I haven’t taken care of this blog much lately, but I had to write something today to manage my anger.
I hate people sometimes, and recent events provide another example of why. You should know that I don’t like confrontation. I try to be polite most of the time because I don’t want any trouble. That hurts me sometimes because I should defend myself more, but I will speak up when someone is being cruel, dismissive, and out of line.
The Type of Work I Do
I am a contractor who edits professional copy and occasionally writes copy. As part of my editing work for one company, I must do the following:
- Check for grammatical and spelling errors.
- Factcheck the content.
- Ensure each image a writer chooses is the correct size, high-quality, and available to use commercially.
- Check to see if the writer used proper formatting.
- Ensure that the writer includes all necessary links and that those links work properly.
- Highlight all the changes I make and leave comments explaining my reasoning for making those changes.
- Send back the content for edits when necessary.
- Grade the writer’s work.
- Leave positive feedback for the writer.
I must do much of the work in a content management system (CMS) for little pay.
A Few Reasons Why I Hate My Job
What do I hate about my editing work? These are my general complaints about this work:
The Pay and Precariousness
Of course, I loathe the low pay. I only make $0.01 per word as an editor (and around $0.05-$0.06 per word as a writer) with this company. It seems fair that I will make less than the writer, but perhaps their pay is too low. But when I need to do extensive edits, the low wages don’t seem right anyway.
This trouble is what you get when you work in the gig economy. As a freelancer, I can expect to make less than a full-time employee, and I am more vulnerable to cutbacks. Sometimes, I can go entire months before I see any assignment invites from this company, and I must wait longer to receive payment for my work. It’s just another feature of this hyper-capitalist hellscape.
To make matters worse, I have never received any writing assignments from this company since 2019. All I have done is edit since then, and it appears that there are more writers than editors and all writers I see are relatively new.
Working in the CMS
I hate working in the CMS. When I started as an editor, all I needed to do was make the edits and leave one comment to inform the team of my changes. That was relatively simple because the writers didn’t make many mistakes anyway.
The way things are now, the highlighting/commenting portion of the work has at least doubled my time on each assignment since I started as an editor with the company. That alone has been frustrating, along with the fact that I have found more and more mistakes from writers each year. Most of these writers do not do cursory proofreading of their work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t see so many of their mistakes.
I use Grammarly when I proofread my work and the work of others. I have done this since my first gig writing job, and this company suggests using a Grammarly editor to aid in my editing work.
At one point in time, it was easier to work with Grammarly in the CMS because I could trust my best judgment and then use the editing software as a backup. In most cases, I would only miss 10 or fewer mistakes, and it was easy to find what I missed with the unpaid version of Grammarly. But since mid- to late 2021, Grammarly has included more suggestions. That has also increased the time I’ve needed to edit even my text.
I don’t want to pay for Grammarly, and I think that some of its suggestions are too aggressive. In many cases, Grammarly catches four to 10 spelling and grammatical errors and offers at least 25-30 notes for “improving” content when I use the service.
All the time, I need to make a series of judgment calls when editing. I don’t want to re-write another person’s piece because I’m not the writer. Also, I want to respect the writer’s intentions and keep their voice. Still, I don’t want to hold up the project by sending content back for edits when I can make simple changes. And yet, I don’t want to approve content when there are more than 15 Grammarly suggestions on it because I fear a quality assurance (QA) editor or project manager might downgrade my work for ignoring those notes.
The Feedback I Must Give and Receive
Additionally, I hate grading a writer’s work because I understand the time and effort it takes to create a post from scratch or build on existing work to improve it. It hurts to receive less than an A (or any commiserate passing grade) for content that might have taken three or four hours to write, including the research. And sometimes, clients are not specific enough with their instructions, so writers and editors need to contact their project managers for clarification.
I know this all from experience because I write professionally, too. Again, I wrote content for this company, and one of my first grades was a D from an editor who left no explanation for her low grade. Also, I had to deal with an editor who would mark me down (she gave me nothing higher than a B) when she reviewed my work. I haven’t seen her since 2019, and I’m glad.
