Thursday, October 22, 2009

Upfronts Going Down, Down, Down

It's a conspiracy!  Well, no, not really.  Just something that AC isn't being completely forthcoming about.

As the Associated Content library goes up, up, up, upfronts are going down, down, down.  It has been this way for years from what I understand.  As more content is added across the board, it is a struggle for writers to create new and unique content.  Have things changed very recently?  On the surface, yes.  It is obvious from all the reports in the forums that SEVERAL people are experiencing a sudden rise in rejections and declines for upfront.  However, when openly asked about this, AC has given the standard response.  Nothing has changed.  But it's obvious that something has.  Are they just buckling down more?  Is a new employee reviewing content?  Why can't we get any clear answers?  Even an acknowledgment would go a long way into calming many people down.

I still love writing for AC.  Sometimes it's frustrating, yes, but I still enjoy seeing my page views go up, I've enjoyed the benefits at being a new category editor at AC as well.  But to look at us and say there hasn't been a change is slightly insulting to our intelligence.  My upfronts have gone down dramatically and even yesterday, I had a local news story declined for upfront when I've never had a local news story declined for upfront before.

So what's going on?  I don't want to speculate.  Speculations lead to stupid theories about cover-ups and conspiracies and I'm just not the paranoid type.  I do wish AC would acknowledge, though, what we are trying to tell them and tell us what they are doing.  In the meantime, though, I've decided to focus on page views instead of upfronts.  If I get an upfront, that's great.  If not, that's great, too.  At least I get page view love which is something very few sites offer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Comparison of the Best Content $25 Assignment

This has been a heated debate among the forums, springing up thread after thread of ideas, speculation and others who have outright said they were leaving over it. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, perhaps you should read my previous post on the subject. But all that stuff aside, there were more good feelings about the assignment then bad (in general). Even though everyone didn't get the $25, the offers were still generally higher then what is usually given. Let's take a closer look at these articles. I tried getting all the links I could. There were a ton of them. So I took five that were offered lower amounts and five that were paid the $25. I apologize to the people I've missed but I just couldn't fit everyone in the mix. Feel free to leave your Best Content - $25 link in the comments section if I didn't mention you and let us know what your offer was and the reason AC gave. There are some people that are still waiting on their submissions to be reviewed by AC.

The goal? To try as we might to figure out what it is that AC is really looking for. They certainly don't tell us and the only reason I can think of is because they really don't want to spoil the spirit of AC which is for writers to write what they want. But at the same time, AC claims they want us to strive to earn. The more we drive traffic to AC, the more potential our articles have. A lot of theories are thrown to the wind. It's gotta be unique, it's gotta be SEO friendly (which a lot of writers just don't get the concept of, including yours truly), it's gotta be popular. So let's see how this turned out. Maybe this will help with the next assignment.

Oh, and do yourself a favor while you're going over these. Don't just click on the ones that were accepted. Click on those that weren't also. Only by reading over all of them can you get your own informed idea of what to do the next go around.

The Lower Offered Articles:

Lucinda Gunnin's Angie Wyatt Talks About Her Book, Timmy the Tractor: His Hay Day. Gunnin didn't specify how much was offered but we know it wasn't the $25. Why? Because AC called it a book review which doesn't typically get an upfront payment. Gunnin classified it as an author interview, though.

Travis Fox's How to Install a Doggy Door received an upfront offer of only $8. It was not unique to the web which was the reason AC gave for the lower offer.

Marie Anne St. Jean's Best Part Time Jobs for Seasonal Employment got an offer of $7. The feedback said that the topic was too broad.

Kim Keason's Choosing the Right Martial Arts Program for Your Child was offered $7. They claimed the topic was too common.

Jennifer Amlie's A Guide to Foreign Horror Movies was offered $7 also. AC said that even though the article was interesting, it was too similar to other content.

Articles Accepted for the $25 Upfront

I'll start off with mine: Why Nutrition Daily Value Percentages are Inaccurate.

Carly Hart's What to Expect If You're Diagnosed with Ocular Hypertension.

Tamara Water's Postpartum Depression: My Time in Darkness.

Cathy A. Montville's Past Life Regression.

R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen's BRCA Mutation: What Does it Mean and What is it like to Be Affected?.

I know that many of those who received the $25 also received a nice little feedback letter. That was nice on AC's part. We don't get much praise for what we do and it was a nice addition to the assignment. Thank you for that, AC.

I hope that this serves as a sort of reference for future assignments (which AC claims that they will be doing more of). Thanks to everyone who provided me links.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The $25 Offer and the Controversy - Did AC Pull a Fast One?

From the onset of the $25 upfront article assignment, there's been a scattering of approvals, lower offers, etc. etc.

When I claimed the assignment, I was completely aware, as I'm sure others were, that there was a great chance that my article could be declined for reasons that I don't completely understand. Do I ever really understand why a subject matter that I write on one week will be accepted for upfront but the next week it won't? Why do I get close to $5 upfront on some articles but as low as $2 on others? The feedback AC gives doesn't necessarily cover all crossings. As I've proved in past posts, AC isn't always consistent or precise. Nothing I've ever done with AC has always made sense to me. Sometimes you shoot and make it, sometimes you don't.

But getting back to the assignment, I was surprised to find other contributors reporting that they were being offered $6 to $10 for the assignment; in other words, the article was rejected on AC's end for $25 and so the contributor was being offered another dollar amount. Since I'm sure others were expecting rejections like I was, I'm sure the lower offers were quite a surprise and may have been even a welcome surprise by many.

But then Michelle Devon (aka Michy) announced in a thread in the forums that she was leaving AC. She's been with AC since May of 2006, someone with almost 800 fans and inching towards 2 million page views. She's an experienced AC writer, who newbies looked up to and asked for advice. She was respected. It was a shock to a lot of people to say the least. But apparently she must know more then I do because I do not find her leaving disturbing. If that's what she wants to do, that's her. But I'm not compelled to follow. Even if my $25 article was offered a lower amount, I would've been happy with the lower offer because even $6 to $10 is higher then the standard upfront pay. But that's just me. There's a lot of variables here and many theories that I will prefer to keep to myself in relation to this move.

I will say this... essentially what I've said before; no matter how long I'm with AC or think I have things figured out, I don't. I don't know of anyone who can say they do know everything - every reason AC declines one article but then turns around and accepts another article on a similar subject or premise for upfront - and I don't know of anyone, no matter how long they've been writing online that knows all the reasons.

But what if AC really did pull a bait and switch like Michy claims? Of course, I would shame, shame them. But I don't know that for certain. What I do know is that I'd had a weird feeling from the moment the hype on this assignment started. I stated as such in the forums which is why I started blogging about it to begin with. Was it right to change the wording on the assignment after the fact? No. As legal as AC tends to be, they should've have seen the liability in their choice of words to begin with. Did they do it on purpose? I don't think so but again, I don't know. And come Monday, I'm taking a ton of links that other contributors have provided to me and I'm going to try to make some sort of sense out of the ones that were rejected compared to the ones that were accepted. So look for that post here next week.

In the meantime, I really don't see the need to threaten AC with leaving. They have thousands of people who write for them and I'm only a little face in the crowd. They could probably care less. I could scream conspiracy theory if I wanted, adding to all the hype in the forums. I actually butted heads with another contributor a couple of weeks ago because he was sour about losing the short story contest, accusing the contest of being rigged. Sheesh.

But that's enough of that.