Debt Pitfalls: Spending Too Much Time Working For No Pay or Low Pay
I just found this excellent site: Writing Isn’t Work! where the worst of the unpaid/low-paid writing gigs on craigslist are exploited. There are way too many people on craigslist who make ridiculous demands and want to offer nothing in return. Here is a great parody of this phenomenon (click to enlarge):
I find this a lot on craigslist: there are people who are simply delusional and put whatever price they want for things they want to sell or expect to pay for real work and services. I can think of a few examples easily:
- Someone asking you to clean their whole house for $10 (cash, they promise).
- A guy listing his house at $329K in a neighborhood where the homes go for no more than $179K.
- The unending stream of jobs or gigs where they “require” years of experience in a trade or skill, but only want to pay $8/hour, or worse, have you intern for the first 30 days to see if you fit, then discuss the possibility of getting paid in the future.
This happens because craigslist is free and people think they’ll just try it and see if anybody responds. Unfortunately, when it comes to these low-paying gigs, there are a lot of people who do respond, and legitimize these bastards who want you to work for nothing while giving them 110%.
Craigslist isn’t the only place where people want to trick you into giving something away when it is truly a valuable service:
-Crowdsourcing sites like crowdSPRING
-Amazon Mechanical Turk
-Working from your smartphone using Gigwalk: I have mixed feelings about Gigwalk. On the one hand, I do think the technology is quite impressive and it allows you to make a few bucks quickly (it’s not meant to become a full-time thing). But having worked in management consulting and project-based work since the start of my career, I know that tasks like these are extremely valuable to businesses and they would cost much, much more even if they were done by a small, local research firm. Maybe those firms were overpriced, but the value of the information that Gigwalk provides to businesses is way more than the $4 the Gigwalker gets paid. If there was a way to submit your rate and thus make it more attractive to the worker (which depends on the fact that everyone will demand a better pay rate), then Gigwalk would not seem like it was taking advantage of people who are feeling compelled to do any kind of work.
Working for less than you’re worth can definitely get you into debt. I know. I’ve done all kinds of crazy writing gigs in an effort to increase my income, until I realized my time is worth more than $10 for some SEO article bullshit that takes me 3 hours to write. I would rather write about what I am interested in and say no to content farmers who want to capitalize off my writing. It’s fine to work for low pay sometimes, and sometimes you have to take on some crappy jobs just to pay the bills. But if you focus on trying to get a bunch of low-paid gigs or only look for jobs that pay minimum wage, then it becomes harder to view yourself as a valuable resource, which your time and abilities definitely are.
Do you guys have any terrible craigslist ads to share? Do tell!