When I came to the Netherlands with no work permit and no Dutch language skills, I realized I'd have to be creative in finding ways to earn money. Not long after the residence permit was thrust into my eager little paws, I started my own company and, to make a little extra money on the side, I began freelancing as a writer.

As with all things, when you first start out, you make some stupid mistakes that you learn from and move on and they help you grow. Well, I've made some mistakes in my writing career -- one of those being writing for content mills like Demand Studios and Examiner.com.

This post has to do with the latter of the two.

Several expat bloggers I knew were writing for Examiner.com and I thought it might be a nice way to add to my writing income and get myself some exposure. So I applied and got a position as the Netherlands Travel Examiner. I was elated and began punching out articles and sharing them on the blog and with followers on Twitter and Facebook. And, I'll admit, I put far too much time and effort into the job than it was worth.

You see, here's how Examiner.com works... They "hire" writers to come up with content on various topics. These writers share their articles and people click on them, comment on them, share them, and, sometimes, click on the advertisement links. Writers are "rewarded" with a very small percentage based on advertisements clicked within their articles, the number of times the article is shared, how many visitors come to each article, comments they leave, and how long they stay on each page.

This amounts to about $0.01 cents per click/comment/ad/minute spent on the page (if that). If my articles made $0.05-0.10, it was a good day. But as time went on, my articles accumulated more and more money. Almost two years and 24 articles later, and I've earned about $30.

When I first started out, the payment policy was that once you built up $20, you would receive a PayPal payment. Well it took me about a year and a half to earn $20. And, just as I hit that $20 bar, Examiner.com changed their payment policy.

Now you can't get paid unless your articles earn $10 per month. My articles earn, on average, $1-2 per month. An ice cube in the oven has a better chance of survival than I do of getting paid the money I've earned in the last 2 years and 24 articles.

Of course there are ways to ensure payment. Just write hundreds of articles and make sure you Tweet them, comment on them, and share them on Twitter and LinkedIn each week. But if you add up the hours needed to write all the content, post it on the site, and share it with your network, you're earning about $0.01 per hour. In my opinion, that's ridiculous.

My plan? I'm giving up Examiner.com. Deleting all of my articles and resigning as a writer. And then letting everyone and their uncle know that Examiner.com is a scam. But first, I want to get what little money I earned. To do that though, I need your help...

Here's what you can do:

  1. Follow the links below to my Examiner.com articles. Feel free to read them if you like, but you certainly don't have to. Just open a window and leave it up while you take a nap, do the laundry, make yourself a cup of tea, take a potty break, walk the dog... you get the idea.
  2. Leave comments. You can do this either via Facebook or the Examiner.com comment field (I think I actually get more points if you use the Examiner.com comment box, but I don't have any scientific evidence to prove that).
  3. Share it with your social networks: blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever networks you happen to belong to.
  4. Click on some of the advertisements on my article pages. You don't actually have to buy anything, they just want to see that the ads are being clicked on. Of course, if there is something you are actually interested in, I won't stop you from making a purchase if you want. Just know that I'm not asking you to and I don't necessarily encourage it.
As of this posting, I've made $3.01 for the month of October. I'm getting there thanks to the help of some amazing people who I simply cannot thank enough. However, I need to reach the $10 maker by October 20th, so there's still lots of clicking, commenting and sharing to be done.

(Update: as of Oct. 11, it's up to $3.57. Gotta really pump it up!)

I'll try to come back each day with an update so you can follow our progress.

Thank you so much in advance for all your help and support. You've been an amazing community of expats, readers, innovators and friends. I just hope that some day I can return the favor.

So, help me stick it to The Man!

Examiner.com, SHOW ME THE MONEY!!

:0) Tiffany


I will probably also be reposting some of my Clogs and Tulips blog posts on the site in order to earn some extra dough for "creating" more content. If you're bored and want to check back for those artciles, head to my Examiner.com Netherlands Travel Examiner page where you can check out new articles as they appear.

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Comment by Tiffany Jansen on October 19, 2011 at 6:48am

$10.56 as of October 19th! We made it!!! Thank you so much for all your help!

 

Comment by Nancy M. Dickinson on October 11, 2011 at 11:05am

I also write for Examiner as the Tucson Getaways Examiner.  While I won't go so far as to say Examiner.com is a scam, it's not the paying concern it once was.

I started writing for them early on, when Tucson wasn't even on the map with them, and I was put in the Phoenix section of the site.  They were so anxious to put warm bodies in their slots they took any and all comers; whether you were good or bad was irrelevant.  A number of Examiners I know on there were/are professional writers and took a great deal of pride in what they do and many of us were really peeved at some of the "cut and paste" style of writing a large number of Examiners did.  Some of us started falling to the wayside, not posting like we used to do.

However, I have nearly (or maybe over now, haven't looked lately) 100 articles on there in 2.5 years and whether I post or not, I'm earning a few dollars a day.  In July, I got a payment of nearly $400.  Now, that $400 was for over 60,000 hits so I was getting MUCH less than the penny a page view I first signed up for.

I really don't want to attack you in any way, shape or form but...  You stated you posted24 articles in two years.  I dare say, that might be your problem and why you think it's a scam.

The Examiner was once a local newspaper, I think in San Francisco.  The company that now owns it decided to turn it into a website written by citizen journalists at the local level across the country.  Since then 100s of people who wouldn't be writing otherwise, thanks to the economy, are now enjoying writing about their areas.  Several have gone on to write for magazines and newspapers as a result.  But they did more than one posting a month.

I know an examiner out of Phoenix who posts daily and she earns nearly a couple hundred a month.  I saw a posting on the boards of another examiner, a postman, who only has time to post once a week, but with that one posting a week, he gets thousands of hits.  Another woman I know out of Seattle posts three times a week and also receives 1000s of hits per article.

In a normal newspaper environment, I'd venture to guess if you turned in only one column a month you wouldn't get a paycheck there either.

To be honest, I haven't posted there, really, in some time.  The articles in June were related to a wildfire we had going on right outside my front door and people were scrambling for news about it.  However, my reasons for not posting are extremely personal and I won't share them here.  But - I still get about 500 hits a day, even when I don't post, because I have a TON of information in my section.  I haven't gotten a check since July, not because I'm not getting page views but because I'm not posting.  However, when I DO post, I go from about 100 hits a day to several hundred hits a day.  I've actually gotten hate mail from other Examiners in Tucson because I bump them from their top spots on days I post.  The average for Tucson's other examiners will be 20 hits while my page will be enjoying several hundred.

I read a couple of your articles.  You are an EXCELLENT writer and should be doing more.  The only addition I would make, were I you, is to add some slideshows, which people love.  Slideshows are more likely to be passed around.  If you can only do one a week, that's more than sufficient.  Make it known you do it every week on the same day and encourage people to subscribe.  Posting just once a month gives people time to get bored, move on and forget you're there.

Second, use Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, Digg and other social networking sites to get the word out when you post.

You're never going to get rich writing for Examiner but...  You can still get noticed by another organization, newspaper or magazine.

The Examiner experience is pretty much based on what you put into it.

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