Be a Guide
Guides typically cover topic areas that require ongoing content production and updating as well as strong research skills and deep knowledge of the topic. Guides can promote their content through About branded newsletters and blogs, and retain the copyright to their articles.
Be a Topic Writer
Topic Writers are very similar to Guides and focus on niche topics that require strong research skills and deep knowledge of the topic. These narrower topics, however, may not require content production beyond a certain limited time frame (typically six months is the minimum). Topic Writers may, in addition, leverage their own, established readership and community to promote their About.com content.
Advantages in Contracting with About.com
An innovative publishing platform
About.com has spent years maturing a publishing platform that allows writers to focus on writing while providing them a foundation with an established audience and the means to grow that audience. About.com's platform provides the systems necessary to build and run a site for the network and metrics to analyze traffic and trends.
Established in 1996, About.com has served billions of page views to millions of readers. About.com helps users by providing content that answers, educates, and inspires. On average, About.com reaches 67 million unique visitors per month just in the United States. More information about our demographics can be found in our media kit.
A community of experts
93% of our readers consider Guides and Topic Writers to be knowledgeable and trustworthy. 90% of our readers are specifically looking for information and advice, and 97% of About.com's audience relies on experts. Learn more about our audience.
An independent publish-first model
At About.com you have the freedom to publish the content that you want, when you want to publish it. Access to detailed site metrics and ongoing communication with your readers allow you to determine the best strategies for success and user satisfaction.
A career-development opportunity
Many of our most successful Guides have used About.com as a platform for their independent career goals, publishing books, taking part in speaking engagements, appearing as experts in videos, and serving as expert sources for newspapers, magazines, television, and radio.
A flexible schedule
About.com freelancers manage their own schedule and maintain their own client base and other work outside of About.com.
About.com's independent contractor writers are initially paid per article. This rate is capped to a monthly per-article maximum. However, contractors with sites that grow and meet certain conditions can potentially earn higher fees in excess of the per-article maximum, based on their success in building an audience for the content they write.
Guide Agreement (contract) terms
Our independent contractor writers, both Guides and Topic Writers, work under a general contract called the Guide Agreement. Prospective Guides and Topic Writers entering Stage 1 of the selection process will have a chance to review the contract terms for their topic. The contract contains details about payment structure, publishing terms, and copyright licensing.
In most cases, About.com contractors may be compensated for as many as eight articles per month and are encouraged to write blog posts, moderate user generated content and write a weekly newsletter, among other things. Contractors are also encouraged to maintain the site so that it is current and navigable. A full breakdown of payment structure and activity is detailed in the Guide Agreement.
About.com does not provide benefits (such as health, vacation, and stock) to independent contractors.
Prospective Guides and Topic Writers go through a two-stage self-directed content creation process if their initial application is selected.
In Stage 1, which lasts one week, applicants submit original writing samples, which are assessed for the following:
- Topical expertise
- Writing quality and organization
- Appropriate voice/tone
- Self-editing abilities
- Journalistic ethics
In Stage 2, which lasts about two weeks, applicants use About.com publishing tools to create a sample site with the content they created in Stage 1.
In addition to the qualities mentioned above, the qualities assessed in Stage 2 include:
- Independence: Are writers able to self direct and manage online publishing and promotion systems?
- Web formatting: Are writers formatting their content so that readers can easily digest, scan, and read it?
- Navigation: Are writers creating embedded links and navigation that anticipates users' needs and provides a natural, intuitive online experience?
- Content promotion: Are writers utilizing promotional tools, including the blog, in a way that makes the reader want to explore their content?
Works created as part of the contractor selection process are not compensated unless an applicant is offered a contract with About.com. If a contract is not offered, the company holds no rights or claims to the content created and the content remains the property of the writer. About.com removes all work from prospective contractors who do not enter into a contract.
How much experience do Guides and Topic Writers need?
In general, we seek independent contractors who have derived their expertise through several years of experience, study, or independent training in their chosen topic area. This experience could be in the form of direct professional involvement, as a dedicated hobbyist, or as a book author or journalist (online or print). You can read about specific qualifications for each topic on the application page.
What if content already exists on an available topic?
In some cases, a topic was previously covered by another contractor. Replacement contractors will have access to in-house systems should they wish to manage older material while publishing new content and paying attention to overlapping content.
How much time does the average contractor spend on an About.com site?
Times vary depending on the topic and is up to the contractor. About.com's independent contractors usually freelance elsewhere or have full-time jobs.
Who retains the copyright to the work produced by About.com contractors?
Contract terms vary depending on contractor type. In cases where the contractor retains copyright to their articles, About.com retains an exclusive sublicensable, perpetual online license to any material published to the site. This is in order to control reprints, so the content published on our sites does not compete with other copies of the same content elsewhere.
What level of technical experience is necessary?
A computer and Internet access are a must. We prefer applicants who have a basic knowledge of HTML, previous experience with other CMS, web navigation and formatting skills, and the ability to communicate effectively online. Familiarity with site analytics is helpful.
How do I check on the status of my submission to be a Guide or Topic Writer?
Enter your email address in this form and an update will be sent to you shortly.
A topic no longer appears as available to apply for, but the site does not have someone running it. What's going on?
Two things might be happening. A candidate may have been selected for the topic but has yet to start. Or the topic was de-prioritized while we seek prospects for other topics.
There has been no communication since the application was submitted and the topic no longer appears as available to apply for. What's going on?
It is possible that someone has been selected for that topic but has not yet completed the prerequisites to go live. An official notification is sent only when a contract has been finalized.