As professions go, being a writer is a pretty difficult one to pursue. Aside from all the creative challenges, it seems as is nearly everyone you meet thinks they'd make a fine writer and to prove it they're willing to work for next to nothing.
And since we live in a free market economy, if someone is willing to work extremely cheap, companies will line up to take advantage of that fact. Even companies that could easily pay a reasonable wage.
Today's example of an economy gone wrong comes from Los Angeles - more specifically from the luxury rental building 1010 Wilshire. The building rents fully furnished luxury condos and the amenities include everything from a extensive private gym to a helipad. 1010 Wilshire has office units available and it's been used by a number of TV and movie productions. So it's fair to say that the management of the building is probably doing okay financially.
Give all of that, I was a bit surprised to find someone soliciting SEO keyword-rich content for the building on a freelance writing web site and offering to pay about a penny a word for the pieces. Someone working for the building's management (most likely Inspree Marketing, which also does 1010 Wilshire's web site) is looking for some pieces that will drive traffic and encourage people to come in for a free tour of the building.
The directions for the pieces (see a screenshot here and here) come with a long list of mandatory keywords, a requested length of 450 words and a number of other guidelines. On the upside, all that work will make the lucky writer the grand total of $4.50.
To be fair, it's very unlikely anyone at 1010 Wilshire has any idea how much their SEO guru is paying its writers. And it's unknown whether the low pay rate is the result of a very low bid price for the overall SEO work or if it's just an example of an SEO and marketing company taking advantage of a glut of willing writers.
But I will make the observation that any copy you get at such a low rate is likely to be sub-par. Anyone with the slightest amount of marketing skill will laugh at a penny a word and as a result the client ends up with pieces that are rudimentary and ultimately don't perform as expected.
Attempts to get a comment from someone at 1010 Wilshire and/or Inspree Marketing have so far been unsuccessful, although it's worth noting that Inspree's office address is listed on its web site as a suite in the 1010 Wilshire building.