Can this writing platform support your Starbucks addiction
or your posh hairdresser’s fees?
NOTE: Some of you may already be aware of Vocal Media as a writing platform. The same with Medium.com, another writing platform where writers – aspiring and professional – can publish articles, stories, poems and other creative and non-creative types of writing, and earn.
For budding writers, whether or not you have considered the basic tips on writing in my earlier posts, do take time and read this article. It’s a review of the pros and cons on writing for Vocal Media vis-à-vis Media.com although the focus is on Vocal.
By now most of us who are using social media, especially those on Facebook, should know that we are being tracked. All the time, as in 24/7. The posts we make, the likes and hearts we drop, what products we search or which consumer goods we are a fan of, or the types of groups we follow or are affiliated with.
How else would we receive adverts relevant or related to products we are interested in, or the groups that we follow – day in, day out?
We, social media users, are the commodities of big tech’s Masters of the Universe, the consumers in the bull’s-eye of their humongous marketing tools.
But I’m not writing this piece to bash Facebook.
It was Facebook that led me to Vocal Media some three months ago. Because I created a group for budding writers and became a follower of print media publications’ communities, I fell into the vortex of Vocal Media’s target for its Facebook ad. The ad was a call for writers and content creators who are interested in a platform where one could write and share stories and earn money.
As a matter of habit, sceptical me did a lengthy research on Vocal. I visited its website for a thorough read, read a tonne of reviews and watched “testimonials” on YouTube. I meandered on the various Vocal communities and spent a more-than-passing peek at its challenges, current and completed.
I was exploring possible websites that I can confidently recommend to those in my Facebook community and in my WordPress blog.
I signed up with Vocal after a few days, taking advantage of the 50% discount on membership fee for three months. Membership fee is normally US$9.99 a month.
Ways of earning on Vocal Media vis-à-vis Medium
Posting of articles or stories
On Vocal, posting articles on the platform is free. Each article, however, is first vetted by Vocal staff that check the stories for compliance to Vocal policies and community guidelines. Once approved, Vocal would publish it, informing the writer via email that the story has been approved and is on the platform, live for reading.
On Medium, writers can either self-publish or submit to any publications of their choice. A year ago, there were over 11,000 publications on Medium. Each publication has guidelines for submissions.
(1) By the number of reads
Members of Vocal earn based on the number of reads. A paying member earns US$6.00 for every 1,000 reads; a non-paying member US$3.80 per 1,000 reads.
On Medium, one has to be in the Medium Partner Program (MPP) to earn based on views / reads.
On Vocal, articles are not behind a paywall. Anyone can access the stories for a read. These reads are counted and reflected on individual writer’s earning statistics.
On Medium, the views and reads counted in the earning statistics are those from paying members. The stories are behind a paywall so not just anyone can read, except when the writer provides the friend link when promoting the story. “Friends” reading from this link will not earn the Medium writer any cent.
(2) By tips
On Vocal, readers can send a tip to a writer, from US$1 to US$20.
On Medium, there is no option for readers to show appreciation for a writer whose article has made a deep impression on them.
(3) By surprise bonus
A Vocal member may receive US$5 for five published stories, US$10 for 10 published stories, US$20 for 20 published stories, US$50 for 50 published stories.
When a writer’s story is featured as a Top Story on Vocal website, a writer is sent US$5.
A member may receive US$5 for liking the stories of other Vocal Media writers.
It is also possible for a member who has achieved milestones, such as getting 1,000 or 5,000 reads aside from the points mentioned above, to be given a bonus.
These bonuses are a surprise to the lucky member because no specifics were issued on whether all members will receive a bonus for each of the milestones stated above. What members were told was that Vocal would be sending a reward to the member “for creating something amazing”.
Medium has recently given a one-off bonus surprise of US$500 each to 1,000 writers whose performance for April outshone the rest of the writers.
(4) By winning a challenge
Vocal refers to its writing competitions as Challenge. But whatever tag is attached to the Vocal Media Challenges, they are writing contests whichever angle it is viewed from.
The prize money for the Challenges varies: from US$20,000 (the biggest prize to date), to US$5,000, US$2,500 to US$1,000 for first-placers. There are about three to five challenges any given week.
One or two contests are open to non-paying members, the rest are open to paying members, or those with Vocal+ tags on their profiles.
Winning a challenge may enable you to support your expensive coffee habit for a time, but what of the chances? Maybe 1% at a time? Maybe even less than that? Vocal’s only (to date) Challenge that rewarded US$20,000 to the first-prize winner had over 12,000 entries.
As emphasised by a co-writer on Medium, Vocal+ is a honeytrap.
Consider the following:
How does a Vocal member, paying or not, achieve a thousand reads on a daily basis?
Vocal does not promote its website to attract readers and reads. The writers themselves have to promote their stories on social media – with frantic enthusiasm to earn .0038 cents per read for the non-paying member, and .006 cents per read for Vocal+ member.
Vocal Media writers who have thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or are members of groups on reddit or Quora, might – just might, mind you – stand a skeletal chance.
But what about those who have no strong social media presence? How does one earn coffee money daily, and the once-in-six-week visit to the hairdresser?
What Vocal heavily advertises is its writing competitions – Challenges – on Facebook, inviting content creators and writers. And what writer worth their salt would resist taking up these challenges?
When you sign up for Vocal Media, even for free membership at first, you may be enticed to become a paying member.
A Vocal+ member can submit any number of entries to ALL ongoing writing competitions.
A non-paying member can only join the challenges without the Vocal+ tags. And there you go, into the honeytrap.
On Medium, there are no writing contests comparable to Vocal’s Challenges.
But forget Medium. Let’s focus on Vocal. What is Vocal Media really good for?
Only three things come to mind that Vocal Media is good for:
*Honing your writing skills
Vocal Media is a worthy platform for writers to further their skills. I’ll recommend Vocal to aspiring or budding writers because:
(1) they can learn from reading the stories on various categories written by really talented writers on the portal, and –
(2) they can submit their stories with, hopefully, consistent signs of improvements on their writing.
*Joining the Challenges without a fee
One other advantage of Vocal Media, which I think is commendable, is that it does not charge a fee to participate in the contest. The article or story is published on the platform, too, so there’s the added benefit.
Compared with many other writing competitions that charges the participants anywhere from £25 to £18 to £7 for their entries to be accepted, joining a Vocal Challenge is preferable.
[Just to cite an example, I participated last year in the Manchester Writing Competition and paid £18 upon submission.]
*Engaging with fellow writers on Facebook Vocal groups
There are at least six Vocal writers’ groups on Facebook. I will single out one of them, The Vocal Creators Lounge, where members are warmly supportive. In this community, members could seek a boost in writers’ reads and would receive the much-needed lift.
If only for this community and its welcoming embrace to new members, whether a beginner or a professional in the field, Vocal Media is a place to be – but lower your expectations. You’re not going to get rich writing for this platform.
Medium, meanwhile, is a wiser choice for writers who are looking for an additional income stream. Check this article by Daniel Hopper on the best publications to write for on Medium.
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This article was first published on Medium.com
I’m still waiting whether Vocal Media will publish this piece. I shall give you an update regarding this matter.