Suite 101 update: My first “disabled” story

April 3, 2009

Turns out, those Suite 101 editors aren’t all pushovers after all.

I’d run into very few problems with the first 26 stories I’d submitted to Suite 101. I’d get an occasional note from an editor reminding me to capitalize words in my headlines and subheads. (They’re big for capital letters at Suite 101.) Another note might ask me to insert an additional subhead in a story. (They really like their subheads, too.)

But that all changed. Last week, an editor disabled one of my stories.

Most of what I write at Suite 101 has to do with mortgages and homebuying. Those are topics that seem to attract a lot of views. But my disabled story was one of the handful I’ve written about freelance writing. In this particular story, I wrote about blogging networks, and whether they were worth a writer’s time. (Short answer: No.)

The editor who disabled the story cited some problems with my subheads and headlines, of course. (No editorial critique at Suite 101 is complete without headline or subhead commentary.) The editor also mentioned a spelling error.

But the real problem was that my story sounded too much like a blog post. It was also more of an opinion piece than a “how-to” or newsy story.

Well, that editor was right. I wrote the Suite 101 story shortly after having trouble collecting money from a blog network I’ve been experimenting with. The people in charge of the network had been ignoring my messages. I wasn’t happy with that, so I wrote a column telling writers how unreliable blogging networks are.

By the way, I do believe that is true. I’ve written for two blogging networks now that suddenly changed the way they pay writers. Both times, of course, my pay would have drastically plummeted had I stayed on board. I’ll be writing about both blogging networks in future posts.

I don’t fault the Suite 101 editor. I probably won’t make the changes she recommends to get my disabled story back to life. It’s just not worth the time or effort. It’s a good reminder, though, that Suite 101 does not want anything that smacks of an opinion piece.

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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.