Sunday, March 02, 2014

Some thoughts on my experience

As I mentioned the other day, my final long-form article went up last Thursday (February 27th). Although I'll continue in my role as the Insurance Content Expert Writer (CEW) at Answers, that role has significantly changed.

I think that's a good thing.

When I was first approached to apply for the position, the folks at Answers were very clear as to what they expected from me (10-20 articles per month, each article had to clock in at between 400 and 600 words, specific format choices), and that they could modify that agreement at any time going forward. That seemed (and seems) fair, and I applied for the position knowing full well what that meant.

Or so I thought.

No, they did not mislead me in any way; rather, I misled myself. I had determined that writing 3 articles a week would get me to 12 or so a month, which seemed eminently doable. And heck, this is insurance, after all - how hard could it be to come up with a virtually endless supply of topics?

Aye, there's the rub:

As it turns out, writing "evergreen" articles (that is, non-"topical" pieces that would remain accurate for some indefinite period of time) is a lot harder than I'd anticipated: while insurance policies change all the time, insurance principles generally don't. Plus, I'd determined to go outside my own comfort zone of Life and Health, and try to write about Property and Casualty plans, as well. My knowledge of that side of "the biz" is, hmm, limited, but I have quite a few P&C friends with whom to consult (and to whom I am eternally grateful). Still, I found myself brainstorming topic ideas, in an effort to stockpile as many potential posts as possible.

This became a losing battle.

Fortunately for me, about two months in they lowered my minimum "quota" to 5 posts per month. Surely, I thought, that can't be difficult. Again, I was fooling myself as I quickly ran through my "stash" of topics.

Finally, in early February, I received a very nice email from the folks at, informing me that they had revisited the whole CEW program, and decided that the numbers just weren't working. I get that: as far as I can tell, they had dozens of CEWs in various categories  churning out hundreds of articles every month. That's a lot of cash going out and, although I really don't know how much they took in (none of my business, of course), I have to think this became a losing proposition for them.

I was pleasantly surprised at my own reaction: rather than profound disappointment or even anger, I felt relief. After all, I still have my real job, plus IB, and, most important, my family, with whom I would like to spend at least some time.

And then there's that whole sleep thing...

So, beginning this month, I'll be tasked with answering just six insurance-related questions per year, which they'll feed to me every so often, and to which I must craft a 100 or so word response. Of course, this dramatically reduces the amount they're paying me, but I can live with that. The long-form compensation was very nice, but I think we'll survive without it (after all, we survived without it before I accepted the position).

All in all, I must say that this has been a very positive experience, and my "body of work" will remain online at (and I'll continue to be their Insurance CEW).

So: Thank You,, for the opportunity and the experience!
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