Friday, February 28, 2020
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Is This Real or a Joke?

“Are There Ways of Making Money with AOL’s New Seed Program”?

Question: “AOL is supposedly hiring freelance writers, journalists and columnist in droves. The new AOL CEO Tim Armstrong (and former Google hotshot) and seems to think they’ll be a major media player. What’s your view? Are there ways of making money with AOL’s new Seed program”?

T.M. Bloomington MN

7:44 AM

Dear Entrepreneur:

AOL has been in the news lately because they bought the blog network Huffington Post.  AOL has also been promoting their new project.  I’m not enthusiastic about AOL’s prospects or the potential for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

And don’t forget… AOL started as an adult chat room….they would prefer people forget about stuff like this.

AOL launched the program about a year ago. It was touted as a “new” way for freelance writers, journalists, designers and photographers to make money.


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The is free… and so the downside risk is pretty low.  But AOL’s program is a content farm, nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t get me wrong…

There’s nothing wrong with growing content.  But growing generic, irrelevant content is NOT the “wave” of the future. Most heavy Internet users are sick and tired of generic information, articles and content. The only exception would be “news”….which is super-generic.

Get this…

AOL’s current CEO Tim Armstrong used to be a major player at Google. I’m confident Tim understood Google built an empire around “relevant” search results.

But my first impression of AOL’s program is not great.  First, you have to use your real name…no pen names or pseudonyms.  That’s a joke.

I’ve been writing under pseudonyms for more than 29 years. And so have thousands of other (successful) freelance writers and entrepreneurs.  Mark Twain was a pen name for God’s sake!

But pen names are a minor point.  A major problem at is the approval process for new articles and stories. An “approval” can take up to a month, if you’re lucky enough to get a response.

And then…

When an article is “rejected” — AOL editors do not offer any suggestions, comments, ideas, insight, nothing. Your article is thrown into the trash.

Here is what a no-name “customer service” person at Seed told me:

“Yeah, no feedback or suggestions is a problem. But we can’t provide any feedback at this time – sorry.”

Seed Customer Service

Come on.  AOL is supposed to be reshaping the world as we know it. Tim Armstrong brings a major skill set to the table.  But I think he’s bound to AOL corporate mumbo jumbo.

Keep in mind, Tim has never run a company and I think that’s a big deal. What’s more, I think luck, the law of accident and political clout (later on) has a lot to do with Google’s rise to world domination.

The bottom line is…. may be the greatest media platform since the “blog”.  But there are better and more lucrative ways to make money as a freelance writer.  One way is by going direct to publishers who need relevant content.  Actually, I would focus on publishers with a track record of paying freelance writers accurately and on time.

There are tens of thousands of viable publishers in the world today, and millions of website publishers. Most of them need relevant content…but only a handful of them would qualify to my clients or receive MY content.

I suppose is worth a try but I think it’s a joke.

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Thousands of writers are providing millions of pages of content for pennies on the dollar. This is the real AOL/ business model – cheap content.

I haven’t met a single writer, journalist, editor or columnist with glowing reviews of AOL’s program.  If you’ve had a different experience I’d like to hear about it. There’s no cost to try.

I hope that helps.

Until next time…..

Your humble host,

Marc Charles

PS Google is crucifying the stuff produced by redundant content farms. This means irrelevant…”cut and paste” content is DEAD when it comes to Google search results.

PPS Long live fresh, personalized, relevant content!

(Ed Note:  Marc Charles is referred to as “The King of Business Opportunities” ….and for good reason. He should be known as “The King of Legitimate Business Opportunities”…because he’s launched, bought, sold reviewed and advised on hundreds of businesses and money making opportunities. He understands legitimate opportunities. Marc has agreed supply League of Power members with crucial updates regarding legitimate business and money making opportunities.)

***** Action Strategy *****

Check out AOL’s Seed Program for yourself here. Tell me what you think!

But keep your options wide open if you want to make money as a freelance writer, editor, developer or photographer.

Check out these sites for great freelance writing opportunities:

Project4Hire, &

*****Valuable Resources*****

The Freelancer


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  1. Thomas Gentry April 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Great article and insight Marc. Way to go. Thanks for the new alternative freelance writing sources…I’ll use them.

  2. Susan Waggoner September 21, 2011 at 1:19 am

    This article couldn’t be more spot on. I’ve been a full-time professional author for 25+ years and have never seen anything quite as predatory and unprofessional as the SEED crowd.

    Like a lot of writers these days, I’ve been looking for fill-in work until book publishing comes out of its coma, and have tried a number of on-line gigs. SEED may not be quite the worst, but it’s close, and what it lacks in rock bottom production values, it makes up for with a self-celabratory attitude that will make your hair hurt. The tragedy is that they really DO seem to believe they are the future of journalism.

    Seed lures writers with higher pay rates than other mills and promises of “exposure.” But as the article correctly points out, they don’t tell you the same topic you’ve picked to write about is also being written about by hundreds of others, only one of whom will be the lucky recipient of the $5, $15 or $20 on offer. Two further drawbacks are that the topics are invariably lame (Best Happy Hour in Dallas, Best Happy Hour in Modesto, Best Happy Hour in Cleveland — you get the idea); nor can you pitch your own ideas, or in any way make contact with editors. When you do sell something, they send you an obnoxious, patronizing note about “building your SEED publishing empire.” Oh please.

    So the model that’s going to revolutionize journalism makes each and ever “assignment” a game of musical chairs with 1 chair and god knows how many contestants, maintains a firewall between author and editor, repels anyone who can write well enough to do it professionally, and in the end pays worse for overall time spent than the worst content mills out there.

    I won’t write for them, nor does any other writer I know. The only people likely to are newbies desperate to be published somewhere. Good enough, but attention newbies! Here’s a better strategy: go write some content and get paid for it. You’ll get feedback and a lot more writing experience. Over time, you’ll find a niche that’s right for you, and can move on to bigger and better paying assignments. For example, if you like travel writing — of which there is a lot on content sites — you can improve your rank, move up to longer assignments, and use those as samples to move on to in-flight magazines, which pay pretty well, and eventually on to mags like Travel & Leisure, etc.

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