesy “six-figure income” crap that the internet is jam-packed with. Right now, I’m wondering whether it was worth the effort.
So, I’m going to leave it there. For those of you who’d actually like to put the necessary work into freelance writing, I’ve left a bunch of links (to totally free, honest information) below.
- This article discusses what skills and qualities you need to make a success of any kind of freelancing.
- This one talks about the realities of online freelancing in a globalised world.
- This one explains how the freelance writing world works.
- This has some general tips for improving your writing skills.
- This one is all about finding some success on the freelance job boards (and if you think getting writing jobs with no experience is feasible without getting involved with them, you’re not being very realistic).
- This talks about the realities of how few people actually take any action to further their freelance careers.