Even with the above concerns, what I may hate the most about this work is the feedback I receive as an editor. Negative feedback can be hard to take, even when it’s constructive. Also, it can be deflating to get marked down for missing one mistake when I caught 50-100. I’m only human and will miss something now and then, especially if the content is over 1,000 words.
That said, I need to swallow my pride and take constructive criticism to improve as an editor, reader, and writer. That’s why the company has quality assurance editors. Also, I might be too aggressive with my edits when using Grammarly. But I refuse to accept verbal abuse and any other personal digs.
Why I Had to Speak Up
Occasionally, I have received an angry comment from a writer because I have the nerve to correct any part of their content. (In 400+ editing jobs for this company, I only received 4-6 such comments, for your information. I have also received top marks around 80% of the time.) Sometimes, I have received brisk comments from QA editors and project managers.
In all those cases, I refrained from responding since we weren’t supposed to use the comments section to hash out disagreements, and I wanted to prevent anything from escalating. But a recent case compelled me to defend myself because I felt that the QA editor was being extra.
This morning, I received a few messages from this QA editor in the CMS regarding one assignment. While I might have needed some of the advice this person left, some sentences and the tone were off-putting. Specifically, this person said that I made too many (unnecessary) edits, I made the writer do too much, and one of my comments toward the writer was condescending. This BS set me in a bad mood for the rest of the morning, and I responded in the CMS.
In my defense, I told the QA editor the following:
- I never respond to any writer with an air of condescension or malice. (That’s not who I am.)
- Part of the QA editor’s commentary for me was gratuitous.
- I always try to help the writer with my commentary.
- I use Grammarly, and it may be too aggressive.
Ironically, the QA editor seemed condescending to me when they left their comments. This person may have been frustrated by the volume of comments I made, but the tone wasn’t just on this assignment. This person always seemed rather angry with me when finding a mistake I missed or overruling me over the years. (Is it me, or are they like this with other editors?)
Why I Have No Regrets
Earlier this year, I let a digital content manager know about some of my above concerns. It felt good to vent some of my frustration, and I was polite the entire time. The manager later contacted me through email, and they promised me that the company was taking strides to help writers and editors improve and remove confusion. I can see some of the changes the company made. Most changes have been fantastic.
If the project manager does respond to this situation, I hope they see that the QA editor was a bit out of line and my response was polite (more polite than that editor deserved). I might get in trouble for leaving my recent comment, but I had to defend myself, and I will say that if the project manager talks to me about this situation. I will also point out that I reached out to the project manager for clarification before making my edits. Granted, I asked this person a series of questions, but I might have forgotten to ask one more question about the word count.
What I Must Do
In the future, I will refuse to work with this QA editor if I can help it. When I receive invites for assignments, I can see if there is a QA editor and if one accepted the task. When I decline an editing assignment, I must select or type in a reason. If I see that person’s name on the invite, I will turn down the task, and my reasoning will be, “I don’t like (working with) this QA editor.” And I will keep doing that until this company lets me go.
Of course, I’m bracing myself for any fallout from today. For instance, if that QA jerkwad wants to hash this out on LinkedIn, I will let them have it and screencap the conversation if they want to be a Karen about it.
Once again, I will have to accept constructive criticism. That is a necessary part of this work and being an adult. But I refuse to tolerate disrespect. I have taken too much crap in my life, and I’m sick and tired of it.
I should look for better work, regardless. I want something that pays me at least $60,000 yearly, but it’s hard to find something like that in this space. Too many desirable jobs require people to have bachelor’s degrees for work that shouldn’t need any (advanced) degree. But I will keep looking because this situation is untenable.
And to anyone who feels “brave” enough to leave a negative comment for me under this post: I have no obligation to read or approve it. I have a commenting policy for a reason. Your failure to read is not my problem. Good day.