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Suite101: A Freelance Writer’s Playground

Read Time: 4 min

Update: Please note that after further experience with this network and others, my feelings on the subject have changed. I strongly recommend against signing up with any content network (also now known as "content mills"). There are far better ways to kick off your career. You can browse our blog for more up to date information on content mills and better options for your freelance writing career, or at least review my update on Suite101 posted well after this article. In the interest of full disclosure to my readers, I don't believe in deleting posts to hide older opinions. I'd rather you know that they've changed and why.

It used to be that writing for one of the big content networks meant you generally had to "adopt" a site on a niche topic, and you'd write within that niche. Earlier this year, the Suite101 network changed that in their writer model. Suite is working hard to transform itself, moving away from past negative images under old management styles to a newer design, writer structure, and pay model. The best part? Writers won't be stifled... they can write on any topic on the network that they please! Wanna know more?

I know what you're thinking.... "What the Hell are you talking about Jenn? You constantly bitch and moan about low-paying writing gigs, and how new writers should avoid them like the f*ing plague!" Yeah, that's me. Hehe.

But I've always made an exception for content networks, and here's why:

1. Having the backing of a large network and owning company (including their lovely little network-wide traffic estimates) makes it look enormously better in your resume / portfolio as a new writer than some crap $5 writing gig for some site no one's ever heard of, and no one ever will.

2. Content networks instantly connect you with hoards of other writers with talents all across the map. Networking with other writers often leads to better freelance writing gigs, b/c you're already showing them you're a niche expert. If one writer gets an offer out of their area, they'll often pass the lead along. Besides, even without extra gigs, isn't it always nice to talk to other writers who can feel your pain when you REALLY need to let off some steam about gigs (or your lack thereof)? Denise usually ends up the first one privy to my own rants (haha... thanks Denise!).

3. Yet another benefit of being backed by a large site and owning company is that it can make it uber-easy to get review materials and make industry contacts that would make small site owners drool. Just as one example, one of my Music writers was able to set up an interview with Macy Gray. Not too shabby, right? Can that $5 / article client hook you up like that? 😉 j/k

You get the drift...

Here are the basics with the new model:

1. You apply online to be a freelance writer.

2. If you're accepted, and you accept the contract, you become a contributing writer (CW).

3. As a CW, you can post to any topic site or sub-topic on the network, and are simply required to publish 10 articles every 3 months.

4. After you've published 10 articles, you can apply with a section editor (which is what I do btw - for Music and Technology), for a feature writer (FW) position if one is open in an area you're interested in. (Then, if you're "promoted," your requirements go up, b/c you'll actually manage a topic site... your percentage of ad revenue also goes up.)

Pay is based on ad revenues to your site (a move that's been financially motivating in comparison to other pay models for most writers).

There are "bonuses" in pay level increases once you reach a certain number of articles (depending on your writer level of CW or FW).

There are plenty of tips and other such goodness to help you improve your Web writing, search engine placements, traffic, and earnings.

It's fun!

That's all you need to know. Go apply, get accepted, and share your pearls of wisdom on whatever topics strike your fancy. 🙂
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Disclaimer: I suppose to do the "right thing" I should be sure to mention that I AM affiliated with the Suite101 network as their Music Editor and Technology Editor, so you can consider my views biased if you'd like. Personally I'll say that I've worked with 3 content networks now, and even though it's not always a jolly old time, Suite101 is by FAR the most pleasant as far as the atmosphere and genuine interest in the writers go. (For the record, I've also worked with About.com - unless you want the rant of the century, don't ask, and AllInfoAbout.com - run by a couple of nice ladies and all, but the atmosphere just wasn't my cup of tea.) But anyway, if you do get accepted, no, you wouldn't be working directly under my guidance in any way unless you eventually apply for and get accepted into an open FW spot of mine (you can avoid me like the plague if you'd like). All writers start as CWs, and work under the new Associate Editor (so you're her headache.... haha j/k). I don't get any kind of compensation if you join. I don't even get a super-sweet little pat on the head with a "good Jenn" if you join. So I couldn't care less if you join... just felt like spreading the "good news." And besides... anything I blog about after midnight on a weeknight is for the benefit of no one but moi, as I need to get the ramblings out of my brain and into some virtual ink before I can sleep. And on that note... Goodnight! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Suite101: A Freelance Writer’s Playground”

  1. I am going to whole heartedly agree with Jenn for this one.

    Honestly, I was always a little reserved about Suite101. While the site seemed like it was a pretty rad place, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of investing my time into a site that paid via ad clicks.

