Write, get set, go! elephantjournal.com paying our best writers.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 17, 2013
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Photo: Brian Bisaillon

Update: We’re paying mindful writers based on consistency, quality, and popularity.

You have to be >consistent< to “win.” Secondly, we will not share anything that’s not >quality<, making it difficult for sexy (lascivious) or kitteny (cute) posts lacking other merits to win. Thirdly, if your consistent and quality post is popular, we’ll pay you for your work. Writers deserve to get paid and I’m happy to be able to do this, based on our growth. If you don’t want to get paid, you don’t have to play. Writers who are playing can not share their own posts on FB main page, but can on focus pages.

All the info is below, in the original blog.

Starting today, as per one consistent, quality, popular writer’s concerns:

Anyone who shares anything like “help me win so I can make money” will be disqualified: I reserve 100% rights to reward only those who are writing in the spirit of our mission. It’s great to say: “help support my work on elephant, here’s an article about xxx yyyy” or “help me, friends, by reading and sharing if so inspired.” But nothing tacky. Keep to the spirit of what the mindful life is about.Writer friends aiming to live a mindful life: elephant’s doing well, growing to 1.7 million, this month (Google Analytics). ~ ed.


So I’m once again trying to figure out a simple way to give back to our best writers for consistency, quality, sharing and popularity—all four. Colin Wiseman has been busy building up our new web site design (check it! elephantjournal.com ) and until we have our fancy “Ecosystem,” I want some way to encourage my many amazing writing friends to share up good news.

type writer
Source: prettylittlebirdhouse.tumblr.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Here’s the parameters: elephant editors only share what we respect: 1) quality. If you’re a volunteer host, you can’t share you’re own on elephant’s main facebook page if you’re in the contest. And, re 2) popularity and 3) consistency:

> $100/month if you put up 4 or more a month (I spend say 10 minutes to 30 minutes on a blog, so that’s in the range of $50/hour) if you total 5,000 readers or more in the month.

> $300/month if you put up at least 4 blogs a month for a total of 20,000 readers a month.

> $900/month if you put up at least 4 or more a month for 80,000 readers in the month.

elephant only shares those articles we respect, so there’s a quality standard.

We did this something along these lines a few months back and wound up paying $6,500 in two months (transparency!)



(Note: editors and volunteers are eligible, but can not share their own articles on our main Facebook page [you can however share the article once per day on appropriate focus pages] if you choose to “play.” Also: if you wish to collect your winnings, you must email your total as of the last day of the month by noon MST on the 1st to editorial @ elephantjournal dot com. Even five minutes late, and nada).

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Irrelephant bonus: Alright! That’s it. Time to stay up all night and write to get lucky!



About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


32 Responses to “Write, get set, go! elephantjournal.com paying our best writers.”

  1. Tara Lemieux says:

    I am probably going to take a big heaping pile o' poo on this one, but…why not just pay the writers you feel are helping to influence elephant in the right way? And, that is only a decision you can make, right? I am so grateful for your past kindness, but I noticed during the contests that the articles generated were becoming more and more 'click' vs. 'content' oriented. I guess it's a balance (and risk) that is taken…but, I recall we talked once about compensation based on 'quality' which I have always felt is the way to go.

    Just my humble two cents, Waylon… again, I am *ever* grateful for all that you do and have done for me…as a writer and human. That's worth *way* more than any paper money can get me…

    much love… Tara

  2. Jennifer White says:

    Awesome!! So exciting! Does this start in July or is the game on now (with the submission date the last day in June)?

  3. Edie says:

    I think Tara has a point…I was just going to thank you for the opportunity…I often don't generate a lot of views….but will try!

  4. Bob Edelman says:

    I agree with Tara above.

    Waylon says he is willing to pay for “quality” content and the "best" writing but what is the correlation between “quality” and “most readers” garnered?

    If you look closely, I would estimate that 90% of articles are off of the EJ homepage within 24 hours without having gained more than 500 readers. The only way to stay on the homepage for another day or two is to be put in the Today Only section or Quality section and most of the articles in those two sections fail to make the 900 readers to get popped into the Popular Lately where you could live for another day on the homepage. Once you're off the homepage you're toast. And, it’s not some objective committee who decides who gets into Today Only or Quality sections and if you aren’t chosen for one of those sections then you’ll probably be off the homepage in 24 hours.

    In the name of transparency would somebody please post a list of all of the EJ writers in May who had more than 20,000 readers?

    And yet, all of those <500 reader articles still contribute to EJ's 1.7 million google analytics which is used to lure advertisers who pay the salaries for everyone/anyone employed by Waylon Lewis Enterprises. By the way, Waylon, since you're being transparent can you please disclose the advertising revenue gained in the last 12 months by WLE?

