Person in a hamster wheel

Freelance Writers: Beware the Scammers (The GLV Experience)


Person in a hamster wheel

There are a number of websites that advertise for “Freelance Writers.” Of course many do not come out and call these aspiring writer’s freelance. Some, like the site I stumbled across almost two years ago, just asked for writers who wanted to be paid for their efforts. Like any rube at the county fair I was suckered in, and it took me a long time to realize that the promises made were never going to match reality. So potential writers should beware the scammers.

A freelance writer and blogger, Carol Tice; wrote an expose on the Guardian Liberty Voice, the publication that caught me in its opportunistic web of half-truths, full-out lies and “black-hat” practices that got the site hammered by Google repeatedly.

Her article came out in 2014 at a time when I was living in the same house as the publisher, DiMarkco Chandler. Carol did not shirk her duties in doing research and contacting members of the site. I remember walking past Chandler’s office and seeing Carol on the big screen monitor asking him questions. Rather interestingly, the two people who had been with Guardian Liberty Voice the longest, the chief editor and myself, were never asked to take part in this rebuttal to her investigation.

No other writer or editor came near my output on the paper. I wrote nearly 1,900 articles for GLV and worked very hard to give the publication a credible Entertainment section. Attending fan conventions, film screenings and doing interviews with professionals from the entertainment community. Since I was an editor who did not recruit, I was never interested in building a team, my focus was on writing and developing a good reputation as interviewer and scribe. That probably explains why I was never asked to add my two penny’s worth of experience to the Tice “attack” (as DiMarkco called it).

I wrote a little about my experience working for GLV in a prior post. I mentioned no names and only do so here because the referenced article by Carol does.

During an emergency meeting last year, DiMarkco urged that no one in the GLV fold should answer any of the “allegations” made by Carol or to stand up for the paper. I was too busy setting up film screenings, attending events and doing interviews. I was also writing around 50 to 70 articles a month while trying to establish television show coverage for popular scripted TV rather than the reality rubbish covered by the publication.

It was only when things began to fall apart and my pay continued to be less than promised that I started reading the comments. Too late I realised that DiMarkco’s version of events was always given in a way that made him look good and everyone else look conspiratorial. In one case, the other temporary “crazy” roomie in the big house in Vegas, to be fair the guy did come across as some kind of nut, (He sniffed Prozac for Christ’s sake!) did turn out to be off kilter. But, initially this guy came across as  normal until his meds (Prozac) came in and then he flew out into left field. As he had the room next to mine, I slept with the door to my bedroom locked and with a computer table wedged against it.

Around the same time that  DiMarkco was arrested for domestic assault, he  braced me after I asked him, quite reasonably I thought, to not move “my shit” without telling me. This 57 year-old one-legged man came up to me ready to resort to fisticuffs and he cursed me out while claiming that I was two-faced.

A former Prison Officer, I didn’t react the way he expected me to and it confused him. I looked him in the eye, as I moved closer (as a Prison Officer when threats are made we were taught to escalate and dominate if we could not calm the prisoner down) and asked him, “You want to fight? What? Are you 10 or 12?”

This slowed him down but he did not talk to me for three days after the incident. This little event soured our relationship of trust; which never did get back to its initial state. Later, when he was talking to me again, I took him aside and explained that bracing me like that was not wise. I told him, truthfully, that I would not attack, but my defense would put him on the floor crying. “10 years of training in the prison service, mate.”

He never acted up again, but that “circle of trust” was broken and only lack of money, and faith that my hard work would eventually rectify the dollar situation, kept me at the house and at the publication. That and the fact was I was having a great time meeting film and television stars, going to Comic Con in Vegas, and the Star Trek convention.

I was actually doing my dream job, writing and getting paid for it. Sadly, I was too busy to realize that I was being paid abysmally for my hard work. While turning a blind eye to the various things that were occurring around me; massive turnover, editors fleeing like crazy, and stories from DiMarkco about how all these new folks were trying to “take over” the company, I kept writing and trying to get my health sorted out.

