There aren’t many careers for mothers of four who want to stay home. (Especially laziesh mothers who have degrees in English.) I decided to give freelance writing a whirl because, unlike other home-based businesses, it requires almost no overhead cost. I had a computer, half a brain, and basic tech skills. My start-up fees entailed the purchase of two books on freelance writing and a subscription to Writer’s Digest.
I found Examiner.com on some job-search site. Examiner.com is basically an online newspaper that focuses on local information from area natives. I needed a spot where I could create content to send to potential employers. Examiner.com provided a place to do just that.
I wrote some articles for the website. When I applied for short-term freelance writing gigs, I would include a link to my Examiner.com page. I think the site did help me land some jobs, though they were low-paying jobs. Really low-paying. Like, insultingly low. But I had no “experience,” so I took the jobs to build a sort of portfolio.
I was the first “Examiner” in the Rochester-area. (If this is my one-time claim to fame, oh please shoot me now.) I applied for a job and also lobbied for my fair city to be deemed important enough to be included on the site. It worked and I was soon dubbed the “Rochester Parenting Examiner.” There are now over 50 Rochester Examiners who write about various subjects like cosmetics, paranormal activities, and the Rochester Red Wings.
Some facts about Examiner.com:
-They pretty much hire anyone.
-They pay pittance. (It is a pay per click site… you get paid according to how many people visit your site.)
-Employers that pay well do not regard Examiner.com as a serious venue for freelance writers.
Examiner.com has some really good writers. However, it takes time to troll through the garbage to find them. A lot of articles are simply regurgitated material from other websites. This is what the internet is turning into: the same information over and over again presented in different ways. (I get a ton of solicitations from employers asking me to “rewrite” articles. It’s not plagiarism if it passes Copyscape!)
Examiner.com started getting pushy. They have $50.00 incentives for any Examiner who gets someone else to become an Examiner. I started getting tons of e-mails encouraging me to recruit friends and family members to write for the site. Did you know that you can write about anything? Rochester has an Egypt Traveler Examiner! Really! There’s an Orleans County Firehouse Examiner! There are now several Examiners who write about mothering and parenting issues. There is a Rochester Health and Happiness Examiner, a Rochester Golf Course Examiner, and a Rochester Makeup Examiner. There are three Rochester Movie Examiners. (The Rochester Makeup Examiner is a teenage girl who resides in a suburb of Rochester. One of her sidebar topics is “red lips.”) If you have an interest in an obscure niche, say the Catahoula Leopard Dog, you can have your very own blog about it on a national website.
Examiner.com is a legitimate site. It is not a scam. However, it definitely takes advantage of aspiring writers who are searching for legitimacy. While it offers an outlet for creativity, Examiner.com is not concerned about stellar content. There are no editors. No one gets reprimanded for misspellings or syntactical errors. Here’s an example of an interesting sentence that could have benefited from a little editing:
Landscape lighting for Christmas comes in so many more forms than ever before. (From the National Backyard Living Examiner.)
(I do not pretend to be some great writing talent. I have an unhealthy love affair with the comma and am a big fan of the sentence fragment.)
My major beef with Examiner.com is that someone out there is making oodles of money on someone else’s pithy little article about cooking turkey testicles for Thanksgiving. Some bigwig is gaining profits off of freelancers who spend hours writing articles for .20 a pop. People are making an actual living by exploiting someone else’s dreams of publication.
Oh well. Such is life. I’m jumping off that boat. Having said that, if you’re interested in becoming an Examiner, let me know. I’ll jump back on the boat and pocket that $50 no problem.
Some of the Rochester Examiners I DO read:
Rochester Atheism Examiner Viktor writes well and is controversial. His posts make me sooo angry, but that’s why I read them. I love a good debate. He even had an interview with the smoking man from the X-Files.
Rochester Crime History Examiner Michael Keene is by far my favorite Rochester Examiner. I can’t help but get drawn in to his tales of crimes of the past. I would totally buy his book if he ever publishes one.
Rochester Unemployment Examiner Michael Thornton is an expert on his topic and writes timely articles about an important, current issue.
Postscript: Those looking for other ways to make money writing should check out my incredibly informative post: Make Money Writing 101, which is immensely popular and was recently nominated for a Pulitzer.