Exploring Yahoo Contributor Network

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. In Part 2, we put Yahoo Contributor Network through its paces - a two-week trial in which seven articles were published, the results presented and analyzed in "Does it Work? Yahoo! Contributor Network". If you are a YCN user, please share your experiences by leaving a comment!

In May 2010, Yahoo purchased Associated Content for $100 million. Not long after, it was rebranded as Yahoo Contributor Network (YCN). Now, Yahoo is one of the biggest content producers on the Web. Using YCN, anyone can publish just about anything with the push of a button - articles, videos and photos included - to Associated Content and Yahoo partner sites, and get paid for it.

YCN opens new opportunities for freelancers and businesses alike to find new audiences, earn revenue and promote their brands. Let's take a closer look.

Getting Started
Assuming that most Web professionals can follow a simple registration process, I will skip the step-by-step instructions. However, do not overlook steps in the process that ask for details in your profile. Be sure to include any and all of your websites, Facebook and Twitter profiles (and any other relevant networks), and be very detailed about personal information and areas of expertise. YCN will use this information to determine what contributors get which assignments, including localized assignments such as community reports and business reviews. Linking to websites, blogs and online profiles helps extend your network both in and outside the YCN community - and this is vital to your success.

Submitting Content
After completing the registration process,content may be submitted immediately. During the submission process you will create a title and description, choose tags, select photos and provide other supporting information to the article including links and citations. Essentially, you are determining how the search engines will index and display your content. As such, these are some of the most important steps in the process.

To ensure that your content has the best chance of success - defined by page views and earnings - choose the best possible keywords and phrases to use in titles and descriptions, tags and in the body of the content itself. Use a keyword tool (Google's External Keyword Tool or another of your choosing) to select those keywords with the highest search volume.

At this time, images can also be included. Frankly, I have found this to be one of the more difficult and time-consuming parts of the entire process. YCN is very specific in its guidelines for image use. Yahoo's public gallery can be used, but outside of that the options are limited unless using your own images. Time is money on YCN, so if images are not essential to the article, consider skipping them.

Editors at YCN will manually review your first three submissions for publication. Depending on the type of payment options selected, this process will take one to two weeks. After the first three articles have been published, content can then be published immediately - again, depending on the payment options selected.

Getting Paid
Earning with YCN comes in two basic forms; up-front payments and performance payments. All payments are made via PayPal.

Up-front payments can be selected as an option when submitting content and the review process can take about 10 days. Payments can vary, but an "offer" is made ranging from $2 to $15. Once accepted, the content is published and eligible for performance payments.

Performance payments are based on every 1,000 page views your content receives. Payments range, depending on which Yahoo property publishes the content. Associated Content pays the highest at $1.50 per 1,000 views and Yahoo Sports pays the lowest of $1.10. Each contributor has a "Clout" score that increases as more articles are published and page views received. Increased Clout can result in higher payouts.

When it comes to distribution, publishers also have options from which to choose.

Exclusive means that Yahoo owns the rights to the content once it is published. The content cannot have been previously published nor can it be republished by you. According to YCN, this offers the best chances for higher up-front payments and better distribution, theoretically leading to better performance payouts.

Non-Exclusive means that the content producer is free to publish the content anywhere. Non-Exclusive is eligible for low up-front payments and carries a slightly lower chance of high performance-based payouts.

Display-Only content may have been previously published, can be republished by you and is completely under your control - meaning you can remove it from the Yahoo Network at any time. This content is not eligible for up-front payments and has the lowest opportunity for performance payments, according to Yahoo.

YCN for Businesses
What can YCN do for your business? Although that might vary from business to business, there exist a couple of universal opportunities.

Content is a commodity - it is shared across the Web and you can benefit by including your business or product within this content. Consider addressing an important bit of news or valuable information
about your industry as a content submission. Your business can be included in the article - and linked to - or as a reference or citation. Should a piece of content you produce catch on with YCN and its partners, you stand to increase the visibility of your business by thousands, even tens of thousands of potential customers not previously aware of your products or services. And, depending on where the article is published, perhaps even gain some credibility in the process.

One of YCN's biggest pushes of late is local content. In my brief experience, I have received offers from the Assignment Desk to produce content covering everything from local delicacies to local places to buy Christmas trees and baked goods. It goes without saying that local businesses have an opportunity here. Yahoo is even recruiting local bloggers and neighborhood journalists. After publishing just a few brief articles through YCN, I received no less than four offers at $10 each for coverage of local topics and businesses.

Of course, YCN is not intended to be a spam machine, nor should it be treated that way. But as a local service provider or business owner, you have every reason to share your knowledge, expertise and resources with the community.

Read Part 2, where we put YCN through its paces - a two-week trial in which seven articles were published, the results presented and analyzed in "Does it Work? Yahoo! Contributor Network".

About the Author: Mike Phillips is Website Magazine's senior editor.