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Themestream.com is Closing its Doors: Another Door Will Open
Perhaps it's time for another door to open?
18th April 2001
There are a lot of sore writers out
Who can blame us?
Inkspot.com’s demise left many of us
scrambling for new sources of community and resources on the web.
Themestream.com announced its self-imposed euthanasia last week, effective
What does this mean for writers on the
web? How are we going to cope?
It’s not as dismal as many of us
think. To be honest, I only made $280.00 at Themestream.com. I only found
one client at Inkspot.com.
I won’t miss the money one bit. To
be honest, while my online writing career began at Themestream over a year
ago, I made the least amount of money from it than any other company I
worked for. Themestream bought me a few weeks of groceries, but writing
for the web on a professional level paid the rent plus paid for some great
Themestream’s Achilles Heel:
Writing for the Community
Of course, what I will miss is the
great articles, resources, and support these forums provided. I’ll miss
the great writers as well as the not-yet-great writers. I’ll miss the
community that resulted from Themestream.com, but I won’t miss the
Themestream.com editors. (I am sure we’ll see them all in another
venture, maybe not soon, but we’ll definitely see them again!) I’ll
miss real-time comments from my readers. I’ll miss the sense of
community, but I won’t miss the sense of “unfairness” or the strange
cliques that formed. Themestream.com, despite its best intentions, became
a forum somewhat like Usenet or other news boards.
The first round of people to join
Themestream were in it for the opportunity. They were ready to join a new
revenue opportunity and hailed Themestream.com for its instant
gratification. They were also ready to have their writing taken seriously
on the web.
The second wave of people to join
Themestream.com were in it for the money; Themestream was deluged with
articles about “Making Money at Themestream” and spam became a way of
life for these Themestreamers. Of
course, these Themstreamers made the most money, but quickly lost their
subscribers!) Themestream decided to weed out these individuals, set new
policies, and change its focus.
In a short time, we all lost our
titles as “Authors” and became “Contributors.” Themestream again
changed its focus; they wanted articles from anybody who felt passionate
about anything. Instant gratification brought in droves of unlikely
participants; religious leaders, politicians, stay-at-home dads, ordinary
people with a message they wanted to convey. It was wonderful for
“would-be” writers, and at the same time, it was bad for the content
It was wonderful that people who had
always wanted to write found the bravery to share their words with others,
and it was bad that the experienced writers became enmeshed with the very
new, very fresh writers. Because of the sporadic quality of articles,
there were very few outside readers, and Themestreamers turned to each
other for support. They also referred their writer friends, rather than
“enthusiast readers” to join the revolution. Themestream was by
writers, for writers from this point on. For some reason, nobody bothered
to tell them this. :-)
Developing writing skills and creating
content became interchangeable at Themestream. Writers learned their craft
and published it in its various stages as they went along. It provided a
wonderful learning experience, and a bleak revenue experience. Themestream
had unwittingly become a safe haven for the writing community; but because
they weren’t selling writing products, they didn’t make ends meet. The
fees paid to contributors continued to be cut. Categories were changed and
downsized, but Themestream somehow couldn’t find a way to draw revenue
for their users.
The users of Themestream WERE the
contributors; they had over 40,000.00 contributors, and they never tried
to sell them a thing they would be interested in! What does any aspiring
writer want? They want to continue to write! While Themestream continued
to sell advertising to general interest companies, they continued to
ignore the needs of their writers-improving their writing! Networking with
each other! Surely a few of the “newbie” writers could have used a few
books on writing or professional critiques. Professional
writers are always looking out for cool software that helps them
streamline the submission process.
Somehow they didn’t see the forest
for the trees.
Where Can Online Writers Go From
Because the sky isn’t really
falling, it’s important for writers to know that the writing community
hasn’t fallen away into a void in cyberspace. There are still hundreds
of great venues that accept and market your writing for you. They don’t
ask you to invite your friends and they don’t give you instant
gratification. However, they do pay and they do help you navigate your way
through the editorial process. Most venues online DO have an editorial
process, which you may actually think is pretty cool. Having an editor to
answer to is much easier than having a customer service department that
won’t return your email. You get the personal attention you crave. Of
course, if you’re writing isn’t up to par, they may reject your work
or ask you to resubmit it. But having a bad piece of writing is like
having a cowlick. You’d rather know about it and fix it than put it out
for the world to see.
A few slow-growing, (which I, as a
dot-com refugee, interpret as stable) marketplaces out there for writers
There are also thousands of websites
that are topic-specific that need freelance writers. Finding them may be
tricky, but they’re out there.
Separating content creation and the
writing community from the writing itself is essential; how are we to be
objective when we are only writing for writers as an audience? Writers
write to reach people. Excluding the rest of the world from our writing
would be boring, redundant, and exclusive. Why deprive the world of the
insight and creativity we have to share? We still have our message; we
just have to find other ways to get it out there. New writers need
experienced writers to mentor them and lead the way; and vice versa. We
can learn a lot from each other.
If you’re looking for a resource or
community to “fill the void”, check out the following websites:
While each of these websites focuses
on different aspects of writing, they all serve the needs of writers
across the globe. Isn’t that what the writing community needs?
The Final Word
Content creation is a result of
research, knowledge, elbow grease, writing skills and style. With these
elements combined, writing on your favorite pastime, hobby, or issues can
still be profitable. Content
creation is a great career, freelance or full-time, if you know your
markets and are prepared to work.
By joining a writing community, you
can get the tools you need. You can’t get an instant critique, but the
“separation of content and creation” can help further your writing
career more than you ever imagined.
I’ve heard that it is always great
to specialize and know your topic inside out. Why not try to make a living
out of it?
Perhaps that what all writing on the
web really needs:
Content creators that write for the
people, and writing communities that critique and mentor each other.
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