I've been posting content on Newsvine for a little over five months, and Associated Content for about four weeks now. Both sites pay for content, while neither carry any kind of guarantee, and neither site seems to have a good system in place that will satisfy a majority, much less everyone.
Newsvine pays writers by sharing revenue from mandatory advertisements, meaning your pay is directly proportional to the number of people that view your content. This incorrectly places writers in the position of having to market their own work if they want to see a return for their efforts.
I think this is flawed because it requires you to be both a good writer, and a good marketer. Few people can be both, making it much more likely that only a cherished few will see any significant returns. Unfortunately, Associated Content is moving towards the very same kind of system that devalues quality in favor of sensationalism.
Before I joined the site, I understand that AC took article submissions and stored them for review by editors, who would then make a monetary offer for rights to display the content if you had requested such consideration. Your only control over how much the offer would be lay in your power to reject the offer, edit the content, and then submit it again hoping for a better one.
According to posts I have read on the official Associated Content forum, payments would range anywhere from a few dollars to as many as forty five for popular and sought after articles. Understand that when I say sought after and popular, the definition of such terms are entirely within the discretion of the AC editors, not the public. What you consider popular or in-demand may not be what they are looking for, and in fact they may be looking for useless garbage.
When I joined, they had already begun moving towards the flawed revenue sharing agreement which appears meant to replace -- not supplement -- the upfront payment system. Posts in the complaints section of the AC forum are full of people who did the math and discovered that upfront's have declined across the board ever since the revenue sharing agreement went into effect, and I've personally experienced this myself even in my short time with AC.
My first article submitted for payment was on the long rumored and looming Writers Guild of America strike called With Strike Threat Looming, WGA Makes Inroads on 'Webisodes', and recent movement on the guilds fight for new rights over Webisodes. The article was informative, moved at a smooth pace, was universally complimented as being of high quality, and perhaps a bit too long coming it at just under 1800 words.
I was offered and accepted six dollars for the article, which nearly equals an entire months worth of revenue sharing from Newsvine. Naturally I was excited at the possibility of being make to bring in a little extra money here and there for content I was going to be writing for my blog anyway, and that it trounced my Newsvine earnings was icing on the cake.
But it didn't last. In fact, I haven't received an offer that equals my first one since I signed up in early March. Up until today every single offer has been lower than the one before it, reaching a low point of three dollars and a rejection on the 3rd of April. Only my most recent submission, one I hardly think compares to the rejected article saw an offer that actually went up from the previous one.
In my first month at Associated Content, I have earned about $20 with three articles waiting for editorial review, which is probably AC's most annoying downside. You can make up for crappy pay be increasing quantity, but AC has in my experience never taken less than 10 days just to make an offer, with the exception of news items which apparently get fast-tracked without two to three hours. Often you are looking at 15 days between submission and actual payment.
Contrast this to Newsvine, which only does revenue sharing, where I've made I think about $24 in five months total.
I think the pattern here is quite clear.
With AC moving towards revenue sharing as the primary payment for writers, upfront payment has declined, and yet still it out paces Newsvine's revenue-sharing-only by a fair margin, at least for me. Unfortunately AC is making the same mistakes Newsvine has made, laying the primary responsibility of marketing on the shoulders of people who have no experience, and even less time to try something they aren't the least bit interested in doing.
To be frank, if I wanted to be a marketer, that's what I'd be doing. I'm a writer, that's what I do, and what I do extremely well, and I expect to be paid for it. I can't juggle, I can't sing, and I can't market, so why should I expected to be a one-man-show while the owners and employees make guaranteed yearly salaries off the backs of their writers?
I suppose some would make the argument that if I don't like it, I don't have to submit my content, and they are certainly correct. I don't have to give them access to my quality content, they could languish of 150 word blurbs about what some random blogger had for breakfast instead, if that's what they really want to happen.
The truth is that these sites need us just as much as we need them, but you wouldn't know it when you look too close.
It goes without saying that you can't write for either of these sites exclusively and expect to earn a living, nor can could you write for them both at the same time and expect to come anywhere close. Upfront payment is definitely the way to go if you want the quality content, and being forced to run it through editors is a very fine compromise as far as I am concerned.
After all, one should have to actually work and earn what they get, so long as what is expected of them is fair. Expecting someone who builds cars in a factory to also go out and sell the car too is hardly that.
While the money is better than nothing at all, even under AC's old formula, it could be and should be a lot better. Three dollars in my opinion is not enough for a couple of hours spent on a researched and well written relevant 1800-word article. It just isn't.
I've heard that AC offers are a little bit higher if you submit them exclusively, which makes a small amount of sense when you don't know the details, but I do, and I think it's a stretch to expect anyone to bite.
When the AC says exclusive rights, what they really mean is a full rights transfer where they become the legal author of the content. You give up any and all rights to it -- forever. For that, you supposedly can see a 20-30% higher offer, but at the rates they are paying today it's more of a joke than a serious benefit. Even for the six-dollar-article where I might otherwise be paid a little under eight dollars is a joke. That wouldn't even hardly pay for lunch at Hardee's, much less make it worth giving up lifetime rights to it.
I have heard that some people do try to market their own content end up earning more from revenue sharing than I do, and I'm fine with that, if that's what they want to spend most of their time doing that is. I can write something such as this in less than an hour if I try, but I could spend days trying to market it and still end up pulling blanks.
And rightly so, I'm not a marketer, so I really stink at it. But what I am good at is providing quality content on a regular basis, something you can't get from every Dick and Jane that writes a blog on the Internet, and I wish there was a site out there that would put away this ridiculous and failed notion of revenue sharing and start treating writers as they ought to be treated: employees providing a service that demands fair pay.
The primary reason for the existence of the Writers Guild of America is to secure minimum payment for writing services rendered to Hollywood and national news and radio. Unfortunately they don't cover essays, editorials, and freelance news writers. as far as I know. They do cover news writers mind you, but not like this.
Due to their efforts, professional screenwriters can make a pretty darn good living and know that if they write something worth buying, that they are going to get something worthy in return and they can't be lowballed for being in a less powerful position than the money people.
I'd love to see something like that for Internet writers, but I'm also not a union organizer either. If they want someone to write the charter or leaflets to round up support, then I'm their guy. Otherwise, it's back to writing shallow sensationalist crap in the hopes that I can somehow be the loudest person in the room, and maybe make a few bucks while I'm at it.