(Warning: This is a very long post)
For those of my readers who live in Jamaica, I had come across a writing company not too long ago and subsequently signed up with them. The name of the company was Katro Global which has since been transferred/sold to Writers JA. I had a not so good experience with them. Here is a my brief opinion of this company.
Firstly, I would like to state that appearances are everything and as an individual who is constantly on the Internet there are some sites that do appear questionable. You all know what I mean: large yellow highlighted text, sensational words, never ending pages of testimonials and stock photography of some girl working at a computer.
Now lets take a look at WritersJA which immediately looks like one of those ‘amazing opportunity’, ‘make $1000 an hour’ type sites. Not only does it look sketchy, but it is an eye soar. I think, if I had come across this website when it looked like this I would have turned right back around. In this day and age, I don’t expect any website to look like it would have 15 years ago when this design was current.
You are greeted by a very bold, large and red text stating,
“Find the freelance work you like,apply and make money!”.
The fact that there isn’t a space between like, and apply makes my eyes twitch. But thats a simply error. I have probably written worse.
When it comes to the approach of this company I just had to laugh. They chose the ‘ooo pretty colors’ template instead of the ‘legitimate writing opportunity with professional design’ template. Maybe the latter was too expensive.
I also did not like the design of their project board. It was not very user friendly. And this is coming from a writer who has probably seen it all.
As a writer who lives in Jamaica I am constantly trying to find methods of being paid quickly and easily. Paypal does not offer Jamaican customers the same methods of withdrawal as they do elsewhere in the world. In fact, they only offer two methods of withdrawal: U.S bank deposit and cheque. So once I came upon Katro Global which deposits all money earned into a JN Jamaican bank account at the end of the month that was its main selling point for me.
There are several aspects of this business I was not very fond of. And as a full-time and professional freelancer for 3 years now I have learnt to be choosy and not sacrifice my talent for crappy companies.
For one, they payout JA$300 (US$3.60) per 500 words. Now, most of my freelance writer friends are gasping and choking for air at this point. Why would anyone want to work for a ‘reputable’ company that paid crap money? I did, for two months, before I realized that my talents were literally being abused by this business.
UPDATE: I have been told that once working there you will have the opportunity to climb your ranks as a employee and thus earn more money. “We have writers who make $1000 on featured posts”.
Secondly, they had almost no work on most days. It dawned on me, after attempting to do at least 10 articles a day for them that there were some days when I could do not one. For any writer who signs on to work for a writing mill, the least they would expect is constant work. If this had been the case I could have overlooked the cheap pay. But for the most part, Writers JA was always empty.
UPDATE: I have been told from a reliable source that “since January the site has been updated with assignments in batches of 100-200 every 2 days”.
Thirdly, there was a major lack of communication with writers. Let me expound on this point, for a company based in Jamaica you would expect to be able to reach the editor or a representative during working hours. The fact was that I would send a query at 9 in the morning on an article due by 6 and not receive a response until almost 8 that night. This is simply, unacceptable.
CORRECTION: Articles have a 24 hour deadline. At one point however they were due the same day. So above, I speak of those times.
I expect there to be a workable timeline when it comes to customer care. Other sites I have been on have a representative and writer’s aid online and waiting to answer your queries in a ‘real-time’ manner. I would simple click a button for support and be able to speak with someone re: an assignment right then and there. With WritersJA, I send an email and sit and wait for hours to get a response.
UPDATE: I have been told by a reliable source that “WJA now has a writer rep that is available via chat and email”.
Next, I was not fond of how the company spoke with me and with their other writers. I am a pleasant and professional writer. I may be sarcastic once or twice but I am never one to reprimand someone or let my temper get the best of me. As a freelancer I am not directly hired by any company. I am simply a floating mass of words who does a job here or there and moves on. I don’t make a monthly salary. I make what I work towards. WritersJA had an ownership aura about them which made me uncomfortable.
I received a mass email one day from the company, apparently reprimanding some writers for their lack of submitting work on time. I would be frustrated too if I were them, but I would definitely not write the email below:
It is becoming abundantly clear that for SOME writers this post is not taken seriously and in light of that we are going to be making some drastic changes.
Everyone is asked to notify us if and when they are unable to meet their deadlines, SOME of you completely ignore this stipulation. This is UNACCEPTABLE! (Excerpt of an email sent on Nov. 9. 10)
Not only was the business unprofessional it was constantly on its period. While I understand their frustration, I really do not think it is professional to use all caps (as if you were yelling). This bothered me greatly to see a company speaking with their writers in this fashion. This could have been done in a more professional manner.
I recently received a call from a woman stating she was from Katro Global. I found this odd because I thought the company had been sold and was now in the hands of a new owner and thus new name. I asked her if that was correct and she immediately corrected herself. She then went on to tell me that she had noticed that I had been inactive for some time and may risk losing my account.
Apparently, the company had hired a sort of collection agent. While speaking with her, I was thinking, “Wow, now I get to give feedback to them and receive some answers!”. Nope, never happened. I recounted my issues with her:
- No work when I sign in (and at that point I signed in every other day)
- No communication or the lack of it
- No email notifications of new work posted (Update: there is a mailing list now that provides writers with notifications)
In my eyes, I was very active, I was more than active. I signed in every other day to see if there was any work I could do. So I asked her, if inactivity was measured by visits/logins to the site, or was it measured by writer’s who acquired work on a regular basis? To me, I could not be the latter because the board was always empty when I did sign in.
She simply had nothing to say, other than she doesn’t know, and I should contact the company via email. In essence, she was only a messenger. Although she did tell me her name and said she were calling from a debunked company. I simply had zero patience to send an email that I would not receive a response for until later that night. I emailed the company and requested my account be closed. Then went on to filter any emails sent from them straight to ‘trash’.
Writer’s JA is more geared towards students who are looking for a helping hand. But is open to full-timers like myself.
My opinion is that, you can always go see for yourself. You have the choice to apply and work and possibly make a very good income. But based on my own experiences I cannot tell if that is possible and I suggest you also find other jobs in the process.
There are many more opportunities online for freelance writers who do not live in the U.S or in Europe. Yes, there are ways one can make money living in Jamaica. While payment methods may irk most I will also pay close attention to this in future posts. The only thing going for WritersJa was its payment method, which was deposits made to a Jamaican Bank at the end of every month. They never failed at this. However, the talents of freelance writers demands more than chump change.
In terms of part-time work, I would give WritersJA a chance.