Inside a Highly Profitable and Ethically Questionable Essay Writing Service
Kevin says he’s always been known as a good writer — a reputation that only blossomed at his Canadian high school.
“News spread pretty quickly through my school of 700 people that I was the best writer in school,” he recalls.
Word spread at 15-year-old Kevin’s workplace, McDonald’s, where he flipped burgers. His teenage colleagues started joking with him, saying they would pay $20 for him to write their papers. “It seemed funny at first,” Kevin says. “Then finally, I was like: Twenty bucks? That’s more than I make in three hours.”
So he said yes.
Kevin (a pseudonym) estimates that he wrote about 50 articles for his high school classmates before moving on to college in the northeastern United States. There he worked at the university’s writing center and taught economics to other students. After graduating, he got a job in finance and started writing again, this time for students.
“The stereotype [client] is ‘father credit card.’ But the vast majority people who use the service – and I’m talking about 90% – having a work.”
In December 2016, he formalized his essay writing services, launching an Instagram profile and a website he called killer papers. Kevin wrote the first hundred articles for free. “I did it just to get some criticism and knowing word would eventually spread,” he says. It worked.
By August 2017, he was charging $10 per page and had earned enough to quit his hated full-time job. “That first year, I made $50,000 from the business,” he says.
Canada-based Killer Papers is one of many so-called essay mills that write articles for clients in exchange for money. And as kids head back to school this fall, business in the industry is about to pick up again. “A slow month is August, and a busy month is October,” says Kevin.
It now has about 60 writers who produce between 200 and 1,000 articles a month, with prices ranging from $17.50 to $32 per page. Although Kevin is reluctant to share specific numbers, he will admit that the site’s revenue is in “the low seven figures”.
With stationery, the quality of the end product varies wildly, depending on the service you use and the price you pay. The Killer Papers site points out that its writers “are ALL US or Canadian college graduates,” unlike cheaper overseas competitors who employ writers for whom English is a second language.
But Killer Papers is not a paper mill, the company insists. “Killer Papers is a tutoring service,” reads a disclaimer on the site. “Custom projects from KillerPapers.org are not intended to be transmitted as finished work for academic credit, as they are strictly intended for use for research and study only. Killer Papers does not neither endorses nor condones any type of plagiarism.
Those who use Killer Paper’s services generally belong to two camps. “The stereotype is ‘dad’s credit card,'” Kevin says. But that’s not his main clientele. “The vast majority of people who use the service — and I’m talking about 90% — are employed. Many of them are older than you think. These are people, says Kevin, whose busy lives mean they don’t have enough time to devote to their classroom work.
Killer Papers user Deke (pseudonym), a 24-year-old from Texas, was more stereotypical than the average customer. He first heard about the service from a friend during his freshman year of college, where he was studying marketing. Deke estimates he paid over $1,000 for about ten articles. “I know I’ve spent quite a lot of money, and that’s probably because I’m lucky to be financially supported by my family,” he says.
Deke says he used Killer Papers to help him with his heavy course load, which he took on in order to speed up his entry into the working world. He admits he never told his family where their hard-earned money was going. “Even though I tried to explain to them, they are immigrants and they haven’t really been to school,” he says. “They wouldn’t really understand it.”
Deke claims he never submitted an article that was not his own work. “When I got the papers back, I changed them,” Deke explains. “I worked on it.” He says the essay writing service helped him come up with the concepts and ideas for his essays. “This is where I really needed help. When it came to opening a Word document to type things in, I sort of passed out. I’m like, Where do I start?”
Deke got As for every essay he submitted except one — the result of an ultra-strict teacher, he says. He graduated in 2020 and started working for an NFL team; he is now employed in the oil and gas industry. “It helped me pretty well get to where I am now,” he says. He adds that his fear of the blank page is gone and he is able to competently write reports for his work.
Passing off someone else’s work as your own – plagiarism – is not illegal. But it is unethical.
Thomas Lancaster, a lecturer in computer science at Imperial College London, has studied academic integrity and the role of the test mills in its destruction for more than 20 years. “Students see a lot of temptation,” he says. “They see offers of work for them, often disguised as ‘support’ or ‘help’, not directly related to cheating. A lot of this is misleading, and there’s a lot of confusion between cheating and acceptability.
