Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Suite 101 vs. About.com: And the winner is?

I've been writing for Suite 101 for about three months now. In that time, I've published 31 stories, all of which have either focused on mortgage loans and real estate or freelance writing. I chose those topics carefully: I know a lot about both of them, which means that I can pound out my Suite 101 topics quickly and with little research.

If I couldn't do that, writing for Suite 101 wouldn't be worth it. In fact, I'm not sure it's worth it now: In three months, my 31 stories have generated about $60 in income. I'm on pace to make a bit more than $20 a month.

Maybe that's why I'm surprised at how vocal the posters on the Suite 101 writing forums have been in defending the company from criticisms made by the freelance writing guide at About.com.

There's a couple of lengthy threads on the forum in which Suite 101's writers have responded angrily to the About.com guide Allena Tapia's assertion that Suite 101 is not worth writers' time. The eventual pay is just too low, Tapia argues.

Now, this is not an outlandish opinion. Many Suite 101 writers say that you'll see a big income boost on the site if you get to 100 published stories. Problem is, that's a lot of stories and a lot of work. And I'm not really sure how big of a boost I'll see when I reach that level. (That's my goal, by the way. Get to 100 and see what happens.)

The Suite writers, though, reacted as if Tapia ate the last drumstick in the bucket. Many even suggested that perhaps Tapia had applied to Suite 101, had been rejected and was now taking out her ire on the site.

That, of course, is insane. For one thing, despite what the forum's writers might say, Suite 101 will accept most anyone who can string more than two sentences together. Why not? They're not really paying anyone. They're just passing out a small percentage of Adsense review to their writers. Secondly, if Tapia can get accepted as a guide at About.Com and has several stories publsihed in print publications, which she has, then she's certainly a talented enough writer to work for Suite 101.

Let's be honest: If you have a choice between Suite 101 and About.com, you'd be an idiot to write for Suite 101. About.com offers its guides a minimum monthly payment for two years and adds residual income on top of that. It's also much more difficult to get hired by About.com. Just visit writer message boards and you'll read the tales of woe from writers who didn't get accepted after applying to be a guide at About.com. Here's a tip: The really good sites are picky about the writers they select. Those sites that aren't picky, such as Suite 101? They generally don't offer all that much in the way of revenue.

I'd love to be a guide at About.com. I'm not. There just haven't been any appropriate topics availble. To be a guide at About.com, you really do have to be an expert in a topic.

This battle between Suite 101 and About.com, then, is a silly one. About.com wins by a knockout. In the first round.


  1. Although I agree About.com can be a better deal, it's not a cakewalk by any means... I know; I was with them first as the Guide to San Diego (back when about.com was miningco.com) and then the guide to freelance writing. They fired me, which isn't quite as simple as it sounds... but before you get to be a guide you've got to develop a whole site... and it's on spec. It may have gotten better, but getting editorial help either as you apply or during your guide time is almost impossible. I did earn a decent amount at about.com but I wouldn't go back. Like so many things, maybe everything, it's a mixed bag for sure.

    Anne Wayman, now blogging at www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

  2. Hi,Anne:

    You know, I do remember you from your days as About.com's freelance writing guide. I have heard that the application process is grueling. I've heard, too, that maintaining the site takes a lot of work, too. You've been through About.com and b5 Media now. I guess you've seen a lot when it comes to blog networks and content sites.