Examiner bills itself as an online media publication platform comprised entirely of contributors that write articles on a vast array of topics that run the gamut from headline national news to more inconspicuous subjects such as Cripple Creek Livestock Guardian Dogs. Regardless of whatever your topic of interest happens to be, Examiner likely has the respective title available for occupancy. It then comes down to the question of should you write for Examiner.com.
To those contemplating becoming an examiner (which is what an Examiner.com writer is referred to as), I am reasonably positioned to offer some helpful insight to aid you in your decision; hence, I intend this article to serve as somewhat of an overview of the experience of being an examiner along with some clarifications regarding what exactly the nature of the relationship examiners have with the website.
It will be important to note, however, that I speak primarily from the perspective of a local edition writer. Presumably, the national examiner experience would be different considering they are writers designated to cover national stories within their particular subject area (title). Whilst potentially receiving greater traffic due to prioritized placement and increased overall visibility on the website and web search, I would also imagine that such title holders would be under stricter management.
On the other hand, local examiners are encouraged to publish articles written from a “local perspective”; however, as you may have noticed, a local perspective is not a requirement. At least based on my interactions with fellow examiners, it appears as though the success hinges more on the quality of writing (especially with headlines) and smart leverage of social media platforms as a means of promoting content. I have come across successful national and local examiners and likewise regarding examiners that maintain lower profiles.
Whether your articles attracts a large readership or not, one thing that you would need paramount to all else is a sincere passion or genuine interest for both your chosen title and for writing because compensation is entirely based on commission and, at least in most cases, is unlikely to keep anyone afloat without some other primary source of income. In a statement made to eMedia Vitals back in September of 2010, Justin Jimenez, the then director of marketing and public relations at Examiner.com stated: “We definitely try to be very clear and transparent that this isn't a 'quit your day job' opportunity”.
As a side note, I have stumbled across examiners who reportedly managed to make upwards of a grand per month; however, in nearly all such cases the examiner also reported marked decreases in compensation due to algorithmic changes Google made to their search engine back in February of 2011. In any case, the more active an examiner is the greater his or her earning potential becomes. A realistic expectation in terms of compensation for a daily publisher of quality content might amount to around $200-$700 a month. For the writers who only publish the recommended one to two articles per week may expect $40-$85 per month, and you can publish less if you wish because examiners set their own pace. Just keep in mind that the actual compensation is highly dependent on performance metrics (article views, reader subscriptions, sponsorships, number of articles, etc) and is therefore subject to differ greatly from my ballpark estimates.
There are no restrictions imposed on where else you can publish your articles, so examiners can cross post their articles on any number of online publications without fear of any penalty. The writers of Examiner are not actually employees but rather freelance writers who receive compensation for published works; hence, oversight is loose and minimal. The main role of management is to provide editorial guidance and to define criteria for the quality of articles they would like to see published, but other than that, examiners have free reign over the direction of their respective columns; however, I am not quite so sure if such holds true for examiners with national titles.
Although Google’s adjustments to its search engine has certainly had a net negative effect on Examiner’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it is still a platform with greater visibility than your typical standalone blog which, as mentioned before, you can cross post content with to increase the discoverability of your content and increase your public profile. I should point out that examiner does not bill itself as a “blog” website and I suppose it is true that this website does not entirely fit the mold of what most people would consider a blog, but like some columns you may find on websites like Huffington Post, the line between the two can be blurry.
Editorial guidelines, conventions, and style are key differences between Examiner and blogs. Oversight is lax, but that does not mean rules are non-existent. Luckily, your blog postings can be modified to suit the established editorial standards. And whilst on the topic of guidelines and standards, Examiner has available excellent training materials to get novices up to speed. The training materials contained in the Examiner University program are effective, comprehensive, and very professional. It is for that reason I would highly recommend young aspiring professional writers to apply for Examiner titles. In my opinion, I believe young students, perhaps High School seniors, with future plans of becoming journalists are the best target demographic for Examiner. The application process is straight forward, and there are no requisite credentials needed to obtain a title making the proposition a raw deal for anybody wanting to start out in the writing profession.
So, should you become an examiner? It all depends on what you personally intend to get out of it. If there is a particular subject that you are passionate about and enjoy writing about then this place is definitely for you. I will even go as far as to say anyone with an interest and a desire to relay useful quality information is a good match for Examiner; however, those who weigh financial compensation as a significant factor would be better off giving Examiner a pass. It is better thought of as a hobby with the potential to net some extra cash rather than a full time (or even a part-time) employment endeavor.
For those who are interested, additional information as well as instructions for applying to become an examiner can be found here.