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.