With businesses and general advertisers spending billions of dollars in the online world in order to further their brand and sales, content and media is becoming the wave of the future. This means that, for those who are passionate about writing (and, even if you are not, it can always be outsourced), the high quality content you provide can be targeted by advertisers through arrangements like Google Adwords. Seeing this need, determined entrepreneurs like the owners of InfoBarrel, have developed a platform by which writers can join for free, submit their own hand-written content, and earn a high percentage of revenue share (in InfoBarrel's case, it is 75%-90% on all Amazon, Chitika, and Google Adsense impressions, currently).
InfoBarrel isn't the only game in town, however.
NOTE: I published this article in 2010. It is now 2013 (currently). Since writing this article, I stumbled across a VERY powerful tool called Market Samurai. Like a Warrior Samurai gracefully exploits weaknesses in his enemies' armor, you can literally laser target highly profitable keywords and earn front page rankings overnight.
While you can certainly succeed on InfoBarrel without it, I do strongly believe that this was the most powerful weapon I have added to my arsenal. Fortunatly, you can also download a completely FREE trial version. I did that nearly 3 years ago....and I haven't stopped using it since!
With a plethora of free-to-join, content aggregation, revenue sharing websites available for a freelance writer to join and submit content to, unfortunately, wading through all the opportunities can become a bit tedious to say the least. Evidence that content, media, and advertising is the wave of the future can be found in the fact that I can literally name at least 20 of these sites that co-exist, in many ways, in direct competition with one another.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Web 2.0.
In order to best maximize my time writing online, I had to be absolutely sure that the small handful of websites I chose to write for provided the best opportunity to earn. With so many similar business models, however, it became necessary to develop a bit of a list by which to judge these freelance writing site opportunities. If I had wanted to truly convince others to write for certain Web 2.0 revenue sharing sites, I felt strongly that I had to provide thorough research founded upon the deconstruction of various similar platforms. As some of the highest ranked websites in the world, many of these sites have tens of thousands of users, with hundreds of users joining daily or weekly. Unfortunately, while so many seem to register for these sites, very few seem to conduct the research necessary to substantiate their decision to write at one place over another.
This set of criteria is meant to help maximize your time invested writing online.
1) Revenue Share Offerings and Arrangement -- On a web 2.0 revenue sharing website, not only are earnings accrued in accordance to a specified percentage, but there is typically a much deeper arrangement behind how exactly this revenue is shared. While some websites might allow a writer to inject, for instance their Google Adsense Publisher ID# and begin having their earnings accrue in their own account immediately, other websites prefer to be a storehouse of those earnings under their own single account(s). There are pros and cons associated with each arrangement, but, for the purpose of this article, it is necessary that you know that these differences do, in fact, exist. While a particular website may "appear" to be the same, this isn't necessarily the case.
2) Fundamental Revenue Sharing Transparency -- Does the site you are contemplating writing for provide a fundamental breakdown of how their revenue sharing arrangement works? Clearly, this question walks a thin gray line between what is legitimate and what is not a legitimate freelance writing opportunity. Of course, this criteria doesn't automatically make a particular website a scam. An emerging trend in the online world, even beyond Web 2.0 revenue sharing websites, is that of greater transparency: with their being absolutely nothing in Google Adsense's TOS (Terms of Service) that expressely forbids a website not to share how much revenue they share with writers, all websites should do this out of general courtesy for the writers that they hope and expect to invest their precious time in contributing to (and, in essence, "building" their site).
3) Complexity of Revenue Sharing Arrangement -- Some websites online are notorious for injecting a tedious complexity behind their revenue sharing arrangement. Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, I have come across certain sites that, while transparent, are embedded in so much complexity that I can guarantee that at least 90% of registered users don't even understand how the revenue sharing works. Before you venture into writing for a Web 2.0 freelance writing website, be sure that you fully know and understand exactly how you will earn and be compensated for your work. To invest a signficant amount of your time writing, under the trust that a website's ownership will always do the right thing, is becoming an old-school train of thought, especially in an online world that is becoming more and more keen to certain ploys and tactics.
