Whenever a new paid writing site opens its doors, the first question anyone asks is, “Does it pay?” Of course most of us want to know if a site can be relied on to pay out the revenue shares they promise. Otherwise, why would we want to entrust our writing to the site? This is our copyrighted work product we are handing over to complete strangers. If there isn’t any money in it for us, why would we even consider allowing them to publish our work?
Is that unreasonable? Would a musician agree to perform at a commercially organized event free of charge? Would a cook or a waiter agree to spend several months working for free in a new restaurant on just the owner’s promise that when things get going, there will eventually be a pay cheque? Of course not! A writer’s revenue share is not a gift the site owner bestows out of the kindness of his heart. It’s a contractual obligation.
So why is it so surprising to site owners that authors who submit work to paid writing sites want to be paid right from the start? When we join a paid to write site, we are told what the payment plan is. And you’ll notice that no site ever says, “After the first six months, writers will begin to receive payments,” or “Writers will begin to be paid once the site is on its feet and earning enough to afford paying you.”
The terms of service is a document that tells writers what is expected of them, right from the start. It doesn’t kick in after a month or six months, or only when the site is self-sustaining. It applies from day one.
And it applies to the writing site and the site owner, just as surely as it does to the writers who are the site’s bread and butter.
Why Can’t the Paid Writing Site Honour Its Terms of Service?
If the site has been inundated with spammers and the site owner persists in paying out revenue shares to users who are clearly cheating, it can’t come along six months later and cancel payments for thousands of honest writers who abide by the terms of service.
It’s no great surprise that the site owners are now broke, but that’s not the writers’ responsibility. The owners agreed to the terms; they promised revenue shares, rain or shine. It’s a breach of contract if the site owner doesn’t pay on time.
If the owner of a new paid writing site accepts poor quality submissions, knowing full well they won’t generate enough ad revenue, it isn’t surprising when he can’t make the payments to his writers on time.
But do you know what? It isn’t the writers’ responsibility. Those payments are still due. Not paying them on time is – you guessed it – a breach of contract. A site owner is expected to understand before he sets out to recruit writers, that his paid to write site will take many months to establish itself. And he’s expected to have start-up funds that will cover any shortfalls until the site becomes self-sustaining. To set up shop without planning ahead for such eventualities is just plain irresponsible, and to blame the writers for his own lack of preparation when he gets caught in a pinch is unethical. This is the kind of behaviour that marks a businessman as a bad risk. Nobody will ever want to do business with him again.
Image credit: Gift-wrapped money by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay (CC0 1.0)