Freelance Writing for Orato.com

| September 3, 2009

Orato.com is another online content site that may be worth keeping an eye on.

It’s been around since 1998, but recently hired some big guns to revamp the site and take it in a new direction. I’m not familiar with all of the names on the management team but Lisa Mansfield, the Managing Editor and Joy Guegeler, Publisher/Editor in Chief were previously with Suite 101. They did a tremendous job in helping to make Suite 101 the successful content site it is today.

With Lisa and Joy behind the scenes, I have no doubt that Orato.com will be a site worth writing for.

That being said, Orato is still undergoing some growing pains. This happens with all reputable sites in the process of change. I spent a little time perusing the site to see what it was all about. Feeling confident that management will do what it takes to make the site grow and gain respect, I wanted to see what writers get out of it.

Orato’s Positive FeaturesOrato in 2001

  • What I did like about the site is they offer personalized editor feedback and instructional videos. I believe that a large part of Suite 101’s success is due to the fact that they take the time to interact with writers and educate them on how to write compelling online copy. Unlike eHow, who undergoes occasional article sweeps to remove unwanted content, Suite makes sure the content is up to it’s standards at publication or very shortly thereafter.
  • Orato has a reward system for writers with 25 articles and 3 Editor’s Choice awards. The reward is an additional 10% in ad revenue share and a buy line of “Special Correspondent.”
  • Writers retain the copyright on their articles.
  • There are no monthly minimum article count, the revenue is based on pay per click, not page views and writers earn revenue on their content for as long as the content remains on the site.
  • Orato currently has a 5 Page Rank and an Alexa score of 158,000 (not too shabby).
  • Registration is as simple as providing a name address and password to log in. No request for social security numbers, resumes or sample work. Based in Canada, Orato accepts international writers.Suite 101 in 2001

Orato.com Negatives (maybe)

  • Writers only receive 20%of ad revenue share.

When I first looked at Orato, I was taken aback by the 20% revenue share, but then I thought about it for a minute. I realized that I don’t have a clue as to how Suite 101 pays its writers. Who knows, I might have started out at 20% there too and later received a boost when I became a Feature Writer.

My intention was to write a review and recommend writers to stay away from Orato.com because of the low earning percentage, but upon further investigation, I think it could be a winner. My opinion is largely based on the fact that Orato appears to be  incorporating some of the successful features of the Suite 101 model.

Any Orato writers care to share their experience?

Tags: , , ,

Category: Legitimate, Opportunities, Orato.com

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (20)

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  1. Alison says:

    I have been writing for Orato for over 6 months. I am not an editor and I have made special correspondent. I haven’t made huge amounts of money but one difference between Bukisa and Orato is that Bukisa you are paid on page views and Orato is on people who read your article and click on ads. I have articles on both and Bukisa might update with daily amounts of a few cents but when Orato figures increase it is by a more significant amount, just not as regularly.

  2. axel says:

    Felicia:

    You know how that little box comes up on your computer, asking if you trust a particular website or publisher before running a program? If anyone were to ask me that about Orato, my resounding answer would be “NO.” It simply doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    As I stated in an earlier post, the revenue tab is the key. I once registered over 700 new views on Orato and that revenue tab didn’t move one penny. Oh, I complained about it, and lo and behold the next day it suddenly moved.

    I republished some of my Orato articles at Bukisa, and within ten days I had passed my total earnings at Orato. And mind you, those articles had been sitting at Orato for almost a year. And I did it on far, far fewer views.

    Congratulations on getting paid from Orato. Well, that’s one by my accounting. Having this blog probably helped, don’t you think?

    Orato’s 12,000 views a week is really poor, especially for a site that’s been around since 1998. They don’t even bother to update their blogs anymore, another bad sign. It’s just as well, as their past blogs have almost entirely centered on the editors and their own careers. Virtually nothing about the writers, future plans for the website, etc.

    Well, when (if) you make special correspondent, please let us know. Have you ever read Catch-22, by the way?

