(Flickr photo by Peter Kaminski)
I admit to, until recently, having no clue that AOL Seed even existed. I had heard about it on a MediaBistro message board, and decided to check it out. I am fairly familiar with the set up -- other sites have tried to lure freelancers in with the promise of "possibly" publishing their works (after they've submitted a completed article and was deemed the best out of all the contenders.)
I signed up out of curiousity, and was surprised at how simple the process was. They really didn't ask for anything, including credentials. (I guess when you require your contenders to submit entire articles, the words just speak for themselves.) After giving some very basic info, I did a quick email confirmation and was ready to go. I was a bit disappointed that there was only a handful of articles available to compete for. I scanned the listings, unchecking the box for those that required original photos (I'm not set up for anything of quality at the moment), and found just one or two that interested me.
I realized that many didn't apply to me, the rest wanted quite a few words (400 or more) for very little compensation. There were a couple of "tips" requests, however, that seemed like they would only take 5 minutes, and, if accepted, could snag me between $12 and $15 bucks for 100 words. How could I lose?
I quicky wrote up two assignments. The first was for your best hotel tips. The second was for your favorite beauty product. Both took less than 10 minutes, and while I wouldn't know for quite a while if they were to be accepted (Seed only reviews submissions after the deadline -- some of which are 20 days out or more), it wasn't like I was submitting a perfectly good complete article that I couldn't publish elsewhere in the meantime.
To my surprise, I got an email the day that the beauty tips request was due. They wanted to confirm my name, age, and city/state. They also sent a separate email letting me know that my article was "purchased" and would be published. My 150 word beauty tip would get my name on AOL (granted, not as an expert or anything) and a quick $12.50.
Payment was easy to facilitate. I filled out an online tax form and gave them info to direct deposit (I hate PayPal's fees.) I'll be receiving my cash shortly.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I've checked the listings a few times a week since my first day on the site, and to be honest, the listings haven't changed much. I don't think that I'd submit a well-researched 500+ word article specifically for Seed, unless I was certain I'd get the "job." After all, I could be using my articles as blog posts and be earning revenue share, if nothing else. (They do seem to do quite a few "open calls" for writers, where you provide your experience and a writing sample before they actually assign you work. This may be a legit way to go.)
As for the quick tips requests that I can jot down with little committment or loss, however... I think I'll continue trying for those. It's just a few minutes of my time, a good exercise in writing, and it gives me some pocket cash and a bit of a confidence boost.
Have you given AOL Seed a try? What has been your experience?