Datasheet: How to Write College Essays for a Living -- Location-Independent Income

Figured I'd give back to the community by posting some information.

Background

Demand for college essays is huge. They need to be custom-written, because turning in an essay that's been used before will get a student in trouble for plagiarism. Most schools use software to catch that. With the rise of online degree programs, there should always be lots of customers.

This can be a source of location-independent income, and can support you full-time. Just keep in mind that it can be hard work, and it's a seasonal business -- during peak seasons, you might work long days and nights, and during slower times you might not have much work. Essay seasons are October through mid-December and February through April or May.

It should go without saying that you'll need a stable internet connection.

Customers

Customers typically fall into one of a few categories:

-English-as-a-second-language students. They come to university in an English-speaking country but they don't have adequate English skills, so they buy essays.
-Lazy students. They probably could do the work themselves, but they'd rather party or play video games, and they have adequate bankroll to buy essays.
-Academically inadequate students. They are simply not college material, or they are returning to school after many years away.
-Older students who have professional jobs and lack the time to do their own essays.

Some of the common majors who request essay services are nursing, business, education, and (who would've guessed it) theology/seminary.

Note that this mini-guide is geared toward the U.S. essay market. British universities are more rigorous. A lot of essay writers charge more for British assignments or won't do them at all.

To get started, you typically need a bachelor's degree (but I doubt anyone is checking), some writing samples, and, obviously, some ability to write. You should review the common style guides such as MLA and APA, and learn to cite sources properly. You absolutely must not plagiarize, or you'll get your clients in trouble and find yourself with no work.

How to Find Work

There are two ways to work: by taking orders through an established company, or on your own.

Companies

The industry is dominated by companies based in the Ukraine and Pakistan. There are also a few U.S. and U.K.-based companies. You apply with some examples of your writing and, if you're accepted, you get access to an assignment board. You have to keep checking back to see if orders are posted. If they look good, you grab them. You might make anywhere from $6 to $21 per page. Urgent orders with tight deadlines might pay more. With these companies, especially the foreign ones, expect to deal with things like your pay being docked for customer complaints. It's best to work for U.S.-based companies. (But keep in mind, many companies falsely claim to be U.S.-based; you'll have to dig deeper to find the truth.) It's freelance work and you can work for more than one company at a time.

Finding Your Own Customers

This is the best way to work, as there is no middleman. You might make $30 to $40 per page for undergraduate work, and a little more for graduate work. The hard part is finding customers. Word of mouth will be your best bet. Drop some hints within your social circle or with people you meet at parties, etc. When you have a few satisfied customers, if they're well-connected, you'll tend to get orders from their friends.

You could also market online through forums and through social media. One guy said he marketed successfully with Facebook ads. Keep in mind that some platforms, such as Facebook and Google, will probably not allow you to blatantly advertise essay-writing services, so you need to be creative with your ad copy.

You may get the idea to start a website and attract clients via SEO. I recommend that you don't rely on this, as the major companies put a lot of money and energy into their SEO efforts and you won't be able to compete.

Legalities

The entire industry markets its products as example essays. Students are to use them as guides in preparing their own work, and they must not turn these essays in for credit.

Do your own research on this, with attention to what the laws and regulations may be in your particular locale.

Wikipedia covers this topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay_mill#Legal_status

Note: "While there is no federal law against the operation of essay mills, there are over a dozen individual states in the US that have their own laws against them."

Resources

The industry's main forum: https://essayscam.org/forum/

Article about an essay writer who did well: https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Shadow-Scholar/125329

Recent NPR article about the business: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/10/7109...ng-colleges-crack-down-on-ghostwritten-essays
 
This is good stuff. Recent-ish college grad myself so I know the struggle, had two lower classmates end up paying for their graduate thesis to the tune of 500 usd. I struggled with mine over the course of many months and it was a hell of an effort.

To keep things on point, I'm going to be teaching at a Chinese University end of summer, I know there are students there doing English language majors that require English essays, as a teacher what would you recommend I do to not alert my oversight board if I was to offer a service like this to students? (Not my own students of course, but I can see the clear irony of that idea)
 

edlefou

Woodpecker
Do you work for a company or do you work directly with your own customers?

How many pages is the typical assignment?

How many hours does it take you to write the typical undergrad essay? Do you do it all in one sitting, or do you do it over the space of a few days or a week?

How much time is spent on research vs actual essay writing?

How many assignments do you do in a typical week or month (assuming there's no problem getting a steady stream of assignments)?
 
Is this business wire-fraud if conducted electronically?

I guess that depends on whether it counts as a
[...] scheme or artifice to defraud [...]

18 U.S. Code § 1343
Not that the Feds would use resources to address such a benign infraction.

I wrote an English essay once for a student who had put an ad on Craigslist. I think it was like $125 for an essay that took me about 8 hours to write, and she paid me via PayPal. But I did a really fucking good job--probably could have completed something passable in less than half the time. I kind of enjoyed the topic and got super into it. I think the client said her teacher had mentioned something about it being outstanding work and she was really grateful. But nothing ever came of it in terms of referrals.