Beyond the impact of paper mills on the value of college degrees, Lancaster worries about the effect they have on students. “For students who think they’re just buying one job, the problem is they’re missing out on some of the basic foundational knowledge that we expect of them,” he says. “When they keep doing a later mission, they just have a hard time doing it.”
“Were denunciation customers before they sign up that we are not encouraging them to plagiarize anything.”
Those involved in essay writing services deny that they undermine the integrity of the education system. Courtney, who is in her 20s and lives on the East Coast, has worked with Killer Papers since 2018. She was an English and Education major in college and started teaching children. “I was very confident in my ability to proofread and edit and provide just about any writing service,” she says. “I really like to write.”
She signed up for Killer Papers, she says, because while she was confident in her ability to write an essay, she was aware that others might not. “I really liked the idea of providing support to students who might not have the same skills as me,” she says. “It was nice to be able to help people.”
In March 2022, she quit her teaching job and became a full-time essay writer for Killer Papers. Part of it was the money, but she also felt the disruption to education caused by the pandemic meant she couldn’t have as much of an impact on children’s learning as she wanted. . She tries to write between 15 and 30 assignments a week, depending on the length. This allows her to match her teaching salary of $45,000, she says.
When asked what she thinks about the morality of what she does, Courtney hesitates. “We inform customers before they sign up that we don’t encourage them to plagiarize anything,” she says. “And we don’t encourage them to submit work.” Kevin, the founder of Killer Papers, makes similar points. “They are given limited usage rights,” he says. “Basically it’s for inspiration or study purposes. You are not allowed to reuse it or anything like that.
Kevin says you wouldn’t hold a gunmaker responsible for what someone does with a gun, so you shouldn’t hold Killer Papers responsible for students who decide to submit work produced by the service as the their. “Everyone has free will,” he says.
When To input points out that a lot of people think gun manufacturers should be held accountable, Kevin counters that you wouldn’t hold alcohol producers responsible for the actions of an intoxicated person. When To input points out that cigarettes are similar – and that the tobacco industry has been held responsible for its impact – and asks if he really doesn’t believe that kids don’t pass off his essays as their own, Kevin asks not to be checked in.
Courtney holds the line tight. “It’s wonderful to support students in any way they need, but in the same way that I couldn’t control my students in class not submitting assignments, neither can I control what a student does with the content submitted to him,” she says. “They signed an agreement that they read on the site, and they see that we don’t tolerate it at all.”
“People generally assume that I really don’t care on the product that I produce, and I just do like many as possible to make money. It’s just Not precise.”
The fact that she’s part of an industry that fuels cheating is the biggest misconception people have about her work, she says. “People in general assume that I don’t really care about the product I make and that I do as much as I can to make money,” she says. “That’s just not accurate. I really care about supporting students and want them to feel confident in the process.
“I encourage comments,” she continues. “I encourage questions and criticism and everything because not only does it help me improve, but it makes them more comfortable that I’m not just a robot or some random individual with no other purpose than ‘a paycheck.’ Such communication takes place via a chat function on the website.
Kevin’s vision for the future of Killer Papers is confused. “I don’t see a world where in three years we’re still selling custom essays, to be honest with you,” he says. Instead, it provides for the demise of the essay writing service, to be replaced by true tutoring services. This means Killer Papers may one day change its name. “We need a name that transcends essay writing, to be something that can compete with [high-profile online tutoring service] University tutors,” he says.
Perhaps it’s a tacit admission that he wants to go totally legit. In a pre-interview email to To input, Kevin adopted a more thoughtful tone regarding what he does for a living. “The reason I thought I chose this company initially was because I was good at writing, I loved to write and people were willing to pay me to do it,” he shares. -he.
“But the truth is, I chose it because I was desperate and knew I had what it took to make it work, at least enough to get me out of the corporate job and the two hours of ride that I hated,” continues Kevin. “If I hadn’t been so desperate, maybe I would be changing the world right now.”