An open letter to media job boards everywhere

writingscamsHere is the text of an email I just sent to Media Job Search Canada, and which I have forwarded to MediaBistro. It can equally well apply to media job boards everywhere that uphold this offensive policy of posting scam “jobs” meant to trick and/or entrap young, inexperienced writers:

Dear Media Job Search Canada,

As a hard-working freelance writer, I’d like to make a suggestion for your media job-posting site: Don’t post ads from “pay-per-click” sites like Suite101!

You recently posted this ad on your site:

To me, this is not a job. It is insulting to see these types of scam ads on media-friendly, media-focused job boards, as the “pay” depends on the writer’s constantly pimping links to friends, family and random strangers. You are only “paid” when you reach a certain number of views on your articles, and for most writers on the site, places like Suite101 never pay out. Period. How do I know this? I “worked” for them, and have never received a paycheck for any of the articles I wrote for their site.

This is not a job, it is a scam. To post ads from scammers like these demeans all media job-seekers, and suggests that we are not worth paying for our efforts. We ARE worth paying, and I would really like this ad—and others like it—banned from your site.

Laura Roberts

Writer, editor, button tapper
Editor-in-chief, Black Heart Magazine
“V for Vixen”

My fellow writers, please do not apply for these types of “jobs.” They are not jobs, they are scams. Even if you are just starting out, you are a professional writer, and professional writers deserve payment for their work. If you must write on spec or for free in order to achieve clips for your portfolio, do it for a reputable company, one whose work you have read and admire. There are plenty of great magazines that are run by unpaid volunteers, and I would much rather see my friends and fellow freelancers contributing to these types of endeavours than getting scammed by scumbags like Suite101 and their ilk.

Oh, and for the record? Suite101 banned me from their site for being “too creative” with my work. If the fact that they never pay you for your work to begin with isn’t bad enough, the fact that you can’t even write something you’d be proud of should strike you as unbelievably offensive. Quite frankly, I am proud of the fact that they banned me from the site, as it only proves that they are close-minded where creativity is concerned and will never achieve anything beyond stealing writers’ works.

P.S. To clarify, I do respect MediaBistro as an authority on media jobs, which is why I find it puzzling that they, too, are posting “jobs” from people like Suite101. Suite101 is perpetually “seeking writers.” Is it any wonder, given their lack of payment? Also, if you’d like more comments/info on Suite101, WritersWeekly has a forum full of comments and complaints about them here and here.


  • Bill Bartmann

    Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks!

    A definite great read…:)


  • Olga

    Hey Laura,

    How do you feel about the “blog content providers” websites out there that pay around 3$ a post (250 words) to freelance bloggers? Ex: Delegate2, Purecontent, etc. Are those just as scam-like? And seriously, how do you go about getting online freelance writing gigs that aren’t related to ad revenue?

  • Laura Roberts

    Olga: I think the “blog content providers” websites are, at least, up front about what they pay, so it’s much less scammy than Suite101 types of places. They don’t pay much, but you know what you’re getting into from the beginning, so you can’t really say they didn’t warn you or that they ripped you off if you’re willing to accept their extremely low payment.

    If you’re willing to put in a lot of effort for only $3 a post, then go for it. In my experience, however, the lower the pay, the less effort writers are willing to put in, and you’ll start to produce work that is embarrassing to you out of a sense of spite, no matter how well you normally write, which won’t help you achieve your goal of writing for someplace better. Writing something you really want to write, even if you do it for free, is better than being paid insulting wages for something you DON’T want to write. Of course, if you really need the money, you may feel differently. But even then, I would suggest getting a day job to pay your bills while you continue to write things you’re proud of and try to sell them to outlets that will pay for the work.

    As far as getting freelance writing gigs that aren’t related to ad revenue, there are lots of places out there. I think I will probably write another article about job sites, cus there are lots, but you still have to weed your own list to find what you’re looking for.

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