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15 years ago, the public paid for media. Media, in turn, paid writers. And advertisers advertised. Now, advertisers spend money on cool videos, the public expects to read for free online, craigslist killed classified revenue, and most websites can’t afford to pay writers.
This is serious stuff because it reduces quality original information for you and me.
Journalism is meant to serve as the fourth estate—the watch dog of government, and our corporations. A check on power and a beacon of honesty and transparency on behalf of we, the people.
As a lifelong writer, I believe in paying writers for quality work, and elephant subscribers make it possible. Despite the fact that we make very little off of ads—about 1/35th other sites our size—I voluntarily pay the equivalent of several staff salaries a month to writers who are consistent, quality and popular.
Our system, detailed below, is intended to:
1) establish clear goals for you writers every month and
2) create a cooperative, team-effort system that encourages writers to support one another through commenting, sharing, & sharing tips.
Elephant Journal’s Writer Payment Plan:
Our incentives will reward writers who are
3) and quality
and not just one of the three.
Secondly, we pay team players: there’s direct financial incentive to support one another with advice, likes, tweets, comments and shares.
We measure total elephant readership numbers (we’ve reached 17.3 million sessions/month) through Google Analytics, not individual numbers through WordPress (WP numbers can be fuzzy) to ensure that our incentive payment system rewards both group effort and individual achievement. Writers are directly incentivized to support one another with comments, shares, tweets and likes, shares to reddit, stumbleupon.
If elephant grows at least 10 percent:
> Everyone who writes and shares five or more blogs (with quality sufficient that our editors accept) in the month gets paid $50. The most popular among you will qualify for the bigger most popular writers bonus below, instead.
If elephant doesn’t grow at least 10 percent:
> Everyone who submits five or more blogs in that month gets a year-long gift subscription for that month to use or give to a loved one, and the most popular among you may qualify for the most popular writers bonus below, instead.
Most Popular Writers.
Additionally, I’d like to reward our 15 top writers beyond the above-mentioned unlimited incentive of $50 or gift subscription for all writers. I’ll be able to pay 15 popular writers, etc., as elephant makes more money.
To qualify for one of our 15 monthly bonuses, fulfill three criteria:
1) consistency: five quality blogs, or more, published in the month—note: do not wait to send in blogs toward the end of the month as we may not get them up in time,
2) quality: not only do you blog consistently, but they are of sufficient quality and merit that we share them up.
3) popularity: reach beyond the choir to keep individual incentives alive.
I’ll pay the top 15 most popular folks who submit view counts by noon MST on the last day of the month—if you submit your view count even one hour late, no payment. No excuses, no exceptions.
> If we grow,
#1 writer gets $1,000 for that month,
#2 and #3 get $450, and
#4 – #15 get $108 each.
> If elephant doesn’t grow,
#1 gets $250,
#2 and #3 get $108, and
#4 – #15 get two free subscriptions for themselves or a loved one.
If you think you may qualify for a payment or bonus this month, you must submit your total WordPress view count (with links to the articles) for that month (as in the past) by noon of the last day of said month. Be on time or early: no exceptions.
PS: no exceptions.
In January, we paid our writers a total of $4,014! Here are the winners:
Andy Charrington: 9 articles, 251,551 views for $500
Kimberly Lo: 10 articles, 89,361 views for $108
Victoria Fedden: 6 articles, 131,445 views for $150
Ruth Lera: 6 articles, 45,645 views for $108
Hilda Carroll: 9 articles, 22,228 views for $108
Keeley Milne: 5 articles, 191,718 views for $250
Megan Ridge Morris: 5 articles, 9,601 views for $50
Alex Sandra Myles: 30 articles, 262,129 views for $500
Peter Schaller: 5 articles, 14,013 views for $108
Janne Robinson: 12 articles, 283,250 views for $1,000
Jes Wright: 7 articles, 9,478 views for $50
Damien Bohler: 5 articles, 28,785 views for $108
Sarah Harvey: 11 articles, 175,055 views for $250
Toby Israel: 10 articles, 30,111 views for $108
Stacy Porter: 7 articles, 5,599 views for $50
Kathryn Muyskens: 5 articles, 8,240 views for $50
Rachel Astarte Piccione: 8 articles, 163,683 views for $250
Michelle Margaret Fajkus: 8 articles, 5,670 views for $50
Tammy Stone: 8 articles, 24,104 views for $108
Daniel Scharpenburg: 5 articles, 16,328 views for $108
Photo: Chase Elliott Clark/Flickr