Saturday, November 03, 2007

Associated Content - It Isn't the Only Option

Every once in a while, I see an "advice" post encouraging bloggers to submit articles to Associated Content or an article bank. Associated Content makes some payment for the articles, though it's very small and largely dependent on traffic; most article banks do not.

Now, before I go on, let me just say that there are sometimes good reasons to use outlets like GoArticles or Associated Content--as I've clearly spelled out before, I'm in favor of the dreaded "writing for free" when there's a clear benefit to the writer. You're not going to hear the old arguments from me like, "They make a lot more money than they're paying you!" This isn't a word I use often, but let me say it clearly now: DUH! Magazines make a lot more money than they pay for articles and restaurants make a lot more money than they pay their cooks and if the didn't, they wouldn't be in business.

There are two big issues, though, that bother me every time I see someone in a forum or on a money-making blog or in any of a dozen other places encourage readers to "submit" to Associated Content or article banks. The first is that Associated Content seems to be set up as something to aspire to: if you're a good writer and you have knowledge on a topic (etc., etc.) you should submit to Associated Content!

Maybe it's just me, but I think that if you're a good writer and you have good knowledge to impart and you want to take that beyond your own blog, you should be submitting to established markets that will simply cut you a check when they accept your article and won't expect you to do your own promotion.

I recently posted about a quick sale I made after discovering a new online magazine. As I mentioned then, it wasn't a high dollar sale by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it would have taken tens of thousands of views to achieve the same income from an Associated Content article, and I wouldn't have come away with a published clip for my portfolio.

There have always been far too many reasons (read: rationalizations) for writers not to submit their work, and the Associated Content compromise looks like just one more. If you write well and you know what you're talking about but you're not a "real writer", here's a great option for you! Nonsense. If you write well and you know what you're talking about, you're a real writer.

Again, that doesn't mean there's no good reason to use Associated Content or article banks--there are some good reasons, provided you have clear goals and know how to use them effectively. But if you're producing good content for your blog and want to "get published" in other forums, there are many other options. If you're not so sure, just Google a phrase like "online magazine writers guidelines". That one (without the quotes) returns more than 1.8 million results--and many of them are direct links to submission guidelines for paying publications you probably don't even know exist.

If you are going to submit to Associated Content or a similar outlet, make sure that you have a clear vision. That vision should include not only your goals for placing that content, but your plan for achieving them. Understand that simply submitting an article to Associated Content or an article bank is very unlikely to drive significant traffic to your blog or to generate significant income for you. Your article will be competing with thousands of others, likely many others on the same topic. No one is going to market it for you--if you want it to pay off (in links or cash), you must be prepared to promote it yourself. You can do that, and do it very effectively if you do your homework and plan ahead, but don't think that simply submitting an article to Associated Content or an article bank is going to magically produce results for you. Whatever marketing approach you choose, someone has to do the legwork...and with outlets like these, that someone is you.


Kathy said...

Yikes. I use AC, and I do realize that it'll probably get me nowhere, but I'm so new to blogging I thought I'd at least give it a whirl.

I feel very overwhelmed by the process of trying to get published in traditional media outlets. But I will admit I haven't done my homework. It's the only way anything will happen for me. So I need to get crackin', I suppose.

rick said...

I agree that it's not likely to be helpful for folks looking for be pros, but I make an extra $300 a month and hone my writing skills using Associated Content.

rick said...

Sentence structure, though, apparently still eludes me.

RockStories said...

Rick, I do think that Associated Content and even free article banks can be used effectively if the writer knows his/her goals and how to make the programs work in that context. I suspect that you're not making $300/month simply by submitting articles and going on with your life, but perhaps you are--a lot might depend on how well established you are, the niche in which you're writing, etc. Care to share some thoughts on how you make it pay off? (Feel free to link to a post about this on your own blog if you have one)

rick said...

I haven't been at it very long, just a couple of months, but the two ways that I've been making that amount in my spare time (I have a day job) are as follows:

1) Volume - whether I feel like it or not, I write a cubic yard of articles. I try to submit 3 per day during the week, for 15 weekly submissions, or 60 per month. Thus far, I've been averaging about $5 per article, so there's my cash, right there. Think I'm kidding? Check out my content producer page.

2) Calls for content. I accept every call for content that I am offered, and put far more time and effort into them than I do my regular submissions. The upfront payment offers don't always make this worthwhile, but if you do a good job on these assignments, you'll receive more of them. I currently receive offers in two niches that pay $11 or more per assignment. This skews the numbers to make up for the articles I have rejected.

In the interest of full disclosure, the dollar amount of my offers has been dropping off in the last two weeks. I believe that's due to the fact that I don't promote my content well, and resultantly, haven't been able to effectively drive page views. I think that if I learned how to promote my content well, I'd see the offers rise again, and see an increase in my performance payments, as well.

Kathy said...

Rich -- That's impressive. Your articles appear instructional in nature. Mine are not. They're humor pieces. I suspect people would be more interested in learning something new than in chuckling for a few minutes. But I may up my submission rate, just to see what happens. They would be stories I've already written for my blog, so it wouldn't cost me anything but the time it takes to submit them.

Good for you for doing so well with AC!

Madlab Post said...

There are good points made here about submitting (or not submitting) to Associated Content or the free online article banks. I knew about a few online magazines, but all of them do not pay and some others that do are not paying well based on the information that they provide on their "writers" page.

However, this may actually be a good area to look into for writers who want to get paid for their work and have it published in various places.