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to put an ad asking aspiring writers/reporters/reviewers if they want to work for free for me?

(67 Posts)
TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:15:54

Before I actually do it grin I'd like to know if folks think this would be taking the piss or a good deal.

I am building a tourism website. atm it makes nothing. I'm just building it.

It's a HUGE job!

I was wondering about inviting people to contribute reviews, or reports or articles on attractions etc.

I wouldn't pay them, cos there's no money (yet!) but they would gain experience, they would have their by-line, building up their cv and experience, and if it became commercially viable, then I could start paying people for articles.

Is is exploiting? Or piss taking? Or unreasonable? Or just a waste of time because nobody would ever be interested?

What do you think?

MumblingRagDoll Wed 22-Jun-11 14:23:38

I doubt anyone with any talent would take it up....even "budding" writers can easily get work on sites like PPH....that's a site with legit writing jobs and also many which are suited to beginners...the low paid ones offer somethng like £5.00 per 1000 words....so yes...YABU and naive...anyone who WILL do it for free won't do a good job anyway. Poor grammar, construction and spelling will make your site look crap.

Aworryingtrend Wed 22-Jun-11 14:25:36

Do you means omething like TripAdvisor? As obviously that is an example of people can be willing to post content for free but as MRD says the writing is not necessarily of good quality and it is more of a 'community' with a reciprocal nature which encourages people to post reviews.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 22-Jun-11 14:25:57

I should add...I make my living writing content for various websites and it's not something which can be done easily or well by a new writer.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 22-Jun-11 14:27:06

I think the OP is after real "content" such as destination guides, general interest articles and perhaps a blog.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:27:18

That's a good point. Of course, they wouldn't be putting content directly onto the site, so I would correct any terrible errors grin

PPH? Googled it - is it people per hour? Never heard of it, but that might be a good alternative, I could advertise the odd thing on there instead perhaps.

Thanks.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:28:29

Yes, I mean articles about specific attractions, reports of local events, that sort of thing.

Thanks to Mumbling, I now know about PPH and will have a look at it to see if it's an option for me.

Punkatheart Wed 22-Jun-11 14:30:38

Sorry, as a professional writer myself I have to agree with the other posters. Writing is a hard enough profession as it is - writers are wary of giving away things for free. But you can ask, look at the information and then judge.

Why not think of the website on a more professional basis - then contact some holiday companies and beg them for a small prize - weekend in a hotel - in return for free advertising on your site. Then you could have a writing competition. Of course, you would have to build up traffic....but it would possibly give you some better material....

CallMeBubblesEverybodyDoes Wed 22-Jun-11 14:31:12

I think it is a bit expoiting TBH. In the long run, I take it you are hoping to earn a decent income from your venture? It wouldn't be fair if the success of it had been down to people working for free whilst you were reaping the rewards after a time.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:32:28

That's a good idea. I have a photo competition planned, I thought that might generate traffic and get the site known. A writing competition would also be good. Thanks.

TheRhubarb Wed 22-Jun-11 14:32:58

I do this for a living and believe me, there are enough people out there who take the piss. I worked for a year on a migration website for £50pw and for that I was contributing 2 news stories every day, plus site content, replying to queries, pitching to advertisers, one feature every week plus content for his other 2 sites. I was working full time "for experience".

In my opinion, if you don't pay them then you will get shit content. Most professional writers only write for money. Those willing to do it for free may think they can write, but you'll spend all your time re-writing it to a readable standard.

I agree with MRD, it's a hard task and one that you won't get done for free. If you want your site to work then you need to have professional content or people will simply move on and for that you will need to pay.

However I'll accept a tenner per article grin

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:34:11

That's also a good point, CallMeBubbles. Unless I looked into some sort of profit share? (when there's profit!!)

I think I need to think of other things, don't I? grin

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:35:48

I'd pay you a tenner per article! grin I am now wondering, seriously, if it is actually affordable. That site seems to suggest that it is not necessarily the many many hundreds of pounds per article I had thought it would be.

jeckadeck Wed 22-Jun-11 14:42:12

I'm afraid to say that Mumbling RagDoll's view of the world is an unrealistically optimistic one: its bloody nearly impossible if you're an aspiring -- as opposed to made it -- writer to get a foot in the door at the start and I think people who want to get the experience would sell their own grandmother into slavery for something to put on the CV. I happen to think asking people to work for free is unethical, even if its "fun" work like journalism but that is the way the world is at the moment. Therefore, if you're asking if its out of order, the answer from me is, yes it is taking the piss a bit, but unfortunately that won't stop people signing up so if you're asking whether you'll get any takers the answer is also yet.

TheRhubarb Wed 22-Jun-11 14:44:37

I'm scouting for work and have written travel articles before so if you PM me I'll charge you a tenner for articles that are up to 1,000 words (no more). You tell me on what subject and I'll send you a draft that you then check to see if it's in the style you like. You can request as many changes as you like, I'm responsible for editing the article and then when you are happy I can either put in on the site for you or you can. I invoice every Friday and will do as many articles as you like smile

OrdinaryJo Wed 22-Jun-11 14:47:09

Don't mean to be rude, but how about if I said 'hey, I am a super groovy writer but I really need someone to build a website for me. Do you think they'll do it for nothing?'

