Paul Carr: So there’s a guy called Nicholas Jackson who's starting a new site, which will describe to journalists how to pitch to certain publications. If you want to pitch Playboy, Rolling Stone, whatever, a bit like MediaBistro used to do, when it was in its heyday, before Laurel Touby sold the site. He emailed me and said, "We're doing this and would you be interested in writing one for Not Safe for Work?" And I said, "Of course. I don't have anything else to do." Except of course I still haven't got round to it and I just said to Chris earlier, before the show, "Well, fuck it, we'll just talk about it on the show and then we'll just transcribe what we say and send that to him. It will be just as accurate.”
Chris Goscinski: “Fuck it, we'll do it live.”
Paul: Anyway, a few people have asked us, "Do you have freelancers? How does it work?" It's something I want to talk about because the answer is: No, we don't really take freelance contributions. By which I mean, We don't have a set plan. We don't have a document we can send you to tell you what we want. We don't have an answer to the question, "What kind of stuff are you looking for?"
That being said, we do commission articles from people who aren’t yet full-time staffers. Jason Walsh is a freelancer, for example. His day job is with the Christian Science Monitor. All of our full-time people did start out as freelancers. We definitely do take freelancers. We just don't have a policy. If we did, though, it would be this. First of all, I laugh every time we get a submission or an email from someone who says, "I'm not a subscriber to Not Safe for Work, but I would love…."
Chris: Oh God, yes.
Paul: "… I would love to submit something. Can you tell me what you're looking for?" The answer is, "I'm looking for people who have read Not Safe for Work."
Chris: “That’s a good rule if you’re applying for any job.”
Paul: That said, we have had people who have applied for jobs, who clearly have not read Not Safe for Work. Those people, let's agree, are idiots. Freelancers, I understand that it's $3.00 a month. And, if you're a freelancer, you might not have $3.00 a month. But, in that case, Not Safe for Work is not for you because you pretty much have to understand what we're about.
Second thing, no we don't have a particular angle; we're not looking for any particular pieces. We have staff writers. We have plenty of stuff coming in but I would like you to subscribe to Not Safe for Work, read it, and have a great idea.
If you pitch us a great idea, I don't care how much it costs to do. I don't care who you've written for before. I don't care about anything else. If you have a great idea and I believe that you can write it, we will commission you right out of the gate.
We've commissioned people to do 10,000 words out of the gate. We've commissioned people to do big pieces for us who have never written for us before. Which brings me to the next question: What do we pay?
The answer to that is a little open ended, too. The stump speech answer is $1 a word. I try to get in around that, if I can, especially for new contributors. That having been said, the print stuff often pays more than that.
We also send people to places. We pay for travel. We pay for expenses.
We certainly pay people more than $1 a word but I would be lying if I said we don't sometimes pay people less than that.
Sometimes, if an idea doesn't require much research, but they file 600 words on something where we've asked for 300, they're not getting $600. We aim for about $1.00 a word, if we can. Clearly, we don't always hit that.
Chris: It's not a guessing game the entire time.
Paul: No, well, basically, you pitch me an idea. We'll have a conversation about it. We'll figure out how much it's going to cost, in terms of your time and the expenses, and then we will agree you'll go and write the story and then we'll pay you. We pay really fucking quickly, by the way. That's the answer I have. It's not very exciting. It's not very interesting. Nicholas asked the question and that is my answer.
Chris: I think the subscriber part is the most important part.
Paul: We will never commission you if you are not a subscriber. I'm sorry. I know that sounds like, well, you have to pay us in order for us to consider your pitch. It isn't that. It genuinely isn't that. It is a question of there being no universe in which you are going to be able to write in a Not Safe for Work-appropriate style if you haven't read Not Safe for Work and haven't been reading it probably for a little while. That's the answer.
Chris: OK, I’ll get that transcribed.
Paul: Great. Print. Send. Done.
Paul Carr, the founder and editor-in-chief of NSFW Corporation, is the author of The Upgrade: A Cautionary Tale of a Life Without Reservations and Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore. Follow him @paulcarr.
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