Frankly I didn’t know anything about it, but it turns out that’s the new name for Yahoo’s community created content, which includes articles, photos, and videos. They recently got rid of 75,000 outdated articles and relaunched under this new name.
I checked out the articles written by some featured contributors they call “rising stars.” The topics were “Receding Hairlines: Actors Who Have Gone Bald,” “Three Homemade Edible Gifts,” and “Teach Your Dog to Wave Hello and Good-bye.” Well, they certainly cover a broad spectrum.
Does it pay? Yahoo’s site says you can “earn money through up-front payments, exclusive assignments, and performance bonuses based on the traffic your work receives." That applies to US residents only “due to US tax regulations.” What that means is they can’t be bothered with the paperwork they’d have to do to satisfy the US tax authorities.
However, they have a Featured Contributor Program. They say if your articles are inspiring, informative and entertaining, and you have expertise, enthusiasm and eloquence, you can apply for this program. Hey, if I had all that I’d be writing New York Times best-sellers…
Seriously, you apply for a particular niche—for instance, within the category of entertainment you could choose news, movies, music or television. If you are approved, Yahoo gives you at least one assignment per month.
Outside that part of the program, you an browse the Assignment Desk and see which ones offer up-front payments, typically between $2 and $25 (although they say sometimes with partner opportunities—partners being advertisers, I think) that can go up to $100.
You can also get performance payment based on the amount of traffic your article gets. For instance, for every 1000 page views of your article on the Yahoo! Movies site, you’d get $1.15.
What about rights? You can specify one of three levels: Exclusive, Non-exclusive (it can’t have been published elsewhere before, but you can republish it), and Display Only (can have appeared elsewhere, can be republished elsewhere). As you might expect, the payments will be in line with the rights you grant.
I’m not going to rail against their pay rates. It’s a free country (a saying that doesn’t carry quite as much conviction as it used to), and Yahoo is not forcing anyone to write for them.
Sometimes there are benefits other than money. For instance, today I spent 3 hours giving 20 three-minute long talks on different aspects of writing. They were videotaped and will appear on the website Videojug in a few weeks. No pay, but every video will show the covers of my two writing books, and I can put the videos on my own sites as well.
Back to the question: is it worthwhile writing for Yahoo Voices? If my correspondent meant financially, I'd say no. The money you’re going to make is very small (especially if you hold on to your rights). Probably there are exceptions. I’m sure I’ll hear from somebody who has figured out how to generate enough content in the right niche to make a decent return but I’m willing to bet between $2 and $25 that this is rare.
If you have not been published anywhere and would like to have a credit, or if you want to find out what it’s like writing to order (or from a list of topics someone else has made up), or if you want to get into a writing habit and don’t want to create your own blog, then it could be worth your while, at least until you've gained that experience.
Otherwise, if there is a topic about which you are passionate, I suggest creating a website around it and selling relevant, useful things on it on an affiliate basis (meaning you promote these products and take a commission).
Or perhaps you can figure out a unique slant on your topic and write an ebook and market that.
Neither of those is easy, of course. You have to find ways to attract people to your site or to make them aware of your ebook. However, at least these two options offer the possibility of a good payment; it’s a long shot vs. no shot.
(For help deciding what to write and how to go from idea to publication, get my book, “Your Writing Coach,” published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or, ordered via your local independent book store.)