BootsnAll Travel Network

Writing for Suite101.com and About.com: Is It Worth It?

By Nicholas | Permalink | 24 comments | June 4th, 2008 | Trackback

Again and again I get questions about whether it is worth it to write for websites such as Suite101.com or About.com, so I thought I would breakdown my experience with Suite101 and what I have heard about About.com.

Suite101
I began writing for Suite101 about two years ago when very few people had heard about it. I actually learned about it from reading Jen Leo writing about it here. At the time I was looking for whatever outlet for my writing I could find. The South America Travel section was looking for a writer (this was at a time when there were only feature writers and no contributing writers); I applied and after a short hiring process got the job. Now I think you have to write a certain number of articles before taking over a feature sections that pay more.

As a feature writer I write 4 articles and 4 blog posts a month. They don’t take me long. Maybe an hour or two each for the articles, less for the blogs. Many of the articles are very general, they are on a topic I know so well that it doesn’t require much brainwork, and are not something I would have written about elsewhere. Right now I have about 150 or so articles up that get between 15,000-20,000 page views a month from readers that come from mostly Google searches. I make about $1 per article per month. You do the math. Some sections make more than others from what I hear someone makes more than $1000 per month there. It’s not a living wage by any means. Just a side gig. Will I write for them forever? Not likely.

There are both ups and downs to writing at Suite. First, the negatives. For the first year or so I really didn’t make squat, but that is mostly because they previously paid only by page views (now it is a percentage of adsense revenues). When I started it was just me writing about South America Travel, now anyone can contribute articles and many of the contributing writers don’t bother to check to see if an article has already been written about and they cover the exact same topics that I have already written about. Lastly, if I have my own website doing the exact same thing I would make significantly more.

The positives: I’ve got to network with a few of the other writers at the site. My editor is great and pretty much lets me do what I want. I have gotten a few assignments from publications because the editors found me through Suite101. Writing for Suite101 has helped me learn quite a bit about the overall web building process, about SEO, adsense revenue, etc. It doesn’t seem like much, but that revenue keeps coming for as long as the articles are posted. So, long term it seems like a decent gig. Another plus is that after one year I can use the content elsewhere, such as my own website.

About.com
I don’t know as much about About.com and I don’t write for them, but I have met several who have or have applied. It is owned by the New York Times. Here is what I gather from the site (though please correct me if I am wrong):

To begin writing for About.com there is a very long, detailed, and exhausting hiring process that includes making many sample pages. You apply for a topic with multiple applicants; therefore you may do all the work and not get the job or paid for it.

The amount of work is substantial, though, again, I don’t know the specifics. The rumor mill says that writing for About.com is a real part time job taking around 15-20 hours per week. There are blogs, forums, reviews, FAQs, tuturoials, etc. It is, by comparison, much more involved than Suite101. They guarantee $725 a month to write for them. Again, some topics make more than others.

Both About.com and Suite101.com are currently looking for writers, including travel topics.




Comments


Anna | June 6th, 2008 at 4:27 am
top comment

The problem with Suite 101 is that instead explaining their compensation scheme using numbers with dollar signs in front of them, they give you writer testimonials. Nifty trick, but it does nothing to tell you exactly how much you can expect to make as a new writer with them.
(b5 is much more transparent and honest about their payments. I’m saying this and I don’t even work for them!)

Merrill | June 6th, 2008 at 7:37 am
top comment

What about Written Road. Is it paid better than Suite101 or About ?

Nick | June 6th, 2008 at 9:51 am
top comment

Anna, I think they wouldn’t be able to get a writer to join if Suite101 was that up front. Every new writer I speak with seems to get discouraged about not making any money and quit. The only people I hear really doing well are the ones that write 50 or 100 articles right away and keep up a steady pace. I think the only way to make writing for suite101 worth your time is by thinking long term. By the way what is B5? I never heard of it.

Merril, Written Road is paid only in self satisfaction. In that regard, it pays quite a bit more.

Eric Hanson | June 6th, 2008 at 1:44 pm
top comment

I’d like to take a moment and clarify a few things about how About.com’s hiring process and compensation plans work:

Hiring:

About.com writers (aka Guides) have a lot of freedom to create content that works for their topic, but with great freedom comes great responsiblity. ;-) We start by looking for writers with the expererience and/or credentials that matter for a given topic. Applicants submit writing samples to help us determine if they’re a fit for About.com; we then select up to five applicants to compete for each open site. During our three week training program, which we call Prep, Guide candidates learn our writing style and formatting standards while creating a sample site. Creating this site includes writing several articles and blog posts, all focused on the one particular topic they applied for before starting Prep. During that time the candidates work with an editor to ensure the clarity and accuracy of their published work. At the end of that three weeks we choose the candidate who will go live and become the About.com Guide to the topic.

