Writing is...personal freedom...writers will write...to survive as individuals.
~ Don Delillo

Friday, September 2, 2011

Stop Exploiting Filipino Online Writers, Please!

They may come from a poor country, but there are Asians, particularly Filipinos, who can write well and produce original and quality work for an English reading public.
I'm baffled, disconcerted at the moment.

I haven't written as many articles as I have on this online platform. It's good to earn while staying at home, researching, reading, and writing. However, most of the sites I joined since starting to write online last year have been on shaky grounds due to Google's Panda attack. I understand the algorithmic tweaking happens regularly. However, a more serious shift took place early this year. Most, if not all "content farms", have been biting the dust in terms of Google juice and page views. The virtual world has become as unfair and as uncertain as the real world.

It's likewise sad to learn that many sites and many people who run and use these sites think that writing is easy. Well, it is if one's copying something; but, if it's something original and with specifications like what topic and how a certain piece should be written, well it isn't easy at all.

There are foreigners (Anglo-Saxon, Arab, or Indian) who are married to Filipinas who have launched a business that offers virtual assistance jobs to Filipinos. A worker's monthly salary in the US could be around $1,500 - $2,500,  but this amount can pay for 2-5 virtual assistants from the Philippines. Yet, among the common tasks of a virtual assistant is to write an x number of words for an x number of articles for x number of months for a niche site. Needless to say, payment for these "products" are already included in the $300-$500 monthly salary.

I won't be surprised if many readers and subscribers of these sites and blogs think that the people claiming to be SEO professionals or experts are the real authors of all the pieces they've read. These these so-called online gurus and online entrepreneurs can claim they've bought the rights for these posts after all. But do they pay their virtual assistants and writers well? Or are they just taking advantage of the fact that their money weighs more than the local currency, that even just a $1.00 - $3.00 payment is already more than enough to compensate for a written product? Alas, not a few of have tapped writers from Third World countries because of cheap labor.

Online writers deserve decent pay for their hard work.
Perhaps some of these "employers" and writing site clients pay a good price; however, many don't. I don't solely blame them, though. There's a fellow Filipino scribe on People Per Hour whom I almost emailed to ask why is he bidding to work for $1.50 or its equivalent in pounds per article. Is he not aware that he's allowing himself to be exploited by those who have no idea at all about how it is to live in a country where 23 million people live below $2 daily?

Of course, I have no control over that writer's decision to do so. Yet, people like him are making it hard for other Filipino writers who can deliver original articles or better quality content to charge for a decent and fair amount. This is utterly disappointing, indeed. Less than a dollar or 3 dollars maximum for x number of words or pages is just despicably exploitative. What about the time and effort spent doing research, reading, writing, and re-writing?

Though some people would say, "At least they have a job." But that's not the point I'm driving at. Non-native English speakers yet good writers deserve to earn more than what they're getting! The ongoing exploitative scheme of paying a very measly amount for a 250-1,000-word article is a modern, technology-based form of slavery. You don't pay writers outside the US, UK, or Canada (and other English-speaking states) a pittance simply because they live in a country with low living standards. The fact that they are working in a foreign currency-paying site already shows that they need to earn more than what they could get if they work offline.

I don't think these paying clients would like it if they're on the other end of the transaction nor do fellow struggling Filipino scribes realize that they are allowing themselves to be exploited or economically abused. Writing entails hard work. And hard work should be paid accordingly.

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