BENGALURU: Suresh Nair (name changed), has just completed his bachelors in finance from a prestigious city college. He owes his degree to his dissertation writer, without whom he says he wouldn’t have been able to graduate. “The reason I got into finance was because my dad is in the banking sector, and obviously my family expected me to do the same.
My main interest was music, and wanted to pursue that but my family wanted me have some sort of professional degree before I got into music full-time. I just wanted to get done with the degree, but this meant having to do the thesis, which I really couldn’t get myself to,” says Suresh, a recent graduate, who gave three of his assignments to a consultancy here in Bengaluru which cost between `750-1,500 for each subject.
It’s no secret that theses and dissertations are a time-consuming process and college-going students can’t wait to get them done with. Meeting deadlines can be stressful for these students, added with the fact that grades matter not just to them, but their parents as well.This is where freelance content writers are cashing in by taking up the role to help ‘struggling academic students’.
These content writers are paid based on the number of words and are either college students themselves from other colleges or full-time content writers between the age group of 20 to 28.21-year-old Chandini Shah has just completed her degree and has been into content writing since the last year of her college. “It’s easy pocket money for me since I receive anywhere between ` 350-2,000 twice a week,” says the former journalism student. She got into content writing after getting in touch with a content writing group on Facebook. “I just put up a post that I was interested in this work, and people from across the country connected with me,” she adds.
The process includes a broker, who acts as the supplier of the assignments, after which the work is divided among young content writers. Aravind Suresh, a 32-year-old, has been running a consultancy company in the city for the past two-and-half-years, and receives 25-30 service requests on a monthly basis from different countries. “I get around three service requests from Bengaluru, but I charge them less in comparison to projects from foreign countries,” he says. Most of the requests, according to Aravind, are from Australia, UK, US and New Zealand. While 70% of the projects are from B-school students, the rest come in from engineering students.
Aravind facilitates around 10 freelancers who are mostly college-goers or fresh graduates. For students, looking for budget theses, this works out well on the pocket, since these writers charge nominal amounts owing to their lack of experience.“Most of the student-writers are those with a humanities background. They charge anywhere between 50 paise to one rupee per word. But if they have a finance or a business background, then it’s a minimum of two rupee per word,” Aravind adds.
Aravind points out that full-time content writers are hard to find because they know academic work doesn’t provide much money. “But it works well for college students who need some pocket money. We wait till the results are out, and only if the student has passed, do we get paid. Otherwise, the content writer has to edit the work for free,” says Aravind.
It’s a high-pressure job for these fresh graduates, who are expected to deliver the thesis within tight deadlines, sometimes even within two days. Shreya George, a 22-year-old who hails from Kerala, moved to Bengaluru as a freelancer and was slammed with guidelines to follow. “The problem is when you are inexperienced, there’s more research that has to be done. We have to be careful about plagiarised content, especially since softwares such as Turnitin and Copyscape allow only five percent of copy-paste work. And all this in under a tight deadline,” she says.
The biggest grouse of content writers who adhere to these guidelines and whip up theses in a
matter of days, is delayed payment, or sometimes even non-payment. “People think that thesis work is just copying-pasting on the required topic from Wikipedia. But it’s far from the truth. The research is intense,” adds Shreya.
Chandini credits her family, who were supportive of her decision to freelance during her college days. “My family was happy because I stopped going out and partying and was doing this instead. I’m
doing actual work and research and learning from it in the process,” she says, adding, “All I need is a laptop and some amount of concentration.”