May 13, 2009
How Much Are Examiner.com Writers Really Earning? | printable version
Last week, we pondered if Examiner.com, which seems to be running ads for writers EVERYWHERE, is just another pay-per-click meat market. I issued a call for "Examiners" to contact me, and to share their experiences. Sadly, some Examiners are working very hard for very, very little money...and seem very happy to be doing so. You'll see that not everybody below is disgruntled so we believe this represents a fair sampling of Examiners.
Many discussed payment amounts and, understandably, didn't want their names used. Therefore, the names below are all pseudonyms - except one who requested her name be used. I'll let the "Examiners" tell you about their experiences - in their own words. At the end, we crunch the numbers so you can see the average per-article pay rate of the Examiners featured below.
Penny: $209 for 100 articles total = $2.09 per article PLUS 3 hours of marketing the site per day
I write for Examiner - two columns. I have had $120 deposited into my Paypal account. I have $89 earned additionally. I have 100 articles between the two columns. The company has paid as agreed. They provide more writer support than I've seen elsewhere. They are very accessible. Is there potential there? Dunno.
I will tell you I work very hard for Examiner. I posted 75 articles in 4 weeks and, yes, many were repurposed from Suite101. I spend about 3 hours a day marketing Examiner - I even market other people's columns in the hopes that the whole thing will take off...
With assignments for my print editors, I generally won't take a story that maths out to less than $50 an hour. Odd, isn't it? You have made me call a meeting with my partner this evening to rethink how our time is being used. Maybe I needed that.
Randy Dan: earned "piddly amount of money"
I enjoyed your post about Examiner.com. I've written a bit for them -- too much, actually -- and agree with what you said. It seems all but impossible to make even a piddly amount of money with them.
Barbie: $2.30 per article
I'm an avid reader of your site (LOVE "Whispers and Warnings"...such a valuable service!). I'm also (an Examiner), so I wanted to give you my take on Examiner. Yes, they are a low paying site, but I have found a lot of value in working with them. I read the Rip-Off Reports and didn't find them to be valid. I get my pay every month, and Examiner has to have your SSN just like any other site for which you are in independent contractor. I will make enough with them to receive a 1099 for this year; right now, I'm averaging $180 per month. Granted, that's low for the time involved, but I'm also using Examiner as a platform builder and for self promotion. For example, I sold my first book last year and it's due out in June, so I've been plugging it in some of my Examiner articles. I've also been invited to some awesome media events, including the kickoff of the American Idol Experience show at Disney World. It was a week of media events, culminating in seeing all seven winners live on stage in a show and then mingling with them and other Idol celebrities at an after party.
Examiner isn't for everyone. If income is your primary motive, you won't be satisfied. If you don't need to build a platform or have something to promote, you won't get any value there.
I've done a total of 229. I started with them on 12/23/08 and have received the following payments via Paypal:
February 19, $78.82
March 19, $238.55
April 19, $208.80
My ultimate goal is to get to posting one article a day and steadily earning $300 per month. At $10 per article, I figure it's comparable to Demand Studios ($5 to $15 for DS flat rates).
WRITERSWEEKLY NOTE: $526.17 / 229 articles = $2.30 per article.
Mario: 21 cents for 3 articles = 7 cents/article
I am pretty embarrassed about having signed up to be an "Examiner" - I never bother with pay-per-click crap. I once did a blogging gig that I was pretty sure had advertised themselves as paying $5 per post, then it turned out to be adsense - the $5 was just if you qualified for some sort of "Blogging scholarship" and they were vague on how you qualified. Probably quantity over quality - or, most likely, it never existed at all. Anyway, I realized I would be long dead before I ever reached the $100 adsense payout threshold. They didn't even pay out per page click, just ad click. Ridiculous. I was never going to be suckered into wasting my time like that again - I have plenty of paid writing work, none of it all that well paid, true, but I'd rather get $15 per article (or even $10) than zip. Duh.
Well, the reason I fell for the Examiner (offer) is because there is an actual print newspaper called the "Washington Examiner" that also has a web presence, and I figured that anything with a print component would naturally pay contributors. Not necessarily a lot, but at least something. I had no idea there was absolutely no connection between the Washington Examiner and the "Washington DC Examiner". When I was offered the position as (name of position removed by WritersWeekly) I was at first pleased and flattered, but it didn't take too long to figure out that (perhaps) everyone who applied got whatever they applied for, or they created something else to fit the niche.
I wrote a grand total of 3 articles and haven't bothered to log back in to check page views, but at last count I'd earned maybe 47 cents. Or maybe it was 16. I am wondering how long it will take them to pull my site since: A) I am never contributing any content ever again; and B) I deleted the email for the background check. Please. I fill out W-9s for employers that actually intend to pay me more than $600 per year; all others do not need to know my social security number or anything else about me. Plus it's really weird - I've been background checked a number of times in the course of my day job as a (identifying info. removed by WritersWeekly), but I have never, ever had any of my writing or editing gigs give a rodent's behind about whether or not I was out committing crimes in my spare time. As long as I made my deadlines and didn't plagiarize or try to re-sell content they had the rights to, I could have been a mass murderer for all they cared. Actually, considering the prices prison art can command, prison content writing might be a decent little niche for someone to explore...
