Associated Content Tip of the Day 2 Nov 2007: When Submitting for Free Makes Sense.


Those who write for Associated Content generally fall into two categories: People who write for money & people who write for non-monetary reasons. No matter where along this continuum you fall, there are still valid reasons for submitting articles to Associated Content for free. Technically, it’s never for free since AC pays 0.0015¢ per page view.

Those who are 100% about the money tend to be professional, freelance writers. They’ve been paid serious money for print articles and/or books. Often this type of writer has a very low opinion of AC. They had their ego stroked by seeing their byline in print and can’t fathom why AC would only offer $5.00 for their work.

Those at the other end of the spectrum tend to be hobbyist. They’re just happy as a school girl to get any kind of payment for their writing. They may be bloggers who found out that AC’s page view bonus is more than they were making from AdSense. It’s definitely more than they are making on a free blog.

No matter which camp you’re in, sometimes it is appropriate to publish an article on AC for no up-front payment. Putting something on AC for page view payment only has to match your writing goals. Here are a few reasons to publish for free at AC.

You know absolutely that AC isn’t going to make an offer.
If your article is an op/ed rant about why dogs are better than cats, AC isn’t going to pay. If it’s a short story (prose), AC isn’t going to pay. So if you want to get it on-line and still make a small return on it, free is the only way to go. If you think you can sell it elsewhere, more power to you, but don’t post it on AC until after you get accepted at the other site. The other publisher will want first rights.

It never hurts to try for the up-front offer, but if you do receive a rejection, paste the article into a new template and submit it for free. The resubmission option doesn’t not publish immediately and when the content manager sees the article again they often don’t notice the “PV-only” selection. The result is a warning to stop resubmitting the same article.  Either the managers are over worked or just plain blind.

Your article is time-sensitive.
Even submitting as news takes time to publish. If you have something hot, it may pay more in page views to have it on the net quickly. Waiting around for a $4.00 offer may make a difference of $10.00 in page view bonus. Being first is sometimes better than being the 99th person to blog something.

You want the instant gratification that comes with instant publishing.
Sometimes you just don’t want to wait. You’ve written something, maybe more for fun than money, and you just want it out there. People who do this tend to be more on the hobbyist side of the house, but that’s okay. If it meshes with your on-line writing goals, go for it.

You are hurting.
It is a fact that AC will stop making up-front offers based on your past performance. If you are churning out articles and no one is reading them, AC considers that as part of their offer formula. If your average page view per article is sinking below 300, you might consider putting out a few zingers for free. Boosting your average will pay off down the road.

Often an article that will generate massive page views is not something AC will pay for. It might be that it doesn’t align with their advertising or any number of reasons. But writing that freebie could really give your average page views a huge boost and put you back in the good graces of the up-front-offer gods.

Goals.
It all boils down to your goals. Associated Content and on-line writing in general is a different experience for each writer. Which brings us to the rant portion of today’s broadcast.

Warning! The following is not completely fictional. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely intentional.
Some of the AC community hold an awful high opinion of their writing. They tend to be in the “making money” camp. The annoying part is when they post little temper tantrums about how unfair AC is because AC wouldn’t pay what they think they are worth. The uber-annoying part is when the CP doesn’t read and comprehend the rejection notice. Poor wording or not, a rejection is a rejection. If AC rejects your article with the stock, “We can’t offer up front payment but feel your article has social merit. You are welcome to submit for page view bonus only,” it means just that. You don’t get to whine because you disregarded the rejection notice and submitted for upfront payment a 2nd time and got rejected again.

The scenario above is real. That particular writer ignored the part about submitting for free because he has a massive ego and truly believes his shit don’t stink. But his 3rd resubmission for payment was met with the blaring “stop resubmitting the same crap or we’ll flag your account” message.

Side bar on that point. Is the message rude? Some what. Is it over the top? Maybe not. It was created for just this situation. Some mangers used it at the wrong time and that is frustrating, but some people just don’t comprehend the message that the article they think is worthy of payment (due to the simple fact they wrote it) may not be something that AC wants or needs. The old saying is true. “Everything is worth what the buyer will pay.”

There is another old saying, “I wish I could buy you for what you’re worth and sell you for what you think you’re worth.” Rarely a day goes by when someone doesn’t post “I’m not giving anything away for free. I’m a professional writer and deserve special treatment befitting my ego.” Get over yourself. Everyone has an off day. Not every article you write is golden. So what? Move on. You got one rejection out of 20. You’re doing better than most.

Insisting that everything is the other party’s fault is just narcissistic. It also prohibits one from learning and growing as a writer. Take your lumps, learn your lessons, improve your writing, tailor your articles to AC’s needs, and quit whining.

Full disclosure.
Just so you know where I fall on the spectrum . . . I’m about 75% hobbyist and 25% money.  I haven’t reached professional writing status.  Can I write well?  I’d like to think so, but that’s for the reader to decide.  Can I write well enough for AC to pay me?  When I try, yes.  However, many of the articles I write don’t fit the up-front payment mold at AC.  The difference between me and the deluded professional writer-whiner is that I’m not delusional enough to think my crap is a casserole.

