Protecting Yourself on Writing Sites
Before You Leap
There are many writing sites out there. However many are NOT what they seem.
A brief scan will expose that most are built for advertisements, the prose is used to separate the Ads.
Writing sites charge advertisers for posting their Ads. The writer gets a tiny fraction of this revenue, and must depend on the honesty of the siteo wners for accounting.
You could get 1000 hits, the site claims you got 100. The site might pay you 3c for every 1000 hits; but you don't know how much the advertiser is paying the site for those 1000 hits.
Joining a site you start from a position of weakness. As far as the site is concerned, you are not writer, you simply supply the 'wallpaper' on which the Ads are hung. You are given whatever pittance seems right to the owners of the site.
Copyright is another consideration.
Some writing sites claim you retain the copyright to your work, yet don't allow you to remove your articles. Others claim by posting on their site they own the rights.
Some sites allow you to write about what you want while others give assignments and demand you write about what they want.
Many punish you if you complain. While other sites have 'secret' agendas where they push particular views and use your work as a screen to hide their core purpose.
What do you do to protect yourself?
Protecting yourself - Me First
Keep a copy of your own work on Blog. You can find a list of free Blog sites by a simple Google. Or, you can post here, and have your work 'unfeatured' by using images which are 'too small.' Your item is 'published' but 'only you can see it.'
Whatever your choice, use a different name on each site as well as a different Email address.
If you plan to use your Blog as a workspace, make it Private, or have a private section.
Hence you can write an item on your blog or Hubpages as Me One, then join another site as Me Two.
In case the writing site tries to steal your work and not pay for it, publish your Blog or 'fix' the Hubpage article.
Inform the writing site that they have plagiarized your work.
As an example, you joined the writing site as Lambster, and the Blog is published under the name John Hardy. It is John who attacks the site for plagiarizing his work. The same is true on Hubpages.
Hence, a short email to the Writing Site by John with this advisory, should be enough to have Lambster's items removed, and account closed.
Protecting Yourself - A few words on Plagiarism
Secondly, understand that when you write a factual article there's just so much you can do with the facts.
If you are writing about Pirates in the Caribbean, so are hundreds of other people. Your article is unique because your point of view is unique.
The names of the Pirates, their ships, the years can't change. how you put them together can and does.
Hence you can write five different original articles based on the same facts. I can write five different articles based on the same facts, this is because the facts can't change, only the interpretations can, how you place them in the article can.
It is not plagiarism.
Plagiarism is when you copy this article and put your name on it. If you copy portions of this article and give attribution, you are not copying my work.
Hence, if you've written about Pirates of the Caribbean on Site One then decide to use the facts to write a different article here, it would not be plagiarism or else every single person in the world would be banned from writing about Pirates of the Caribbean because in 1876 someone wrote a book called "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Read the Terms of Service
The most often told lie; "I have read and agree to your terms of service."
Many writing sites give themselves absolute authority and you none.
If you had read the TOS you'd have seen that this is the kind of one sided contract that begs a lawsuit. For very often you have given up virtually all your rights.
Read carefully. The words you are looking for are 'Copyright' and provisions which basically state that you have no rights.
Do Not Join These Sites.
They will often pay a pittance for your work and then syndicate it all over the world and make the bag. You have nothing to say nothing to get.
Too many writing sites treat writers as dime a dozen day labourers who should be happy to see their name in print.
Until the first lawsuit, this is going to be the situation if you allow it.
The Pitfalls and the Power
On some sites you have no rights.
For example, on the now defunct site Factoidz a trick was used. Once a writer posted one hundred good articles, he or she was dropped to 'member' .
Only those categorized as 'writer' could view how much revenue was being earned. Those listed as 'member' could not.
There was no recourse, save lawsuit, which is why that particular site no longer exists.
Sites which demand you write about what they want you to write about should be avoided.
Firstly, you will be doing unpaid work.
There is a difference between you deciding to write about growing roses and you having to do a few hours of research to write an article about growing roses.
As the site plays a competition game where you and a batch of others write articles about growing roses. They select which one they publish.
You've done two hours or more free work that is now in the garbage.
If they do select your work they pay a pittance for it, then make thousands.
Speaking of Power
Check the Forums or the Rules to get the mentality of the Owner(s) and Mderator(s). Some are Whack jobs.
There are Owners who feel that their writers shouldn't write on any other site.
They will punish the writer by giving them lower pay for betrayal.
There are Owners who never look at their sites, and emailing them is a waste of keystrokes as they NEVER answer.
There are Moderators who will never put your work on a 'Star' Page. And when it is really great work, they'll hold it for days so that when they publish it, it is 'old' so will appear on some long past Featured Page.
There are Moderators who have problems with themselves and think your article on Inferiority Complexes is about them.
There are sites which have your work 'Pending' for more than 24 hours. This gives
them a chance to plagiarize it..
What you do
Firstly, read the Terms of Service. See exactly what you get and what you lose.
Secondly, as said before, create your Article Bank. In this way, any site which attempts to capture your work is plagiarising your Blog or Hubpages.
Join sites which do not tamper with your copyright, allow you to delete and edit as you desire. And Sites that PAY.