When Amanda Gutterman talks about her vision for Slant, a platform-publisher hybrid that “soft launched” in July, you can tell she believes it has the power to shake up the online media landscape.
Gutterman is Slant’s editorial director, and came from the Huffington Post with the goal of giving up-and-coming writers two things they aren’t usually afforded: editing and money.
That’s the grand promise of Slant, whose editorial team of a half-dozen give all posts a minimum editorial scrutiny, and which pays writers 70% of the ad revenue generated by their work. The amount each writer makes is decided by views (clicks, if you will) — the more views, the more money.
Gutterman says Slant is meant to sit in the middle of two types of publications, each with its own set of problems.
The first are “selective publications.” Gutterman gives the example of The New Yorker, where she interned. These types of publications are hard for new writers to break into, and, Gutterman adds, do not always include a diversity of voices.
The second general type of publication is what Gutterman describes as “big content farms,” that give essentially no editing and “leave views on the table” by not packaging the stories in a way that will succeed on social media. They also tend to not pay well, or even pay at all.
Here’s how Slant is different, according to Gutterman.
All Slant stories are copy edited, fact-checked, and repackaged for social media. This means that any writer can get access to basic editing. Since the close of its beta, Slant has allowed anyone to submit articles, and will publish them as long as they are factually accurate. The opinions of the writers, Gutterman says, can be as repugnant as they want. As a counterpoint to its open publishing, Slant chooses a selection of stories it deems to be high quality, and promotes them on its homepage and social media.
What does this editing amount to in the real world?
Seamus Kirst, who has written 21 stories for Slant, says he hasn’t noticed much editing beyond things like typos (disclosure: he was a classmate of mine). He says the few times he has corresponded with Slant’s editorial staff, it has been because his facts weren’t properly sourced. Slant requires that all statements of fact that aren’t common knowledge be hyperlinked to a credible source, Gutterman says.
The second way Slant is different is the payouts. Gutterman says the ad deals are constantly changing, so it’s hard to nail down a specific estimate of how much a writer gets paid per view. But Kirst provided Business Insider a sample of what he’d made on one article: $3.24 for 966 views, which is about $3.35 per 1,000 views.
This is just one data point, but Kirst says he’s seen consistency over his 21 articles (in revenue versus views). And Gutterman says the split is democratic, with everyone getting the same rate per view.
That means it’s likely a writer, at least for now, makes something like $3.35 per 1,000 views, $33.50 for 10,000, or $335.00 for 100,000. For context, 100,000 views means you might have landed on the front page of Reddit.
“No one is getting rich off this,” CEO and publisher Aviram Elad says. It’s more about getting writers opportunities. Slant publishes about 30-40 stories per day, and had 1.5 million views in October.
“If you have a following, you might be able to make money,” Kirst says. “Maybe if you are a YouTube star or a celebrity.” And as an alternative to platforms like Medium, which give you no money for your content, it’s nice to know that if something goes viral you can make a few hundred bucks, Kirst adds. But Kirst quickly lost the misconception that Slant could be another stream of income, even though Gutterman says Kirst is doing great work on the platform.
Elad says a few writers have made in the hundreds of dollars so far.
But what stories have made money?
Gutterman says one of Slant’s first huge hits was an article that looked at how little money the US women’s soccer World Cup team made (for winning the whole thing) compared to the men’s team. Though the page doesn’t display views, this article has been “shared” around 2,200 times.
But Slant’s democratic pricing has other benefits beyond money. Gutterman says a prominent music video director, who has worked with Rihanna, agreed to be interviewed by a Slant writer simply because he was moved by the business model.
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