Anyway, I'm so glad someone is coming out and calling Examiner.com on its (expletive removed). They still seem to have a lot of writers brainwashed into saying nice things about them...either that, or there's some sort of compensation program going on for pumping them up that I somehow missed out on. Well, since they never offered me any money to compliment them, much less for the actual work I did for them, I'm going to say what I think, which is that they suck. And the legit Washington Examiner should probably sue, as the "Washington DC Examiner" site can't be doing them any good. People who stumble across the latter in search of the former are probably wondering why a legit (if small) newspaper has such a cheesy, amateur website.
WRITERSWEEKLY NOTE: Examiner does offer a referral fee to writers who refer other writers.
Katrina: 49 articles - hasn't yet hit $25 threshold for a check. If she had, it would be $1.96/article.
I appreciate your article on Examiner.com. Since I've been around the block several times as a published writer, I never looked on this as a money maker. For me, it's exposure for my work. On the plus side, I have learned several techniques from the tutorials which will be helpful in other contexts.
The only problem I see is when writers expect to make money quickly or easily. This could be a way for new writers to get accustomed to turning out regular content. I understood the game in the beginning. The problem with newbies is that they don't read before they jump in and they expect something for nothing.
I have 49 entries on my site. These are short, blog style which any experienced writer can do in twenty minutes without the coffee getting cold. I don't expect literary renown, however, it's a good connection for my (job). Examiner also gives business cards to writers and that is a good door opener to interview health related businesses and begin to build relationships from which my business also benefits.
I don't feel the slightest bit fooled or taken advantage of, I read the agreement. My financial reward will come from additional market exposure for my (job), not from pennies per view. In my opinion there are not nearly as many "rip off" writing sites as there are desperate writers who fail to read then complain when they don't get what they want.
I just looked in my PayPal and there is no deposit from Examiner. Each Examiner's entry page shows page views by day, week or month and amount earned that day. Frankly, I ignore it. The pay must reach $25 before it is sent to PayPal account. I only add a two or three entries weekly, unlike some of these folks who seem to live on their pages. It's like Twitter, I can't imagine having that much spare time!
Tim: $21 for 24 articles (6 weeks of posting recycled articles) = 88 cents/article
I'm one of those starving examiner.com writers. I've been posting (re-cycled) articles with them for about 6 weeks...and ta da, I've earned a whopping $21.00! Some of the clicks only get a half a penny...and pictures get less, 1 penny for three pictures. Since I'm almost up to the $25 mark, I should be getting that this month, around May 20.
Why do I do it? It's nice to have all my articles in one place to show a prospective destination and CVB.
And I get a lot more google hits. It is a LOT of work for PENNIES. I'll keep you posted.
Thank you, Angela. You do great work!
Marianne Hammers (said to use her real name): Declined their offer
Examiner offered me the position of being their Los Angeles Health Examiner. After going through the lengthy application process, I decided to decline.
Interestingly, they followed up with another email. And today, (an Examiner employee) called me to try to persuade me. When I mentioned that writing is my one and only source of income for the entire household, he countered by saying that one Examiner writer makes up to $8,000/month. But when I asked him what the average, or most, make, he admitted that it might reach $100/month after six months. And that's for 2-3 articles a week! Do the math? That's maybe $10 an article AFTER several months. He said most people consider it "grocery" money but for some people, it does pay the rent.
Well, for three articles a week, I need more than grocery money. I, for one, am tired of writers being exploited by companies who think we should be so happy to see our work in print that we don't need compensation. What other profession is supposed to work for free or for (literally) pennies?
I just don't understand why writers are willing to give away their time and work. If every writer demanded what their work is worth-- and just ignored these crazy low-ball prices -- the rates would go up for everyone.
Clark: $20 for 32 articles = $1.60 per article
I have been writing for the Examiner for a few months. You're right - nobody's going to make any money off the Examiner. But I like my gig because I can write about a subject of my choosing - relationships - and eventually earn the right to call myself an expert. By next spring, I can honestly say I have been an Examiner for a year, and while that isn't exactly the same as having a PhD, it's going to give me a little credibility.
It's a minimal amount of time and effort, and it's not really work since it's a subject I'm so interested in. I have not made much money at all - as you said, it's a penny a hit. I've written 32. I've earned less than $20, which would be crummy except for the fact that I knew going into it this would not pay much. I don't feel I've been deceived. For me, it's a place to write about the subjects I want to write about, and also have a link back to my website
I write for three venues now, as well as selling my book, and while this pays the least, I enjoy it more than one of my paying gigs, which I have to force myself to do.
So I don't really agree with your position, but I very much appreciate you looking out for writers' best interests all the time!
Belinda: Quit when they requested 4 articles/week
I initially signed up to write for Examiner.com. It was ridiculously easy and when the subject I applied for was not available, they offered me another one that I was not necessarily qualified to write about!
