There are many revenue share sites that are legitimate and pay, and some people manage to hit the triple figures by writing for them. However, unlike with your own website, you don’t have real control over revenue share websites and how they are managed. Keep in mind the following common issues on revenue share sites, and make sure you always protect your interests as a writer, no matter how good the deal sounds in theory.
They Can Stop Paying You
One of the worst problems you can find on revenue share sites is that they can decide to stop paying you. For example, Associated Content (a very respectable revenue share site, owned by Yahoo) cited legal problems to stop paying revenue share to non Americans. They didn’t offer to take down all the articles from everybody who wasn’t eligible to be paid, though, and are perfectly willing to keep getting money from advertisement displayed on articles whose owner is no longer being compensated.
They Can Change the Rules of the Game
Another thing a revenue sharing site can do that can destroy your idea of passive revenue is to add new rules about what you need to do to get paid. For example, Helium added a requirement that you need to maintain 1 rating star on the site, or you won’t accumulate any more revenue. This means even if you are no longer interested on the site you still need to turn up and do your rating correctly, or you won’t get paid. Your articles will still be there and generating money for them, though. So much for a nice revenue stream when you are on a long trip…
The Payment System Can Change
Some people select revenue sharing sites because they want to avoid using Google AdSense, but what happens if your favourite revenue sharing site suddenly decides to implement AdSense sharing revenue, partially or to the exclusion of everything else? This is what happened to the folks at Bukisa, and some found it incredibly damaging to their passive revenue plans. If your passive revenue hopes rely on online affiliate marketing keep in mind that some sites have banned entire affiliate networks for a variety of reasons, so you may end up having to edit a large part of your portfolio to change or remove the links.
They Can Lose Their Search Engine Traffic
After the launch of what is familiarly known as Google Panda early in 2011, most revenue sharing sites such as Suite101 were absolutely decimated. Google decided that the content on those sites wasn’t, in average, good enough, and the good writers were pulled down with the bad. This means that no matter if your writing is top-notch, you may lose most of your search engine traffic because the site doesn’t have enough quality controls to weed out the bad content, or their technical team is not 100% familiar with SEO.
They Can Cancel Your Account
This is one of those things you never think it could happen to you, but it actually does happen to many people. Their accounts are cancelled, and they just aren’t paid anymore, but the site still displays their articles and makes money off them. While I think any site owner should have a right to remove people who aren’t good enough or just not suitable, and plagiarisers deserve to have their accounts cancelled, I personally don’t see why a site should keep the articles of somebody who is not good enough to stay on the site and keep profiting from them.
The Site Can Go Offline
Imagine you have a thousand articles earning a tidy revenue stream on a revenue share site, just to wake up one morning and discovering that the site has gone offline because the owner didn’t think it was an interesting project anymore. While the older and most established revenue share sites are often safe enough, beware of joining the latest indie revenue share site or at least keep back-ups of all your articles, just in case.
They May Never Pay You
Some sites have become infamous for letting people accumulate money on their accounts, and then refusing to pay by giving made up reasons or just cancelling a user account right before they are to be paid. Thankfully, the Internet is full of people happy to report that kind of scams to other writers, and the few sites who do that are quickly named and shamed, but this reinforces the need for proper research before placing even a single article on a third party site.
How to Write For Revenue Share Safely
Revenue share websites are a very valid way to make money writing online, and they are great if you want to focus on writing instead of managing a site, however you must do your part to minimize the risks. You should start with becoming really familiar with the terms of the agreement you enter with any revenue share site you post articles to, and evaluate the worst case scenario situation.
Things to watch out for are granting any site exclusive rights to your articles (you cannot post them elsewhere, even if they don’t pay you anymore) or even perpetual non-exclusive rights, as they can keep the articles there even without compensating the author. Most of the time the safest option is writing for a site that allows you absolute control over your articles, from editing to deleting them, as that means you can leave if the site doesn’t suit your style and take your articles with you.
Before joining a new revenue share site and starting to add many articles to it, it’s a good idea to research the Internet for people who have been scammed. However, be careful to distinguish people who are just angry they got caught breaking the rules, from those who actually had their account cancelled for suspicious reasons. It is advisable to put up to 50 articles on one site and letting them mature for a bit to evaluate the real revenue potential of a site before you invest heavily on it.