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Is Vocal Media a Scam? Can You Make Mone ...

Is Vocal Media a Scam? Can You Make Money Writing for Vocal Media?

Apr 09, 2021

I’ve been trying out the platform Vocal Media. It’s one of the more recent writing platforms to appear on the scene, similar to Medium and Newsbreak.

I decided to try Vocal Media since they were offering a free one-month trial, but I’ve been active for two months and paid for the Vocal+ membership.

I recently ended my Vocal+ membership; here are my thoughts on the platform as a whole.

What is Vocal Media?

Vocal Media is touted as a platform for users seeking an alternative to Medium or to their own self-hosted website (ie. Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix). It allows for a wide array of topics, divided into topics like Beat, Blush, Lifehack, Journal, etc. Both fiction and nonfiction content are allowed on Vocal Media.

The site and all of its stories are free, but Vocal Media also offers a $10 monthly membership to be part of Vocal+. The main benefits of joining the membership is that it grants you access to all the contests on the site (deemed “Challenges”), and it increases the rate at which you make money when users view your content.

How Do You Make Money on Vocal Media?

Writers make money on the platform through the views gained from readers ($3.80 per 1000 views; Vocal+ members get $6.00 per 1000 views). They can also receive additional monetary compensation from readers in the form of tips, and cash bonuses from the staff at Vocal Media.

Pros of Vocal Media

Once I registered, it was easy to get started writing on the platform. The interface is clean and simple, similar to Medium, and there’s no huge learning curve. You can post as much as you want, and at the end of every post there is a Twitter button and a Facebook button to allow you to share your writing on social media.

Vocal Media also allows you to pull free images from the website Unsplash to add to the visual appeal of your posts. Embed capabilities are permitted to gifs, Youtube videos and embeds to other sites within your posts.

It also appears that every post is reviewed by an editorial team before going live on the site, so there’s some level of quality control on the content on Vocal Media.

Cons of Vocal Media

Where do I begin with Vocal Media?Forgive me for being so vocal, Vocal, but...You and I need to have words. Yet you seem to be rather short of them for those of us who don't happen to be either…

Cannot Edit or Delete Content Once Published

One of the biggest drawbacks about writing on Vocal Media is that once a post has been made, it cannot be edited.

This may be because every post can potentially be entered into a Challenge, so they want to ensure that users are amending their entries leading up to the deadline, but it’s very annoying that Vocal Media lacks the ability for writers to make corrections.

Formatting Not User-Friendly

Also, while Vocal Media allows for some formatting of content, the experience is not user-friendly. Compared to Medium or Wordpress, the toolbar used to format text is tiny; you have to be precise when clicking the buttons or nothing happens. It’s time-consuming and it’s frustrating.

No Views on Your Writing

Vocal Media has virtually NO reach on Google. Compared to Medium, where I receive considerably strong views due to Medium’s robust domain authority, the only way users are going to see your content is if a) the editors deem it a “Top Story” and promote it on the front page b) you enter it in a Challenge, or c) you promote it yourself.

Since I have my own website, I’d much rather promote writing from my own domain. Also, apparently in some countries (ie. Australia), it’s illegal to promote one’s content on Facebook, which hinders their reach even further.

Sponsored Posts Promoted Over Independent Writing

As I was perusing the front page, I noticed Vocal Media had started taking sponsored writing on their website. On the main page, two posts about PYM Mood Chews were given prominent spots as Top Stories.

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This appears to be part of the Vocal Media’s Story Partnerships Program. However, the site is not transparent on what qualifies a writer to write for the program.

Of the two posts about PYM Mood Chews, only one of the authors has posted on Vocal Media in the past. As for the other writer, this is their first post on Vocal Media, which seems to go against the parameters of eligibility to be a part of the Story Partnerships Program.

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Guidelines to write for Vocal for Brands

Vocal Media Has a Payout Threshold

Vocal Media pays writers via Stripe, but to get compensated, writers must first reach the $35 minimum threshold (the minimum is $20 for Vocal+ members). Again, the problem lies with Vocal Media’s poor reach, so unless a post is getting actively promoted, it stands to make only pennies.

The only way, therefore, to reach the threshold is to a) get promoted b) score tips from readers, c) get Vocal bonuses, or d) win challenges.

I received a $10 bonus from Vocal Media, but even with my weekly posting, I am still at least $18 away from being able to claim it.

The only surefire way to redeem funds is to continue to write for Vocal consistently. For example, there is a gentleman on one of the Vocal Media Facebook groups touting huge returns from the site, but bear in mind this individual writes every single day and currently has over 300 posts on the site.

What About the Challenges?

Lastly, the Challenges. Initially, I signed up with the free 30-day trial to get a feel for Vocal Media but what kept me on the platform were the Challenges. At the time, Vocal Media was promoting Moleskine’s Little Black Book Challenge, and the grand prize boasted was $20,000. I ended up paying for an additional month of membership since only Vocal+ members were eligible for the Challenge, and my free trial ended days before the contest closed.

I would eventually go on to enter four contests, each of various prize payouts and entry pool sizes.

Overall, I think the challenges are fine, but I don’t recommend being a member to enter the Vocal+ challenges.

The entrant pool can sometimes span into the thousands, as was the case with The Little Black Book challenge, and with other Challenges the window of reading entrants didn’t make sense.

For example, according to the rules the Black in Business Challenge closed and announced winners on the same day; there were over 500 entrants.

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Over 500 entrants, winners announced less than 24 hours after the deadline?

Also, I’ve noticed that the same individuals tend to win the challenges. I think it’s nice Vocal Media allows entrants to submit multiple times, but with an increased entrant pool, you’d think there’d be some variety in the winners. Not so; in fact, two of the three winners of the most recent challenge I entered have also won previous challenges.

Now that Vocal Media has a larger userbase (over 20,000 according to a recent press release), you’d expect there would be an increase in quality competitors. It just rubs me the wrong way the same handful of writers collect the winnings.

So…Is Vocal Media Legit?

In my humble opinion, Vocal Media is a legitimate site to make money from your writing, but some of its practices make me hesitant to suggest the platform to writers.

if you are a new, inexperienced writer without a niche who just wants the opportunity to make a little cash on the side, then I recommend the FREE version of Vocal Media, as it offers virtually the same benefits as the Vocal+ membership.

However, if you are a more seasoned writer who chooses not to house your writing on a self-hosted site, then I would recommend Wattpad for fiction writers and Medium for non-fiction writers.

I have ended my subscription to Vocal Media; I will still remain on the site and continue to post in order to at least recoup my membership fee, but I will no longer devote time and energy into writing for the Challenges.

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