Why are writers turning to content sites?

March 31, 2009

Why are the content sites, places like Associated Content, Suite 101 and Demand Studios, suddenly so popular? Why are writers flocking to these sites to make a measly few dollars per story?

That’s a good question. It’s one I’ve asked myself, too. I mean, I’m doing the same thing. I’ve made less than $40 at Suite 101 for 26 stories. The saddest part is, I don’t think that’s too bad, either.

I suppose two factors are at work here: First, the economic downturn has caused so many print magazines — which pay far better than do online content sites — to go out of business. There are fewer places now for freelance writers to submit their work. This is why I’m experimenting with the content sites. If I have a few moments between sending out pitches, I’ll write up a quick post for Examiner.com or begin working on an easy Suite 101 story. At least these posts provide some money.

The second reason, I suspect, is even more important: Places like Associated Content, Demand Studios or Examiner.com aren’t exactly picky when it comes to approving writers. I briefly wrote for Today.com, a popular blogging network, and that organization would accept anyone who could string three words together.

So it’s easy to get approved by the content sites. And being approved makes people feel like “real” professional writers. It’s far harder to get an editor at a trade or consumer magazine to assign you a story. At Examiner.com, you can be hired quickly and then write whatever bland, boring story you want. At magazines, editors demand stories that are interesting, informative and clever. That’s not the case at the content sites.

I’m glad the content sites are out there, though. They’re easy writing. And maybe some day, they’ll actually generate some decent money. I just don’t think of them as “important” writing. They’re junkfood, basically, that clutters the Internet.


Content writing, huh?

March 29, 2009

I’ve worked as a freelance writer since 1991. That’s a long time. But never have I felt as challenged, and frequently frustrated, as I do today. Since mid-2008, seven of my regular print-magazine clients have gone out of business. Several more have gone solely to in-house writers as they struggle through this horrible economy. I’m surviving, but I’m juggling more assignments than I ever have to meet my monthly income goals.

I’ve also dipped my toe into the largely unsatisfying world of online content writing. You know what I mean: places like Associated Content, Suite 101, Examiner.com, Demand Studios, b5 Media and the rest. They’re content mills that place greater value on quantity than they do on qukeyboardality. Writing for them is a bit brain-numbing, I admit. But a writer’s gotta’ do … well, you know.

I have one advantage in this strange new world: I can write fast, really fast. And when I’m writing for content sites I can write especially fast.

‘Course, that doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoy content writing. And I am still learning as I go. I’ve found content-mill writing to be extremely frustrating at times, especially when it comes to search engine optimization.  I also find myself getting overly excited when one of my online stories earns even the smallest amount of revenue. I wouldn’t touch a print-magazine story for anywhere near the same amount of money. I’d consider it an insult.

I set up this blog to share my journey through the content-writing landscape with my fellow freelance writers. Three times a week — at least — I’ll post my experiences with content sites. I’ll let you know how much I’m earning, how quickly I’m doing it and whether I enjoy what I’m doing even the tiniest bit.

And I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me, too, on whatever content writing you’re doing. Maybe you love it. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you recognize that in the world of online writing, speed is king, quality is  not necessarily a priority and earnings are small.

But, again, if you’re fast enough, if you can really pound away at that keyboard, those small earnings just might add up.

Or maybe they won’t. I’ll let you know.