Compensation:

As you noted, we recommend that a hired About.com Guide work 15 to 20 hours a week on their site . But we’ve found that the more quality content a Guide produces, the closer they come to hitting the critical mass necessary to generate a real income. We have a page view-based payment plan that rewards year-over-year growth with an incentive payment above a standard rate per 1,000 page views. To supplement that amount and encourage growth, we pay new Guides a monthly stipend of $725 (in addition to any money they receive from site growth) for their first 2 years. We’ve found that the average About.com Guide makes $1,000 a month by the end of their second year. I hope this helps clear things up. We look forward to seeing you in Prep!

Eric Hanson
Editor, Recruitment & Training
About.com

Anna | June 7th, 2008 at 5:34 pm
top comment

Hi Nick!

b5 (www.b5media.com) has an excellent travel channel and they always look for new, interesting additions. I like quite a few of their travel blogs, and yes, you get paid for writing for them. It’s not much (about $75 the first month), but they’re very upfront about it, the editor of the travel channel is a doll, and if I had more time on my hands, I’d join them just for the heck of it.

Aaron | June 15th, 2008 at 5:02 pm
top comment

Have you guys ever seen America’s Got Talent? You should check it out Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC. How can you resist David Hasselhoff!???

http://www.nbc.com/Americas_Got_Talent/video/index.shtml#mea=262134

bryan | June 26th, 2008 at 10:01 pm
top comment

I have a blog that you can post on here, it is about travel to Australia. You are more than welcome to check it out on my site.

Bryan
http://www.wilddownunder.com

Christy | August 27th, 2008 at 5:39 pm
top comment

Suite101 is definitely a long-term planning sort of thing. I had to take a break writing there last year, but I’m still paid every month on the articles I already wrote. If you look at how much you make on an article in a month or two, it’s not much, but when you look at how much you make over a year or two it starts to add up. There are better paying gigs out there, but it’s nice to be able to write whatever you want, whenever you want.

Susan | September 11th, 2008 at 5:24 pm
top comment

About.com is a giant scam. What About will ask you to do for less than minimum wage is write articles, blog, create large directories, tag and perform other SEO operations to benefit the company, etc. You will be paid based on page views alone, and they will change the rates to their benefit as often as they wish, while you will have no recourse. You will be assigned an editor who will assign you odious, time consuming tasks which you are not contractually obliged to do nor compensated for, yet noncompliance (or any sort of disagreement with any company policy) is grounds for instant termination. Upon termination, About will remove your name and likeness from your copyrighted work, which they will continue to profit from. To ensure their profit, they will pay you a very small stipend. If you attempt to use your own materials, they will threaten you with lawsuits.

On top of all of this, you will be expected to pay for all of your own supplies and expenses, and pay a third of this meager income in self-employment taxes. You will receive no health benefits, and even if “employed” for many years, no unemployment benefits or other compensation should they decide to terminate you.

Additionally, there’s a ‘critical mass’ moment, at which they may decide it’s cheaper to keep your work but not your services- so if you don’t grow quickly enough, they’ll toss you overboard and continue to sell advertising on your content.

The short version: they’ll steal your work; you’ll make more money and better benefits working at Starbucks. Better to build your own blog/website; you’ll make more over time and actually get to decide what you want to write about, and you won’t be scrambling to pay the rent when they unceremoniously toss you.

Susan | September 12th, 2008 at 3:45 pm
top comment

About.com is a giant scam. What About will ask you to do for less than minimum wage is write articles, blog, create large directories, tag articles, and perform other SEO operations to benefit the company. In addition, you will be expected to attend “optional” conference calls, workshops, and daily listserv meetings, as well as voluntary “tool testing.”

You will have no control over your site, other than content creation. If they don’t sell ads, you won’t get a livable pv rate. They may decide to allo corporations to post content under your byline. They will promote and advertise some sites but not others, usually based on outside advertising or “partnership” deals that guides do not benefit from.

You will be paid based on page views alone, and they will change the rates to their benefit as often as they wish, while you will have no recourse. You will be assigned an editor who will assign you odious, time consuming tasks which you are not contractually obliged to do nor compensated for, yet noncompliance (or any sort of disagreement with any company policy) is grounds for instant termination.

