>Should you write Internet "content?"

>Lately I have been looking into various online “content providers” as a source of income. These companies provide articles which subscribers can use in their blogs, newsletters or whatever. I don’t know whether I can recommend writing for them. Certainly each has its own personality, but you’ve got to be careful because there may be no byline, no compensation, or no clips you can use. Plus, who reads them, and where will your stories end up? They may have limited credibility, offering information as fact without saying where it came from. It may be just websites feeding off each other in a never-ending cycle.

Some online opportunities are good. There’s something called Patch.com that is doing community news in various cities around the U.S. The publisher spoke at the Future of Freelancing conference at Stanford in June, and I had a meeting with him. If I lived in one of the places where they were publishing, I would definitely write for them. I wish they would come to my area because I really love community journalism. They’re doing good stories, well-researched and up-to-date. The pay is average but reliable. You can find a list of places they cover at their web site.

Other sites make me nervous. One I considered applying to as an editor requires applicants to write nine stories and edit ten. If they approve of the work, they may pay for it, but they don’t promise that. I’m wondering if this is just a way to get work done for free. I have experienced that before. I did a lot of work at one point years ago for a similar site, and they eventually dismissed it as not worthy and didn’t pay a cent. Once in the pre-Internet era, I tested for a job in San Jose where I was asked to edit so many articles that it became clear this was how they were getting their work done, by getting job-hungry applicants to do it for free.

I found numerous opportunities on flexjobs.com, journalismjobs.com, and writerfind.com. Some sound pretty good, but others ring alarm bells for me. Even if the site is totally honest and pays properly, will this type of writing advance your career? Does it pay a flat fee or offer a few cents per click? Does it pay enough to overcome whatever credibility issues might arise? Is it good practice for beginners? Before putting your time into these jobs, look hard at what they publish and study their terms for writers.

I’ll be looking into this more in future posts. Meanwhile I’d love to hear your experiences with online content providers.

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Have you purchased your copy of Freelancing for Newspapers yet?

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