    This is Axel, over and out and flying off into the wild blue. Yes, my definite final post on Orato. Good luck to all…

    • Felicia says:

      Axel, your dislike for Orato comes through loud and clear.

      I’m not so sure how my blog has helped me at Orato. I don’t link to the articles there, nor do I advertise them. I think they happened to have earned what they earned on their own.

      I’m sure my readers will read these posts (and your stern warnings) and do their research to make their decision as to whether or not to write for Orato.

      Thanks for your input.

  3. axel says:

    I’ve been keeping tabs on Orato for months now. My conclusion: Stay away from Orato.

    The biggest warning is the revenue tab, which doesn’t update every day or every week for that matter. Oh, sure, the view number changes, but those $$ don’t seem to follow the normal uptick like those at other writing sites.

    Also, Orato never did deliver on their promised new analytic tools. As for their “special correspondents,” I could only find one and he’s an editor.

    Orato is also behind the curve in their SEO practices. They limit articles to 600 words, incorrectly assuming that anything beyond 600 will diminish SEO. Nonsense! I’ve written articles numbering 1,200 words or more on other sites, and that didn’t stop them from placing page one on Google and garnering thousands of views.

    This is my last post concerning Orato. “I speak” from experience, and you can heed my advice – or not.

    • Felicia says:

      Hey Axel,

      I guess I was feeling quite the opposite. I only wrote 3 articles for them and forgot about them until I received payment from them in my PayPal account.

      I tend to write shorter articles so the 600 word limit is just fine by me. I usually prefer to break up longer articles into a two or three part series rather than one long article. The extra pages means there are more page views and more ads.

      You’re right about the revenue updates. They don’t seem to happen daily and they never implemented the analytic tools, but since I only have 3 articles there, I guess it doesn’t make much of a difference.

      I don’t think I’ll use them as one of my main resources for earning money, but they are good for backlinks and a couple of bucks here and there. As a matter of fact, I wrote three articles for them around the same time I wrote three for InfoBarrel. So far I haven’t earned a penny with InfoBarrel. From my experience, I’d rather write for Orato than InfoBarrel. Just my humble opinion.

  4. Cassandra James says:

    Orato, gets 12,000 views a week!!!! I get 6,000 views A DAY on my articles on Associated Content, and I get paid upfront for each one of them as well.

    Guess I’ll be another one giving Orato a miss, LOL.

  5. axel says:

    No one has come forward yet in answer to my query about actually earning money on Orato? Why am I not surprised?

  6. Kristen says:

    I published a few articles with Orato.com. One particular article was “edited” to read in tone and content nothing like the original (voice appropriation, I believe); to contain numerous grammatical mistakes; and to include false and misleading information that did not appear in the original.

    The editors refused to take down the article, even at my repeated requests. In fact, they were quite rude to someone who was providing them with free content. I did, however, find my own way to have that article taken down. Personally, I would never do business with Orato again (or the editors associated with it).

    • Felicia says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. That’s unfortunate that things worked out so poorly.

      I’ve not had a bad experience, but I don’t think I’ll keep writing there. It just doesn’t seem to be worth it at this point in time.

  7. axel says:

    I’d like to hear from someone – anyone – who has actually made money on Orato.

    Comment edited

  8. Deanna says:

    Well, I do have to agree with Axel on some points about Orato, but I’m not as angry about Orato as Axel seems to be. I’ve published a few articles at Orato, earned two editor choice awards, have two articles that are at the top for Reader’s Choice, have received hundreds of views and yet have only earned $0.10. The good news is that it wasn’t a waste of my time because I can republish the articles elsewhere. However, I am going to keep an eye on Orato to see what happens with it. You never know when a site will suddenly hit it big. Until then, I won’t be publishing any more articles there. Live and learn. 😉
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..Suite101 Update =-.

    • Felicia says:

      I’ve put Orato on the back burner. I wrote 3 articles, earned 1 Editor’s Choice and made $4.01.