There are a lot of sites like PPH where writers essentially bid against each other for work. The writers you actually want to use may not (will not) offer the lowest bids, not when there's people out there willing to work for pennies a word, or even less.

OP, if you're serious you need to think about what you can offer instead of money, and a byline won't really cut it - are millions of people going to see this work, are writers going to be offered freebies to review, for example? I do food reviewing which is very badly paid, but I get a meal out for two people every time, so that kind of makes up for it IYSWIM.

shock at Rhubarb - that sounds like a fun job, where do I sign up grin

fgaaagh Wed 22-Jun-11 14:48:36

You're wanting people to contribute their work to help you build your business online. Personally, I think you'll get some low quality stuff coming through - but anyone with quality writing to send to you is either a mug or not very good.

Either evolve it into a user community model (but you're perhaps entering a flooded market unless it's a specific angle...) or pay for quality content to be written (or write it yourself until you're in a position to pay real writers).

You might want to look at this from the POV of a potential writer:

"I'm a writer 20 miles down the road from TheMagnificentBathykolpian. I have written a great article on family activity days within 20 miles of me, using only public transport. What is my motivation?"

The answer will be something like: either to share the info (to be genuinely helpful) - not to a professional standard e.g. accurate, good writing.. or it will be to advance my position in some way e.g. free exposure as a writer maybe? In which case: why would the writer help you build YOUR business from nothing as it won't offer an established reader base....

In other words, when people write for free they still expect something in return. Good exposure to existing readers, reputation enhancement (for the CV e.g. I had an article published by The Guardian, etc)... currently you can offer none of the small benefits writers for free would expect. Which leaves you with the shit writers or the total mugs.

You've got nothing to offer right now. THat won't always be the case though if you stick with your plans and build something with real value to offer unpaid writers...

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 14:52:32

Yes, you are all right. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am forgetting all about my original thoughts and going with seeing how often I could pay someone to write something for me.

I think the site has great potential, it's already had some interest, lots of hits and enquiries. But you are right that I have nothing to offer someone that is going to make them want to put their time and effort in for nothing, (in the short term)

Lunabelly Wed 22-Jun-11 14:56:21

I'm an aces writer, got my whatever qualification it was in journalism and radio competences, mind you was about 20 years ago, ran a fanzine, the usual student crap.

But I'm two heartbeats short of agoraphobia. Don't get out much, you see. Don't see anything so cannot write about anything.
Am supposed to go to a gig tonight with DH, and I'm sitting here wondering how to get out of it. Even though the act is someone I've adored since I was nine. Just cannot bear the thought of stepping outside tonight.

I wrote a great story once, about a vengeful serial-killing wereshark. You had to be there.

vess Wed 22-Jun-11 15:05:41

Actually, lots of people might be able to write a good review of something they have enjoyed (or not) for free. people do read reviews, and find them helpfull (I know I do).
Reports and articles would need more thought, planning and research, so probably better if you pay someone to do them, even if it's not a lot. You probably won't need that many articles anyway.
Is the site up and running yet?

berlinnovels Wed 22-Jun-11 15:34:57

Rhubarb0 Not to be rude but if you have any experience at all you are horrifically underselling yourself. The site I work for (admittedly a specialist publication) pays around 50p a word.

I know how hard it is breaking into journalism at the moment but the second you go pro you should seriously up your rates. An 1000 word article (for me) is about two days' work if you take into account interviews etc.

mdowdall Wed 22-Jun-11 15:46:38

In my experience of this sector OP it is the SEO and general promotion of the site in terms of getting it up google rankings etc that is most important to its success. The writing is almost secondary in some respects, provided that it is of an okay-ish standard. The top sites often spend ludicrous amounts each month on ad-words and what-not hence writing costs etc are the least of your problems.
I don't think for a minute you are being unreasonable asking people to write things for free. They can only say no. You will probably get mainly monkeys coming through the door but you might drop on the odd bit of talent. (Also worth remembering that many so-called experienced journos can't write for toffee in any case...).

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 15:52:11

Yes, vess it is live, but still being added to. Each item is only a few hundred words about the attraction, if the average is above 500 words, I'll eat my hat grin. I then add photos. We're not taking essays, not at all.

It's in development. I've a long way to go. Am taking everyone's comments on board.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 22-Jun-11 15:54:40

Oh - search engines, when you type in the name of the area, we are on the first page in Yahoo and page 5 in google. That's if you just type the location, not the website name. If you type the location and say, list an attraction that I've got up there, for example, it returns page one.

So not too shabby. I think it's because there's no other site really covering what I cover in the way I do.

mdowdall Wed 22-Jun-11 15:59:03

Ah, well sounds pretty good OP. Good Luck.

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