My Love-Hate Relationship With Examiner.com

In my attempt to fill some of my extra time, I started writing for Examiner.com again under the role of Philadelphia Public Policy Examiner.  Although I had my reservations about Examiner.com’s undefined payment structure and uneven application of rules for determining article quality, I figured I could afford to give it another chance.  After all, I had earned a few dollars from my previous stint, but I still had not reached Examiner.com’s necessary, yet low payment threshold of $10 in spite of the combination of several months of views and various promotional bonuses.  It may be a little bit of money, but when you’re broke, every little bit helps.

At first, it felt good to be writing about public policy-related issues again.  I am a PhD student in Public Affairs, so I have to pay attention to politics.  It barely felt like work at all to string together a few paragraphs based on the things I read in the Philadelphia Inquirer or in the New York Times.  Then, I hit a snag that reminded me of why I had stopped writing for Examiner.com in the first place.

Examiner.com’s performance rubric requires articles to be considered “newsworthy” in order for them to be promoted on the website.  This promotion is directly linked to the amount of views an article will receive.  Even though I had been eligible for promotion, none of my articles had ever been promoted.  I did not mind at first because I figured that I wasn’t very active on the site.  Nonetheless, I had managed to have nine consecutive articles approved as being newsworthy.  (My tenth article was likely also newsworthy, but I did not have it considered such because it was also the first article I had ever written for Examiner.com and I wasn’t fully sure of what that meant.)

Last week, I submitted what should have been my tenth consecutive newsworthy article.  It was about Cherrelle L. Parker, a Pennsylvania State Representative who had just been convicted of a DUI after her affiliation with Philadelphia politicians via Facebook resulted in her previously dismissed charges being reinstated.  I figured this would be my tenth consecutive newsworthy article, which would have placed me in a higher promotion category.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.

When I had the chance to review the comments on my latest article, I noticed that my article had been rejected as newsworthy because the reviewer felt that my attribution was not as clear as it should have been and my timeline was not established early enough in the article.  Ironically, I had several articles that were written in the exact same format and were approved.  It immediately brought back memories of the last time I stopped writing for Examiner.com–the rules are not clear nor are they evenly applied.

It is difficult to gauge Examiner.com’s criteria for writers when some reviewers let things slide and others are borderline neurotic with their efforts to locate errors.  A part of me feels like my article was rejected because promoting it would have forced Examiner.com to pay me sooner.  Indeed, there have been stories on Rip Off Report suggesting that Examiner.com is just a few steps above being a scam–sort of like the modeling agency that scouted me last year.  People have accused Examiner.com of taking advantage of a weak economy in order to attract writers who will willingly work for little or no pay based on desperation.

While I can’t speak for everybody, I can say that in my own case, I would never have started writing for Examiner.com if I had not lost my job last year.  Suddenly, the potentially meager payments seemed appealing to me–especially when compared to the click-through revenue of this blog in its infancy and the unpredictable income associated with my then fledgling company.  I felt that even if I did not get paid much, the exposure from Examiner.com could prove to be beneficial.  Furthermore, it gave me an incentive to pay more attention to politics in the Philadelphia area.

At this point, I am not whether or not I will keep writing for Examiner.com.  I typically like to finish what I have started, but I am doubtful that writing there is a fruitful use of my already limited time.  As I mentioned in the first post of the year, I am working on a lot of things right now and I can’t afford to waste time anymore.  2013 is going to be a big year for me so I need to focus on things that matter.  Only time will tell if Examiner.com makes the cut, but my revenue through this website is gradually improving.  Right now, I’m focused on building up my own businesses instead.

What about you?  Have you written for Examiner.com?  What was your experience like?

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

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