Thursday, November 15, 2012

Conference call with Helium CEO Mark Ranalli (Nov. 15, 2012)

(I listened to the conference call so you didn't have to)

Helium member Eszter Vajda interviewed CEO Mark Ranalli (she in her dining room, he in his office, via a Skype-like video system) with 15 people listening.

If you're familiar with Helium, there wasn't much in the call that you haven't heard before.  The main bit of news was that the new site design, long promised to be unrolled by the end of this year, will probably be delayed until next year.

Ranalli also said that they are "not promising" that writing for the portion of the site will "actually pay your mortgage."  (Someone should tell that to the cheerleaders on the forum, who still insist "the sky's the limit.") Any significant money to be made, he said, is in Content Source, the freelance assignment part of the site.

That's about it as far as news that is relevant to writers. The rest is mostly background information about the company. If you want to watch/hear the whole call for yourself, click on the viewer below:

(Editing to add 11/30/12 -- I just noticed that the broadcast is no longer available.  I don't how for how long it's been gone or why -- I don't know whether it's a temporary glitch, whether Spreecast only stores past broadcasts for a limited time, or whether Helium took the broadcast down for some reason. The conspiracy theorist in me likes the last explanation, but I really have no idea.)

(Editing to add 3/1/13 -- Just heard that the broadcast's disappearance is due to a technical glitch at Spreecast.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

British writers: Yahoo Contributor Network now has a UK site

Writers living outside the U.S. have been unhappy with Yahoo Contributor Network (formerly Associated Content) ever since the site stopped paying them (under most circumstances) a couple of years ago.

Now UK writers, at least, who like the Yahoo model can write for the company for pay again at Yahoo Contributor Network's new UK site for UK-resident writers only.  It works the same way the U.S. site does, with paid assignments, revenue share, and the opportunity to publish on high-traffic Yahoo sites.

A recent blog post from Yahoo said "Yahoo! Contributor Network UK is currently looking for talented writers on parenting, beauty, technology, fashion, fitness, food, weddings, movies, TV, and celebrities. Potential contributors sign up at and, once approved by Yahoo! UK’s editorial team, they will be eligible to claim assignments."

See the official post for more information.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

More sites like Textbroker

The Textbroker business model must be working well, because a lot of similar sites are springing up. In this type of site, customers post requests for specific articles, writers claim assignments from a list, and the site takes a percentage of the price.

These broker sites appear to be Panda-proof, because they are not posting articles on one huge website, but instead selling them directly to customers, who typically use them on highly targeted sites.

Recently I've heard about two broker sites I hadn't heard of before:

Media Piston -- I don't have any personal experience there, but a writer friend said that their rates were similar to Textbroker's. The editorial feedback, she said, was very helpful. They take international writers. Site  [Update -- Media Piston is now closed]

Scripted -- I heard about this site when a rep from the company left a comment on this blog. Their site lists prices for customers, but I couldn't find any info on the site, without registering, about how much they pay writers. Site / apply

If anyone has any personal experience with these sites, please leave a note in the comments.

Update:  I signed up with Media Piston to see what it was like.  The pay is substantially lower than what I am now getting elsewhere, so there were no assignments there I was tempted to claim. They don't publish a pay/word rate, only rates for individual articles, but I spot-checked some articles, and the pay rate was less than 2 cents/word for all of them, and even that was contingent on earning a bonus. Like most of the broker sites, the pay gets better as you climb your way up the ratings "ladder," but unlike many of the other sites, Media Piston doesn't reveal what the top rates are.  The sign-up process is quick, the site design is attractive and easy to navigate, and the company seems quite legit. Might be a good choice for new writers, writers currently working for a similar or lower payrate elsewhere, and writers who have the time and energy to work their way up to higher payrates without knowing, in advance, what those are.

Update 2:  After looking around the site a bit more, I'm actually not sure if there is a ratings "ladder" to climb, as there is in Textbroker and WriterAccess, or if you can just get higher bonuses on individual articles based on your work on those particular articles alone. I did hear through the grapevine that you can get a bonus that is twice as much as the amount stated on the assignment form. The forums seem pleasant, and the owners seem to be accessible. I'm still not feeling tempted to try it, though, unless I run out of work elsewhere.

Update 3: Well, curiosity got the better of me (I'm always curious about how different sites work), and when I saw a very short, easy assignment that paid a bit more per word than the rest, I took it.

Update 4: I submitted my first assignment. They lead you by the hand through the submission process, which could be attractive to people new to Internet writing. I had some problems with the cursor jumping to the top of the input form, which may be a browser-related problem, and there didn't seem to be any way to save work in progress. Otherwise, it was all very easy. They send the work through a peer review system, which I'm not thrilled about, as I've had problems on other sites that used peer review with people "correcting" or rejecting work that wasn't wrong in the first place. I'd much rather work with professional editors. But we shall see. Oh, and apparently there is a "ladder" after all, as they say that doing well on assignments can "unlock" higher paying ones.  But they don't say what that higher payment is.

Update 5: The article was accepted, and I got all the available bonuses. The editor fixed some minor issues without bouncing the article back to me. I also received friendly "outreach" emails from a company staff member. Everything went smoothly and was very pleasant -- but the pay, even with all the bonuses, was only about half of what I am getting elsewhere for similar work. I'm going to keep an eye on the site but put it on the back burner for now, at least while I still have work elsewhere.

Update 8/21/12:  Here are a few more sites I recently heard about that work on the Textbroker model. Both, alas, are low paying. I don't have any personal experiences with them -- if you do, please share your experiences in a comment below Thanks!

iWriter -- At the starting level, pays $2.43 for a 500-word article, which goes up to $3.01 if you get a "special request" (which sounds like the equivalent of a Textbroker direct order). There are three levels, and higher-level writers earn more.
site / apply

Writers Domain --Pays $3.00 to $3.30 for 200-250 word articles.
site / apply

Friday, January 13, 2012

More about writing for Interact Media

Interact Media, also known as the Zerys Content Marketplace, is a content broker, similar to Textbroker. Last month, I saw their ad on Craigslist, but didn't know anything else about them.

Today, I saw a discussion on the Demand Studios forums and learned that when you apply to Interact, you have to submit a 500-word sample that Interact keeps and publishes -- without paying for it.  That sounds very uncool. (Edited 11/30/12 to add: This is no longer the case. Interact now lets applicants use a previously published article as a sample, according to the comment from Beth Hrusch, Senior Editor at Interact, below.)

Aside from having to provide a freebie, which, of course, no one liked doing, opinions on the forum were mixed.  Some people thought there wasn't much work at Interact, and what there was, paid too little. Others were finding more work and thought it was worth it on a dollar-per-hour basis because the assignments were easy, and they could do them quickly.

One person said that most of the gigs paid less than a penny/word (ouch), topping out occasionally at 3 cents/word.  Several people said they made more by getting on clients' "favorite" lists and getting direct orders.

For me, having to give a freebie to get in the door is probably a dealbreaker. (Edited to add 11/30/12 -- Again, this has changed since I originally wrote this post, and Interact no longer requires writers to provide a freebie, according to the comment from a company editor below.)