The National Union of Journalists has condemned as 'pitiful' a website which is encouraging freelance writers to work for £5 per 150 words.
It spoke out after a member of the union spotted that Quill "the global content creator" was seeking writers for an arts and entertainments app.
A senior editorial manager for Quill said they needed writers who are "passionate about art, music, theatre, food and drink" to turn information about events into a "personable, chatty description that really sells the event". She said she wanted freelance writers to produce 10 to 15 pieces a week at £5 for 150 words, the equivalent of 3.3p per word.
The NUJ suggests a minimum rate for online content of £275 per thousand words.
NUJ freelance organiser John Toner said: "This is an insult to professional writers to be told that they are expected to provide sparkling copy to sell events at such a pitiful rate. Quill Content's rates are exploitative and a disgrace. How can writers earn enough to live if this is what organisations believe their work is worth. It is always a good idea to check the NUJ's Rate for the Job and Freelance Fees guide when negotiating a fee."
Founder and chief executive of Quill Ed Bussey said: “Quill brings together an unparalleled global network of writers and content producers, from journalists and bloggers to highly experienced industry experts and professionals.
“We do not work to a set ratecard and our pricing is determined on a client-by-client basis. We are proud to facilitate a very broad spectrum of work that can range from short pieces on mainstream topics to lengthy and complex white papers. All this work is costed accordingly.
“No writer within the Quill network is obliged to take on work offered but we are continually overwhelmed by the uptake on commissions across a range of rates.
“Above all, we are trying to build a financially sustainable model for producing digital content, responding to the real needs of brands online, at a price point that is both fair and viable for all concerned. We firmly believe that producing great content requires the best writing and editing to engage readers, and we are seeking to build a model that can sustain this in the new and vastly changed media landscape."