Online offers for revenue share writing gigs are ubiquitous. They’ve been around since the early days of the Internet.
If you’ve been looking for writing jobs, you’ve probably seen the ads for this type of work: Get published and make money by submitting articles on any topic you like.
Sounds pretty good, right?
If you’re a veteran writer who knows how to write compelling copy, or can churn out content, maybe revenue share writing could be a stable source of income.
In theory, it’s possible. After all, millions of people are online, and there’s a niche audience for every imaginable topic you might be interested in writing about.
But before you sign up, tap into your creative energy, and start cranking out content for a revenue share writing site, you need to know a few things.
How revenue share writing really works
Revenue share is a business model that relies on freelance writers to create content to drive website traffic. But instead of getting paid flat-rate fees, you get paid based on the number of views, or more commonly, on a percentage of clicks made on ads placed next to your articles.
Ever wonder if this is a good way to make money as a freelance writer? We tracked down all the details. Google has changed what it values and ranks highly in search over the years, and that’s changed the outlook for revenue-share sites.
Can revenue share writing still pay? Here’s what we found:
Flat fees vs. payouts based on traffic
Very few revenue share writing sites pay any type of flat fee or even a flat fee plus a percentage bonus based on traffic or clicks.
In the early days of revenue share writing, the payout promises were pretty big. And a small number of writers did make a chunk of change. But many writers who hoped to use these sites to finance a new car discovered the only new car they could afford was on the aisles of Toys R Us.
And in some cases, you may not get paid at all, like writers who produced volumes of content under a revenue sharing agreement for Guardian Liberty Voice.
But let’s say you do your homework and find a revenue share writing site that isn’t ripping people off. Should you sign on the virtual dotted line and start writing?
Hold on. Besides the payout “scheme,” which is actually what one revenue share writing site calls it, there’s at least one other problem with this business model.
Think about this: How many sites do you read that have tons of ads? If you’re like me, not many. But that’s where most content created for revshare sites ends up.
Google’s algorithms don’t like these ad-heavy sites. As a result, many revenue share writing sites have changed their business model or shut down completely in the past few years.
Revshare sites that pay
A few sites, however, are still using the revenue-sharing model. Check out the sites we found still operating this way and what you can expect to earn.
- Hubpages. This site acquired Squidoo, another well-known revenue sharing site, in 2014. It has the highest Alexa ranking of the revenue share writing sites listed here. Site owners didn’t respond to repeated interview requests. However, the owners do publish instructions and guidelines for writers. Money is earned, as through many sites, through Adsense or similar programs. Writers keep 60 percent of the revenue and Hubpages keeps 40 percent.
- An interesting poll on the site asks how many writers earn more than $1 a day. The results:
- 45 percent of the writers said they earned less than $1 a day — about $30 a month.
- 24 percent said they earned more than $1.
- 31 percent said they’d rather not say.
- McGaw/Harlow sites. [NOTE: This entire family of sites is now gone.] Founders Danielle McGaw and Michelle Harlow run seven revenue share writing sites, including Listofied, Honest Reviewz, Trendzic and Craft Closet. But in an interview with McGaw, she primarily discussed their most popular revenue share writing sites:
- Writedge launched in 2014. Currently, the site has 4,591 subscribers and over 200 approved writers. However, only 157 writers have submitted at least three articles, with 30 publishing at least 50 articles or more.
- Daily Two Cents also started in 2014. About 50 authors have written at least 50 articles each, with just a few writing more than 100 articles. The site has 5,241 subscribers.
- The Daily Voice launched in late 2015. Thirteen writers cover specific “beats,” but write in other categories as well. Writers average $10 to $60 a month, says McGaw. But added that she didn’t know how much the writers on other sites average, since they manage their own Adsense accounts.
- Writer Town. Owner Elvis Michael says writers pay $1 a month to get access to a curated list of writing jobs on the site he’s been running since 2013. Freelancers can also create content for Writer Town on writing, blogging and general freelance topics and earn through revenue sharing. Michael said the site has 2,300 members and counting. While he could not speak for other writers, he said he personally averaged $83 a month over a six-month period in 2014.
- Blasting News. Last year, we wrote about Blasting News not paying their writers under it’s revenueshare-only pay agreement. We asked co-founder Massimiliano Aliverti to respond, and after many months, we received a reply. Now, Aliverti says, writers earn a minimum of $15 per article that reaches 500 views, plus revenue sharing profits for more traffic.
- Infobarrel. This revenue share writing site launched in 2008 after two friends, Ryan McKenzie and Kevin Hinton, dreamed up the idea over a game of raquetball. InfoBarrel now has 88,000 registered members and generates 2 million monthly visitors. Writers earn 75 percent of the revenue generated from the display ads on articles. We reached out to site administrators and writers to learn more about earning potential, but received no response.
- Redgage is another revenue share writing site that promises payouts for generating traffic. But you’ll need to do more than just write content. The Redgage model rewards writers for social media activity, in addition to generating content and traffic. But it’s unclear how much you can make. Both site administrators and site writers we reached out to didn’t respond to questions about pay.
Revshare sites that no longer pay
Though revshare once seemed like it might offer good passive income for writers and a way to earn in retirement, at this point it seems to be a shrinking opportunity. Many of these sites have shut down, ending all hope of ongoing income for their writers.
For instance, here’s a quick roundup of once-popular sites that are no longer operating or that have stopped paying on a revshare model:
- Helium Network was a long-time player in revenue share writing until 2014. Now it’s a platform that connects freelancers with clients that need copy. If you’re selected for a project, you negotiate the rates with the client, and Helium gets a cut.
- MapQuest. This direction-finding site was using a revenue sharing model at parachute.mapquest.com until December 2016. However, company officials recently announced a pay-by-article model for travel-related content in select cities. Rates are $25 to $100 per accepted post.
- Bubblews. If you were banking on this revenue share writing site to create passive income, you’ll need to make other plans. A message on its site states that it shut down after three years. “The climate for display advertising has drastically changed and made it impossible for us to sustain the business model and operations.”
- Suite 101 launched in 1996 as a site to encourage fiction and nonfiction writers to show off their talent. Ten years later, Suite 101 was bought by Media Inc. and created a revshare program to generate more revenue from its 4 million readers. But it wouldn’t last. Suite 101 CEO Michael Kedda went silent on thousands of writers, and the revshare program shut down in 2013. But it wasn’t entirely dead…yet. Kedda bought the remnants of Suite 101, renamed the business Suite Media Inc., and launched a new site at suite.io.com in 2014. But that site has gone dark, too.
“I wrote for Suite 101 for almost four years and contributed over 220 articles,” says freelance writer Harvey Craft of Lexington, Ky. “When they made their last change, continuing contributing writers were no longer paid.”
- Triond is another revenue share writing site that once hired thousands of contract writers and generated millions of page views. It eventually folded by failing to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithims. At one time, Triond appeared in many articles as one of the best revenue-sharing sites for writers, but it officially closed in 2016.
Paid in pennies: The verdict on revenue share writing
Can revenue share writing still pay? Yes. It still pays, but it’s a gamble. And typical payouts appear to be tiny.
You might spend hours writing an article for a revshare site, but get little in return. Based on what we found researching this niche, you’ll likely be better off focusing your efforts on finding your own clients and charging guaranteed flat rates for your writing.
What’s your experience with revenue sharing sites? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Kimberly Sloan Jarrett is a freelance writer and broadcaster in Northwest Georgia.