While the penny dropped about the state of reliability of my “boss” fairly early in 2014, my financial situation kept me prisoner at the GLV and the house. One clue was Chandler’s claims of ill-health. I was told: That he had been diagnosed with cancer, had a tumor, a failing liver, a hernia operation that was done multiple times and deadly high blood pressure. I finally realised that he was massively stretching the truth after being told that he could no longer climb up the stairs due to the hernia.

Two weeks after being informed of this, he sprightly shot up the steps to the second floor to ask me a favor. My jaw dropping did not register with him as he’d obviously forgotten his claim of two weeks prior. Perhaps a little explanation is required here in my role of gullible village idiot.

I always take everyone at “face value” until they prove that their word cannot be trusted. To me, broken or “delayed” promises did not immediately equal dishonesty. Many people promise more that they can instantly deliver, so these claims did not register as dishonesty or scamming.

They should have. Still, once I realized that the man was just another greedy snake oil salesman, I had to get away before I got caught up in the “con” as patsy. I was staying alone in a three bedroom, with pool, house. He was living somewhere else, buying a new car and setting up another “scheme.” All this took place while telling me and everyone else that the company was going under and broke.

Meanwhile the steady stream of “investors” who used to come trooping through the house, I met most of them, suddenly stopped. Whenever these men and women came in, money was made by DiMarkco but no one else. Gifts were made, a big screen telly was put downstairs after one visit, but no extra pay was laid on.

As Publisher, Chandler kept everything segmented, a lot of the editors had no idea what others were doing. There were complaints. One “high earner” fell out of favor after complaining too regularly about being left out of the loop. DiMarkco’s way of handling anything he dislikes is to ignore it. He will stop responding to phone calls, Skype calls, emails and texts.

He will designate someone else to handle the “problem.”

Finally, after accruing enough credit to do so, I made my escape. My main excuse was to come down and look after my parents (which was, in part, true) and I left. Shortly after arriving in Arizona, the only other editor who’d been at GLV longer than I, left.

I read Carol Tice’s 2014 article then and realised that I should have read it sooner. Although to be honest it would not have helped too much as I could not afford to leave the publication or the house. Reading it again today made me wonder just how many other folks have been taken in by the scammers out there in Internet-land.

For the novice freelance writer, like I was back in 2013, the Internet can be an arena full of landmines. Searching for paid work is difficult. I’d already had one unhappy experience before hoisting my flag with the Guardian Liberty Voice, née’ Guardian Express, so I knew the playing field  can be fairly dodgy. My experience at GLV has left me a little wiser and poorer, but I can impart some advice.

HEART-FELT ADVICE:

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. This adage has been around forever and applies to this situation, even if the sales pitch doesn’t seem too far-fetched (the GLV pitch certainly didn’t at the beginning) look at it cautiously.

The minute something doesn’t add up, get out. When two plus two end up equaling more or less than four, it’s a clue that this is shady business; so turn around pick up your laptop and get out.

If English is a second, or even third, language of many who work there as writers. Same deal, grab that laptop, PC or MacBook and get out.

Quantity is more important than quality? Get out, it’s a content mill and they will leach you dry. Enough will never be enough and your rate of pay will not equal your output.

Overall, any place that caters to people who cannot really write, should be avoided. At GLV there were many who will never get a job writing for any reputable company. Sad but true and many editors were driven mad by having to rewrite entire 500 word articles and consequently left disgruntled and disillusioned.

The advice to start one’s own blog for money is good, if you can write. I’ve always said and repeated this the entire time I was at the GLV, “if you have no talent in this area, no amount of training will teach you or make you a better writer.”

One last bit of hard-earned advice. It is hard to navigate the world of freelance writing and even harder to find any site that wants to pay writers anything that can be called significant. This is not just prevalent to the Internet; I met a critic who wrote for a “real,”  but small, printed publication who only got $10 per review. So here is the last bit of my “heart-felt” advice: As the old joke goes, unless you’ve gotten a real break? Don’t give up your day job.

Yet.