4) Referral Revenue Sharing Arrangement and Offerings -- Whenever you tell someone about a site you like, you are, in essence, promoting it via word-of-mouth. Knowing full well that it is oftentimes difficult to motivate people to do this, many websites offer some degree of referral incentivization. Inherent to many platforms is some sort of flat-fee payment or permanent lifetime residual impression based system. Some systems may require the referred member to achieve a certain goal or milestone BEFORE you earn anything. On one particular website, I referred close to 100 people, but, because they never met the minimum article/earning milestones, I earned nothing on those referrals. The single best referral offering arrangement is one that simply allows you to begin earning immediately on your referral's submitted content.
5) Aggregation of Legitimate Success Stories -- Whether from a monetary earning's standpoint, or in relation to other forms of "success", I cannot blame people for wanting to see 'success stories' before they invest a significant amount of time into any one site. Unfortunately, while a website may have so many positive aspects about it, a new emerging site may just not have those success stories built up quite yet. Typically, these "success stories" come AFTER a website has successfully marketed and branded itself to attract a small handful of 'pioneer' writers. With heavy reliance on search engine traffic, unfortunately, a new site more likely will not have the search engine authority and pagerank in order for those 'pioneer's' content to earn what it would earn on a much highly ranked website. The benefit, however, to being a "pioneer" is that, if you choose the right site, your content will become increasingly valuable as it matures in relationship to the overall growth of the site and the collective contributions of all users.
6) Degree of Involvement of Website Ownership -- This item of criteria is highly debatable and relates directly to various leadership methods and applications. It is up to you to determine what kind of website interaction and leadership makes you the most comfortable. While some websites may have ownership that interact frequently on their forum, other website's management may prefer to keep a low profile. Outside of receiving typically a rather large injection of investment capital, entrepreneurs that begin websites like these are just normal people like you and I. They have high dreams and aspirations, and their platforms can inherently serve to provide alot of value to end users. While you earn, they also earn, scaled over tens of thousands of users. Do you prefer 'laissez-faire' (hands-off) leadership or ownership that frequently interacts with its users?
7) Responsiveness of Website Ownership -- While ownership may be 'involved' and 'interact', that doesn't necessarily mean that they are 'responsive'. Granted, 'responsive' doesn't necessarily mean that they just automatically succumb to user demands for greater revenue share and/or expanded website functionality. To me, "responsiveness" means that user's voices are heard and their opinions are considered. Even if those opinions aren't necessarily implemented, having a voice can provide online writers with the ability to at least have some degree of control over their online investments of time and energy.
8) Integrated Methods of Monetization -- While my first three points specifically dealt with revenue sharing arrangements and transparency, this point deals specifically with the methods that are available to writers to actually earn. A good website owner will integrate as many opportunities for writers to earn, without compromising the integrity and user experience behind the site. What would you think if you were a reader, who found a website via a Google search, and landing on a page that was jam packed with advertisements? Would you ever come back? Probably not. The real challenge for Web 2.0 website owners is to maximize their own company earnings, while making their website not appear to be an unusuable piece of garbage. Typically, the integration of various earning methods can be done, but it must be done with consideration, and high levels of testing and research at its core.
As you can see in this InfoBarrel article, there are many many criteria by which a freelance writer can immediately begin judging and determining which website's are the best websites deserving of their consideration. In an online space with so many opportunities, as one person, you can really be stretched thin quickly if you attempt to tackle all these opportunities at once. There is only ONE of you. If you are contemplating joining a website, especially if you plan on submitting a great deal of content, I would highly recommend that you consider this list of criteria I have written.
What other elements of Web 2.0 revenue sharing websites should freelance writers consider? What have your experiences been? Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? It would be an honor to hear from you in my comments' section below....