As far as writing fraudulent essays for students while serving as a teacher, as well as generally... avoid marketing such services to anyone who is apprised of your actual identity and/or place of employment.

Unless you like living dangerously... in which case why take the time to write the fake essay when you can just give out grades for cash?
 

Beyond Borders

Peacock
Gold Member
RE: Datasheet: How to Write College Essays for a Living

I used to have a pretty rigid moral disdain for this type of service, and as a professional writer, I always avoided it entirely, even when starting out.

Now that it's pretty clear college is a sham (not to mention waging an all-out war on men and basic sanity), it's tough to remain steadfast at that. Maybe the mockery this type of service makes of the system will help speed its demise....

Still don't know, though...

It's easy enough to rationalize it for either buyer or sellers.

But once young people (the buyers) head down that path, where else does this "flexible" integrity eventually take them? And let's face it, most aren't doing it because the system is flawed at all but for purely selfish reasons and because they can get away with it. So don't you encourage that flawed approach to life by serving the demand?

Is this how we restore integrity in modern Western Culture? Doubt it.

On the other side, as writers, start doing this and what else are you willing to do for a buck? It seems like a slippery slope upon which you'd better draw a hard line somewhere on the way down.

The human brain is an interesting and powerful thing, but it isn't always serving us in the way we assume...

Rather than using logic and a sense of morality to make decisions, what usually happens is we make a decision impulsively that's in our own self-interest (i.e I need the cash, or I really want a location independent income)...And THEN it's the job of our "logical" mind to come up on the back end. And rationalize that impulsive "decision" with supporting arguments and malleable moralities to support why it's not only okay but actually a good thing.

The brain is extremely good at this and often does it without you even noticing.

I wouldn't necessarily condemn a guy for doing this type of thing for money; on the other hand, if a masculine guy I otherwise respected told me this was how he paid his bills, let's just say it wouldn't win him any points with me either...

Some of you would say I'm overthinking it.

At the same time, $21 per page, on the high end...? There are much more rewarding and lucrative ways to make a buck with your writing online. No reason to play into this weasely game at all, in my opinion.

Just something to think about.
 
Mockrates: I would not do this work for students where you're employed. Word would likely get around.

Edlefou: Most papers are anywhere from two to 12 pages. Experienced writers will likely do two pages an hour. Most assignments would be done in one sitting. Someone doing it full-time would be doing most assignments close to the deadline -- it's just the way the business works, and many assignments come in at the last minute. Research and writing are done at the exact same time, and experienced writers are going to have a bag of tricks for minimizing research time. They might be writing 12 to 15 pages a day, or more, during busy seasons, probably working 7 days week. Much less during the summer.

Felix: Here's a more in-depth article on these issues. It's out-of-date, but still: https://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1131&context=vlr

Beyond Borders: Good points. It's certainly not for everybody.
 

DarkTriad

Ostrich
Gold Member
This actually sounds like a lot of fun even with the hard work involved. You're getting paid to educate yourself.
 

LINUX

Ostrich
Gold Member
RE: Datasheet: How to Write College

Do they students have to make a certain grade for you to be paid, like an A?

Are you paid under the table? i.e No taxes? Bitcoin?

How long do they hold the money for before you are paid?

This is a great idea. I live in a college town and I have enough adderall to pound out 50 papers for that long desired trip to Maldives.
 

Beyond Borders

Peacock
Gold Member
^ LINUX, you're a great writer. If you're seriously willing to grind for $20 page, hell, I could probably put you to work myself. Probably even pay you more.
 
RE: Datasheet: Write College Essays for a Living

That's a really useful thread, I already have done some local essay writing gigs a few years ago, but due to the nature of currency exchange the real bucks will come in Dollars or British Pounds.
And yes, social circle is a good way to get jobs, there will always be some guy or girl saying he's busy with academic work and doesn't have any free time, they could be lying or speaking the truth, it doesn't matter to you

To transition from that in a way that doesn't look shady is 100% natural

"Damn mate, I can't go out much these days, college work is killing me. Haven't got no time for that"
"C'mon, buddy. Of course you can do that! If you're really that busy I can even help with your school work if you pay me a little.."
"Really, how much?"
<Apply game or the 'Art of the Deal'(recommended book) tactics>

I also agree that Beyond Borders makes a good point, this is not a conventional way to make a living that you'd mention at family table, or something you'd have as long term main income strategy


By the way, I'm a C2 level STEM undergraduate
If any RFVer needs help with an essay and is willing to drop some USD or GBP at a discount send me a PM :wink:
 
LINUX said:
Do they students have to make a certain grade for you to be paid, like an A?

Are you paid under the table? i.e No taxes? Bitcoin?

How long do they hold the money for before you are paid?

This is a great idea. I live in a college town and I have enough adderall to pound out 50 papers for that long desired trip to Maldives.
LINUX:

-You wouldn't want to promise a grade, because they're supposed to be using the paper as an example, not turning it in. Even if they turned it in, you wouldn't want to promise a grade, because that gets into factors beyond your control.

