1. What exactly is Associated Content (if you don’t already know this)?
2. Is it really worthwhile to work with them?
3. Why should you steer right clear of them?
What is Associated Content (AC)
Associated Content (AC) is a website, in which you can earn money submitting content (text, video, audio, or images). Anyone from anywhere in the world, past the age of 13, can submit content, but you are eligible for payments once you cross 18 years of age. There are two types of payments: Upfront Payment and Performance Payments. Upfront payment, is available only for the US residents; it is usually a meager $ 5-10. Performance payments are available for all articles and other types of content, dependent on the page views they get. This is also a meager $1.5 for 1000 pageviews (also known as PPM).
Thousands of writers from worldwide submit content to AC, hoping to taste success in freelance writing, and AC does a great job targeting them. But the fact that AC holds back from them the real revenues they earn from this content is deplorable and highly unethical for a business.
AC’s Unethical Business Practices
In AC, you are on your own to promote your content, in the way you like. You can mention your article in AC in any forum posts you make, you can link to the AC article from your website, or recommend it in your mass email to your friends. From your promotion of the content, AC's website gets visitors. And generally from thousand impressions of a page with Adsense advertisement, the publisher can get at least fifty clicks on their ads (besides Cost Per Thousands Impressions).
From these clicks, the publisher can earn no less than 10 or 20 dollars. Anyways, that cannot go below 10 dollars. But with so nicely placed ads as those in AC, and with proper Adsense ad selection techniques (which I may explain at a later article on SEO about), your content page may earn a fortune and will continue to do so for AC, not you.
In such a case, giving you $1.5 is extremely mean, don’t you, the owner of the content, agree? You are far better off putting that content in your own website and promoting it in your own way. You can build a brand of your own, get far more visitors to your site, get ad revenues as well as sales commissions from companies like Amazon and ClickBank if you have their ads as well. All these will maximize your revenue and you will have no idea of the fortune they will continue to make for the years to come. Compared to it, AC’s alms are nothing. So, I personally believe AC’s business practice is extremely unethical in that it hides from you the actual revenues it earns from your content.
Backlinks from AC?
As a means of promoting your website, you may submit content to other blogs, article directories, and ad revenue share websites. In these sites, (e.g., isnare.com, ezinearticles.com, Hubpages.com, etc.,) you submit your content for the sake of a backlink to your website. A backlink is very important for a website, since getting so many of them can rank it very high in search results. In AC also, you can get any number of backlinks from your content (as opposed to some article directories, which give you only one or two backlink from a separate resource section in the article).
But the problem with AC’s backlink is that they are all NoFollow, which means you are none the better by having that link (please read this to know what is NoFollow and what is DoFollow). Why does AC give you a NoFollow backlink, while encouraging you greatly to link to AC from your website (which they expect to be a normal DoFollow link)? Here also, I frown on the unethical business practice of this company in that they expect to get backlinks and free promotion from you, while not even prepared to link out to your website in the proper way.
Is a Great Exposure Really Awaiting You?
AC usually calls for content on popular hot topics from writers. To attract writers, they flaunt their huge network and tell you that you will get a huge exposure. A great exposure means thousands of visitors and press calls for me, while AC cannot guarantee you more than ten or twenty visitors to your article with no promotional job from your side. If you want a thousand visitors to your content (and thereby $1.5), then you have to promote your article yourself.
Is this useful for good writers? In today’s world, one can be on one’s own. He can publish and get paid ten times more money, if he chooses to, from the content he produces. No one need love an entire stranger like AC by promoting them besides giving them your best content.
Also, AC demands that you put your effort to give them the best content you can come up with, without any grammatical or punctuation errors of any kind. If such content is placed on your own site, you will get credit for it, a great amount of search traffic, and lots of money. On the other hand, your content on AC network will drive traffic to their whole site and they will get a hundred more subscribers due to your content's value and usefulness. And AC doesn’t recognize your part in this at all.
With such a huge network as AC’s getting too low exposure and pageviews on your content is highly deplorable. With other advertisement share networks like Hubpages, not only your content will rank high in search results, but also it will earn far more than AC in the long run.
Your Submission Rights to AC
You can impart to AC three different forms of rights. The first, which is the exclusive rights, means you dethrone yourself as the author of the content. You cannot publish the content anywhere else, and you give full rights to AC to publish it anywhere, in any form, with any modification or editing to create derivative works. So, you are completely submitting to AC the product of your toil for meager upfront payment and starving performance payments. Also, once published the article cannot be removed from AC at all.
The second form of publication is that you retain some rights, and you can republish the content in some other site. But you share all the rights of publication with AC and their partners and you cannot remove the content from their network. The little problem with this is that if you republish the content in your blog, it will be deemed as duplicate content by search engines and they will penalize your blog for that. While AC allows republication, they state it clearly that the content should not be previously published elsewhere (so that they are safe from any such penalization).
The third form of publication is that you retain all rights and give AC only the display rights. This way, you are eligible only for the alms (and not the ‘generous’ upfront payment), and you can remove the content any time you want.
AC recommends the first form of rights and has made it the default. Now friends, is it a good company that recommends you—the customer—the worst option, which may be the best option for the company? If you fall for it, then you are screwed like anything. The fact is that most people just go ahead and hit that submit button without realizing that they are selling their souls. Most really believe that the companies are ethical and they will not deceive. Here also I frown on their business practice. Is AC your pet to get such tender, affectionate treatment from you?