Anyway, I posted one story (which I'd already sold elsewhere) and then got an email saying they were looking forward to my four articles PER WEEK! I was unsure about the pay, but as soon as I received that, I wrote and withdrew.
That's all the info I have. These people should be stopped! Thank you for looking into it.
Franny: $100 for 273 articles = 37 cents/article.
I am a former Examiner.com writer. I didn't leave them, the editor asked me to, more on that later.
In the four months I was with them I made about $100 or so; however I did not get paid for my last month because of the way the pay schedule runs.
Most of what I did was news bites. The editor emailed me saying that he wanted to redo the section focus and I didn't fit in; while my articles were interesting they weren't thought provoking enough (I write news bites).
And on top of that they still have my stuff listed with the search engines so if someone does click on an article I don't get credit for it, no residual income.
WRITERSWEEKLY NOTE: Didn't get last month's pay and, if you get canned, they don't have to pay you for your future clicks.
Kathryn: $141 for 72 articles = $1.96 per article
Thanks so much for your emails - I know you put a lot of work into them and I've gotten several jobs via your listings. I appreciate it!
I just saw your article and questions about Examiner.com - I've been writing for the site since last November. While it's certainly not the most lucrative writing gig, I decided to go for it (and stick with it) to get experience writing a "regular" column for a nationally recognized name. I wanted the clips.
Here's the deal with the Examiner:
- I write at least 3 columns per week - but they can be something that have already been posted someplace else. I can post something to Examiner.com and to my personal blog. At least that's what was explained to me when I signed on (since I don't cross-post, I haven't worried about it).
- The articles themselves are something of a cross between blog posts and "article" articles. We have very little editorial oversight - which is a good thing and a bad thing. Examiner.com creates some editorial programs - like a recession bundle they're working on right now - but they don't really help fine tune any writing. So the final product isn't super polished, but we also have a lot of freedom.
- I write fairly quickly, and most of my articles take me between 10 and 30 minutes to write. Not an outrageous time commitment. I know that other examiners spend more time on their articles. I take as long as I need to be satisfied with the quality, but no longer. It's not worth it, financially.
As a group, the (identifying info. removed by WritersWeekly) examiners have expressed some frustration with the company's lack of editorial oversight. It seems to us that the company has been focused on rapid expansion, but not so much on what actually goes on in-house.
All that said, writing for Examiner.com has been a good experience for me, largely because I've got some very good clips and a little bit of money. I won't stick with it forever, but it's been helpful as I build my writing portfolio.
I write for a number of these sites because it's residual - when I retire, these articles will still be making money for me.
WRITERSWEEKLY NOTE: As you can see from the stats here, this type of income isn't likely to pay for anybody's retirement. And, most of these pay-per-click contracts require continued contributions from writers. If you stop writing for them, they may terminate your contract - meaning no residual income...even though THEY keep making money on your articles.
Teresa: Estimates she earned about 10 cents/hour
I have a business to run. I have bills to pay and clients deadlines to meet. I have WORK to do.
When I got an email that chastised me for not posting often enough, I was done. I emailed him to tell him to remove me from the list.
In the few weeks I worked for Examiner.com, my posts were picked up by at least 3 national organizations. Some of them still get read. I was told, when I quit, that my "hits" didn't amount to the minimum required for pay but they did eventually send me a check for less than $50.
I think, if someone doesn't have another job, is HIGHLY tech-savvy, and can live on very little money, this is a great thing. But me, I'm glad to be done with it. It was a lesson in frustration, to be sure.
I would say I probably got paid about 10 cents an hour, when it was all averaged out over the course of the few months I worked for them.
Courtney: $30 for approx. 16 articles (2 articles/week since January - 1 to 2 hours per article) = around $1.88/article (or around $1 per hour)
I am a writer for Examiner.com. It is only a penny per click and it is not much money at all. They are getting a lot of free or low cost writers. They are very encouraging to writers, prefer people who have the extra time and need content, etc. I use it often to get my name out there and promote my own business whenever I can. So, there is some return for me that may not be there for others. I've only made about $30 total this year since January and contribute an average of 2 articles per week, that take me about 1-2 hours to put up there. While it's not nearly enough money, the drive to my website has helped. I doubt it's that way for others. I desperately need money, but also do plenty of barter.
WRITERSWEEKLY NOTE: If an "examiner" never reaches the $25 threshold required to be paid, they may never get paid. This would, indeed, mean Examiner.com is getting free content from writers who never hit the threshold.
CONSOLIDATING THE MATH:
Here are the "examiners" that we could actually estimate per-article rates for:
Penny $ 2.09 per article
Barbie $ 2.30 per article
Mario $ 0.07 per article
Katrina $ 1.96 per article
Tim $ 0.88 per article
Clark $ 1.60 per article
Franny $ 0.37 per article
Kathryn $ 1.96 per article
Courtney $ 1.88 per article
Average: $1.46 per article
While I'm sure there are Examiners that have earned more, I'm also sure there are Examiners who have earned less. You, readers, can use this information to decide if you think the pay is worth the time and "exposure" offered by Examiner.com.
Angela Hoy is the Publisher of WritersWeekly.com and co-owner of the POD firm BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
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