Early Suite Days
For those not too much in the know, Suite 101 is a magazine website that publishes articles from its membership of contributing writers on just about any subject. Anyone can sign up to be a contributor and once accepted you can start writing and publishing your articles. There is even the prospect of generating earnings from PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising on your articles. Unless you can mass produce hundreds of top viewed articles the prospects of making a decent living from this source alone are slim (more on this later). What it does offer is, dare I say it, something more valuable - exposure and a viable portfolio of your work.
Suite 101 differs from other platforms in many ways but the most standout feature was its enrolment process. The site requires wannabe contributors to submit two pieces of written work, around 600 words each if I recall from my early days, as well as personal information. The articles are really an indication of your ability and seriousness about producing high quality written work, whereas with other platforms you simply register as if you were creating an Amazon account. Once accepted and the formalities taken care of, the writing journey can begin. A team of editors review all articles posted (a thankless task one imagines) and any errors are brought to your attention. The registration and editorial process clearly distinguished it from other sites that have largely been branded as "content farms".
Having tried the other platforms in tandem, I found that Suite 101 took care of things like formatting, ad placements and other technical features so that the writer can focus on the most important job - the writing, along with uploading royalty free/approved images, proof reading, and promotion through social media. I also noticed that articles published through Suite 101 are easier to find through search engines than other platforms thus attracting more readers. The earnings, as mentioned previously,are not necessarily life changing, and until recently have operated on the PPC scheme whereby payment was made depending on how my ad revenue your article accumulated.
Changing the Suite.
In an effort to tackle the increase in poor quality content spewed out by content farms in a concerted effort to drive them to the top of search engine listings, Google launched "Panda". Far from being a new Orange tariff, Panda is an algorithm that specifically targets content farms and topples them down to the bottom. This should have been good news for higher end sites and blogs unfortunately the net was cast so wide those sites & Suite 101 were caught up. I noticed the effect when my hits dropped sharply from around two to three thousand per month to just a few hundred. Suite 101 did everything possible to tackle this problem by changing keyword guidelines and re-emphasising the need for high quality articles. This helped and levels rose again but not to the same heights. Perhaps in response to this decline in readership the team at Suite embarked on a radical overhaul with new features and a fairer earning system designed to be reflective of the writers' work.
|Beware content farms - the Panda is coming for you.|
Credit; Matthew Bietz
The first big change is the introduction of channels. A published article will usually fall into default categories or channels such as Film/TV or Politics. Visitors can follow these channels and keep with the latest articles. Writers however can create their own channels, give it a name, build up their own following, and exchange feedback. In case you are wondering, yes I do have a channel, it's called Movies, Postcards & Reel Tales. By all means feel free to visit.
Revenue of course is still a feature of Suite 101 and the model for compensating writers has also undergone a significant change. Gone are the days when writers had to rely on PPC for earnings. The site is still funded by advertising however payment is made based on a new contributor score system. Depending on how high your score out of 100 points will determine the amount paid. The score is calculated based on how well received your articles are based on readership, feedback, share through share social media. The higher the score, the more you get paid.
It is too early to tell at this stage whether or not the model will be successful. However what it does offer is a greater potential for the writer in terms of exposure and earnings. In the days of PPC, writers often prioritised keyword rich populist topics over writing about their passions in order to earn effectively. Even if you received 20,000 hits per article the payback could be zero if no ads are clicked on. The new revenue system allows the author to write about what they want and use the channels to build up readership. It really could be a case of you only get out of it what you put in. So the more articles published and read, the greater chance of exposure, high readership and decent payment.
Or at least that's the goal.
Suite 101 is not the only platform available for writers and I will explore this in another post. However it is one of the more prolific and imaginative with a real desire for quality articles written from the heart rather hastily crafted content to capitalise on advertising. Yes there are still ads on the site and no doubt they will continue to keep the platform ticking over. What it means is that the author doesn't worry about things like SEO, keywords or crafting articles to match the ads. Instead they can concentrate on their craft, build up a reputation for good writing and then.....well who knows.