The millions of dollars AC gets from ad revenues are all due to the content it gets from thousands of authors out there. All these authors submit their content to AC because they are made to think it is a great option to make money writing online. But the fact that they are better off writing for their own website or blog is forgotten by all; AC’s impressive design and reliable look easily haze naïve writers’ eyes.
If you are a good writer, capable of writing an article of the standard AC recommends, then the best course of action you can take is publish it with your blog first, and then submit it to AC in their third publication option retaining all rights with yourselves. An upfront payment is not something attractive at all. Also, I recommend screwing someone who has screwed and continues to screw millions.
Also, submitting an already published content is not an option with the first two rights of AC., and there are thousands submitting for no upfront payment from outside the US.
A Revenue Comparison
What AC tells you is that they offer higher amount of money than any other ad network. AC obviously is not an ad share network like Hubpages. If you are in control over the ads displayed on a page where your content appears, a thousand views can mean 40 clicks on your ads. These 40 clicks will convert to 10 dollars or more. Which means, for each 1000 pageviews of your articles on AC, AC earns 10 dollars or more. And you are paid a fraction, $1.5. Also, you are not told anything about what they are earning from your articles.
All in all, AC shows a very deplorable business practice by underpaying their content producers, who collectively form their backbone. The pain-evoking fact is that there are a million naïve unsuccessful writers out there, who believe AC is a wonderful Internet freelancing career. Publishing is an industry with a lot of scams and frauds. I think you went through my previous article about Blogit, which is another scam company offering to publish your content for a fee.
I believe Associated Content should be avoided by all writers. If you want to get some money for writing online, the best way is signing up with Constant Content, one of the best freelancing websites. You can sign up for free with them and market your articles at your price of choice. Meaning, you can put up a brilliant 500-word article and you can charge anything like 50-100 dollars for that single article.
If it gets purchased, you will get 65 % of the sales amount. Plus you can have referrals, from whom you can earn. A transparent, beautiful business idea, profitable to both sides.
On the other hand, if you look at AC, there is no transparency on their business. It sets a fixed silly amount to pay you for every thousand pageviews and you are expected and encouraged to do all the promotion. This means you are being employed by AC to write content for them and promote them, and you are given alms to do it all—worse than the most seriously underpaid third-world porter. Moreover, they don’t actually give you any exposure they promise.
Content is king! And you need it for great marketing and high sales. Unless you write good content, you cannot get high search ranking. Writing for AC, giving them your great content means you are promoting their website, enriching them further. For that, the ungrateful AC treats you like street dog by spitting their ort at you. You should never neglect the fact that they are growing on your back. If they thrive at your toil, they should be willing to disclose their complete earnings from your work or at least be prepared to indubitably share the actual earning you deserve, like how ad revenue share networks like Hubpages do.
In Hubpages, you can submit your content and your Google Adsense ID. Your Adsense ads will be displayed in your content (you can verify this by looking at the source code), and the content you submit are automatically indexed by search engines and get high rankings, thanks to Hubpages’s high PageRank website. So, you are partnering and earning with them. Here in AC the difference is that you are working for them (in every respect) and they are earning in thousands from your content, while you are looking up expectantly and contentedly with alms in your hand. With Hubpages, the top members are earning in thousands from Adsense in every single month.
Recently I found a top member’s performance results in AC. She had about 300 articles in AC and had around 300,000 page views. Means, she might have earned almost $3450 ($10 upfront payment plus 1.5*300 for performance) from these articles she wrote for which she might have spent about a year or more. What a waste of time! All her articles might have produced a million for AC in toto by that time.
I may be the only person who raises these disputes about AC. Associated Content, the People’s Media Company, is a highly respected content provider amongst us all, thanks to their content producers worldwide, who are willing to get published for anything. Usually, the person who raises voice against something big is but single. However, it’s eventually their path that all will follow (remember Copernicus, who said earth was orbiting the sun, and nobody believed him). I expect to hear a lot of comments and reproaches from the readers of this blog and others who pass by and check this article out. But I am prepared to say this anywhere.
I believe the Internet has made the business far more transparent for us all than it was previously, and anything that faces away from this fact and deceives people like a swindler in priest’s dress should be smacked on the back until it falls off the cliff.
I wrote all this with a lot of love and affection for those unsuspecting writers out there. My heart goes out when I think of them all, who waste their time in vacant promises by companies like Associated Content or Blogit. In fact, you should give some time to think of how much wastage of one’s life these companies can do really. They are telling you a fabricated story of great exposure and wonderful readership, while it’s nothing you get for the work you do.
While Blogit scams you by telling you that you will get a high readership and payments from the writings you do (while you end up paying them an amount every month), AC tells you that you can get paid (something silly) for the content you create. Also, look at those poor people who try to submit to AC for the sake of the NoFollow backlinks (there are an awful lot of them who believe a link will help their site’s rankings). It is not illegal or wrong to give NoFollow backlinks, but knowingly exploiting the ignorance of people is a totally different thing, wouldn’t you agree?
It’s our world that nurtures the likes of AC, and it pays for it as well. So, friends, you had better leave AC and steer clear of their territory, if you are already part of them. I am writing this for the good of all the writers out there. Do your share of hard work for yourself or for those needy. Not for those already affluent ones who continue to swindle shamelessly for their benefit. You may make a worthless hundred-dollar bill from your hard work in AC for so many months, but a rusted cent you make from an ethical business is far more valuable than that.
Backlink Building; Nasty Techniques
Advertising Scams and Frauds
Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008