A few weeks ago I started getting emails from readers telling me about a new way of making money from blogs that they’d come across by the name of Scoopt Words.
I’ll be honest and say that the emails came at a busy time for me and I didn’t give it enough attention and follow up what it was all about but the emails have persisted (to a point where I get one a day now) and I thought I should take a little more of a look at it.
Scoopt Words is a service that takes a middle man approach between bloggers and editors of publications and which will negotiate the sale of your blogging content for you. The concept is pretty simple really and on many levels makes a lot of sense to me – so I decided to approach them for an interview which they were kind enough to grant me.
What follows is an interview with the head of Scoopt Words, Graham Holliday. Graham has been gracious enough to not only answer my questions but is willing to take some of yours also over the next day or two. If you have any – simply ask them in the comments section below and he’ll stop by and answer as many as he can.
Thanks for your time Graham – Can you tell us a little about Scoopt and what you’ve been doing since you started?
Scoopt launched in July 2005 and was the first citizen journalism photo agency. It has since sold photos to newspapers and magazines all over the world. ScooptWords is in beta, as they say, and launched around 2 weeks ago.
What is Scoopt Words and why did you start it?
At the moment, ScooptWords is simply a payment mechanism for bloggers who want to sell content and editors who want to buy it. We will soon aggregate the best blogs and blog content available under our commercial license. We will then push this content, and the bloggers, to editors who are interested in buying.
We started ScooptWords for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s a lot of good blog content out there and some of it could walk into magazines, trade publications and newspapers. Secondly, there’s no obvious route to market for the blogger beyond an approach from an editor. Thirdly, your average blogger may not always understand copyright, contracts and what words are worth in cash in different publications.
From my own experience of blogging at www.noodlepie.com I have seen my work stolen, copied and plagiarised on a number of occasions for no payment. I know I’m not alone. However, I have also been commissioned by several editors to write pieces specifically because of my blog, further strengthening our belief that there is a market for quality, commercially licensed blog content.
Lastly, we also believe that all journalists will become bloggers before too long and some bloggers will become journalists. Some will also need a route to market and a trustworthy payment mechanism. We hope they’ll chose ScooptWords.
Why should a blogger let Scoopt sell their content?
Because we’re completely transparent and because, with Scoopt and now ScooptWords, we’re working hard to revolutionise and democratise the media. And because we’re a proper media organisation run by journalists and editors, not just a dotcom dabbling with user-generated content.
What type of publications have been buying this content?
Early days… We’re still very much in beta-stealth mode. Remember we only slipped onto the radar a couple of weeks ago :) We’re pursuing all channels. The response has been very positive from bloggers and editors, but it’s a huge unknown area we’re stepping into here. We hope to have some answers before too long :)
How much do bloggers receive? How to you figure out how much to charge those buying the content?
Bloggers receive 50% of the first sale and 75% of all subsequent sales. The initial high cost is to offset our costs.
As for the price we negotiate with editors: At Scoopt we’re all journalists, ex-journalists, editors and commissioning editors. Between us we’ve written books, edited trade magazines and written for everybody from TIME Magazine to The Guardian, BBC Publications and US and Canadian newspapers. While we don’t claim to be world experts on pricing, we think we have a reasonable idea as to what the fair market price is for words appearing in print publications. And we strongly believe if blog content is good enough to print it’s good enough to pay for.
Do you actively promote content to editors for sale or do editors have to come to you requesting to republish content?
We will. That’s phase 2. Once we have the blogs signed we will push the quality end of those to the right people. We’re also developing a series of smart search tools for editors to find content licensed by ScooptWords. As it is very early in our development, this is a bit of a chicken and egg argument. The more bloggers we have, the more and better content we can push and the better chance of success all round. So, bloggers should sign up now :)
Do bloggers have any say in who takes up their content and how much they are paid or do they sign away these rights?
They have to, and can and should, trust us to make the deal. Editors are ALWAYS on deadline and so we NEED the authority to act INSTANTLY on a blogger’s behalf. So we use the Scoopt pictures model: you come up with the content and we’ll do the hard work. If you want to do your own negotiation, then you’re free to pitch directly to publications, but there’s an art to that. It’s easier said than done and takes time to perfect.
How many times can you resell the one blog post?
Difficult to say. Speaking from personal experience as a journalist I have sold a number of stories several times. I ended up selling one piece eight or nine times to a number of non-competing markets in four or five countries. I see no reason why blog content shouldn’t make resells just because it’s blog content.
Do bloggers get bylines/links back in the posts that you sell?
We absolutely strive to get editors to use a byline and link back where appropriate i.e. if the story appears in the online version of the print publication. We stress to bloggers that this is up to the editor. The reason for that is simple. Some publications don’t run bylines – period. I’m thinking here of publications like The Economist and some of the trade press. While we think it HIGHLY unlikely that an editor will not run a byline if they ordinarily run bylines, we have to cater for all publishing opportunities to maximise the possible number of sales for bloggers. If they don’t run bylines from their own staff journalists, they’re hardly likely to change policy for a blogger :)
What does Scoopt Words require from bloggers for them to participate?
It’s open to all. It’s free. Just sign up and add the button to your sidebar. That’s it. Obviously, a blogger has to believe what they are producing could realistically appear in a magazine or newspaper.
How many bloggers do you represent?
We can’t reveal numbers at this point and nor in the future on grounds of commercial sensitivity. I can say we’ve been pleased with the take up and the interest. Very positive :)
What levels of success can bloggers expect to have from partnering with Scoopt Words?
We simply don’t know and no-one does, but we’re going to give it our best shot. I would say that there is every chance a blogger, writing good, original, literate and well structured posts has every chance of making a sale to the right market. We’re already getting approaches to connect particular editors, publications and media agencies with blogs on niche topics. We fully expect this interest to grow along with the opportunity for making a sale
Do you find different topics have a higher level of selling than other topics? What topics seem to be selling best?
Again – sorry to repeat – but you’re just way too early with this question. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve received a number of media requests for several niche topics. We’re chasing these up. Although we have our hunches, it’s simply too early to say where the real demand is.
Feel Free to ask Graham your own questions via comments below. Also you might like to check out the Scoopt Words Blog.