About Suite 101: An Interview with Editor in Chief Colin Smith

Suite101 logo

Deb’s note: This interview is part one in a series featuring content sites. As there have been much speculation and a few rather lopsided “investigations” regarding content sites, I thought it would be fair to talk to the people behind the content sites and let them tell the FWJ community a little about what they do, the benefits to their writers and why their sites are unique. Please note, these interviews aren’t endorsements, freelancers are always encouraged to make the decisions that work out best for them.

In 1999, when I first began looking for freelance writing work, I came across a series of ads by a writer inviting freelancers to write for Suite101. I was accepted and wrote my column, Everyday Humor for three years. At the time “The Suite” paid a flat month fee for three posts per month. I enjoyed working for Suite101 but moved on because of higher paying opportunities. I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Editor in Chief Colin Smith.

First, tell us a little about who you are and what you do

My name is Colin Smith. I am the Editor-in-Chief for Suite101.com and I manage the editorial department for the English-language division of Suite101.com Media Inc. I am a veteran journalist and publisher with 25 years of experience in print and online operations. I love being the EiC at Suite101; it’s an honour and a privilege to help support the ambitions of freelance writers-journalists around the world.

What is Suite101?

Suite101 is an online magazine written by over 4,000 freelancer writers. Some people call us a writers network; others consider us to be one of the most respected sites in the category of “how-to” articles. We’ve been publishing freelance writing for thirteen years and we also operate sites in Germany, France and Spain. It’s our mission to create opportunities for writers.

How is Suite101 different from other writing and blogging sites?

Here are five key things that set Suite101 apart from other sites:

1. We have the best revenue-share program online: averaging $3.90 per 1000 pageviews, and writers’ earnings get paid-out forever, there’s no time limit.

2. We hire internationally: you can live anywhere and still write for us.

3. Direct contact and guidance with professional editorial staff: writers get valuable feedback and communicate with editors directly.

4. Writers keep their rights! Copyright remains with the writer, always.

5. Quality focus: we’re selective about the writers we accept and all articles are well-researched pieces. Writers must submit at least two articles to join.

Tell us a little about the history of Suite101

Suite101 was created by writers for writers thirteen years ago, and this fact continues to shape our mission. (We’re here to help writers be successful, not to amass owned content.) As a Canadian company, we also have the freedom to hire writers from any location in the world, so this attracts a lot of interested parties. Last year, we launched a site in Germany and this year, we launched sites in France and Spain.

Perhaps the most significant part of our history happened in 2005, when we realized that to succeed we needed to live and breathe the value of “writers first.” Not only has this philosophy attracted writers, but we have more than doubled our readership each year since then. We grew from two million unique visitors a month in 2005, to 24 million a month today.

How many active writers are with Suite101 now?

Over 4,000 internationally, mostly in the US but from a range of different countries.

What does Suite101 offer as incentive and pay for their freelance writers?Daily revenue share for all articles published on the site, averaging $3.90US per 1000 pageviews. (Note: A writer’s revenue share is ongoing, it lasts forever. There is no limit to a writer’s earning potential.)

    * Daily revenue share for all articles published on the site, averaging $3.90US per 1000 pageviews. (Note: A writer’s revenue share is ongoing, it lasts forever. There is no limit to a writer’s earning potential.)
    * Bonuses based on levels of writing experience
    * Seasonal and theme-based writing contests with cash prizes

What does the average Suite101 columnist earn in a given month? What do the highest earners earn?

It’s fairly common to earn $200-$300 a month, with a large group of writers earning $1500-$2000 month, and our highest monthly earning was just under $5,000.

We have a group of writers too who say Suite101 pays their mortgages every month – even if they don’t write another article for us!

What sort of traffic does Suite101 receive on a regular basis?

24 million unique visitors a month

What are some of the more popular articles?

* It’s quite balanced across the site with 20 sections and 400 topics to read
* Lifestyle sections do very well: Parents & Partners, Home and Garden, Travel
* We attract less of an audience for History, Politics and Sports

What would you like to say to the people who criticize Suite101 for being a low-paying content mill?

Firstly, I would introduce them to Lena Gott. Lena is a part-time writer who has published 228 articles after two years of writing for Suite. Lena earned $5,000 for her articles in July. On average, she earns around $2,000 a month.

