Ads on Craigslist for Writers

The ads on Craigslist asking for writers but offering no pay drive me absolutely crazy. “We don’t pay, but this is a great opportunity to get published,” blah, blah, blah. Where to begin? I know they are targeting beginning writers, but even for writers just starting out this is bullshit.

The authors of these ads never say anything to substantiate their claim that this is a good opportunity. Anyone can slap up a website or blog. What are they bringing to the table that makes it a good opportunity for the writers? It’s almost always a start-up so there is no audience. They never say “we have well-heeled investors getting behind our effort, so we think it’s not unreasonable to believe we have a decent shot,” etc. (Of course if they had investors they would be paying the writers something.) They never detail their experience and background which might also give some credence to their claims. Who are YOU? Why should anyone jump through whatever hoops you’ve held up to impress you?

Worse are the “established, famous” writers asking for assistants without pay, offering valuable experience and contacts in return. If they were truly established they would pay their assistants. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of talented writers out there who are struggling, these are hard times, but the number of them who could genuinely make working for free worthwhile is small. And the people who put up these ads don’t sound like they are in that pool, they invariably sound like jerks. So much so I can’t believe anyone responds. But I also can’t believe anyone answers the “write for my blog for free, it’s a great opportunity” ads. Do they?

I went back and took another picture of those Jimmy Choo shoes I think are so beautiful. My first shot was so bad.

Jimmy Choo Shoes on Bleecker Street

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

5 thoughts on “Ads on Craigslist for Writers

  1. When I was in art school from ’79 to ’83, organizations & businesses would ask the school to post information about design competitions where a winning logo might win a whopping $400 or $500. I guess a lot of students needed the money but certain teachers always warned us against participating because they just saw these things as a way for people to get designs done on-the-cheap. “But it will be GREAT for your portfolio!” Yeah, right.
    These days I work as an in-house designer for a religious organization & we often have a need for photographs that you can’t just find on your average stock photo website. Some of my co-workers have suggested holding a photo contest, the prize being seeing your photo published in a national publication. I always point out that it would just be taking advantage of people.
    Now, about those shoes…
    1) go to some discount shoe store & buy a pair of platform sandals.
    2) go to a place like M&J Trims (i think that’s the name) on 7th(?) ave. and buy lots of feathers and glittery things.
    3) use a glue gun to recreate the Jimmy Choo look on the discount store shoes.

  2. In the same vein are non-profits who solicit donations of artwork for charity auctions. Those of us least in a position to afford giving away potential income are asked to donate. Of course they are worthy causes, but most artists are already struggling. Why don’t we ever see “Dental Xray” or “Mammogram” or “Engine Tune Up” or “No Banking Fees for a Year” on the charity auction programs?

  3. Wow. Good question.

    Nora, at least those photographers really are getting their work shown on an established platform. They can also submit existing work so they’re not really working for nothing. The ads are asking you to work for places that are new or non-existant currently, and you have to write something specifically for them. It’s insane.

  4. Oh, and great suggestion about the shoes. I can’t wear heels anymore, but you gave me an idea. Oh, I’m going to post about this.

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