How 29-Year-Old Mom Made $5k in July on Suite101

Last Updated Sep 18, 2009 6:27 PM EDT

During our first look into Vancouver-based Suite101 a couple days back, I voiced a tad of skepticism about the company's claim that a "29-year-old stay-at-home Mom made almost $5,000 in monthly income writing for the site."

After all, most citizen journalists posting to the sites I've covered for Bnet make squat.

For that matter, most bloggers make squat. For your average Mom and Pop operator trying to make it in the online writing world, Google AdSense is a big disappointment -- something Google seems aware of, as recently it has stepped up its efforts to help bloggers learn how to optimize their use of AdSense to generate more revenue.

But, back to Suite101. The company responded to my request for more information about this successful freelancer plenty of detail. Her name is Lena Gott, she is a 29-year-old accountant and stay-at-home Mom living in North Carolina.

She writes what looks to be a weekday column about business and finance for Suite101, and the company says she had contributed 228 articles through September 1. She normally earns around $2,000 a month via the ad-revenue model employed by the company.

But in July, Gott's traffic started spiking sharply when she analyzed the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program. She ended up cashing in to the tune of US$4,940 that month -- a nice sum indeed for an online freelance writer.

The company has made her monthly earnings report public, so you can examine the details for yourself.

The company's communications director, Marci Hotsenpiller, explained to me that "the Suite101 business model is a 'long tail' game based on 'dividend-style' payment. Writers get a share of the revenue each article earns from advertising. While there is no limit to what they can earn on the upside, there is also no baseline guarantee.

"For new writers starting out, it can be discouraging, but once they've got a body of articles published on Suite, they start seeing daily revenues rise. Lena Gott is a great example of this: She writes about topics that many people are searching for online, makes sure that her articles get 'found' by search engines by using the right key words, and then gets a lot of traffic. At least some of these visitors click on the ads beside her articles, and she gets a share of the revenue from that."

Hotsenpiller says that the site's writers currently receive $3.90 on average per 1,000 page views, which sounds quite competitive for an online writing site.

So, as I mentioned in my earlier post (link provided below), one way to evaluate this model is in the context of a growing trend throughout the media industry to begin compensating content creators at more competitive rates.

We are in the early stages of this trend, but at this point Lena Gott certainly serves as a poster girl for the possibilities of success going forward.

Earlier Bnet link:

Suite101 Expands: Another Small Sign of Hope for Writers? "For content creators -- researchers, reporters, writers, editors, designers, photographers, producers and many others, both online or off -- this has been an especially prolonged and disorienting recession..."
  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.

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