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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Writers' Cooperative update and response to concerns...

Recently, I mentioned plans for the development of a "writers' cooperative" site at FreelanceContentWriters.com. 
If you missed the early explanation, here's a quick overview:  Any freelance writer can participate.  The site will serve as an umbrella under which writers can directly sell their articles and/or market their businesses.  Every participant will have a specified number of pages with which to work.  Membership will not have a pre-set expense, but donations will be accepted.  The site may be funded, in part, by contextual advertising, as well.
Since announcing this project, many writers have volunteered ideas and asked some great questions that will lead to refinements of the original plan.  Some others, have expressed a few concerns to which I'd like to respond.
Please note that I see this site as a cooperative, not as a personally operated endeavor.  Thus, my opinions may differ somewhat from others who are involved.  I have corresponded with Diane Penna, who is doing a great deal of the setup work, and although I don't want to pretend like I can speak for her, I do think we are on the same proverbial page.
Some have argued that the writers involved don't have a clear grasp of the importance of a "middle man" in terms of brokering content deals and that we will soon find out that the notion of direct sales is a dead-end. 
I wholeheartedly disagree.  First, I can tell you that I definitely understand when and why a content broker can be valuable.  In fact, I have often personally served as a "middle man," putting content buyers and writers together. 

Second, I think those raising such concerns believe that the cooperative is designed to serve as a replacement for sites like Articles & Content, Associated Content and Constant Content.  I don't see it that way.  I see it as a supplement--another way freelance writers can diversify their business and customer base.  I work with at least one writer on a regular basis who supports the direct sale model while simultaneously selling a great deal of material to Associated Content, for instance.  The two ideas are not mutually exclusive, nor is one a true substitute for the other.  The cooperate will provide a direct sales opportunity, as well as a marketing opportunity.
Others have maintained that a bunch of writers won't possibly be able to produce a successful site.  They maintain that novice webmasters simply cannot compete and that the site won't develop an audience.  Again, I disagree.

First, many of the people involved do have significant experience in addition to writing skills. 
Second, site design will be done by an experienced designer who is knowledgeable in terms of on-page SEO and optimal site construction.

Third, all participants will have motivation to promote the site as a means of drawing visitors to it.  This is one reason why I believe the cooperative model offers great potential.  This won't be one webmaster trying to develop a healthy backlink total or otherwise promoting the site--it will be a team effort motivated by the potential for greater individual profits.
Fourth, the cooperative will be structured in such a way that the proceeds generated from participant contributions and any revenue produced via contextual advertising can then be used for additional site promotion. 
As of now, Diane has secured the domain and I have been in contact with a few different folks who can work on the design end, feeling them out about the project.  We have been taking comments and ideas, logging them, and plan on coming up with a somewhat finalized vision of the project as soon as possible.  After that is ironed out, implementation will begin.
I invite any additional comments, ideas, concerns, etc.  I think this is an exciting project offering real potential for freelance content writers.
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