Secondly, I would point out there is no limit as to how much you can make on Suite101. There is also no baseline guarantee. For new writers just starting out, the latter fact can be discouraging. We see their experience change as they add more articles and continue writing here for three months, or six months.

For writers who actively engage with our site and work with our editors, Suite101 quickly produces a significant income stream. For people who give it little time and effort, they will likely not enjoy as much success. As is the case with any job, the more effort you put into it, the more reward you earn!

For people who learn, understand and practice the key concepts for great online writing, Suite101 is the best site to generate ongoing, revenue share income over the long term.

What are your thoughts about all the other content sites? Room for everyone? Too much competition?

Competition means more visibility, which is good for all sites. Just as people choose a college based on the school’s reputation and standards, writers choose online publishers with an eye for quality. We believe Suite101 is synonymous with editorial integrity and professionalism. Suite101 writers are proud to display their articles on our site; they relish the opportunity to engage other writers as part of our supportive community, plus they have a direct link with a high caliber editorial team. And of course, Suite101 writers appreciate the fact they own the copyright to their work too.

What are some of the things we can expect from Suite101 in the future?

o More features that make it even easier for writers to work with, and get feedback from, our editorial team.
o More tools and ideas focused on helping writers become successful online.
o A cleaner “look” to the website designed to make it even easier for readers to find what they’re looking for.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We’ve built our reputation around a commitment to editorial quality and we plan to continue on this track. We invite all writers who are confident of their writing skills to apply at Suite101. If accepted, get ready to write! We look forward to meeting you.

Comments

  1. Deb thanks for the article… I was wondering about Suite.101 … But, 3.90/1000 page views is still too low… I get between $9 and $10 per 1000 page views with Examiner.com …

    • I have to say, I’m a little skeptical Rockwell. A $9-$10 CPM is outrageously high. Even if Examiner was paying out 100% of ad revenue they would be hard pressed to generate that type of CPM. If you talk to other Examiner writers you’ll find their CPM is more in the neighbourhood of $1.50-$3.00 (myself included).

      ~Jennifer

  2. Jennifer I have averaged about $1,500 per month from Examiner for the last 5 months..

    For example: Today, I have over $28 on less than 3,100 page views..Isnt that about $9 for every 1000 page views?

    Are we talking about the same thing? Send me an email, perhaps We are talking about different things…rockwellfitness(at)aol(dot)com

  3. Hi Rockwell,
    I apologize for my assumptions. You are clearly making a lot more with your content than 99% of most writers. While it is very rare to make that much (which, btw I assume you could make more with on Suite101 because they pay higher) the content you choose obviously has high paying advertisers because the average earnings for The Examaminer is a fraction of what you’re making. Kudos to you though, you’re doing something right – I suggest you try spreading the wealth further with the same vertical on other writing sites.
    Best!
    Jennifer

  4. I have been interested in checking out Suite 101 for a while, thanks Deb for the interview, it helped answer some questions that I have been wondering about, I think its worth to take a further look.

  5. “1. We have the best revenue-share program online: averaging $3.90 per 1000 pageviews, and writers’ earnings get paid-out forever, there’s no time limit.”

    This is NOT true.

    On Info Barrel, I earn 75-90% (I consistently do 90%) of Adsense Ad Revenue Generated. In my honest and humble opinion, this arrangement is much more lucrative than a flat payment per 1,000 views…

    What happens if a writer writes an amazing piece of content, yet is unable to achieve 1,000 page views after great promotion, and search engines don’t find their article for one reason or another……then, they are left with absolutely nothing….

    if their article gains 900 views, the writer gets nothing, yet, the ad revenue generated from those 900 views is pocketed by the company….

    not very “fair” and not look out for the best interest of writers, if you ask me….

  6. Also, does Suite101 offer a lifetime percentage of referral’s earnings, as well? I did not see this mentioned in this article…..and, I cannot find information about it on their website….

    eHow (the top dog in this industry) does not offer this. There are many sites that don’t.

    Info Barrel offers a lifetime ad revenue share on all referrals.

  7. Anonymous Suite 101 Writer says:

    I’d just like to say that the reports of earning $200 – $300 per month can be pie in the sky. In over 1 and 1/2 years I have accumulated just over $120 (including the so called bonus for being a feature writer). Most months my earnings are around $20.

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