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Would it be possible to pay authors on a time-limited CPM basis. In other words, pay them a certain rate for every 1000 times their article is viewed. It would almost certainly have to be higher than a normal ad CPM, but not much.
For example, someone writes you an article. You put it up on your page and agree with the author that you will pay them (for example) $20 per 1000 times that the article is viewed, within the first (for example) 2 months.
The benefit for the webmaster is that if the article is rubbish and no-one reads it, you don't have to fork out large amounts of cash for it. The benefit for the writer is that if it's a life-changingly good article and it becomes the next 'big thing', they get a fair slice of the revenue that it generates, instead of a set amount.
Additionally, should the webmaster be implementing a CPM ad campaign on that page, income from that should offset the money paid to the writer. After the 2 month initial period, the writer is no longer paid for it, or could be paid a reduced rate for the next 4 months. Almost like royalties are paid to musicians.
that if it's a life-changingly good article and it becomes the next 'big thing', they get a fair slice of the revenue that it generates
The only problem with this is there are only so many "life changing" things ever written. And the people with the ability to write them generally write books, not articles for websites.
Everyone's time is valuable. I would never give my programming time for such an arrangement unless I was a full partner and understood the exact business model, promotionals, etc. The best writers aren't going to give of their time so freely, unless you're perhaps running a charitable website.
Pay for the best work and you'll get the best work.
Also, my first thought when reading your proposal was that just because the page gets visits, it does not necessarily mean that the article is good. It could get visits because it's about a popular topic, or has just the right combination of keywords. It's possible to have a junky article that gets lots of visits (just not repeat visits!). Furthermore, why would a writer take a chance writing about a "fringe" topic for you, when perhaps it might not get a lot of visits? It might be the greatest article in the world written about its particular subject, but if it doesn't attract a "mainstream" audience, the author won't get paid very much. Sounds like a really crummy deal for the writer.
The real problem from the writer's standpoint is that how many times the article is viewed isn't at all under the writer's control -- unless you want to create an expectation that it's his responsibility to promote it.
Generating site traffic is the responsibility of the site's operator (or anyone the operator may hire to take on that responsibility). Shifting part of that responsibility to your contracted freelance writers might be a great deal from the operator's standpoint, but isn't likely to attract talented writers -- unless the fees are structured so that at even at low end of the scale the payment will be competitive with what the writer would earn writing for someone else under a traditional payment arrangement.
If you don't have the funds to pay someone, nor the time to create hundreds of pages of quality content, then partner with someone who does.
In practise, one could implement a small counter on the page that is pulled from the writer's page or the page of a 3rd party. Then the number of article views would be able to be independently verified.
I think this idea would appeal more to people who aren't established writers. Obviously if someone could be guaranteed say $100 for an article as opposed to the 'possibility' of $150 for the article, they'd go for the hard cash option. But if someone weren't an established writer and unable to command such prices, this method could work out better for them.
As others have noted, unless you are a well-established site with high credibility and a history of generating traffic, PPV payment for writers is likely to appeal mainly to writers who are still trying to establish their credentials. As martinibuster suggests, to attract an "industry expert" type of contributor, you may have to offer equity or more substantial revenue sharing.
You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain.
You're trying to shift your risk of not being able to profit from content (or perhaps not being able to judge what good content is) onto the writer. This should attract people who cannot get a better offer anywhere else. You might do better by shifting from thinking "how can I get a great, risk-free deal for myself" into thinking "how can I offer a great, risk-free deal to really good authors?"
I could write great content and have it viewed by nobody even if you do a good job as webmaster, if someone else does a better job. Plus why should I trust a client who is unwilling to pay me for my time to develop good work in the first place to honestly pay me months down the road. Most clients are honest but many are not and most writers I know suffer from loss of fees when clients just disappear after commissioning work.
My opinion as a writer who earns a living writing content and runs a small agency of freelance writers is that you'd get the people not good enough to do good paid work doing this type of arrangement. The (at best) second rate writers.
[edited by: digitalghost at 5:53 pm (utc) on Aug. 28, 2005]
[edit reason] no urls please [/edit]
It seems as if this scheme is a little too biased towards the webmaster instead of the writer. But it's always good to be constantly reviewing and innovating the way we do business, as the internet is still a (relatively) young, dynamic marketplace.
Thanks again for all your input...
I'm fine with fourth rate. The price of fourth rate content written by native speakers is cheap and the content is sixth-grade-friendly, which means it appeals to the majority of people on the internet.
As far as equity sharing, if you have a brand name expert, it just makes sense. In the long run, if you know what you're doing, your responsibility lies in uploading content a couple times a month and making X thousands of dollars for it per month.
You can be greedy and say you don't want to share 25% with anyone- and move on with the usual projects that you do. In the meanwhile, you don't develop a project with 75% equity for doing next to nothing after the heavy lifting has been done (link dev etc.) and you're getting 100% of zero dollars earned on a project that never got off the ground.
Good for you, stand your ground. All or nothing, right? Not necessarily. There are situations where it makes sense to share.
I've done the partnership deals and it's worked fine for me.