Upon termination, About will remove your name and likeness from your copyrighted work, which they will continue to profit from. To ensure their continued profit, they will pay you a very small stipend. If you attempt to use your own copyrighted materials, they will threaten you with lawsuits, as part of your contractual obligation is to allow them to “license” your materials forever, for whatever they wish to pay you.

On top of all of this, you will be expected to pay for all of your own supplies and expenses, and pay a third of this meager income in self-employment taxes. You will receive no health benefits, and even if “employed” for many years, no unemployment benefits or other compensation should they decide to terminate you.

Additionally, there’s a ‘critical mass’ moment, at which they may decide it’s cheaper to keep your work but not your services- so if you don’t grow quickly enough, they’ll toss you overboard and continue to sell advertising on your content.

The short version: About makes millions of dollars off of the work of a few hundred overworked, under-compensated slaves. Guides have zero legal rights and don’t even get the courtesy of a Christmas card while the officers are awarding themselves nice bonuses for growth.

Better to build your own blog/website; you’ll make more over time and actually get to decide what you want to write about, and you won’t be scrambling to pay the rent when they unceremoniously toss you.

Kebbi | October 30th, 2008 at 10:42 pm
top comment

I wrote for About.com long, long ago, when it was still called the Mining Company, so things have obviously changed a lot. Given the workload, no financial upside to it then or now, although you may get some “exposure.” I wrote on a particular topic for about a year and made some valuable contacts through that gig. Made virtually no money, though. Good thing I had paying work coming in from other sources. I don’t regret the experience, but couldn’t recommend it.

Alex | November 26th, 2008 at 3:53 am
top comment

Thanks a lot all for posting, Im currently looking for a hundred bucks per month or more because I still live at my parents house and will enter university next year. By doing my research in a few hours, I arrive at the conclusion that associatedcontent.com is best in terms of flexible commitment and on long term pay for pageviews.

Anyway I might open my own website too, Id like to hear more or just talk business :) email me at uncle.2can@gmail for any answers or questions or just plain talking!

Sara | December 6th, 2008 at 12:26 pm
top comment

I applied for and was accepted to be a writer for Suite 101, but before I signed their contract I was researching them a little more. It seems some have had good experiences and some quite the opposite. What I did gather, however, from reading many of the posts here, is the suggestion of starting one’s OWN website? Can anyone tell me more about this, how it works, how you earn revenue from doing this, etc.? This is a new concept for me… Thanks!

Margaret Woodward | October 6th, 2010 at 10:24 am
top comment

As a Suite101 writer the benefit I earn, like others have said, is the accumulation of articles which can be offered elsewhere after a year. As my number of articles increases, albeit on rather abstruse subjects, so do my revenue returns, meagre though they be.

The real benefit is that this is a site where writers have to satisfy the section editors who demand a high standard, especially of factual accuracy for which sources are required. The same editors have also been most patient as a non-technocrat stumbles through learning all the It skills required for on-line writing.

Both these make the articles highly readable and trust-worthy. Suite101 has become a respected reference of reliable articles on an enormous range of subjects. Since each article is dated it is also possible to track how research etc. develops over months and years.

And… although I have seen some poorly edited articles in proof-reading terms, writing tightly on a focused topic has tightened up my writing tremendously. For that alone I am glad I write for them.

Barbara | October 6th, 2010 at 11:03 am
top comment

What types of degrees &/or training have you, as writers, received before applying to these sites. I am interested in a career, and am curious at how you (any of you) have began yours.
Thanks, Barbara

Hollie L | October 17th, 2010 at 7:37 pm
top comment

On Suite 101, is it possible to go through the articles to see what has already been covered? Or perhaps to at least do a point/counterpoint article.

Also, this question was previously posted, however it was over 2 years ago: If you end up building an article based website, how do you contact advertisers?

Looking forward to any information on this. THANKS!

Yvette | Content Writing Services | October 18th, 2010 at 1:37 am
top comment

Very useful read. It’s amazing to see how much information is written for the web, and new and aspiring writers will always have questions about sites like these. This really puts a lot of things in perspective. You can never beat good old fashioned advice and know-how from the experienced! Thanks!

Larry Dunn | December 1st, 2010 at 8:31 pm
top comment

I found it hilarious that various articles in Suite101 contain the phrase

Good proofreading are important.

