Getting a story onto Mail Online, Mirror Online, the Sun website … how much money do they pay?
At Featureworld I am regularly sent stories which for various reasons won’t be right for printing in a newspaper or magazine – and will only make online.
But recently – having placed a story out of the kindness of my heart (because the payment was so low) on a national newspaper website – I was then stunned by the interviewee’s response to it.
For some reason the general public often has the perception (why?) that newspapers are not like other businesses with budgets. For some reason they haven’t read about all the redundancies going on in the industry and the dwindling profits and circulations we are all having to cope with, thinking for some bizarre reason all papers have tens of thousands of pounds to splash on everyday stories.
Because following its online publication (which the interviewee was thrilled with) this person believed – although he had already been told quite clearly due to budgets there would not be a payment to him – that I must have received an extraordinary amount of cash for his piece which only appeared online.
Indeed he even plucked a figure out of thin air – £1500 no less which he thought, probably talking with misguided people who’ve never sold a story in their lives before to anyone, I must have got for his unsensational story. A story which he had already made public on Facebook so anyone could have lifted anyway for free.
I wish I had received £1500 for it but unfortunately budgets for online use only are often very low both for agents and interviewees. Indeed they are so low (£40 to £100 is not uncommon as a total amount to an interviewee and an agent which includes any expenses) that by the time an agent has factored in the time to have an initial chat with an interviewee, pitching the story to the online site, doing any interview, writing it up, carrying out legal checks on the copy, providing the photos or video which must be captioned accurately (not to mention we are taxed on that £40 and have to sort an invoice and incur other expenses such as office, internet, phone and travel ones) – there is no point in putting a story online only.
And payments for online use only are low simply because newspaper websites have budgets too. Think about it – if amongst the thousands of stories that go online every day a website had to pay £1500 for each one or anything like that, they would just fold.
There will be times when for an interviewee it will be worthwhile getting a story online only for no payment. In this person’s situation, he also had a plug for his business – so clearly getting a story onto a well read newspaper website when it will advertise you is worth its weight in gold.
In fact many businesses pay thousands of pounds to PR companies just to get a mention on such a popular website as Mail Online. In this case the PR journalist is making his or her living by being paid by the company for gaining this publicity.
At Featureworld, I do not charge interviewees for my service. However, despite the low fees to myself from online sites for providing a piece (and remembering I am not a charity and have to at least cover costs!) I will still do my best to help get charity stories onto websites. But then there is not going to be enough money to give to the charity as well. I have to say all of them are grateful to get a story on a newspaper website (which will often link to them) – they know from bitter experience just how competitive and extremely difficult it is to get any mention at all.
And for anyone seeking publicity and promotion for themselves, a book, blog, video or own website, free publicity gained from a story placed online will be priceless. Not to mention if your story goes onto a big national news website others might see it and want to buy your story properly.
But it’s worth remembering Mail Online is so successful it is able to charge businesses over £65,000 for putting a sponsored article on that site.
So unless someone is happy for their story to go online without a payment, Featureworld does not otherwise put them on – for the simple reason as a sell my story website it is not ‘selling’ someone’s story to only get it online only (if they are expecting a big payout from it, it just leads to disappointment.)
There are of course exceptions. Sometimes there is a reasonable fee for online use for the interviewee as well as the agent – but then the material needs to be sensational and exclusive. And even then the sort of fee you can expect will be much lower than if it appears printed in the newspaper as well. In that case, when the story is also printed in the paper, there is likely to be a fee as outlined in this article about how much you can earn from selling a story.
It might be in future the situation will change and higher budgets will be gained when selling a story to a newspaper website. But right now payments from newspaper websites for stories are usually very little even for stories that gain thousands of clicks.
Back to the ungrateful individual for whom I gained publicity for his business at no cost to him on a major news site, he was shocked to find out how low the payment I actually did get was. Needless to say the whole experience made me wish I had never bothered.
Do you need free publicity? If you would like free, independent and professional advice about how to promote your business on a newspaper website at no cost to you, do contact me.