Pay per Click Sites and the Professional Writer

Most people by this point know what they are, but just in case: pay-per-click sites allow you to post your writing. Then they pay you based on how many people look at your article.

Is It Worth It In General?

No matter what they may say, pay-per-click sites are rarely useful for professional writers. Even the people who do make some measurable amount of money off of them find that the amount doesn’t stack up when they count it per article, and take into consideration the amount of time they spent. I also happen to agree with the people who say that if you’re a freelance writer, you should (in general) be paid up front for your work.

Some pay-per-click sites still have their uses, however. For example: you wrote an article and sold the useful first rights, but still hold the copyright to it. You’ve tried, but you find you can’t really get any money for reprint rights. Then, take two minutes to paste your article into one of these pay-per-click sites, and make an extra dollar or two off of them.

Most of all, however, pay-per-click sites are useful not to the professional writer, but rather to random people who have opinions on things and are capable of expressing them in writing. These are people who would be happy to express their opinion for free, but by going to these sites they can make an extra $.50 for it. Why not? Many of these sites try to attract “real” writers because they want quality work, but the truth is that many of them can’t afford the kind of rates that quality work is worth.

Which Ones are Worth Using?

Not all pay-per-click sites are born equal. First of all, read their authors’ agreements. If the site owns your work or can re-sell it to other companies and sites without paying you, pass it by. It isn’t worth the extra dollar.

If it passes the agreement test, then take three articles (preferably in three different subjects) and post them to the site. Leave them for three weeks and see how much money you make. If you only make $0.15, it isn’t worth it, particularly if there’s a minimum before the site will cut you a check (and most such sites have minimums). You’d have to put in too much work just to get a single check. If you make several dollars, then it might be worth your occasional cut-and-paste two minutes. Do your own calculations and see whether the money stacks up enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Check how the sites pay. Is it a fixed rate per page view? Is it a percentage of ad revenue? Is it fixed rate per page view plus “income share?” Is it something else entirely? Beware of sites that won’t give you an actual number. “Percentage of ad revenue” can turn out to be a surprisingly small amount of money per page-view. Before putting any writing on a site that doesn’t tell you how much it pays, find out from someone else who writes for them how much a page view tends to be worth. There are some sites that average a half or even a twentieth of a penny per page view, and they don’t have very high traffic. That won’t even pay for your cut-and-paste time. Others have low page rates, but back it up by distributing “income shares” at the end of the month, sometimes resulting in higher payment than expected.

Also, keep in mind when you talk to users of these sites that different people can get very different results from the same site. Someone who’s a good writer and has a couple hundred articles posted might consistently make $50 a month, whereas an “average” user at the same site might make, if they’re lucky, one or two dollars.

Check how much the sites pay, and what the required minimum is before they’ll cut you a check. If you still think it sounds okay, post an article and see what kind of traffic you get. $.02 per page view may be fine if your reprinted article will get a couple hundred hits, and terrible if it’ll get twenty. $.02 may also be fine if the minimum before check is $5, but you might never get paid if the minimum is $50.

Don’t get sucked into writing too many articles just for these sites, however. The money per time spent is almost never worth it.

One Fun Thing

I have, however, found a particular use for one site that allows users to post reviews of products. I use it to warm up in the morning before writing. When I’m in that slow, not-yet-inspired early morning state I pull a cookbook off of my shelf and go to the computer. I then spend ten minutes writing a review of that cookbook. It gets me warmed up, and I’m perfectly happy to be paid $0.50 for my morning warm-up. Also, some sites have uses beyond simple payment. They might provide a community that you find useful, or services that you enjoy.

As a Whole…

You won’t feed your family by writing for these sites. Despite what some sites imply, there are very few cases of writers being “discovered” by anyone while writing for these sites. But they do have their uses, and as long as you pay close attention to the pros, the cons, and how much work you’re putting in for how much money, feel free to use these sites. Pay-per-click sites are like any other moneymaking scheme — you need to do your homework to find the few decent ones among the many misleading ones. Don’t let thoughts of easy money make you gullible.

Most of all, don’t believe those advertisements: you know the ones. They promise you wealth and an uncensored voice, all for a few minutes of your time. Remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also, I’d recommend that before you use a site, you ask around to find out whether their users have actually gotten any paychecks. Not all pay-per-click sites are created equal, after all, and there are cheats to be found in every business.

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