Jerrye S | December 29th, 2010 at 12:31 am
top comment

Has anyone had any experience with HubPages? I recently had a very brief and unpleasant experience with them. I set up a site page and began writing Hubs. Soon after, I received an email notice that some of my hubs violated their guidelines (which I found very vague and way too broad). I decided to close my account and it was like good bye, good riddance! Usually when I’ve closed an online account, they at least ask why or what they could do to improve. I found the team folks at HubPages to be ruthless and unprofessional.

Elsie Ofori | January 10th, 2011 at 7:17 pm
top comment

This has been so interesting. Late last year I joined www.demandmedia.com. I\’ve only written a few articles for them. They publish articles on a number of different websites such as eHow and livestrong. They pay upfront once you meet their requirements. They pay between $7.5-$15 per article. It\’s not bad but sometimes it\’s difficult to find decent subject titles. So I started looking around for others. I have joined suite 101 and also associated content, I will let you know how I fair with those.

DHembree | March 4th, 2011 at 4:26 am
top comment

I write for Demand Studios. It is my main source of income. I hear a lot of people complaining, thinking money will fall in your laps. You have to work at whatever you do. I have had great luck with Demand. True, I am not always happy with the Editors, but welcome to the work world, you will have bosses you don\\\’t like. I an do the research and write a great article in about 40 minutes, a good 500 word piece. I make 15 for the article. Therefore, I can write about 4 in 3 hours. That\\\’s 60!! Not bad money!! Some, I can write quicker. I put aside about 30 minutes late in the evening, so rewrite any pieces and look for new work. Out of ten articles, four are rewrites, and one is not accepted. I figure those are pretty good odds. The longer I\\\’m there, the quicker I learn to write them. Now I\\

John Yeoman | May 14th, 2011 at 5:58 am
top comment

Surely you’d have to be unbalanced to post original articles on content hubs, with the expectation of making money? HubPages and the like are giant honey traps. They exist by enticing naive writers and using their work to attract Google ad clicks, which profit only the content hub.

Logically, the real point of posting in these sites is to raise one’s Google page rank. That’s possible at HubPages and Squidoo (although no sane person would submit wholly unique unspun content to a content farm). But it makes no sense on content farms that deny the author a URL on the page. Nobody is going to click through to their profile page to view it!

RET | May 24th, 2011 at 10:15 am
top comment

It’s not just that About.com is a scam, but About.com and its sister site ConsumerSearch are both very prejudicial in their hiring practices. I’ve known a number of highly qualified individuals over the years who have applied for both sites, and few made it to the hiring stage.

Rejection is part of freelance writing, of course, but the interesting thing is who was hired instead. Generally speaking, the one thing these people have that my colleagues did not have was a journalism degree. It’s that simple: you could be one of the top five experts in your niche field on the planet, but if About.com or ConsumerSearch can hire a 23 year old fresh out of Columbia U’s journalism program and with no experience, they will. In that respect, their job notices are LIES. I even discovered that some of these people were, on the basis of the posted job notices, totally unqualified … or at least as far as their LinkedIN profiles go.

So the bottom line is that Eric Hanson is full of sh*t. He should just put “if you aren’t a reporter or a journalism grad, don’t apply - we don’t care if you’ve been on NatGeo or the Discovery Channel” (and he apparently doesn’t). It would save a lot of people a lot of time.

RD | July 11th, 2011 at 5:13 pm
top comment

I realize this article is a few years old, but I would love to hear from anyone who has applied and/or written for About in the past year or so. I recently submitted an application and was approved for their “prep” program, but now am having doubts about going through with the process. So far, all of the e-mails I’ve received have very clearly been auto-generated form letters (including one that arrived over July 4th weekend with a Monday morning deadline, and another that thanked me for submitting my articles when I haven’t sent them anything yet) and the amount of work required just to apply is beyond extensive. It’s not that I’m adverse to hard work, but the lack of personalization makes me think that they’re “approving” everybody who applied for the guide position, and not just choosing 2-3 select candidates based on their credentials. I’m just not sure that devoting two weeks of my time to this is worth it if my odds of actually landing the job are as slim as they seem. I’m starting to think I’d be better off using my time to create content for my own website. Anybody have experiences/input/advice to share? Thanks!


No more comments

Unfortunately commenting has been removed on this blog due to spam.

Support Written Road






Travel Resources


More Written Road



Monthly Archives


© BootsnAll Travel Network - All rights reserved