It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. And as recent events show, when you swim with sharks, you risk getting bitten. And by sharks we mean predatory job postings that every writer should avoid, like this one that made our toes curl in anger.
A company was seeking experienced medical writers to research the recent medical literature in various therapeutic areas and prepare synopses of the most pertinent information of which healthcare professionals specializing in those therapeutic areas should be aware. The post didn’t say how these synopses would be delivered to their intended audiences, but we figured they were probably destined for electronic delivery. The company promised tons of ongoing work and boasted a fee per synopsis of $200. The allotted time for writers to crank out these little beauties was 2 to 3 business days.
So let’s do the math. If you agreed to take on as many of these assignments as they could give you and you turned each one around in 2 business days, without taking a day off you would be able to write 130 synopses a year and make a whopping $26,000. If you devoted full 8-hour working days to each synopsis, that would equate to about $12.50 per hour. If you were better and faster and it took you just 4 hours to write each synopsis you’d only make $25 per hour. And if you were really fast and wrote each one in just 2 hours–which, quite honestly, we doubt anyone could do or do well–you’d still make only $50 per hour, which is nowhere near a respectable hourly rate for any professional medical writer regardless of experience level. If your goal is to earn the equivalent of $100 per hour, we dare say you’d eat up the entire budget before you could even finish researching and procuring references, reading them, and identifying the most pertinent topics!
You can’t always tell what’s lurking beneath the water or beneath a seemingly innocent job ad, for that matter. Our advice: avoid these wicked content mills at all costs because they do no one any good. No matter how hungry you are for work, allowing content mills to abuse you keeps them in business to pay paltry sums for good-quality work. It debases the legitimacy of all medical writers everywhere, and makes it that much more difficult for any of us to earn what we’re truly worth.