I'm a copywriter and I'm looking for extra copywriting work; so I decided to join Copify.
I decided to join Copify even though I'd heard numerous tales of their low, low rates and controversial payment-per-word policy (handily rounded-up here by Andrew Nattan) – and even though I'd accepted by implication of my membership of the Professional Copywriters' Network their own (quite specific) rates as a "starting point for negotiations".
I decided to join Copify because some extra work I was expecting to kick off recently has fallen through, and I could do with a few extra gigs to keep me in Pinot Noir and HobNobs. And I've not lately got any work through the Professional Copywriters' Network, or People Per Hour, or oDesk, or any of the other jobsites I'm signed up to.
So I thought I'd sign up to Copify and find out for myself – because one ought to find things out for one's self – just how viable their offering is for a jobbing freelance writer.
To prove my credentials I had to
This task was eerily reminiscent of a question in my A-level General Studies exam, which I aced with a smooth D-grade by answering via the medium of a crude pencil-sketched diagram.
My pencil kept breaking on the screen though, so I wrote this:
The 2012 Summer Olympics, imaginatively branded as London 2012, was an international multi-sport event that took place last year, mainly in the capital city of the UK.
The successful bid to host the games was welcomed as a victory for the UK’s international profile; but the controversial nature of such large-scale events soon brought out Britons’ inherent factionalism and reduced politicians and people alike to argumentative wrecks. It was said that the games would either be completely brilliant and unmissable – worthy of booking extended holidays on the off-chance that the soon-to-be notorious ticket lottery would deliver – or an utter disaster, reducing the capital to a state of smouldering rubble habitable only to mutant viruses and refugees from war-torn third-world nations who had made their way to London 2012 under the guise of expert pole-vaulters, etc.
In reality, it was fine: buses ran on time; nobody famous was killed; and even the most cynical among us ended up watching some on TV and enjoying it.
There is, however, a tall building in Ilford comprising serviced apartments which is officially branded as “Stratford East”, despite being a good four miles east of where the games took place.
This is known as “legacy”.
To my surprise, given that I hadn't actually addressed the subject matter satisfactorily, this was accepted within 24 hours and proved sufficient to earn me a little "professional" badge on my profile:
At least that's what I saw when I logged in to my dashboard. I presume nobody can view my public profile as I haven't yet been rated, or indeed completed any jobs for Copify's clients. Nor do I intend to. And here's why:
First, I draw your attention to the payment: £2.00. (Two pounds.)
The company (CENSORED: no referred traffic for you, small furniture company) would like a 200-word blog on the subject of "British Bespoke Furniture". They say the purpose of the blog is to "inform the audience", but they are lying through their bespoke maple-veneer MDF holes; no 200-word blog required to include the "keywords" "British Bespoke Furniture, Bespoke Furniture Manufacture" naturally - not stuffed, mind you - within its famine-starved 200-word body is intended to inform any furniture-buying audience about anything, regardless of the catchiness of its title.
Unless said audience crosses over on the Venn diagram of bespoke-furniture-website-visiting-morons into the "people with a passing knowledge of SEO trends over the years" circle; because this kind of bloodless digital swill that blogs up the arteries of the world-wide web exists solely as the result of clueless retail hacks acting on the ill advice of near-sighted SEO agencies who were no doubt paid far more for their shit ideas stolen off equally shit online forums than a "professional" "copywriter" ever will be to churn out this vapid bullshit into an unsuspecting digital wasteland.
But imagine how many you'd need to complete to
feed your hamster, let alone your family of five?
And, whatever your rubbish SEO agency has told you, Google will not reward you for flinging this kind of sand-blasted gristle into its face. Search engines are already becoming fairly able to tell the difference between "informing" articles and pointless content pages that nobody ever spends more than three seconds on after following a link.
By peddling these blogettes on the subject of nothing, each revolving around the antiquated concept of a couple of keywords, all you're doing, [Furniture company name CENSORED], is chucking two-pound-coins at a brick wall. Or, perhaps more accurately given the horrible reality that must lie behind the existence of this job-ad, at a tramp in an internet cafe.
Hopefully nobody will ever write this proposed blog post either. If only my blog had more existing furniture credentials I could pretty much guarantee it by changing the name of this post to "Informative Bespoke Furniture Blog" or something similar and stealing your coveted #1 slot on the SERPs.
I have hidden my account and will delete it as soon as I can work out how. Not surprisingly, this option is not immediately apparent on Copify's dashboard. Obviously the whole thing is a ridiculous sham and no more attractive an option for any self-respecting writer (professional or aspiring) than an unpaid internship; indeed, less so, as this will only give you a portfolio of bilge.
Who's to blame for all this then?
I don't blame Copify; Copify are providing a service that (really badly run) businesses are happy to exploit. They are a blameless boil on capitalism's bum. Admittedly tweets like the below show a contempt for my profession that could perhaps annoy me, if it was in any way an unusual spectacle:
So, are the writers to blame? These writers, if writers they are, are the sort of writers who sit there frantically banging out 200-word blog posts in the internet cafés and public libraries across the land, their super-noodles going cold in the polythene cup at their side, and half-crushed cartons of Um-Bongo clenched between their brown and crooked teeth. One cannot blame such.
I don't blame the Furniture Imbeciles of the world either. One can't expect them to know anything about the internet, or to care about paying writers a decent wage to do a decent job. They don't want a decent job done. They don't require writers; just people who can type.
Ultimately we must blame the terrible Luddite SEO-agency scum who know all the facts of how the web used to work, but understand nothing of the universal and timeless fact that quality (as a noun, not a fucking adjective) will always win.
And if you can't afford it, you won't get it.
As mentioned at the start of the article, the inclusion of the client-company's name in this blog post was deemed by Copify's co-founder to be in breach of point-four of the terms-and-conditions I obviously didn't bother reading on signing up to the site, and therefore excuse enough to threaten me with legal action.
His email included these lines:
"I'm all for freedom of speech and although I'm obviously unhappy that you have decided to go down this route, I'm happy to let this stand. One thing we can't allow, however, is the publication of the name of the client for whom the copy you have mentioned was ordered. We have a confidentiality agreement in place, (section 4 of our terms of conditions - http://uk.copify.com/pages/terms) which your use of the site is legally bound by. This blog post contravenes this clause, which means that we have grounds to take legal action.
Please remove all references and links to the client's site within 48 hours and refrain from using screenshots or other images elsewhere. Otherwise, we will be forced to instruct our solicitors.
Of course I am no longer using the site, but no doubt remain bound by the agreements I made on signing in.
I'd hate to force anyone to do anything so foul as consort with lawyers, and it's no skin off my nose to deprive a cheap furniture company of the visits it would have got from the links in this blog post; even though said visits (while unlikely to "convert") would undoubtedly outnumber those garnered from the above article for which they paid a writer the princely sum of £2.
I do find it amusing though that somebody who is "all for" freedom of speech would go on so swiftly after reminding me and himself of this fact to articulate a threat that seems to directly conflict with that sentiment.
But this is the same man who uses weasel words to pretend his website pays something resembling a reasonable fee for writing work, which – as someone who has logged in and witnessed that desolate world – I must say it's my opinion that it does not:
He's also unduly fond of using the hashtag #FACTS, implying either that he's sure many people will be interested in his accompanying tweets with reference to their interest in the general trending topic of things factual, or that he doesn't understand the world of Twitter very well just yet. As to whether he understands the world of copy and content at all, or whether his low, low prices for clients ever equal a minimum wage for the website's writers, it's surely not best for me to offer an opinion.
You must decide for yourself.