A few months ago, I posted about the site ArticlesandContent.com and their policy requiring prospective freelance writers to pay a subscription fee in order to access available projects. The original Articles and Content post is here, if you are interested.
Basically, I argued that the subscription fee would undoubtedly turn off a significant segment of the freelance content writing community and that any administrative benefit Articles and Content gained would probably be undermined by that.
I also mentioned some of my own feelings about the outfit based on some emails they sent to all site members (I signed up back when it was free, but must admit that I never pursued a project there). I decided the operation didn't seem like a good fit for me.
So, why I am raising these issues again? One of the Articles and Content administrators, John, was trying to recruit some new writers at a forum I frequent. A few members of this writing forum expressed concern about the subscription policy, which really shouldn't come as a shock. Some were pretty aggressive with respect to their position that writers should not pay to access projects. Not surprising at all. What was interesting was the response posted by the Articles and Content administrator. He wrote:
"...why must you come on here to insult?
Since I placed this posting 11 writers from here have applied so you really must respect other writer positions and stop this nonsense. In a few hours we will have over two hundred articles on the board for our writers to choose from and take what they want. It obviously suits them so please I ask again, can you leave them alone with your sniping and get on with your own stuff as I choose not to interfere with your postings.
I really do think this is a resonable request and that I have been as pleasant as I could under the circumstances.
I will say a couple of things though that I really did not want to about WRITER X [note: name changed for obvious reasons] because she consistantly comes on these boards and trashes my company so I guess I have held back for too long now.. Her membership was terminated with Articlesandcontent simply because her writing was appalling. She actually lost us a contract which in turn lost work for others. Since then she has gone on this crusade to rubbish our name.. You only need to read all her posts.
We have too many quality writers for her accusations to be true and her rants are a slant on them - I will defend our writers to the hilt as we look after them just as they do us... We have a great buch of guys and gals writing for us now and have very few quality issues since we terminated a few sub standard writers a couple of months back. It is these writers that will always 'put the boot in' for obvious reasons."
Now, let me say that I have no personal knowledge of any work performed by WRITER X for Articles and Content. However, her side of the argument (which was presented in the forum thread) does seem to cut against the Article and Content position.
Obviously, if the comment about WRITER X is inaccurate, the comment is reprehensible (if not actionable). Regardless of the truth of the argument, though, I thought it was a bewildering decision on the part of Articles and Content to air these complaints in a public forum and to malign, by name, a specific writer. When you are trying to recruit new talent, the last thing you probably need to do is to position yourself as someone who would do that.
I personally interpret the inflammatory tone and content of the Articles and Content statements as yet an other indicator that this operation does not have a very strong grasp on the personality and expectations of the content writing community.
Though they will certainly find plenty of people to pay their $10 per month "subscription" fee, I believe acts of this sort will continue to alienate a significant portion of the writing community. The fee itself was a turn-off. Other past communications from the site were a turn-off. Lambasting people after legitimate concerns about a "pay to write" arrangement is certain to be interpreted as yet another large red flag warning talented writers to think twice before plunking down their subscription fee to access projects administered by Articles and Content.
I have no personal grip with Articles and Content. I don't know the folks behind the operation and the few interactions we had on a one-on-one basis via email were fine. I have no reason to believe that anyone at Articles and Content is anything less that a fine person. I do, however, wonder if they have their finger appropriately placed to find and listen to the pulse of the writing community.
I think A&C has an interesting business model. Content brokering could be a real growth industry as more and more webmasters realize the need for unique, quality writing. A&C was able to hop into the market early and could be in the process of securing a strong foothold as the industry booms. Success, however, is going to be dependent on their ability to consistently recruit and retain quality writers. Situations like these certainly don't help them out a bit.