AC · Associated Content · rant

Strange, I don’t feel funny.

I feel as though a decision is coming. Continue at Associated Content or just use this blog or set up my own site. Help me weigh the pros and cons, would you?

Pro AC: It’s a much wider audience. It comes with a “built in” readership and has 40k+ members that will potentially be exposed to my work.

Con AC: It seems that as the membership grows the average mentally shrinks. It has turned into a pay-to-blog site only without one important component, pay. If you want page views write fluff for no money. If you want money, write “how to” and “product reviews” that will slip away to obscurity. Those really aren’t my writing strengths.

Pro AC: For all its faults and bugs, I like the site and concept. And maybe it’s the help desk analyst in me, but until lately, I enjoyed the forums. Answering questions and interacting with fun people was a nice diversion.

Con AC: Lately the forums have become a pain. It seems like everyone has a chip on their shoulder. No one has a sense of humor. People have started playing childish games like creating fake accounts just to stir up trouble and hash out questions that have been addressed 100 times. I’ve seen it before on other sites. It is the harbinger of doom.

Pro AC: Most of the people there are good folks. I’ve met and keep up with some good writers and sharp minds.

Con AC: Nothing says I can’t still keep up with those folks from a far. For some reason the level of writing is on the decline. There are so many pop-topic pieces being published that it’s like reading People or The Star. I’m just waiting for something like the Bat Boy series to pop up as an Editor’s Pick. I guess that sells, but it sure doesn’t pay.

I recently posed a question to AC’s forum “moderator” that went unanswered. “If AC pays me that’s a win-win. If AC doesn’t offer me money, why not just set up my own site and reap the AdSense revenue?” However small, it would be more than AC offered.

More and more it looks like if you don’t produce articles that will get 10k+ hits per month, AC doesn’t care if you stay or go. The problem is they don’t pay for the kind of topics that will garner 10k+ hits.

I just submitted an interview with a little-known band. Then I find out that AC is offering prime dollars for exactly what I already submitted. I wonder where they got the idea to run a special offer for local bands? Now instead of being a stand-out article, it’s going to look like I jumped on the special-offer band wagon. Timing is everything.

Donna was just saying “Internet drama is so 1998!” Boy did she hit the nail on the head. I’m getting too old for this. I guess that’s why nice guys always finish last. The trouble is, I really am a nice guy. I guess that doesn’t come across the wire.

So how do you feel about it? To AC or not to AC? That is the question.


20 thoughts on “Strange, I don’t feel funny.

  1. You have stated the pros and cons very well and I definitely agree with your assessment. I submit most of my articles for free because, like you, my writing strength does not lie with the product reviews. I’m more of a commentator or fiction writer.

    I don’t enjoy the forum because people can be incredibly vicious or they gang up on one another. I had enough of that bologna in middle school; I certainly don’t want to read it now.

    I was sorry to read that you were being falsely accused – that was not cool at all and I hope the situation is resolved.

  2. I’m with Donna. The Pro-Con format was laid out very well, and you make some good points. It’s really starting to bug me that people who can’t write and who post sensationalist crap are probably being paid far more than I am. Just stopped writing about writing yesterday because I couldn’t get an offer over $6 even though I have more readers now than I did when I was writing about other things.

    Maybe you should start your own site. You’re a really good writer and you could probably do quite well as a freelancer. It’s just so unsteady waiting for projects that I have to keep AC around… Anyway, sorry for the ramblings. Loved the Driving Habits article.

    Steve Thompson

  3. I’m right there with you, Randy. AC is fast becoming a paid-to-blog site on one side of the fence, and on the other side of the fence, we’re seeing National Enquirer type writings being showcased.

    I’ve been a tad disappointed lately in the decline in quality and moreso in the article being showcased – not in how they are written, but in the content they contain.

    I thought AC was a media company – but it appears my definition of media and theirs differs.

    I’m not begrudging them doing what it takes to make page views, but at the same time, I do worry about the credibility of the site for things like news and actual informational articles when Star Magazine type articles seem to be what’s making the front page regularly. It concerns me about anyone taking my writing seriously on the site.

    I have started posting more of my writings on my own website, and have left what I’m doing on AC to news articles that I hope will lend some credibility, and informational articles I hope actually impart some information.

    My page views are still climbing… my offers are declining.

    We’ll see how it all goes, but you laid out many of my own frustrations with the site in your cons and many of my own pleasures and enjoyment of the site in your pros.

    Good summary.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do on your blog or on AC.

    Love and stuff,

  4. It seems I’ve been struggling with all the same issues you are having a problem with Randy. I think the reason I’m staying around there for now is because of the people like the ones who have posted before me here. Donna, Steve, Michelle and The Barefoot are real good people helping others out when needed. I often just need someone who writes professionally to socialize with or commiserate with. I’ve had a real difficult time with trying to write the garbage that seems to be popular with CM’s. There has to be something good about standing by your convictions and writing what you feel, doesn’t there?

  5. I haven’t yet decided myself what to do. I think I’ll probably stay until when/if things deteriorate more and/or I get too busy to play there. But Randy, you’re a very funny writer, and if I were you, I would try to break into print, into newspapers or magazines. And try to network with other humor writers, whose writing you respect. It doesn’t have to be an either/or — you could keep a toe in at AC while moving into more fruitful environments.

  6. I haven’t been at AC very long but it’s already clear to me that everything you’ve said in your pros and cons is absolutely true.

    At AC quality content doesn’t necessary bring in the page views that pop culture and how-to content does therefore it isn’t worth as much to management. Michelle put it best when she compared the front page akin to the Star Magazine. As big as AC is, I don’t understand why they can’t at least make sure the fluff they do pay for is well written. Some of the high school type grammar and spelling mistakes—not to mention the poor, uneducated logic—I find in too many of the AC articles boggles my mind. And I’m talking about content that you know from reading the forums was paid content.