Rant off.  Y’all have a great weekend now. Ya hear?

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12 Comments

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  1. That wasn’t that much of a rant. Pretty much on target really. As AC develops there will be more rejections for people that don’t adjust their style and topics. I use AC as a bully pulpit at times, but normally a place to improve my writing. While I would love to write eloquently, my hick colloquial style is definitely more popular.

    Even a hick can get paid fairly well if they write something people want to read. Which takes me back a turd comment I once made.

  2. I scanned that, well the beginning anyway. Loved the ending :)

    I think I’m 25% money….ok maybe 30% money right now, but that’s only because I have to send three kids on a choir trip to Europe.

    I have stopped visiting the forums more and more becuase of the whining you mentioned. I understand that everyone else is feeling a crunch with all the rejections and stuff, but personally I am not. Have gotten a lot of negative feedback because of that, only three or so rejections under my belt.

    But if you look at the stuff I write about it is all very specific and all AC marketable. I write the other stuff, even though I’m not sure there is much worth in it socially but I put it elsewhere, where it is wanted. Nothing for me to whine about then.

  3. Shana Dines aka Secretsides November 3, 2007 — 10:15

    Great article and hey how do you do that?I wish I was more computer literate, I am just literate enough to be dangerous to myself and others ha! I love the humor you put in your articles and the honesty. I am about 25% for the money too and 75% hobbiest. Great read and advice.

  4. I fall into the “happy as a schoolgirl” camp 100% and really don’t see why there is a conflict between the two camps. The world is big enough for both. The professional writers probably think my low expectations for pay ruins for them getting more money at AC but I don’t see it that way. If their work is good, and they learn how to market themselves, they will find a creditable publisher who will pay what their work worth. AC is crediable but to expect them to pay large upfront money with their mission statement is whisling Dixie in the dark.

  5. “Insisting that everything is someone else’s fault is just narcissistic.” Right on target. That quote from Fight Club comes to mind: “Take some f*cking responsibility!”

  6. I love your writing and the crap is so a casserole! :)

    I’ve avoided the forums because of the complaining, I pop in once in a while but have decided to make better use of my time.

    I’ve given away my past two interviews (with Big Brother 8’s Zach), the first because I wanted to publish it quickly, the second because AC rejected it as being too promotional for pay but not too promotional for no pay. Ironically, they told me they would have paid for the first one if I had submitted it for payment!

    I’m grateful for the PVB. I don’t mind giving away some things for free, I’m doing it on Suite101 (eventually I’ll get paid over there with their version of PVB).

    Right now AC is still good for me but I’m looking to expand my horizons.

  7. Good stuff, Randy!!1 Except, ‘You know absolutely that AC isn’t going to make an offer.’ – I submit anyway, because they surprise me all the time. You just never know what they will actually pay for sometimes.

  8. Julia Bodeeb White November 4, 2007 — 20:06

    Randy you offer excellent advice in the forums. Your wit cracks me up every time. Thanks!

  9. Very good piece.

  10. I’ll admit I’ve complained in the past about some of the rejections, but it’s certainly not because I think I’m the single greatest writer in the history of the world. If I write a bad article, I’ll be the first to admit it. I run a blog where I link to articles I’ve written and point blank tell people if it’s garbage.

    I get frustrated enough to complain when I submit articles in the same category and receive payment for one and notice for the other that AC doesn’t pay for articles in that category. I get even more frustrated when I resubmit for Page Views and then receive a warning that they’ll flag my account for doing what I was asked to do. I get angry when the content manager posts a nasty little message outside of the form message knowing that I’m no longer able to respond.

    It’s gotten to the point that I don’t submit for upfront payment because I don’t want to deal with that kind of frustration. I’ve had articles professionally published elsewhere, and if I think I have something special I pursue the piece in a more traditional way than AC. I’m not saying that my writing is better than anyone else’s. I just think AC, like any publisher, makes mistakes all the time.

  11. It has come to my attention, Robert that you are laboring under the misconception that the characterization above was based on you. Frankly, I don’t have the foggiest idea who you are. Honestly, I didn’t even know your parents had sex until you posted here. This was an generic extrapolation based on observations at AC. If your experience was similar, take it up with AC. I am not an AC employee.

    Though the seed of this rant was a particular individual, it wasn’t you. Sorry about the ego bruise.

  12. Randy – I’ve followed your tips and my bank balance thanks you but I have to contact you since my bank balance doesn’t have email access yet – and probably never will. Too many people made unwanted advances last time my bank balance started chatting online.

    This tip might be assumed by what you wrote above so forgive me if I’m stating the obvious but I think Display Only can take a topic that isn’t yet hitting the search engines in high numbers yet but happens to be on the cutting edge, so much so even CMs wouldn’t assume it’d be of interest. That kind of lightening in a bottle doesn’t happen often and depends on luck, intuition and a feel for what people are buzzing about, early on. Pick that prime topic and wait for people to discover it, hopefully in short order. I’ve had that kind of luck before.

    Take a topic with early buzz ,pop it into a Display Only piece and thank the fates when the page views roll in, month after month.

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