    Derek at Yogaglo has figured out a share system wherein each content provider accumulates percentage shares in the company and then at the end of the month those shares are divided fairly and transparently. It seems like EJ has as much interest in being equitable as it does in publishing quality.

    So for those of you who just graduated from university with an average of $36,000 of debt and think you might try to pay your rent or student loan with a little freelance writing, I advise you to avoid the Internet where supply vastly exceeds demand, websites exploit content providers, there is rampant nepotism (actually the whole game is completely fixed), and there is no correlation between your talent and the quality of your writing and your success.

  5. I agree! I would love to see more specific criteria on this, but hopefully people will "speak up" with their views and shares of things that are quality.

  6. Jennifer White says:

    I agree, Tara. I also get more from writing for elephant journal than can ever be counted on the way to the bank. I sincerely hope you're at the tip top of this list!

  7. Tara Lemieux says:

    Bob, I can only speak for *my* articles ~ for which I received a combined total of 41,800 views (estimated). I used to look at the number of Facebook likes as one of my own personal measures for an articles success ~ and I miss that we no longer have this data available. I write almost every single day for elephant journal – and on some days, I post multiple articles. And, I don't do it for the money ~ I do it because I am passionate about writing, and sharing these topics with the world.

    I am *hugely* frustrated that already I am seeing our elephant writers posting the 'please share my article as I'm in a contest and I want to win" …vs…."I was inspired by something and I want to share this with you" messages.

    Is that really the message we want to share? That we are advocates for raising mindfulness in this community ~ but we are promoting actions which are counter to this culture? I dunno… this leaves a very bad taste in my mouth (again).

  8. Edie says:

    Well….I kinda of agree with everyone….I appreciate the opportunity always to make money. And many of my articles don't get many views yet I know that does not mean they are not well written. i write because I love it. i write what holds me from my heart. And yet elephant Journal survives by readership. So I kinda get it. Yet I would not ask folk to read me just to click. I share my work with people who I think are interested, friends and my students. And often times what I consider my best work does not even get 100 views. But we all know life is not a popularity contest and quantity does not quality. We are run by readers. Maybe we could have both? A contest for views then let a few of the editors, whose judgement I trust pick a few of the best written articles….

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Via our dialogue on FB: Jennifer White I love writing for elephant journal, money or no money, but I always feel valued when you promote "contests" like this. Tara, I think your thoughts on the subject (article comment) are extremely honest and valuable. I do, however, think that this might encourage all of us writers (if we don't have that fire lit yet) to try our damnedest to write worthwhile yet popular content. (Hope I'm not the naughty one now )
    5 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 1
    Tara Lemieux Jennifer White – that fire needs to come from within…it becomes your 'why' in each and every paragraph. At least, that is my experience…I write every single day, and 'because'
    5 hours ago · Unlike · 2
    Jennifer White I couldn't agree more. I passionately share and bare my soul in my articles. I try to make people laugh and think. Like you, I hope that the people who do well in this contest have that internal drive.
    5 hours ago · Unlike · 1
    Tara Lemieux Yes, and that it doesn't breed that click culture we experienced during the last contest. That was a total turnoff.
    5 hours ago · Edited · Like
    Tara Lemieux No offense, Jennifer – but I am already seeing the 'please share my articles' on the news feed. That should be done *each day* – and not something that is prompted by a few extra dollars in the pocket. I fear that we will see articles shared in a way that diminishes those that have real substance. There was a great deal of negative generated by way of the last contest ~ it was disheartening and draining.
    4 hours ago · Like
    Jennifer White No offense taken. I appreciate the open dialogue—one that elephant and Waylon always offer. I guess, from my perspective, I feel that the content of my articles speaks more to the quality I aim for than anything else, and I always obviously share the crap out of my articles, contest or no contest—yet the added challenge isn't one that turns me, personally, off, I find it a little bit fun.
    3 hours ago · Like
    Waylon Lewis Tara, as I said I think in our online chat, there's a few changes this time. We literally WILL NOT share anything we don't like, so that creates a bottleneck where only quality gets through to our social media. An article could do well without our sharing at all, but it's much harder. I agree with your concern, but from my perspective you're the wonderful exception to the rule–most of my friends who could be sharing green, bicycling, permaculture, activism…don't. They want to get paid. And that's great, too–that's (the beginnings of real) journalism.

    Either way, the fire has to come from within and the prizes are structured in a way that, let's face it—I'm paying well here but…if folks are only motivated to make money, there's easier ways out there.

  10. elephantjournal says:

    Hmmm. I address that above: "elephant only shares those articles we respect, so there’s a quality standard."

    We have no interest–it's bad for elephant and our mission–in articles that we refer to as "sex or kittens." We can do more than that. We're fine with sexy or cute, but there needs to be a mindful point or it's bad for our reputation, and should be.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    "Once you're off the homepage you're toast."

