Student paper writing is a form of ghostwriting in which a student hires a writer to do a term or research paper, and the student gets credit for it. The paid essay writing service has been around for years, but, like other freelance jobs, the Internet has made it easier for writers and students to connect.
As a freelance writer looking for work, you may have encountered these jobs on writing websites, work-at-home job boards, or ads from harried students on Craigslist. If you have a website to promote your freelance business, a student may have contacted you directly.
Either way, the student paper industry is a real and viable way to make money as a freelance writer, if you have the right background and skills, and don't mind the questionable ethics behind it.
Students Who Need Academic Essays Written
Initially, the Internet made it easy for students to post completed essays online that other students could take and use as their own. Savvy teachers and professors caught on to this, and the rise of plagiarism checkers forced students, who didn't want to write their papers, to find an alternative.
There are several types of students who may hire writers to do their papers for them. In general, they fall into one or more of the categories below:
- Procrastinators who waited too long to get started on their paper: These students tend to contact you at the last minute, which means you can often charge more for rushed assignments.
- Lacking self-confidence to tackle a big assignment: These are students who tend to reach out ahead of time, with a little leeway on the due date.
- Students for which English is a second language: For these students, writing papers for U.S. schools is difficult.
- Lazy students: These students lack the drive to do the work themselves and have the money to pay someone to do it for them.
Why Get Paid to Write Student Papers?
Why would a writer agree to write a student's paper? Looking past the ethical considerations, there are several reasons a writer might add academic writing to their menu of services.
- Enjoy academic topics: If you did well in school, remember the books you read and lessons you learned, and like to research, then writing student essays would allow you to use what you've already learned.
- Pays decently compared to content writing: Writing student papers usually pays several hundred dollars. This, of course, depends on the level you're writing at, how long the paper is, and the time you have to write it. On average you'll be paid $9 to $15 per page (double spaced), more for graduate-level papers.
- Steady work: Freelance writing work can ebb and flow, which can make it stressful during ebb times. However, there seems to always be students who need writers for their essays and papers.
- Quick payment: Some writing gigs can take weeks, if not months, to pay you. Student writing through a company usually pays weekly.
- Flexible work: You can work when and where you want, as long as you meet the deadline
Along with writing papers, there are services that involve providing research and editing help, especially with theses and dissertations. This type of work is more palatable for writers who don't feel writing students' papers is ethical. However, thesis and dissertation work usually requires an advanced degree.
Finding Student Paper Writing Jobs
The safest and easiest way to write student papers for pay is to go through one of the many companies that offer this service to students. Each will have their own criteria, but in most cases, you'll, at the very least, need a:
- College degree or higher
- Sample of your writing
- Knowledge of style guides, such as APA and MLA
- Experience in formatting footnotes, citations, and bibliography
When hired, you'll sign a contract that outlines what you're paid and when.
You can offer student essay writing directly through your freelance writing business, as well. In that case, you just need to prove to the student you can do the work, and arrange payment through PayPal or check, delivering the work via email in a Word or other document format that the student can edit.
For the writer, there are a few challenges in not using a company. For one thing, the person hiring you is a cheater, and if they'd cheat at school, he or she might try to cheat you. For that reason, you should demand full payment upfront, or not deliver the paper until the payment is made.
Why You Shouldn't Write Student Papers
There are challenges and cons to writing student papers for pay. For one, especially for college entrance exam essays, it can be difficult to match a student’s tone and voice. You may be a talented writer, but it stands to reason that your customer is not. How polished, exactly, should this work be without giving away that the student isn't the writer? This will depend on the topic and level of the course the paper is written for. Some companies frame their service as "model" papers, with the expectation that the student will take the paper and tweak it, sort of like private label rights, to make it their own.
Another issue is the research or reading inherent in college-level work. You might be able to write a three-page essay in an hour, earning $45 per hour, but if you have to read a book or other literature first, or do research, that will significantly lower your per-hour earnings.
The main consideration in this type of work is ethics. A writer who does this type of work is helping a student cheat. While not illegal, the freelance writer should understand that this doesn't mean it’s free of consequences. The student risks expulsion, if discovered. For the writer, it can hurt his or her reputation. Ask yourself what your cost would be, were it known, that you engage in this kind of work.
As mentioned earlier, some service providers get around the ethics question by insisting that the writing they sell to students are unique model papers that the student is supposed to use to help them learn. But chances are good that the student puts their name on the delivered product and turns it in.
Of course, as a freelance writer, you need to pay the bills, and so if you're in a bind, and need to make decent money quickly, student paper writing can help. Especially if you consider that the student is going to pay someone to write the paper. Why not you?
Alternatives to Writing Student Essays
If you're not comfortable with this type of freelance writing work, you do have other options, such as:
- Book reviewing: If you enjoy reading and writing about what you read, this is the ideal freelance job.
- Editing, indexing, and research support to Masters and Doctoral students: In this case, you're helping a student with the paper they've researched and will write or have written.
- Ghostwriting: Similar to student writing, you're providing content that someone else will take credit for, but it's not academic cheating.
- Article writing: There are many magazines and websites that accept long-form articles that are well-researched, interesting, and provocative. Check the Writer’s Market book or website, or do a search within your particular niche area.
The bottom line is that essay and term paper writing is a service that students are willing to pay for, and it’s probably not going away any time in the near future. You have to decide for yourself if this is a freelance writing option you feel comfortable tackling.