    However, when an FW spot opened for a topic I was interested in AND wanted to gain more experience from, I decided to take the leap.

    Boy, I’m glad I did.

    I haven’t been working with Suite long, but already I’ve interviewed Ajax Garcia from The Napoleon Blownaparts AND received CD’s to review from a record label. How’s that for cool? I get to listen to music AND get paid for it… yep, pretty “suite” gig, if you ask me (pardon the pun 😉

    As Jenn mentioned, you get to write about topics you enjoy and have the backing of a large company that cares about its writers. It’s awesome – I definitely plan to stick with Suite for the long haul.

    Reply
  2. I actually signed on as a Contributing Writer at the end of January. While my niche isn’t nearly as glam as Denise’s, I’ve found that being a writer for Suite has already had its perks. I write on mostly gardening topics, and I’ve already had two large nursery growers contact me, and provide me with not only catalogs, brochures, and even dvds of presentations given at conferences (which gave me a great insight into what’s “new” in the industry) but they’ve also given me story leads and provided names and contact info for any experts I might want to contact. I’ve been running my own gardening site for three years, and have been published in some smaller gardening magazines. I can easily say that working for Suite is kind of “fast-forwarding” my writing career. Highly recommended 🙂

    Reply
  3. I write about motorcycles/ATVs etc. at my (networked) blog at Under My Helmet. (undermyhelmet.com)

    I signed on with Suite in Jan 07 as a Contributing Writer. I wrote an article or two about motorcycles, then moved up to Feature Writer for the motorcycles section. But I’ve also written for two other sections, football and cats, and am planning an article for a religion section.

    My experience so far has been really good. It has been one of the deciding factors in me getting a freelance writer’s job for an on-line ATV magazine (signed the contract just yesterday as a matter of fact) My goal is to write for print magazines, and I’m certain my involvement with Suite will greatly accelerate that.

    The freedom of writing in different sections at Suite is awesome, and the community is very tight even though there was a bit of controversy over the ability for people to write in other people’s sections. But I think that’s pretty much accepted now.

    Reply
  4. I have to agree wholeheartedly.

    I’m the newly-acquired (who acquired who, Jenn?? hehe) Feature Writer for Indie Music at the site, and I’ve been nothing short of flabbergasted at the sway it has in the music industry.

    I did my own little thing via my MySpace profile, like a Band of the Week feature, as I live and breathe music and any help I can give new bands, the better.

    HOWEVER… since joing the Suite101 team, I have been put on the Media lists for both independent AND major labels; I have probably received more promo CD’s and pre-release copies of new albums than I can handle; and I have been given specialist Press Pass access to some of the hottest gigs in town, with full interview access afterwards.

    This has led me to interview the likes of The 88, Sherwood, and many other well-respected names in the indie scene. You should also see some of the contacts I have made throughout the industry!

    So yep, I doff my cap to Jenn and the rest of the Suite101 team for helping me achieve some things I would only have hoped for…

    Danny

    PS Hey Jenn, when do I get my 50 bucks? 😉

    Reply
  5. I’ve been a CW for about….twenty-four hours now, and everything looks great. I have high hopes for Suite and I think it will meet my expectations.

    Reply
  6. lol Hey now Danny… You know I’d never bribe anyone for a good plug. *devlish grin* I’m glad to see people are willing to share their positive experiences all around. Maybe we’ll get a few newbies because of it, joining the Suite ranks. 🙂

    Reply
  7. yeah Ajax Garcia is something else when it comes to marketing. A true underground Gene Simmons. Go to his band’s music page at www.myspace.com/blownaparts

    Reply
  8. Yep… I’m supposed to be interviewing him for my book (that particular interview keeps getting delayed because of my schedule). But speaking of that, I think I’ll add that to tomorrow’s worklist. 🙂

    Jenn

    Reply

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