Can I pay the Internet to write my emails?
May 27, 2016 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I suck at correspondence, and would like to pay another human to draft the occasional very brief email message for me-- standard thank-yous, requests, friend check-ins, etc. (I don't need a full-on virtual assistant; just the occasional $5, 5-minute task). Is there an established gig website that handles this sort of custom short content request? How else could I go about tracking down someone to provide this service?

I'm someone who has a weird difficulty with ordinary online and written correspondence-- particularly messages that modulate personal or professional relationships in some way (thank-yous, favor requests, etc.). We're talking hours procrastinating and then agonizing over what would for anyone else be a normal five-minute, five-line throwaway message, plus then the whole attendant chain of avoidance, guilt, dropped connections, etc. It's not every message, but it's enough of them to make a substantial difference in my personal and professional life.

CBT is in the works, but in the meantime, it occurred to me to wonder wonder if this is something that could be inexpensively outsourced in today's gig economy. Are there any reputable sites (content generation? those $5 stunt websites? Amazon Mechanical Turk?) where I could toss in $4-6 plus a description of the situation and receive a reasonably well-written message draft in exchange, so I could just fill in the details and send? Or is this a harebrained scheme?
posted by Sockinian to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
MeFi Jobs?
posted by lungtaworld at 6:58 AM on May 27, 2016

Perhaps this website would help?
posted by sleeping bear at 7:19 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not a direct answer but as someone who has this problem a bit, two things I would suggest:
- re-use old mail. If you've sent something similar before, repurpose that for the new situation. This gets me over the problem of agonizing over phrasing because I already decided that. Just be careful of cut and paste errors.
- if you have to start from scratch, write in something outside your mail client. For me it's often enough to remove recipients from the mail but sometimes I will write in Word or Notepad and then paste into mail when I am happy with the draft. This somehow takes the pressure off me that what I say will be read by someone else.
posted by crocomancer at 7:41 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Isn't this what Amazon's Mechanical Turk is for?
posted by kevinbelt at 7:44 AM on May 27, 2016

You could, I suppose. Though your problem sounds more like the initiation of task, rather than the task itself. For that matter, I'll paraphrase the eminently wise jessamyn, who once wrote about comparing the time it takes to procrastinate, berate yourself, think about, etc., etc., rather than the actual 2 minutes it takes to do the task.

But, back to the topic of ghostwriting email: I had a student who was, by his submitted work, sub-literate, as in, very few complete sentences, all kinds of misspelling, incoherent. And yet his email correspondence was so exquisitely smooth, so strikingly persuasive (I am very tempted to include samples here), that I have to conclude that someone else was writing it, like a roomate, or his mother. That feels, to me as the recipient, incredibly false and manipulative. The vast gap between those two versions of him made me really question his sincerity and his authenticity as a human.

Be yourself, whoever that is. You are valued for you, not some idealized version of who you could be.
posted by Dashy at 7:56 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you can probably find someone on Fiverr to do that for you but MeFi Jobs is a better deal for someone you want to have a working ongoing relationship with.
posted by jessamyn at 8:19 AM on May 27, 2016

In the vein of what was suggested above, you could also pay someone to write you some swath of templates that you could work from. Working from things I've made before helps me a lot, but I imagine that's not too useful if you don't have much to start from.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:22 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not to get all meta on this but presumably you are going to be communicating with the person you wish to hire to handle your communication. Presumably over email. At that point, isn't the email written? Send it!
posted by gyusan at 9:40 AM on May 27, 2016

I do this for someone, basically. As a datapoint, it can and does happen.
posted by freezer cake at 4:28 PM on May 27, 2016

I think I would be perfect at this. I've been thinking of starting this as a side job. If you'd like, memail me an idea of what you need and I'll have a go at a sample for you.

(I spend a ton of time writing and rewriting emails for my household/my boss/etc)
posted by getawaysticks at 10:02 AM on May 28, 2016

« Older Should we get supplemental insurance before...   |   Yes really! Really! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.