About.com is a site for user-generated content on diverse subjects, and is useful for people who are seeking information, as well as writers looking for additional income. About.com is owned by The New York Times Company, which bought it in 2005. It is a highly reputable site, with a Google PageRank of 8/10, an Alexa traffic rank of 70, and more than 2 million hits a day.
Unlike many other content-crowdsourcing websites, About.com exercises strong editorial control over its articles, and hires a small army of full-time editors to vet the submitted content before they are published.
Initially, About.com paid its writers, known as Guides, a one-third cut of the advertising revenue, but found that it was not profitable on that basis, and stopped offering contracts on those terms. Nowadays, Guides are offered a flat salary with minimum publishing requirements, with some payment incentives for pageview growth over time.
There are 3 types of freelancing positions offered by About.com, Guides, Contributing Writers, and Video Producers. About.com only accepts freelancers who are willing to write about specific topics, and has high quality requirements. All applicants are required to submit test articles or videos, and are expected to undergo online training if they are accepted.
Guides are the most common position, with each Guide being responsible for a specific subject area. A Guide is expected to post both full-length articles as well as taking charge of a blog. Guides are paid a minimum of $675 per month, and additional pageview-based income typically brings that up to $1200 a month. In return, they are expected to product at least 4 full-length articles a month, with each article being at least 800-1000 words. In addition, they are expected to update their blog with shorter articles from one to three times every seven days. All articles and blog posts are reviewed by editors and require editorial approval before published.
Contributing Writers are assigned to topics that are smaller in scope than that assigned to Guides, and therefore are expected to produce a smaller number of articles compared to Guides. Sometimes, Contributing Writers write on sub-topics of a larger topic area already assigned to a Guide. Contributing Writers are paid a minimum of $500 a month for the first year, but the minimum drops to $250 a month after the first year. In return, Contributing Writers are expected to post 12 articles a month, mainly shorter articles.
Video producers are paid a flat fee of $250 per video, and are expected to absorb all expenses accrued during the production.
Guides, Contributing Writers and Video Producers retain the copyright to the content that they produce. However, by the terms of their freelance contracts, they give About.com a perpetual exclusive online license on their content, which in effect means that they cannot publish the content anywhere else on the internet.