5 February 2015

Published by

Mike's Film Talk

Actor, Writer, Vlogger, Blogger, Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Member Nevada Film Critics Society

35 thoughts on “Freelance Writers: Beware the Scammers (The GLV Experience)”

  1. Hi Mike. Great advice. I will be doing my day job and my second employed job for some time to come. I am really sorry that it didn’t live up to what it said on the tin. The only thing I will say, is that not everyone who calls themselves an entrepreneur is a scammer. I am an entrepreneur because I can think outside the box, be innovative, and come up with creative solutions to problems. I hope you can create your dream job for yourself – That is the best way to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are right to warn others of the pitfalls and cons. I guess with all of the business seminars I have been too, I have not experienced negativity connected to this word. If that’s what your ex boss called himself, then of course you are right to warn people, and I can completely understand what you mean.

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  2. This was a great read. I too was suckered in by GLV. After one full month of writing (December 2014) and constant inquiries as to what my earnings were and not receiving a timely response, I let GLV go and ventured off on my own. I started The Lyrical Elitist and in the past 2 months have garnered a great amount of views. When I can keep my daily views in the thousands I’ll look to getting advertisement for revenue while still picking up random writing gigs. Today though, the lid blew open on GLV exposing their illegal business practices. Being the vigilant “citizen journalist” that I am, I had to report about it lol. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I follow a odd assortment if bloggers.
    One is a fantastic, intelligent, writer hiker out of Maine. His posts are informative, accurate and first hand. Brilliant photos. He gets few hits and few followers.

    Another one is a “pop” site. A intelligent gossip site with a few facts out of Atlanta. Semi huge following but makes a small living off the ads.

    The difference I noticed is in the title of their posts. When I googled GLV, the Scam article mentioned here was there. Yours was not. GLV was in the first part of that post title. I noticed that when a writer gets the topic near the beginning of the posts title (sentence) and has a few hits it moves up the google page.
    Then that blogger gets more hits then a larger following.
    Hope I made sense.

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    1. You are doing quite well in your analogy of what makes a title work. It is the title, if nothing else, that brings folks knocking at your door. In my case, I decided to used the freelance portion of the title as it pertains to a huge community of people who want to write. While I’m talking about the GLV experience, the “big finish” is for the new writer to beware of these type of sites…

      Still, you are spot on about the titles being very, very important to getting your stuff read, although, in things like film reviews etc, it doesn’t always work. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Also forgot to mention that in terms of Google, if one’s site is a member of Google News, the chance of your articles showing up on a Google search are much, much better! It also has to do with site rankings and whether or not you have advertisers…

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  4. That’s quite a story. I saw the link on Carol’s story. At least you got to hone your talents in the entertainment writing field (and go to cool conventions), but what a crazy creepy outfit and crazy creepy management. Thanks for posting more of the story!

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    1. Agreed! I did manage to take something away from my time there. Increased writing skills, confidence and, as you pointed out, the chance to attend the cons and write about my passion. As a friend pointed out, though, a lot of what I did came from my work ethic and going out and grabbing opportunities while there. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Cheers! 🙂

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  5. Hey Mike, I read your article after seeing your comment on Carol Tice’s article today. Really interesting stuff. We’re seeing more and more of the truth. Hopefully the GLV disappears for good and karma gets Chandler in the end. I too wrote for GLV and edited for them a while back and I was one of the people who Carol Tice interviewed. I also wrote an article about GLV a while back, simply called, “Is Guardian Liberty Voice a Scam?”

    http://www.jonathanholowka.com/2014/03/is-guardian-liberty-voice-scam.html

    Short answer is… well, you already know the answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was one of the “old folks” who started way back when and since he loved to segment everything and play people off one another, a lot of things happened that went under the radar. There was only one other person who’d been there longer than I had, Cindy, and she just recently left. I learned first hand that it’s all for DiMarkco and DiMarkco for DiMarkco. It’s too bad really as the paper seemed to be so legit in the beginning, I went to South Africa to cover the Mandela story. But greed obviously got in the way…Thanks for stopping by and commenting matey! 🙂

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  6. It does read like you are doing ok, not great, minus the round trip walking.
    Sorry it didn’t work out for you, I remember you had high hopes.

