Scam the Writing Job Scammers

Or: how I am going to lamely get some kind of revenge on a couple of the scammer content mills who have made writing suck.

Young writers’ optimism usually should make a person feel good. But most of them are going to fail, and the ones who fail are often the good ones. The only thing to do about that is persistence, but the system or lack thereof is fucked in a million ways, so sometimes persistence seems like madness. Maybe I can place some guideposts to help myself and others make sense of the shipwreck.

Way back in 2006 or so, when I was trying to use my past career as a journalist to make money while doing the adult-student thing, I fell into a trap that’s apparently still out there: fake job ads that are actually collecting free articles for their content machines. The scam goes: “Write a sample piece to these exact specs to show us how gud you can rite!” Then you never hear from them, and your “sample” shows up in a Google search on some content-driven ad funnel. They’ve gotten more sophisticated, but it’s still out there.

These content mill fucks, I assume, know more about SEO than I do, since they clearly prefer the business end of writing to actual writing. (“Design, let’s spend maybe 500 grand…. content? Ah, who cares, let’s steal it from unemployed writers. I can hire this one really talented scamming intern from Nigeria for peanuts if I just wire 5000 pounds to his grandmother.”)So to give myself a boost at their expense this time, I think I’m going to start writing their sample pieces, then posting them myself so maybe Google will recognize me in the crossfire — if we both post the same piece, then maybe I can get a trickle of their traffic.

In other words, I’ll see if I can “steal” eyeballs that are peering (god, these eyeball expressions are creepy and wearying) at my own writing for non-hire and nudging them toward my real writing. The pied piper is crap writing I “created” (everyone is a “creator” now, kill me) to fit their crap instructions, but it may lead people to my other work.

What convoluted bullshit. Thieving from the thieves. This tendency of those skilled in all this manipulative click-here crap to lord it over clear, slow thought and truth is another piece of the very difficult-to-compile description of what is so horribly WRONG about the writing profession, if you can even call it such, at this point; it’s even harder to explain it to digital natives, since they’ve never lived in a world with standards.

Remember when publishers promoted writers? Now we have to Maury Povitch out all over the Internet to get noticed, or else write like robots to get a political or arts and crafts mill job. Who the fuck wants to do that with their life?! Unless the world is even worse than my cynicism suspects, nobody. But somehow, the people who do it still think they’re doing something glamorous. I don’t hear the complaints. Come on, let’s build some solidarity. If we don’t unplug from the matrix and perform our truth-telling function as writers, what the hell are we alive for? Better to train to be an engineer and make the world better.

But it’s too late for me to do that, and this pile of shit keeps sitting there, so I might as well hack it.

Getting readers to stumble upon oneself is such an unfathomable process at this point (unless you have the right crazy politics, but I’m not sure how it works even then; you could always create some horrible drama and maybe go to jail; celebrity simply snowballs, but also them algorithms…).

Also, I’ve noticed that Medium, in its promotional habits, vastly favors articles that are about writing (the French call this nombrilisme, a nice compact way to say navel-gazing, but are people even ashamed of that anymore?) — particularly writing for Medium and how-to. Doesn’t it scare anyone that “how to succeed writing for Medium” is one of the most popular topics on Medium? It takes so much bullshit to get on the mic that most people, when they arrive, turn out to be bullshitters.

I don’t know how-to yet, but feel free to watch this space for my experiment about how to succeed on Medium (is that too obvious to be SEO? God, I hate it here) by repeating scam copy (that you wrote, so you have a defense in case you’re sued) and grabbing the scammers’ traffic. Somehow.

To put it in analog terms, the TV is broken, so I’m gonna smack it with a wrench.

So if you see me posting some weird Gwyneth Paltrow type shit in this space, this is why. Nah, I haven’t lost my mind, I’m just being a dickhead. On to the organic bear poop candles! Unless I can’t find any scammers because they’ve moved on to something else… who knows? I will find out soon!

Author of NVSQVAM, DISASTER FITNESS, the upcoming ELEKTRA’S REVENGE sci-fi epic, & the action novella SEINE VENDETTA. Editor of YOU’RE ALL PUSSIES.

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