Where Have All the Writers Gone?
I remember talking to you a long time ago about how you got started with Too Shy to Stop, and now I am in a position where I am wanting to start something that is likely going to require a lot of writing. I just want to talk with you a bit about how you got your writers to begin with.
I think I remember you saying something about going to Craigslist at first, but some of those people didn’t work out.
I guess what I need to know is have you come up with a successful method for finding the correct people to write for you? What do you pay them? Did you pay them at first? If not, what did you offer them as compensation?
Wrangler of Writers
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Dear Wrangler of Writers:
Great question! I am happy to offer my input.
When I first started Too Shy to Stop, I had no intention of inviting other writers to contribute. For four months, I was the sole contributor. During this time, I generated approximately 150 posts.
In September 2008, I wanted to use Too Shy to Stop as a way to make new friends and to create a venue for other people with similar voices/interests. I tapped into my immediate professional and personal networks, and I also did advertise on Craigslist.
I couldn’t pay anyone to contribute, but I wasn’t trying to start a business either. In retrospect, I’m amazed that anyone agreed to contribute at all. The original Too Shy to Stop website was very plain and amateur-ish in appearance.
When I launched the new Too Shy to Stop website in January 2009, I tried to recruit more writers – I placed ads on journalism job related websites like Ed2010, Berkeley School of Journalism Jobs website. I also spend a lot of time networking via Too Shy to Stop’s Twitter account.
I advertised the chance to write for Too Shy to Stop as an internship and an opportunity to build a writing portfolio.
At around the same time, the economy tanked, and a lot of people were getting laid off from media jobs/having trouble finding media jobs. In an effort to continue writing and building their portfolios, many recent or soon-to-be graduates wanted the opportunity to write.
I was one of those people, and I too used Too Shy to Stop as an opportunity to write articles, keep my journalism skills fresh, and have the satisfaction of sharing my writing with others.
What I offered was a community of writers and networking opportunities, the freedom to write about almost anything arts and culture related, my editorial feedback (I spent a lot of time editing drafts), a customized article layout, and a chance to be published online. I have also written job/school recommendations for many of the writers that have worked with me.
I didn’t hold any of the writers to time commitments or article minimums. They came and went as they pleased, and they had very flexible deadlines. These terms meant that I had a lot of contributor turnaround. I also had to deal with receiving submissions from people who shouldn’t have been writing in the first place – quality control is tough when you’re asking people to contribute for free. However, I was happy to publish what I could.
Nowadays, writers are pretty easy to find, but that doesn’t mean the writers you find will be any good. With the market as it is, people who enjoy writing are generally desperate to land any type of writing job. However, the good writers know what they are worth, and they probably won’t work without pay unless they are trying to build portfolios or have ulterior motives.
Managing writers and an editorial calendar requires a lot of time, effort, and patience; it’s pretty much a full-time job. I wish I could devote more time to this type of work, but I have another job and other responsibilities. For this reason, I suggest that you hire or be a good editor.
You need to value great content and understand what makes great content in order to provide it to your audience.