Friday, November 27, 2009...8:30 am

Journalism job ads: not for actual jobs any more #1

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Suite101That is, not for actual jobs that have a salary attached. Not even minimum wage.

Try this one for size:  “Freelance writers for online magazine”

This is an ad for “The world’s most comprehensive independent online magazine: written and edited by professionals, trusted by over 24 million readers monthly!”

This is what it wants from you:

  • A minimum of 10 x 400-600 word non-fiction articles every three months
  • Research to support fact based, unique articles
  • Self guided use of training materials
  • Commitment to following editorial guidelines
  • Excellent writing and grammatical skills
  • High level of self-motivation and fastidious attention to detail
  • Ability to accept and respond to editor feedback
  • Experience writing for the web considered an asset, though not required
  • Familiarity with social networks and online marketing is beneficial, though not required

Quite demanding, really. And this is what it gives in return:

  • Freedom to write about what you want, when you want
  • Lifetime royalties with added bonuses and incentives
  • Exposure to over 20 million monthly readers
  • Free, comprehensive training on writing for the web
  • Access to a vibrant online writing community and forum

Wow 20 million readers (or, you know, 24 million readers, depending on which figures you use). And “lifetime royalties” yet. What’s that all about? Could this be the route to a lifetime of unearned income flowing into your bank account as you sip margaritas by the pool?

No. From the Suite101 web site:

It’s difficult to provide static figures about how much revenue writers earn at Suite101; there are a number of variables that can affect your earnings. To give you an idea of the revenue range, some top writers earn over $1000/month. Other writers may earn $30/month but it depends on the popularity of your articles and their searchability online.

Mmm. $30 a month. I can’t wait.

It’s also telling that a lot of the testimonial quotes featured on the Suite101 site focus on the satisfaction of writing, rather than its profitability.

“At Suite101 I enjoy professional camaraderie with other writers”

or:

“Suite101 provides both structure and creative liberty”

or:

“Writing for Suite101 gives me the opportunity to more deeply research a topic I am already seriously invested in”

Which is nice. But doesn’t pay the rent.

Suite101Having said that, the site is admirable in its transparency. It even has a downloadable example of the contract it offers new writers.

Suite101 agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts to secure, but cannot guarantee, sponsored advertising links that
attempt to match content of an individual webpage (“Contextual Advertising”) for every page of the Content published on
Suite101. Suite101 agrees to pay the Writer a fee (the “Fee”) that constitutes a share (at the discretion of Suite101 and its
partnering advertisers) of revenues earned from Contextual Advertising displayed on all Suite101 webpages where the
Writer’s Content appears in full.

Suite101 agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts to secure, but cannot guarantee, sponsored advertising links that attempt to match content of an individual webpage (“Contextual Advertising”) for every page of the Content published on Suite101. Suite101 agrees to pay the Writer a fee (the “Fee”) that constitutes a share (at the discretion of Suite101 and its partnering advertisers) of revenues earned from Contextual Advertising displayed on all Suite101 webpages where the Writer’s Content appears in full.

So, you get an unspecified (read: “tiny”) share of whatever sponsored ad revenue the site may or may not be able to sell against your lovingly written copy. That’s about what I get here, actually. Only I have some guarantees that my posts won’t get removed at the whim of WordPress without me knowing.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no objection to performance-based models of payment for writing. In fact, I think in some ways it’s inevitable, given the nature of the web. But I don’t think this could be described as an ad for a “job” in any sense of the word.

Nevertheless, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the media classifieds in future I reckon.

7 Comments

  • I must admit I’ve never heard of this online magazine.

  • Freelance UnboundNo Gravatar
    November 27th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Nor had I, I thought – though I may have actually arrived at it from a search. It looked slightly familiar.

    It’s the sort of thing you tend to find if you do a “how to” Google search. And it’s the future of content…

  • They’re like about.com. It’s basically an adsense site that they don’t have to provide the content for, and they pay you a portion of the adsense profits.

  • I came across one of their ads a few months back when I ‘resting’. It seemed like a modern take on the old ‘Write for a living’ classifieds. After a little research I can see what they are doing, and the onus is very much on the writer to come up with content that is engaging enough to pull in traffic, in a sector that is not already overpopulated (Suite 101 has editors that vet you before you become one of its contributors).
    It will probably work for a few people, but it’s a big ask. If your content was that compelling, why bother sticking it on their website, when you could make your own blog a destination with a bit of effort and imagination?

  • Freelance UnboundNo Gravatar
    February 16th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Stuart – hi

    You’re absolutely right – if you can create compelling content, get yourself set up with an e-marketing blog and have a chance of making some decent money.

  • Er, I wasn’t suggesting I had the initiative or imagination to do it, but I’m sure there are some hard working sorts who do. My own rather sad effort (http://hackneyholiday.blogspot.com/) is unlikely to ever bring fame or fortune.

  • No, but it does bring pleasure to its readers, I certainly enjoy it. The slightly irregular Hackney Hackette is also well worth a read.

    Congratulations on the impending arrival by the way.

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