    Randy, maybe you could start an ‘adult’ verison of AC. The kids are taking them over. LOL

  7. By the way, I think for me the deal-breaker, if there is one, would be the pressure to use social networking to promote our work. I tried it a bit, but I’m just not that into it. I’m too old for Myspace, and I’m horrified at the thought of being seen as a spammer (a couple of the places that AC wants us to post links to our work consider such self-promotion to be spam). And if getting “only” 500 hits per article (ha ha — as if!) is considered crappy, well, I’m in this for the quick cash, not to get my ego bruised.

    As someone who likes to look at the cover of the National Enquirer while I’m waiting in the check-out line at the supermarket, I’m not sure if the fluffiness per se bother me (though it’s not something I would ever have sought out to read).

    I do think it is important for aspiring writers to surround themselves with other writers who they respect and admire. For myself, I’m not sure if that still applies — I think I’m more of a bitter, has-been used-to-wannabe rather than a dewy-eyed hopeful — but for someone with the drive to improve as a writer, it’s critical, I think, to be part of a group with people at their level and a bit above with similar ambitions. AC, for serious writers (and that includes funny-serious writers), isn’t going to be that. That’s not its purpose. I still think you can do two (or more) things at once — stay at AC for whatever it is you still get out of it — but at the same time look for a peer group, even a small one, that will push you to raise, not lower, your standards.

  8. Almost wish I’d read this before joining AC. When I’d google search for something I often read an AC article that was informative. I’ve wondered if some of the articles I’ve read since joining, were actually reviewed, because of the typo’s. If you hadn’t posted your blog URL in the forum, I won’t be here now. And I have to come back tomorrow, becsuse I’m about to fall asleep. Haven’t read your articles yet. Like the suggestion above, an AC for adults. But I think there’s a lot involved with actually making enough money to pay people to write.

    If your page views are climbing, that’s good news, because you’re creating a presence for yourself on the web, and that’s a good thing. So maybe you could continue blogging, start your own site, and pop in at AC to keep your name out there.

  9. I just came across this. It’s is in a completely different context, but it sure made sense. “First and most important is the image of the host; this must be supported, and audience expectations must be met in that regard. Second, the sponsors must be satisfied that nothing unpopular or politically incorrect is used; that won’t sell the product. Third, secondary guests are expendable, and are there only to be used, in any way that serves the intent of the producers.”

    I guess the AC CP is the guest. (Announcer’s voice over) “Guest of the AC show stay at the Purgatory Hotel in a constant state of bewilderment hanging between what is well written and what is junk.”

  10. “It seems that as the membership grows the average mentally shrinks.”

    That’s apparent from all the people who thought your “Hollywood Elects Al Gore King of the World” was funny.

    When you wrote “Lately the forums have become a pain,” were you referring to people like Michelle who seem to do nothing but bitch and complain all the time?

  11. Average Joe,

    I was one of those people who thought Randy had a lot tongue-in-cheek humor in his “Hollywood Elects Al Gore King of the World.” I believe that people can use humorous phrases, etc., and STILL get intelligent opinions across. The first doesn’t void out the latter and I view Randy as a master of mixing humor with intelligent content. Just because I didn’t challenge or agree with the heavier side of his content doesn’t mean it went over my head and that I’m an example of a ‘mentally shrinking’ CP. The limited comment space at AC doesn’t lend itself to offer much of a rebuttal so I often just leave a short, noncommittal comment just to let the writer know that I read the piece.

    If Randy says there was absolutely nothing in the article that he meant to be humorous then I’m betting that those of us who like Al Gore viewed much of what Randy said as tongue-in-cheek and those of us who dislike Al Gore didn’t see it that way. Readers often don’t take away from an article what we intend for them to take away. That is the perpetual challenge of writing is it not?

  12. I challenge you to read my posts – all of them, and tell me just how many of them are negative versus how many of them are helping other CPs learn things about AC – or answering questions – or posting paying leads for other writers… or even, (gasp) saying positive things about AC.

    Anything I say in the forums that might be negative in nature is not just a complaint – ever single time I have ever ‘complained’ I have provided reasons and offered solutions. Can you say that of the other hundreds of complaints that are there?

    I know who you are, Joe… have the huevos to address me in person, as who you are, since I seem to have no problem putting my name on the line. If you can’t, your opinion means jack to me. You face me as a man, and I’ll respect you even if I disagree.

    Otherwise, I have nothing else to say to you.

    Good day!

    (waving) Hi Randy et al!

  13. Thanks for being anonymous “Joe.” Way to show some metal. You are obviously a CP at AC since you read the forums. I’m not out to please the world, but someone liked that article. I can’t help that.

    As for Michelle, her good out weighs her bad. She has helped more CP at AC than have probably ever read your articles. She was instrumental in getting the very annoying “comment rating” feature removed.

    If you drop by again at least grow a big enough pair to identify yourself. I don’t hold grudges and this is a safe place. Until we meet again…

  14. I am not in love with how the forums have been going. But I always have the option of not reading them. Frankly I need the extra money that AC provides or I would cut back there as well. My offers are actually higher than they used to be, if I write my North Carolina articles. On other stuff I submit, the offers are on the decline.

    I really hope you don’t quit, you bring class and humor to the site.

  15. AC can be a pain. But the pros out weigh the cons. At least in my case. I am not a writer but I am starting to get a little bit better at communicating.

    In your case, the blog is the thing. Still, publishing on occasion for AC is good for your blog. The most important thing for you to think about is ME! Who will I have to mess with on AC if you quit!

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