Freelance writing exposed
When I first started my career in freelance writing, I was pretty naïve. I never thought that I’d be confronted with serious (and less serious) ethical questions as a website writer – but I was in for some surprises. I found that other Freelancers take chances and that some employers ask for things I’d rather not do. Curious? Let’s check out those ethical issues I’m talking about:
What some Freelancers do (but shouldn’t)
I never realised how much plagiarism writers tried to get away with until I started writing and received requests to produce plagiarism reports. I got access to plagiarism software (at a price), but in my case, it was a complete waste of time getting something that told me what I already knew: I don’t copy other people’s work. I might use their information, but as far as I know, that’s termed ‘research’ and it’s perfectly above board. I found out that some ‘writers’ will copy and paste anything from paragraphs and sentences to whole articles. No wonder the employers get suspicious!
I didn’t even know what spinning was, but now I know that it’s a process in which articles are re-worded sentence by sentence. It’s not the same as re-writing, because in re-writing you reproduce the same information as you found in the original, but you don’t re-word every single phrase in the original order. You add information, move information around and in the end, it’s actually original work. As if spinning weren’t bad enough on its own, some ‘writers’ use spinning software. It doesn’t really work. Sure, it produces something that isn’t quite plagiarised, but it doesn’t always make sense when you read it. Spinning, in short, is rip-off!
They use ‘writing software’
I’ll admit that I’m not all that conversant with this kind of thing, but I got referred to a site that claims to be able to all but write articles for you. I didn’t try it. Just reading the website copy was enough to persuade me that whatever it was, it didn’t work – at least, not if the software was used to produce the copy I read. It was awful!
A client excitedly told me that he was investigating an option that would give him ‘killer sales copy’. I had a look. The system seems to assume that the same sales style works for every kind of product. It doesn’t! Once again, I didn’t try it because I’d have had to pay to do so, but it seems to subscribe to a selling style along the lines of the work you see in the advertising that bogus money-making schemes use.
Even if that’s the image you want to project, I’m convinced that the results will be pretty useless. No machine can write good copy – at least, no machine I’ve ever come across!
Then there are the topics that I simply won’t cover…
Some people will believe everything they read, simply because they want to. As a savvy consumer, I subscribe to the ‘If it sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t’ school of thought, but lots of people believe that the proverbial ‘Free lunch’ is a reality. There are:
- Sites that offer products that might actually hurt someone or damage their health.
- Sites that want me to make outrageous claims that can’t be backed up by facts or even opinions.
- Sites that offer illegal products.
- Sites that want articles dissing the competition without any evidence of wrongdoing.
Should I write this kind of thing? After all, if I don’t somebody else will, so if I turn tasks down, I’m just saying ‘No’ to money. Right? Right! But I still won’t do it. I’m here to help good businesses with great products to get their information out there. The charlatans will have to find another writer for their websites.
What would you do?