Last week, I was invited to join The Mix, Hearst’s contributor network. If you know anything about me, you know I am always up for a new challenge and believe nothing happens by coincidence. I want to see my byline in major magazines, but I haven’t created the time to diligently pitch editors. I even included this beautiful mini-collage of women’s magazine covers on my new vision board. Enter, The Mix.
I have read a lot of recent backlash against the concept of The Mix. Here is how it works: Every assignment is written on spec and a daily e-mail is circulated to members with article topics and guidelines. Writers are invited to choose the topics that resonate with them and submit their articles for review. Once accepted, the writer is paid $100 with an opportunity to earn bonuses.
I have read the Twitterverse responses:
“Submit to an editor for the chance to maybe get published and paid? No thanks.”
Yet, as any freelance writer can tell you, that’s pretty much what we do anyway! Some of my best articles were placed after I wrote them, not written on assignment. Why not submit my articles where they have a chance in hell of being read?
And if my article is NOT picked up, I can pitch it somewhere else! I have already done the work. Truth is, a huge part of pitching is researching publications and coming up with original ideas. This takes more time than people realize. The Mix has taken care of that part of the process, so I can devote more time to other writing projects.
Is my time and my talent worth $100 for 600 words? To put things in perspective, I was paid $50 for my first article and that was quite some time ago. That is not a whole lotta coin, but don’t tell that to the writer that sold their first article for $5, or continues to write for publications that pay them pennies per word. A year in the industry will teach you that even some of the most prestigious writing assignments can pay next to nothing.
Writers write for free. We create content for our own blogs and we accept unpaid opportunities for “exposure”. The first time I had an article published in The Huffington Post, I was excited to share it at a local writers meeting. One writer leaned over to me and said, “Yeah, but I’ll bet you didn’t get paid for it.” He was so right, I did not get paid for that story. I gained an opportunity to share my work with a larger audience and establish credibility as a writer, which lead to paid opportunities. Meanwhile, he remains unpublished.
Real writers know other writers are regularly submitting free articles to sites like The Huffington Post, paying to publish their articles on sites like YourTango, and paying thousands to have their writing published in anthologies and get their books onto best seller lists. It’s a crazy world out there! There is no right or wrong way to grow your readership. What I know for sure is, I look forward to the challenge and I hope this is the start of a beautiful publishing relationship!