Okay, here’s a well-known secret. I started my online writing career on a content farm. Yes, I did. Suite 101. Of course, back then I was not aware of the term, “content farm.” I just thought it was exciting that I would have the opportunity to publish my work for a little bit of money. And it was a little bit. However since I began writing for them, many things have changed and the revenue has gotten progressively worse.
When I began this budding online writing career, I decided to focus all my writing on Suite 101 on travel articles. This is where my passion was and still is. The format was revenue share and each month, I would make a few dollars. It was passive income and even with only 30 articles at the time, I made about $15 a month. Not much, I know. But I enjoyed it and the articles did not take me very long.
I built up my articles and started making a little more. Then, things changed for the worse.
Google Changes the Playing Field
Back in early 2011, the dreaded Google Panda update changed the online content scene with the swipe of its paw. Google insisted that Suite 101 and many other websites were just gathering poorly written content to impress the mega search engine. Google was not impressed.
Soon the term “content farm” was known across the land. And Suite 101 was a victim in this massacre. And they suffered, which means the revenue suffered, and writers were pissed.
My earnings significantly dropped to the point it seemed futile to even write for them anymore. In addition, by 2011 I already started my freelance career and was making far more money writing articles for other clients – non-content farm type web owners.
Until I started by own travel blog, I would still feel the urge to publish travel articles on Suite. I recently revisited this site to see if there was any great new advancements in pay. Not so much.
The Current Suite 101 Pay Model
Since Panda and the subsequent Google shenanigans, Suite has continuously tried to impress Google with major changes on the site. Suite 101 was screaming, “We are not a content farm! Look at our quality writers!” Yet while trying to impress Google and present itself in the best light, revenue suffered for the writers. Ridiculously.
Fast forward. Currently, you get paid on a point system. Yep, points. Oh, those points translate to money, but very little. How do you get points, you ask? Reach, quality, and engagement.
What does that mean?
Essentially, the powers to be at Suite decide if your content is worthy of points based on three factors (plus a little secret magical formula mixed in).
- General Reach - how many people are looking at your articles.
- Engagement - do readers stay on your article awhile, bounce rate, comments, etc.
- Overall Quality - you are writing for real readers, not search engines (this I agree with).
They take all of these factors and tally up a score. This number tells you how much you will in turn get paid. Never mind if you have 20 articles or 200, pay is entirely based on this score. Yep. Until you reach a score of 10 (I assume out of 100), you get paid $1 a month. That’s it folks. Then, you move up to $10 a month. Woo Hoo! And the pay goes up in increments.
I am sure you are aware, but people don’t tend to dwell on articles very long on the Internet. (Are you still here?) Very different from print. Especially, easy reading, like say,… TRAVEL. Unless you are writing complex do-it-yourself, step by step articles, people are gonna bounce. And guess what? That means you do not get a high score. And that means, no money for you. Well, besides that dollar.
It is amazing writers still think this is a good idea. To write for free for someone else. Is your time not valuable? As a writer, I would like to get paid for the work I put in. Period. Unless I am generating really crappy work, I deserve to get paid. Don’t you think? Suite 101 doesn’t seem to think so.
I realize there are occasions I may write for free – on my own website, as a blog guest post, a non-profit, etc. But I wouldn’t spend hours creating articles for another website that is supposed to be an income source. A content farm.
For now, my articles remain on Suite 101, but I imagine I will start taking them down and publishing them somewhere else. Somewhere where they will pay me for my writing.
I’d love to hear different sides of this. Please feel free to comment.