      I guess I would have to put in a little more time and effort to truly evaluate the site, but I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t had the time.

      So, I’m still on the fence when it comes to Orato.

  9. axel says:

    I don’t know why anyone would waste their time at Orato. It’s one of these “editor glorification sites” – the writers do all the work and the editors collect the money.

    Orato talks a good game, but they don’t deliver. Example: their promised detailed stats tool never did materialize.

    As for their promotion process, they leave themselves a big out here: 25 articles and 3 editor choice awards. The catch: no one (except one of their writers-turned-editor) gets three awards.

    Of course, it doesn’t make any difference, as Orato will generate very little revenue for the writer. An additional 10% of zero is still zero.

    Don’t take my word for it. Look at Orato, and you will see that very few people are staying there for the long run.

    As for the 1,200 writers stat at Orato, that doesn’t mean a thing as a lot of them are inactive and will never post another article.

    Seriously, take a hard look at Orato. If you were surfing the net and landed at their site, would you really stay after being greeted by their Top Stories: Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Twitter Jeopardizes German Election. Gee, those are current stories.

  10. Kidgas says:

    I really appreciate the depth of information that is offered both in your article and in the comments. I will keep this information in mind, but right now I am busy with eHow and HubPages. I thoroughly enjoy your blog.
    .-= Kidgas´s last blog ..One Task Per Day =-.

  11. Joy Gugeler says:

    Hi Felicia:

    Thanks for your positive and fair endorsement of Orato – it’s always great to hear from our writers and to use their feedback to further evolve the site.

    That said, I wanted to respond to a few questions both you and Alina raised. (comment edited by NJFM: removed reference to Suite 101 ad revenue share %) Suite pays an additional 10% bonus for FWs, but this requires a personal review and there are a fixed number of spots – the reviews tend to take quite a while and the spots are often filled. At Orato we automatically bump a writer up to Special Correspondent at 25 articles, provided 3 have received an Editor’s Choice award so we know they have quality and quantity and there is no glass ceiling for promotion as there is no 1-to-1 ratio in terms of topic to FW/SC.

    In terms of copyright – writers always own their copyright, but this is different than rights granted a publisher. In both Suite’s case and Orato’s, and indeed most sites, the site asks for either exclusive or non-exclusive electronic serial rights in perpetuity both in their Terms & Policies and in their writer contracts. This means the writer must be aware they are granting them before they post and click an Agree button on the contract. Commentors do this by posting a comment as doing so means they accept the terms of the site usually noted in the footer links.

    If Alina reviews her Suite contract she’ll note that it asks for content to be exclusive to them for one year (ie you can’t post it elsewhere until the 12 months elapse), whereas Orato is fine with you publishing the same article in print or online elsewhere immediately and we’re happy to have high-quality content that’s already online as long as it complies to our guidelines and they have the right to post it. As always, we have the right to edit it. We send comments to our writers when this happens and there is a mutually-respectful exchange, but we do, as any publisher would, reserve the right to have our content reflect our standard. With so much unedited content online, we find our readers really value excellent work – all needles and no hay in the haystack that is the Internet.

    We do not remove content unless it is offensive, duplicate or underdeveloped in terms of sources, credibility, quality of writing and advice or is pure opinion/a rant. We don’t remove articles that are solid, even upon the writer’s request, because of the clauses Alina quoted and willingly agreed to when she signed the contract (we assume writers have read it obviously)- we don’t want to remove solid work we’ve invested in as well and must pay writers for that work; we can’t do that if we close the account as this is linked to payment.

    Suite’s contract says the same thing (shared by a Suite writer): “Suite101.com has the exclusive right to electronically publish the Content on the Internet in accordance with the terms of this Agreement for one (1) year from the posting date of Content and shall have the perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish it thereafter… In the event of termination, Suite101.com will have a continuing right to publish the Writer’s previously-delivered Content and all clauses of this Agreement apply to said Content. The Writer agrees to adhere to the Terms & Conditions as published on Suite101.com, which form a part of this agreement.” I would be very surprised if Suite removed any content upon a writer’s request given their right to continue publishing it.

