Sorry to those of you who commented on my last post that I haven't responded--I've been out of town and didn't have internet (*gasp* the torture!). A couple of the commenters questioned the usefulness of writing for online content sites, so I thought I'd use it as an excuse to make a new post.
Why write for online sites instead of magazines? Well, I would never, ever recommend these sites INSTEAD of magazines, but as a supplement. The print publishing world is agonizingly slow, between the query process and waiting for payment. I have published articles in about 10 different magazines, but I'm having a hard time keeping a high and steady income that way. That is mostly my fault for not sending enough queries, but the print world is struggling in today's economy...magazines are going under or downsizing. I don't mean to sound negative about the industry or anyone's ability to make a living that way--many people do. I'm just saying, it's frustrating and slow.
Online content sites, like Helium, Associated Content, Suite101, etc, offer quick gratification--your article is posted either immediately or within a few days. With Associated Content, you often get a small up-front payment in addition to the performance pay they all give. It is a paltry, paltry amount, but it's something, and with some effort you can keep a steady stream of these paltry payments coming in. I know of one person who makes a decent income doing just Associated Content. The other perk to these sites is they offer residual income...the right pieces can potentially earn more than print work. It's also nice to get that extra money every month--money you can earn without doing any extra effort. The above-mentioned lady makes several hundred dollars a month just in residuals, and I think she breaks $1,000 during the holiday season thanks to her seasonal articles.
No, online content sites are not a good way to make a great living. However, they are a good supplement to the more lucrative print publishing.