-I imagine that most essay writers pay their fair taxes. If you're working for a company, you'll get a 1099 or, if it's a foreign company, I assume the money will be hitting PayPal, a bank account, etc. I haven't heard of anyone dealing with bitcoin. If you have local clients, you could be paid in cash and then it's up to you to handle the taxes. Most people dealing with local clients are probably recent grads doing essays on a very part-time basis through word of mouth.

-Companies will pay you after the work is done -- maybe once or twice a month. If you have your own clients, you'd better get paid in full up front. That said, some people may accept half down and half upon completion. It's your business, so it's up to you.

Dee Flower: I'll PM you.

TutorGuina:

If you can find a gregarious, alpha-type guy who needs your services, he'll then tend to spread the word throughout his social circle. He'll like being "the guy who knows somebody who can help." That somebody being you.

The currency thing reminded me of an important point. A lot of essay companies depend on writers from the Philippines, India, and Africa because of low labor costs. If you're a native English speaker, or very close, then you are a valuable find for students needing high-quality essays. You can charge accordingly, and your customers will be very loyal.
 
Beyond Borders:

I have known guys who got to the higher end of the business and earned six figures. You'd have to mainly be writing for your own clients, not companies. And some mix this work with other writing or other professions. Point being, it can be one of the more lucrative types of writing, for certain people.

I have heard all sorts of justifications and rationalizations from writers who do this, and criticisms from people who are against it. People whose identities are somehow tied into academia -- people who work in it or have spent a lot of time getting advanced degrees and believe in their value -- tend to be opposed, or at least need more rationalization if they're going to do the work. People without much connection to or emotion toward academia tend to need less convincing.

At the end of the day, if you do the work long enough, you're gonna get desensitized.
 

Beyond Borders

Peacock
Gold Member
^ I thought you already responded to me.

The fact that you felt the need to circle back around and do so again suggests that my words weighed heavy. If you're "desensitized," have at it. But...why is desensitization even needed? Doesn't change a word of what I said, mate.

I said my piece and I think I was pretty fair-minded and accepting about it to boot. The forum seems pretty heavily stacked towards moralistic thinking and living lately, so I guess I'm just surprised that this is so easily accepted as a reasonable idea at this time. The forum doesn't think for me, though, and I'm certainly open to consider other viewpoints...

That being said..."wait it out and eventually you'll be desensitized" is probably not an argument or viewpoint I'm open to consider.

Live on this earth long enough, and I think you'll discover that's true for most anything...No matter how right or wrong.

Not to be dramatic, but you could be desensitized to murder if you engaged in it regularly enough.

I say don't base your morals on what you can desensitize yourself against.
 
Mainly I wanted to correct your statement that $21/page is the high end. Anybody doing the work on a long-term basis will be trying to fill their schedule with private clients. So the pay will be quite a bit higher.

The morality of the essay business ... that's not something I would get into a debate about. The information is here if anybody is interested. Judging by the number of PMs I got, quite a few guys are. But I'm not about to tell people to get involved in it if they have concerns.
 
This post may be a bit long, but hope someone can answer, or suggest one.

My situation is as follows. I have a lot of spare time, and I need a pathway to a side hustle in the near future. My written output over the years is easily in the top 10 percent of peers my age. Always have enjoyed writing and wanted some pathway to make money off it. Also I am a prodigious researcher as well.

Want to get into essay writing by whatever is the easiest route to start making money. I would like to remain anonymous and get paid in the easiest way possible. There is no issue at all for me to churn-out page-after-page on a deadline. My general knowledge of subjects is pretty thorough, the only thing I wouldn't enjoy writing about, or would require more background could be medicine or biology.

Relevant: native speaker with degree.
 
Beyond Borders said:
^ LINUX, you're a great writer. If you're seriously willing to grind for $20 page, hell, I could probably put you to work myself. Probably even pay you more.
I see no rezone to pay so much money for this work
 
LINUX said:
Do they students have to make a certain grade for you to be paid, like an A?

Are you paid under the table? i.e No taxes? Bitcoin?

How long do they hold the money for before you are paid?

This is a great idea. I live in a college town and I have enough adderall to pound out 50 papers for that long desired trip to Maldives.
Hope you're doing well Linux!


I've been working with a company for a year or so. They either wire transfer or PayPal you the money. I don't know how stringent the IRS is with digital wallets.

There are good months... high season is usually from February till may and from October till December. The time in between is completely dead.

Rates vary from $5 all the way up to $15. I've never done a gig for more than that.


It keeps me entertained and I actually learn a lot of stuff from it.

They pay you every 15 days.

Students do not have to get a specific grade, but they rate your work and might ask for a refund if they're not pleased with the outcome.

Also, an editor can check your work before delivering the document and take a cut from your fee depending on the number of corrections he makes.
 
Sounds like an interesting gig if you want to work remotely. I have a law degree but it doesn't really help me after I relocated to Europe from the U.S. I saw an ad for essay writing today on a job website. May have to try it out!
 
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