    Not true: shares are far more powerful than our front page, which in total accounts for only 10% of all our readers. Divide that up by 100 plus articles on our home page, and you'll see that the Front Page is, for better or worse, not entirely effective in sharing up our best content.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Tara, as you know I think from our apprentice program, asking folks to share your articles is ineffective and annoying and bad for you and for elephant–if it's done with ambition in mind.

    If it's done because you enjoyed something, or care passionately about a cause, people feel that.

    I think we could listen to my and the editors' experience–from our pov, we often get treated like a bulletin board. Folks ask us to edit, publish and share up, without supporting, emailing through newsletter, anything. Often articles that are great and took us time and hours to publish get say 30 or 40 views.

    Also, I get some criticism for not paying writers. And I've always said that when we can, we will. It's possible to share great content, meaningful blogs, organically, and not in a spammy way. It's possible to grow, as upworthy has, without selling out, as Huff Post has.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    BTW, I know a fair amount more about our advertising. We make hardly anything compared to other sites, which go after bigger advertisers like Patagonia, Prana, Method, etc. Look in the pages of Origin or FlavorPill MindBodyGreen. Our advertising only accounts for 40% of our revenues, and it's a small number. One vodka add in FlavorPill or one car ad woudl be five times that for the year. We don't even have a single ad sales person. I pay our editors, and everyone, well, as well as I can, and better all the time.

    I'm frankly getting a bit hurt here–as a business, elephant is still a joke. We're mission driven. I'm getting hell for being honest, unlike other web sites, and then here I'm getting hell for…trying to pay our writers?

  14. Jennifer White says:

    'That's where I'm going with this discussion—if it's posted on elephantjournal.com then it's fair game because it's already content approved.

  15. karlsaliter says:

    Waylon thanks for having another go. When does the month start?

  16. I believe it started June 1, Karl.

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Thought I mentioned, but maybe only in the intro on FB: it starts as of June 1, so any writing from then to now counts. Next month folks will have a full month.

  18. elephantjournal says:

    It's not about views, only, again. It's about quality, first–we won't share, otherwise. Then, yes, it's about connecting with readers, being accessible, reaching beyond choir.

    Cheap clicks are bad for elephant, and our mission. We're all agreed on that.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Also: as per Tara's concerns, anyone who shares anything like "help me win so I can make money" will be disqualified, I reserve 100% rights to reward only those who are writing in the spirit of our mission. Not that you've done so, Karl, just jumping on this comment thread.

  20. edie says:

    Just gonna say cannot see you every selling out Waylon

  21. Iris says:

    does this start over every month from now on? or is it a one time deal?

  22. marta berry says:

    Dear Mr . Waylon
    Since I have been quite lazy lately , maybe I should give a try to write about discipline, nutrition ,Asana, High spirituality , Meditation and Samadhi…… So where do I start ? Do I need a pasword ? or just post in the comment page …
    Let me know / Best wishes , ,Marta

  23. Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo says:

    As a writer, I know if my story is quality or if it's shit. I also recognize quality and shit from others. I share the quality stories of all EJ writers across FB, my WordPress blog, Pinterest and Twitter. I would like to participate in this contest as a writer, but will probably be doing more promoting of others than of myself. So this is also an opportunity to support the best writers and build EJ's reputation. Good writers will keep writing if rewarded. And I want to be in a community of good writers. Motivating and lifting up each other benefits us all. 🙂

  24. karlsaliter says:

    Did this begin on June 1st?

    Why announce a month-long writing reward program on the 17th?

  25. elephantjournal says:

    You can start in July, no worries.

  26. elephantjournal says:

    Hi Marta:

    You can send submissions to [email protected]. Thanks! ed.

  27. karlsaliter says:


  28. Tracy says:

    Okay…I just saw this…and coolio! I never think of getting paid for what I write here…I am confused on the sharing part. This statement: Writers who are playing can not share their own posts on FB main page, but can on focus pages.

    I share my articles on all my social media outlets every time I contribute without the cheese factor, just spreading the word…is that still within the guidelines?

    Thanks Waylon!

  29. Jennifer White says:

    Yet if we've been writing anyways without realizing we were accumulating views, they still count for all of June. It's just that July gives people the knowledge starting from the beginning that the pay will be available. Right?

  30. elephantjournal says:


  31. Jennifer White says:

    Thanks, Man, I'm wordy hahaha!

  32. debradeangelo says:

    Sooo…. we just start writing/submitting, and you track the numbers from your end and let us know if we hit a benchmark? And, are you exercising first time publication rights, or are you maintaining a copyright on the work? Can it be published/posted elsewhere afterwards?