Exclusive Interview with Co-Founders Dariush Vollenweider and Michael Speziale of the newest freelance writing site on the Internet; CopyContest.comDariush is one of the nicest guys I have met on LinkedIN in a long time. He has a passion for what he does, and it shows in his vision of what CopyContest will provide both clients and writers.
I have scoured CopyContest and truly believe it could change how freelance writers find jobs. The pay is exceptional and could give us all a place to earn what we deserve. I will write a complete freelance writing site review in the next few days. Until then, enjoy what Dariush Vollenweider and Michael Speziale have to say about their vision of a new way to earn money writing.
Also, I am not an affiliate of CopyContest nor am I trying to promote the site for any hidden benefit. I am just a member and a reporter interested in giving my freelance writing colleagues the chance to make their own decision on whether they should check it out or not.
1. Could you take us through the writer’s process on CopyContest? How will a typical contest play out for the writers?
• ANSWER: Signing up and participating as a writer is a simple process on CopyContest.com. It’s simple just visit the site and sign up as a writer. We have no vetting process. Our thoughts are if you limit this process to experienced writers you hinder all new and upcoming writers trying to break onto the freelance writing scene. We understand you do not need a law degree or anything alike to call yourself a writer. So allowing new comers with little or no experience you get a vast amount of experience.
• Participating in projects is easy. We just launched so unfortunately there is none listed but we are continually marketing this site and to drive new business for the writers that are eagerly awaiting. We just had a slogan contest end for a new business. Writers can choose to participate in as many or as little projects as they want and it’s never any cost to them to sign up or participate. We have many type of writing categories projects could be listed in. For instance business names, slogans, taglines, headlines, emails, email subject lines, voicemail scripts, advertisements, brochures and many, many more. You sign into your account and view the projects. You read the brief that the project holder as submitted and you make the determination as the writer if you wish to participate or not. If you want to participate you simply click on the “Submit Concept” button and enter your idea. Your writing submission will show up to the project holder as an entry. The project holder will receive your writing submission and then view it and then give you some kind of feedback to further guide your writing efforts. Or if you are way off with your submission the project holder could simply delete your entry and then no further contact would be made. If you entry is ultimately chosen as the winner you will receive payment of whatever the contest amount is listed for. Once the contest is over the project holder will rate your services and leave you a review that will be visible to others in the future.
2. You offer a lot of small project types from which a client may choose. Other kinds require a big wordcount and could be very large. What type of content do you think will make up the bulk of the contests? The shorter ones or the longer variety?
• ANSWER: We have did a lot of research on this. There is not really one project type that clients choose over another. It really boils down to what type of consumer is visiting the site. We may have a new business owner looking for a slogan. We may have someone thinking about starting a business and needs a creative business name. We may have an established business that needs help with creating a crafty sells letter to pitch their products. Likewise we may have an established business that needs a brochure created which would require a longer amount of copy. The potential is endless really. We are concentrating in marketing to all the potential possibilities of clients who can utilize this service.
3. Considering project awards range from $75 to $300, this could be one of the highest paying freelance writing sites ever. Do you think clients will actually pay those prices for copy as small as a Tweet or a headline?
• ANSWER: I do think this. Studying other freelance sites people will pay for great copy. Even more so that they can actually see it beforehand. The problem is with those other type of freelance sites like Elance and Odesk people pay in hopes of getting great copy not knowing what they are really dealing with on the other end. As with my past experiences I have chosen writers who had padded their resumes and attached fake writing samples that misguided me when making my decision who to choose. With our platform you get submissions from great writers all over the world ensuring you will get the copy in the end that best for you.
4. Could you explain Guaranteed and Standard Contests? Also, what recourse do you have if a client doesn’t pick a guaranteed winner before the 22 day grace period is up?
• ANSWER: When a project holder guarantees a project it means they guarantee that they (the project holder) will be picking a winner, not CopyContest. Project holders know that they are responsible for picking a winner when their contest is over. If they don't choose one right away, our support team goes to work. Our team will contact the project holder to be sure they choose a winner, as they committed to. CopyContest will be forced to pick a winner based on the feedback the project holder has left. We can view this feedback from our administrative side.
• Standard projects mean the project holder can request a refund and get all of their money back. The refund policy is on our site. Our refund policy is very strict. For instance the project holder cannot receive a refund if they have received more than 5 submissions to their project. Also the project holder cannot receive a refund if they have not left feedback for at least 80% of the entries. All this can be found in our refund policy. Since money is taken upfront for projects to assure writers get paid in the end, we can control the refund.
5. Many freelance writing sites are open to writers from specific countries only. Will CopyContest allow writers from all over the world to join?
• ANSWER: Yes we allow writers from all over the world to participate. We realize that every country and culture has talented and creative writers and we welcome all. After all some projects may ask for something to be written in another language.
6. How do you protect the writer from plagiarism? Since clients are allowed to request a finished copy from the writers before choosing a winner, what’s to keep them from taking the content without paying the award?
• ANSWER: Our terms of service were written by a very good attorney. The clients agree to these terms when signing up for an account. If they use anything other than the winning copy they can be held legally liable. Also we hold the money in escrow once they sign up for a writing project. We assure a writer gets paid unless the project qualifies for a refund then will we refund the money.
7. After going over both the client and writer FAQs numerous times and exploring as much of CopyContest as I could, I think I understand how the process will work. It seems like the writer will essentially open the proposal process with something like a query letter explaining how she plans to create the content described in the contest’s creative brief. The client then sends messages to those writers whose opening proposals caught his eye. After that, the client and the writers communicate back and forth until the client picks a winner. Is that even close?
• ANSWER: A little different than that. The client posts a project and a brief of what they are looking for. The writer submits the copy. There is no query letter or process. For instance let’s say a client needs a slogan. Writers submit what they think the slogan should be. The client reviews the submissions and gives their feedback or communicates back and forth until the client picks a winner.
NOTE TO READER: The following has to do with a LinkedIN discussion we were having in a Freelance Writer's Group. A commenter was accusing Dariush of trying to scam writers with CopyContest.
NOTE: I misquoted Robert Marks from the LinkedIN conversation. He never said "scam". He was concerned about the writer's wasted time.
Clarify the whole “working for free” and “doing too much work for potentially no gain” argument that the Mark dude was trying to say. I think people need to see the process more like a negotiation with a client they found through traditional means like query letters or applying to ads on ProBlogger. The only difference is that you offer to bring everyone together, moderate the proceedings and ensure everyone involved is happy with the end results.
• ANSWER: Well he said work for free. So a writer participates in a contest. He submits copy and may not win or other words get paid for their submission. The client picks the winner. A writer is showing their writing capabilities by submitting concepts to the project. I say concept but I mean writing. A person need a business name then a writer submits what they think the name should be. Someone needs a slogan, and then the writer submits a slogan and so on. Instead of bidding on a project and never getting picked to even allow them to show their writing capabilities a writer can now submit and let their writing speak for itself. We are not talking about submitting pages and pages of copy either. We are talking about business names, slogans, taglines and smaller projects.
Continue the discussion in the comments or the forum. Tell us what you like or dislike about the idea. Dariush and Michael are very open to hearing suggestions for bettering CopyContest.