They say fools rush in where angels fear to tread. And that was the quote that inspired the title of this blog. Why this thought when it comes to writing sites? Because I’ve seen so many of my fellow writers flock to one site or another, dropping other sites and migrating all their content based on an attractive offer. Sure, they may know someone who has been paid. Sure, the earnings are attractive today. But then six months later the site folds because its payment plan wasn’t sustainable.
Is the Site Worth the Risk?
So many sites have disappointed users by closing down or failing to pay out. Others have carried on, but have had to drastically change their payment plans so that users earned only a fraction of what they were getting when they first joined the site. Even when the site owners are trustworthy and take every possible precaution, there are always factors outside their control. Sometimes bad stuff just happens.
One of the things I’ve often said is that it’s important to put our eggs into multiple baskets. But even that strategy fails if the source of a change for the worse is an ad revenue program that funds multiple sites. So we really have to think hard about a site’s integrity before deciding to join.
Watch for signs that the administrator is inexperienced, has something to hide, or just hasn’t thought out his plan very well:
- The site design and/or legal documents look suspiciously like those of a popular paid writing site;
- The site opens and accepts submissions, but tells users it will only begin paying out at a later date;
- The identity of the site owners is withheld, reference is made to mysterious personages (e.g. investors) who never materialize;
- Contacting the admin or support staff is overly cumbersome or must be done while logged into the site, response time is very slow and/or responses are unsatisfactory (e.g. support staff are rude, replies are vague and tend to parrot the very info users seek to clarify, users are discouraged from checking in, etc.);
- The site lacks clear statements to guide user participation (e.g. site rules, content guidelines, image use policy, etc.);
- The admin tolerates plagiarism, spam, or other poor quality content;
- Admin blames users for poor site performance.
There are probably a dozen other signs that the site might not be worth investing your time, but these will get you started. And above all, just trust your gut if you feel something just isn’t right. Most times, if you’re getting a bad feeling the site probably isn’t worth joining.
Before you make a change you might later regret, give a site time to prove itself. Even then, be cautious about migrating content or making the site your singular focus. It may take six months, a year, or a couple of years for the site to prove its integrity and stability.
Featured Image Credit: Ducks in a row by Richard Hay (aka WindowsObserver courtesy of Pixabay; CC0 1.0