the interwebs aren't always fair.

11 September 2009

I need to vent.  (And no, not about Frank — that’s still awesome.)  No, this is about the interwebs, and one site in particular: Guidespot.

Now, I’ve written a handful of guides for them, and our online relationship started out pretty darn well.  I had high hopes for the site.  But now?  Now I’m questioning what my future with them might be.  Can we improve things?  Or will my hiatus turn into full on abandonment?

Things started out well, as I mentioned.  I had gotten decent reviews and responses to my guides (none of my published guides received less than 4 out of 5 stars).  I got excited about it.  Even some people at Guidespot had noticed me.

So what happened?  What went wrong?

Honestly, a lot of it came from a bruised ego.  I wanted to write for Guidespot, but they didn’t have room to hire more writers.  And while I was assured that they wanted me around and wished they could hire me, there was no mention of when that day might come.  I wrote a few more guides after that, but when it hit me that there were people who possibly only put 5 minutes of effort into their guides and were getting paid, and I had put in a few hours worth of work*, sometimes taking a couple days to complete a guide… Well, I didn’t like that here I had put a lot of work and, yes, pride into it, and other people threw together “guides” and were earning money.

I talked to a friend about this, and my disappointment.  “To be honest, there are a lot of crappy web companies out there that’s wasting resources by not hiring smarter” — his words.  I agree with him, not about the crappy part, but about wasting resources.  I know I’m not the only writer who’s been looked over by Guidespot.  And this waiting game they’re playing with me, this “I wish we could hire you” thing, it’s getting old.  How long do they think I’ll stick around, writing quality guides for free?  Especially when others are getting paid for slapping various pictures and YouTube clips with what they think are funny captions…  Guides with no meat to them, no interesting facts or things to learn from them.  They’re not even guides in any sense of the word.  Yet they’re getting paid, and yes, I’m jealous.  I feel like these “authors” are taking advantage of the system.

I truly think Guidespot has a lot of great potential.  I think it could be a great site to learn awesome places to get amazing mac and cheese in your city, or which iPhone application is worth the money, or the history of the Sears Tower before it became the Willis Tower.  I also think Guidespot could do a lot better to moderate the site and get rid of spam posts from companies.  If they want to be featured, they should talk to a writer in their location and offer free services or products in return for a review.  (An honest one, that hopefully won’t hurt their business — some sort of agreement should be made beforehand.)

Would I be willing to put all that behind me if they agreed to hire me?  Yes.  On one condition, they have a review system so that writers who aren’t putting an effort in don’t get rewarded the same as those who do.  And people who continually fail in providing quality guides, get rid of them so you can make room for new, talented writers.

So, Guidespot — what do you say?

*The only exceptions to this are my Tiger Cake Guide and “Guilty Pleasures: Reality TV Show” guide.  I wouldn’t expect to get paid hardly anything for those because there’s no facts or anything to really gain out of them, other than the community that could come from the comments.

  • This is tough. In my opinion, I don’t look at Guidespot as a site to earn money from. First and foremost it’s a place to find community, answers and a lot of humor. There are paid writers, but that may have began as a way to populate the site until it took off.

    I’m torn because I do write for them and I agree that there are people who don’t put as much effort into a guide at times. But just because you’re not getting paid doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write. You are talented and creative and I think that you were doing very well on GS. The fact that you were noticed by the higher ups is a great thing. Had you not known Guidespot had paid writers, would you still write for them?

    And I also know that the spam can be a deterrent, but unfortunately every site has it. This just comes in a different form. But that’s why there needs to be more writers, both paid and unpaid, spreading and sharing awesome guides around the webs. If there is a constant flow of guides, those spammers won’t seem as noticeable. I think GS is still figuring out their plan of attack when it comes to spammers and maybe they’ll take your suggestions to heart.

    • Like I said, a lot of this is just a bruised ego.

      Even if I didn’t know they had paid writers, I think I’d slowly stop writing for them. It’d be very infrequent — at least until I had the income to write on my own time. But as it stands now, I don’t have a job and I know my efforts need to be spent on finding a job and working on my grad school portfolio.

      This is mostly just me being hurt by a company that wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt me. It’s hard knowing I have the talent and the creativity, yet being passed over for positions I know I’d be great at! When I get excited about something — be it a product, or company, or hell, even a color or food or person — I want to share it with everyone. I just wish someone wanted that energy. Or would at least be willing to take a risk on me.

      I don’t expect Guidespot to hire me because I threw a fit. But I am tired about being passed up and really needed to get this off my chest.

  • And just to be fair, not every writer on there is paid. So you might be catching some less-than-awesome stuff from random folks. The paid writers are typically held to a certain standard so it’s definitely different seeing a long guide with a lot of variety vs. a shorter guide. With that said, I know that there are some paid writers who slack at times. I’m definitely guilty of that.

    Ugh am I digging a hole here? Haha!

  • I understand. I know it’s frustrating having that amazing energy, but getting passed up. It’s terribly frustrating right now especially and I wish I had some sage words of advice for you. Guidespot is a fun site and it’s interesting to watch the community grow. Of course I’d love it if you were a part of that community, but obviously only because you enjoy it and you can spend the time you’d like doing it. Something awesome is out there for you. Maybe you just have to broaden your search?

  • I read this last week and wanted to let it marinate a little before answering.

    As you know, I am the community manager/social media marketing gal for Guidespot, and thus, the person who does the hiring when we do seed some content. I understand your frustration, and want to thank you for venting and asking for input. To me, this means you care enough about your content and participation that you took it personally, and if the site and the connections you made on Guidespot were not worth it, you wouldn’t say anything. So, I appreciate your feedback.

    In regards to your frustration, I do hear you out, and understand why you have decided to take a step back from writing. I also appreciate that you understand that it is nothing personal, in fact, yes you have GREAT guides, but we are just not hiring at this time. Keeping you around, or asking you to stay and continue was never a sneaky way to get free content… It was just the honest truth. We didnt want to see an awesome community member leave.

    99% of all new content platforms start out this way… with hired writers from each city, and although sometimes the guides are questionable, that does not limit the importance or quality of your content… And specifically, how it gets noticed. I have handfuls of paid and unpaid writers get publicity from their guides on guidespot… all over the social sphere… twitter, digg, reddit, facebook, and beyond… Free publicity and views in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands… This traffic is sometimes hard to obtain without a major social platform to help support and push it out… Screen shots from high-traffic social platforms, and even people contacting authors as “experts” in social media content, or in their field have proven to be a huge benefit and incentive to paid and unpaid authors. The SEO of Guidespot is amazing, and the benefits of this, is more publicity for your content and you as a writer.

    So, with that said, we miss you, and I understand your frustration and your reasoning. We are doing everything we can to create a supportive and interactive community of authors… and sometimes at the beginning of this growth, there are challenges a site has to face… and this is one of them. Getting over this hump, and one day taking over the world (my personal goal for the site) will allow you to say that you were part of the site… in the “I remember when days.”

    We miss you, and I can’t thank you enough for your honest feedback and analysis.

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