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As advertisers pay less yet there's more stuff to read.

Article on Atlantic website, focuses on written content for free

2:47 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Insightful article I think; on Atlantic website, covering especially tough times for writers seeking payment for their work.
Since I mainly write and take photos, and create websites partly to promote them and give material a wider audience, I'm especially interested in the situation. Seen similar re photography lately. And, yes, I strive to be flexible.

Let me give you this hypothetical. You are a digital editor at a fine publication.
... What do you do?

Here are some options:

1. Write a lot of original pieces yourself. (Pro: Awesome. Con: Hard, slow.)
2. Take partner content. (Pro: Content! Con: It's someone else's content.)
3. Find people who are willing to write for a small amount of money. (Pro: Maybe good. Con: Often bad.)
4. Find people who are willing to write for no money. (Pro: Free. Con: Crapshoot.)
5. Aggregate like a mug. (Pro: Can put smartest stuff on blog. Con: No one will link to it.)
6. Rewrite press releases so they look like original content. (Pro: Content. Con: You suck.)So, yeah, the economics of our business are terrible in some ways. And like everything else, the worst of it falls on the workers, the people making the widgets, doing the journalism, making the beds. The money gets sucked upwards and the work gets pushed down.

[theatlantic.com ]
You can also find link to the original blog post that promoted this article.
6:21 am on July 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'd personally go for 1 and perhaps a little of 4. No doubt writing original pieces is time consuming, generating quality content is still the no. 1 priority in digital publications and there's not much you can compromise on. The reason I would still go for 4 is because attaching a monetary value on a task (e.g. writing an article) tend to lower its quality. There are various reasons why people would want to write for free, and I wouldn't be surprised it can be an occasional source of good articles.

But rather than spending all your time on one-off articles you think will go viral, its a better strategy to be shipping concise quality content consistently. Even if an article does go viral, you would want to keep your viewers to continue reading on your site, which can only be possible with a trove of decent content. Otherwise, it would just be a one-off hit.
7:33 am on July 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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attaching a monetary value on a task ... tend to lower its quality

Does it.
1:38 am on Aug 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Good question; I'd think paying - a decent rate - is a very good way of boosting chances a job will be done well.
Working voluntarily surely not so popular, unless for charitable purpose you strongly believe in.
- certainly applies to me as writer, photographer: far prefer being paid well, partly as it signals some respect for my work.