Social Networks That Pay Users for Content

These online publishers share the wealth with creators

Make money online

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The familiar model of a social media platform is a company that provides an application for you to share information about yourself and your interests with others. These applications are free to use but make money by selling information to advertisers. Many criticize this model because you're not getting paid for the "product" you produce (i.e. the information you share).

That's why an alternative social networking model has appeared on the scene. These social networks let you earn money writing for friends. Unlike typical social media platforms, these services do pay you for creating content. Here's what you need to know about them.

A New Paradigm

The sites offer a fresh, social take on a previous generation of “content farm” websites that allowed you to make money by blogging and writing articles focused on popular internet search keywords. First-generation paid content sites like HubPages were largely focused on traditional text content designed to be indexed by search engines.

These new pay-per-post websites resemble social networks like Facebook more than traditional how-to tutorials, but the core idea is similar; sites share their advertising revenue with users who create content by writing text updates or posting videos and photos.

Typically, you create short posts or visual updates for the network, then promote them to your friends and followers on other social networks. Some also reward you for signing up new people. Essentially, most of these apps function like advertising agencies, selling ads on behalf of content creators. They're middlemen and vary mostly in what they compensate you for and the formulas they use to set payments.

The New Age of Content Publishing

Here's a look at a few new-age content publishing platforms that pay, along with a description of how writers and video producers can make money from each of these apps and services:

Tsu

The Tsu social network launched publicly in October 2014 and got a lot of media attention for its hybrid model of sharing ad revenue with users. In addition to giving people credit for how many page views their content receives, Tsu also compensates content creators for recruiting newcomers to join the site. Its affiliate revenue formula resembles a pyramid, where people “upstream” from new recruits get compensated, even if they didn't directly recruit the new user.

Tsu shuttered in 2016, but it plans to relaunch in the near future.

Persona Paper

Persona Paper appears to be a copycat service that launched in 2014 with the goal of rewarding members for the content they post to the network through a share of the site’s advertising revenue. Personal Paper's interface is fairly simplistic and rough around the edges. The idea is similar to other, more fully fleshed out networks like Tsu that aim to compensate content creators by paying them.

Persona Paper illustrates the challenges you face in trying to judge which services are legitimate businesses and which are simply software scripts thrown up on the Web without necessarily having a solid business plan to back them up. You would be wise to search the internet for user reviews of all these services before investing much time in trying to build a network on any of them.

Content Creators, Beware

A number of copycat services have popped up promising to pay you for creating content on their networks. One example is Bitlanders, another digital currency social network where you earn the equivalent of bitcoins for posting content and engaging with other users’ content.

Creating new revenue-sharing business models is hard work, though, so you should expect to see many more of these social networks launching, tweaking their software, and changing their business models as they experiment with new and different ways to compensate users.

Complaints from content creators who don't feel they get paid the right amount, or on time, are also likely, as networks that grow fast often have trouble keeping up with the high volume of new users. Many also find the logistics of making payouts harder than anticipated.

It likely will take time before one of these sites finds the right formula and catches on with both users and advertisers, evolving into a paid-content publishing platform with staying power. Until then, you should think hard before investing too much time creating original content for startups.