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15 years ago, the public paid for media. Media, in turn, paid writers. And advertisers advertised.
Now, advertisers spend money sponsoring cool videos, most of us expect to read for free online, and Craigslist killed classified revenue…so most websites can’t afford to pay editors or writers, because readers don’t pay to read and advertisers don’t advertise and classifieds don’t exist and…
This is important because it reduces quality original information—real journalism—for we, the people.
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 writer, trained journalist, and founder of elephant journal, I believe in paying writers for quality work—and my “paygate” (“Reinventing journalism in a new media context,” which I created in 2009, before the nytimes.com model was launched), which allows readers to read free then pay optionally, and which has since become the popular meter all over the US—enables most elephant readers (subscribers) to pay our best writers and editors to do good work for you.
Despite the fact that we make very little off of ads—about 1/50th other sites our size, because we only want to work with mindful advertisers—I 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 writers every month and
2) create a cooperative, team-effort system that encourages writers to support one another through commenting, sharing and tips.
Elephant Journal’s Writer Payment Plan:
Our incentives reward writers who are:
3) and quality
…and not just one of the three.
Secondly, we pay team players: those who support one another with advice, likes, tweets, comments and shares.
We measure total elephant readership numbers (14 million sessions/month) through Google Analytics.
Most Popular Writers.
Each month’s top 15 writers get a bonus. I’ll be able to pay the 20 top writers if elephant makes more money.
To qualify for one of our 15 monthly bonuses, fulfill three criteria:
1) Consistency: eight or more quality blogs 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 and they won’t count. Turnaround from receipt of your submission to posting could be as long as a week unless labeled “timely” in the submit form.
2) Quality: not only do you blog consistently, but they are of sufficient quality and merit that our editors accept them and share them up. If they are quality, your social media communities will respond and support with likes, reads, shares.
3) Popularity: reaching beyond the choir to all those who don’t yet know they give a care about “the mindful life” is a part of our mission. We don’t look down on clicks or views: they represent readers, and communicating with readers is our reason for being.
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 you ask for an exception and it is granted, you will be booted from the program for the next month.
> If our team of writers helps elephant grow as a site for any given month,
> elephant’s #1 writer for the month wins $2,000
> #2 wins $1,000
> #3 wins $750
> #4 and #5 receive $300 each
> #6 #7 and #8 win $125 each
> and #8 – #15 earn $108 each
> If elephant doesn’t grow as a whole (the team player incentive),
Everyone gets the above, except the bottom tier who would have been paid $108 gets a free year-long gift subscription to elephant journal to give away instead, and the top two tiers get $1,500 instead of $2,000 and $850 instead of $1,000.
Kate Rose: 17 articles; 665,895 readers for $1,500 & a high five!
Dina Strada: 21 articles; 391,392 readers for $850 & a hell yes!
Sara Rodriguez: 9 articles; 191,099 readers for $625 & a welcome back, lovely!
Lindsay Carricarte: 17 articles; 104,721 readers for $300 & a smooch!
Sarah Harvey: 12 articles; 94,188 readers for $300 & a Shambhala bow!
Monika Carless: 15 articles; 94,155 readers for $125 & a let’s hug it out!
Ruth Lera: 11 articles; 83,417 readers for $125 & a woohoo!
Kimberly Lo: 13 articles; 82,272 readers for a free gift subscription & a handstand!
Carmelene Siani: 14 articles; 75,266 readers for a free gift subscription & a deep bow!
Alexa Torontow: 8 articles; 68,776 readers for a free gift subscription & a wink!
Kara-Leah Grant: 8 articles; 65,895 readers for a free gift subscription & a gassho!
Elyane Youssef: 9 articles; 58,880 readers for a free gift subscription & a waltz!
Michelle Margaret Fajkus: 11 articles; 50,895 readers for a free gift subscription & a hallelujah!
Hilda Carroll: 10 articles; 22,651 readers for a free gift subscription & a formal toast!
Mary Rogers: 9 articles; 13,453 readers for a free gift subscription & a bear hug!
Stacy Porter: 8 articles; 9,071 readers for a free gift subscription & a hot damn!
For a grand total of $3,825 and a big thanks to Waylon, our editors, social media share-ers, and most of all our readers. It was a rough month, but onward, for the benefit of all sentient beings! ~ ed.
Photo: Dustin Lee/Unsplash