    It does behoove any writer to read a contract carefully, but this is not some underhanded attempt to take what isn’t given – a writer agrees to this by posting.

    To correct a few stats: Orato has 1200 writers but has only been online for 3 years, whereas Suite has been online for 13. We have 3000 articles whereas Suite has 140,000. We have a page rank of 5 whereas Suite has 7. We have 12,000 PVs a week whereas Suite has 4 million, so though the sites are similar, their traffic and size are very different and therefore pay in different dividends. All of this is public knowledge as stated on their site.

    When I started, the traffic at Suite was 2 million, as their historical timeline shows for 2006; when I left it was 4x that. Once a site reaches a certain size it has a critical mass not unlike a snowball pushed down a hill that gets bigger exponentially. Orato hasn’t reached that size yet because it did not have an archive with 90,000 articles when I took over 9 months ago, whereas Suite had. That said, we’ve seen a very significant take-up in writers and articles recently and trust that the word and advertising is getting around. We also have a number of partnerships that will dramatically increase the volume of our content.

    I stand by the other 2 editors here and Orato’s collective standards and can confirm that we do not introduce errors when we edit (inadvertent typos are corrected immediately as are facts that have changed or been clarified), nor do we edit arbitrarily or without justification, but rather for the improvement of the content and the writer’s skills. Writers who are not used to being edited at all, or who are no longer edited due to their role on another site and time constraints, may find this a wake-up call, but as our pages of testimonials concur, the real value in any publishing relationship is the 1-on-1 contact, skill and portfolio building, and a community of peers whom you respect. I believe Orato offers that, but leave it to each writer to determine for her/himself. With 1200 writers, it is impossible to please everyone and some are never pleased unless they aren’t edited at all – to whom we suggest getting a blog.

    There is no quota at Orato so writing is up to you – we invite new writers to see for themselves rather than taking my word or that of a naysayer. We’re confident the experience will speak for itself and that we “speak from experience” as our tagline attests. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify on Orato’s behalf, and on Suite’s (though they can do so themselves if needed) and all the best with your own endeavors.

    Joy Gugeler
    Editor-in-Chief, Publisher
    .-= Joy Gugeler´s last blog ..Fans Get Sneak Peak of 3D Avatar =-.

    • Felicia says:

      After reading the above comments, I did a little digging on my own and I found out that the contract for Suite 101 and Orato are pretty much identical. I bolded and italicized the words noted in Alina’s comments but kept the full context of each section of the contract:

      Orato Policies (original wording can be found here)

      Your Liability

      You are legally and ethically responsible for words, files, pictures, or any other work you post using Orato’s services and are responsible for honoring the rights of others, including intellectual-property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark), the right to privacy, and the right not to be libeled or slandered. If you wish to post any work on the Website, you are responsible for obtaining the copyright holder’s permission first.

      In posting a work on Orato, you authorize others to respond to and link to your work. That said, readers may not otherwise reproduce or disseminate this work unless permission has been granted by you.

      By posting content on Orato you grant Orato the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and non-exclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to publish, excerpt, and display the content (in whole or in part) worldwide.

      Suite 101 Terms and Conditions: (Original wording can be found here )

      Personal Liability

      You are legally and ethically responsible for words, files, pictures, or any other work you post or transmit using Suite101’s services (the “Work”) and are responsible for honoring the rights of others, including intellectual-property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark), the right to privacy, and the right not to be defamed. If you wish to post any Work on the Website in which a third party owns the copyright, you are responsible for obtaining the copyright holder’s permission first.

      In posting a Work via any service offered by Suite101, you authorize others to respond to and link to your Work. However, you agree not to reproduce or disseminate the Work of others, unless permission has been granted by the original author.