    I like your new icon photo.

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    1. I’ve still got high hopes! LOL I did walk away with the knowledge that I can write a lot better than I’d previously thought! And about the photo, I decided a more recent pic would be more fitting, surrounded by the Arizona desert as it were! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Freelance writing has always been poorly paid unless you are already famous as a writer, and/or a writer in a highly technical specialty. I became and stayed a tech writer after getting published in mainstream publications — legit publications — and the money was pathetic. I’d have had to publish dozens of articles a week to live on the money. $25 for a restaurant review. $25 for a feature article in the Jerusalem post. $20 for an op ed piece in the Herald. Seriously, that’s not money, that’s chump change. I did a huge job (in Israel) for the Ministry of Tourism and another for the Ministry of Immigration. I made a total of $250 after 2 weeks of work (each), driving all over the country in my own car, doing my own photography, NOT getting my expenses covered. And these were considered pretty good gigs.

    Freelance writing, in my lifetime, has been more of a hobby than a job. Tech writing paid me a better than living wage and mostly, I got to work at home. I’ve never regretted the choice. Glamor is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    Now, if you can write a best seller — that’s worth doing.

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    1. Agreed! Writing can be used to supplement income and if you enjoy writing it is worth it. Sadly, I learned that writing well does not result in a decent living unless you write that “best seller,” which you don’t write because the content mill you work for leaves you no time!

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      1. If you really want to write that novel, you can’t earn your living as a commercial writer. It’s one of those frustrating truths. You can’t write all day for a boss, then come home and be creative all night. Some people take a sabbatical and use that to write a novel, but you I don’t know anyone who wrote commercially for a living while producing a novel. I didn’t really start writing seriously until I was no longer working. After a day of writing at work, I could barely get it together to answer email, much less work on a novel. On the other hand, I got paid well for the work I did and I liked high tech as an environment. I learned neat stuff and worked with interesting people, so for me, it was a worthwhile trade. But straight freelance work — especially in news and/or entertainment? That’s not a living. It’s a dying.

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      2. I had one writer, who was briefly on my team back at the beginning of my time at the GLV, who kept telling me to ghost write. I do know that many of the folks I met at the various screeners were all poorly paid for their articles and they worked for local (Las Vegas) publications. One can make money from writing on the Internet, it just has to be on your own site with advertisers and not being greedy with having way too many on your site. It is not a grand living to be sure, but a few dollars can be made, certainly enough to supplement a more “steady” source of income. With my teeny pension I could make enough to concentrate on writing, at the very least, of my time working for the Prison Service and a couple of other books hidden in me. It’s just writing for the right people and writing for one’s self and not pumping out articles like some sort of machine in order to make some other bugger money with promises that were never meant to be delivered. I’ve already started outlining my “memoir” and writing down incidents as they occur to me to be rearranged (in order) later on. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks matey! I did, despite the continual downslide of working there, learn a lot and I did meet some brilliant people. It was this job that put me in contact, indirectly, with Tony Todd and all the folks I interviewed for the paper. I got some good out of it, but not nearly enough in terms of financial gain and the fact that the publisher did not have real goals for the publication, apart from making money off of other people’s backs, made the overall experience a losing situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry to hear about your experience here Mike. I actually looked into the Guardian deal but after some digging in the net, I was put off by how many people claimed it to be a scam. Still, I thought you seemed to be doing great with it and often wondered. Forget it, man. Move on brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Way back when I started, when they were called the Guardian Express, there were no nay sayers. Not that I looked that hard. I joined for a number of reasons, 1) to see how much I could write each day on a steady basis, 2) to see how many views I could get per article, and 3) to see what I could write about and what kind of pay I’d get. Sadly, I believed the words and music that was being shoveled out where effort equalled pay. I should have smelled a rat, but honestly I was not a little desperate to find something else to do after the Prison Service and I did have fun for a long time.

      Once I got back in the US, things went sour and continued to do so. A con artist is easier to spot when one is “up close and personal” with the person in question. Although it did still take me a while… I am in the process of moving on! Thanks matey!!

      Liked by 1 person

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