How Patch Asks Paid Writers To Work For Free

Tom Sawyer's FenceTom Sawyer’s Fence

Patch, AOL’s network of local news sites, now has 5,920 bloggers writing for the site for free, a PR rep tells us.Some of these bloggers are also Patch freelancers.

That means people who are normally paid $20 or $50 per post are also doing some work on the site for free.

In case you’re wondering how Patch convinced anybody to agree to such an arrangement, here’s an email one Patch freelancer received from a local editor:

As you all might have heard, Patch is adding blogging platforms to its local sites (a la Huffington Post). I wanted to give you all first dibs at blogging for the Germantown Patch. Think of it as your chance to delve more into a hobby, get into topics you can’t get into with stories. These aren’t meant to be academic-length essays — think short, snappy and very you. Want to talk about pro sports? Your kids? Clubs you belong to?

To be clear — the blogging would be unpaid. The benefit is that you can say what you want AND get more traffic to your posts than you might if you were going it alone on other platforms. That said, things I assign you to write WOULD STILL BE PAID, just as always.

The folks at headquarters move fast. I found out last week and need at least five “yesses” soon, before the launch date May 4.

One Patch freelancer we talked to says she declined her editor’s offer because “my landlord will not take publicity in lieu of rent.”

Still, we think it’s a great move by Patch to cultivate all these bloggers. Free is a great pricepoint.

The arrangement is also a good bargain for many bloggers, too. It’s exposure – something local politicians, activists, and business-owners need.

Here are some other signs that Patch is doing well, courtesy of Patch PR:

  • Patch currently publishes nearly 5,000 articles per day across its 827 sites, and posts new content every 12 seconds.
  • The comScore data just released for May shows a 33% UV increase for Patch, from 6.9m UVs to 9.2 UVs.
  • We launched our Local Voices blogging platform on May 4. Between a week after that launch and today, we’ve gone from 3,994 to 5,920 bloggers – an increase of 48%, The number of blog posts has grown 234% (from 3,609 to 12,067). Our bloggers include mayors, state senators, congressmen, councilmen, trustees, county commissioners, activists, and other local influentials, in addition to any citizens who want to share their perspectives on issues and topics of interest in their towns.
  • Patch has nearly 700,000 daily newsletter subscribers.
  • Last week, Patch broke the story of Gov. Chris Christie’s use of a state-funded helicopter to attend his son’s high school baseball game; national outlets including the NYT, WSJ, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News picked up the story and credited Patch.
  • Patch and Huffington Post are both benefiting from editorial collaborations, including using Patch’s local reporting to tell a national story on the death of bin Laden; GOP Rep. Rob Woodall’s response to a constituent asking about Medicare  (“You want the government to take care of you, because your employer decided not to take care of you. My question is, ‘When do I decide I’m going to take care of me?'”); the local reaction to Weinergate; and of course the Gov. Christie flap.

Related: Confessions Of Patch Salesperson: “It’s Been A Disaster”

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