      By posting Work on Suite101 you grant Suite101 the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and non-exclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to publish, excerpt, and display the Work (in whole or in part) worldwide.


      My Non Legal Opinion

      I understand Alina’s concern about being legally responsible for an article after it was severely edited, thus losing it’s original flavor. However, Orato has a side by side editorial feature where writers can compare their original version to the edited version.

      I’m no attorney, but I would hope that by showing how the original article was so severely edited by the Orato editing team thus causing an offense/infringement would give the author a way out from being legally responsible.

      • Felicia says:

        I feel I need to make further updates to this post to clear up a few things.

        I was contacted by the Pres & CEO of Suite 101, Peter Berger, and got the real scoop on the Suite payment structure (no I’m not name dropping. Imagine my shock when I received his email and subsequently spoke to him on the phone).

        Suite 101 is contractually prohibited from giving details about their revenue share structure. In my conversation with Mr. Berger, although he did not divulge the actual Suite/writer revenue percentages, suffice it to say that the revenue share percentage is generous and it makes sense to continue writing for Suite (I hope I’m not telling tales out of school but the share is higher than 20%).

        Now that we’ve got all that out and in the open, I still think Orato is worth a shot and as I’ve said before, Suite is definitely a site worth writing for.

  12. Alina Bradford says:

    I admit it is a great laid out site. On the other hand, myself and many other writer there have been having trouble with the editors. In the editing process the editors have introduced more errors, deleted multiple paragraphs and added copyrighted photos. I’ve had to go back and re-edit articles that have been “edited”.
    Also, take a look at this:

    From the Orato Policies Index:
    “By posting content on Orato you grant Orato the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and non-exclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to publish, excerpt, and display the content (in whole or in part) worldwide….”

    also….

    “You are legally and ethically responsible for words, files, pictures, or any other work you post using Orato’s services…..”

    So in layman’s terms, once you post it, you can’t have it taken down, even if they edit it into oblivion. I’ve had this happen to me and they refused to remove the articles.
    And they can theoretically edit your material to contain copyrighted material, etc. and they won’t be sued – the writer remains liable.

    New writers should also note that this entire site only gets around 12,000 views a month, according to Joy. I get more views than that on my articles at Suite, per WEEK, all by myself. What’s really shocking is that Orato has been around almost as long as Suite. Revamp or no, they should still be doing better than that, I would think.
    Needless to say, I won’t be posting any more articles for them after my experience and hearing about the experiences of others.

    Thanks,
    Alina
    .-= Alina Bradford´s last blog ..How to Take Photos on a Sunny Day =-.

    • Felicia says:

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experience Alina.

      So far I’ve only published one article. The editorial changes were minor (I used ‘of’ when I should have used ‘for’ or something just as minor). The article also received an Editors Choice award (much to my surprise). My image and the rest of the article remained untouched.

      As with any site, writers should proceed with caution. Not everyone will have a favorable experience and I truly appreciate your warnings.

      It’s been my practice with new and/or revamped sites to slowly build a foundation of articles. It gives me a chance to get a better lay of the land, so to speak. The only site where I wrote a lot of articles in a short period of time was eHow. I learned my lesson because the quality of my earlier articles are no where near the quality (nor financial reward) of my later articles.

      I’m going to take it slow with Orato. The 12,000 views a month doesn’t concern me much because quality content, keywords and SEO will draw traffic. I’m in no rush with Orato.com. I’ve already got an arsenal of freelance writing sites that pay me regularly. Orato is an addition to those sites just like InfoBarrel and HubPages.

      Over the past year or so I’ve found that slow and steady wins the race so I’m willing to take it slow, monitor my progress and eventually determine if Orato will work for me. Given your experience with the site, I truly understand your not wanting to continue writing for them and I want to thank you again for sharing your experience with them.

  13. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the review- never heard of this site before! Might be worth checking out…
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..August Earnings Update =-.