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about.com guide prep program

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by digger, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. digger

    digger New Member

    Does anyone have any experience with this? Can you give any insight on how it works? Is it reasonable? It sounds like they take two or more applicants and pit them against each other. Any tips? (This makes it seem like we need an about.com category on about.com)
  2. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I tried it about a year ago. Absofuckinglutely ridiculous.

    On day one of your training session where you are pitted against others - I was against three others, they make you outline the entire site you will be working on.

    My topic was track and field; they wanted me to outline a site encompassing subjects for every article I would ever write for them.

    Then I had to load up a database with hundreds of keywords that I might use in those articles. They called them metafilters or something confusing.

    Then I had to go in a fill in a topics list of all the topics I would cover, and place them into the outline accordingly.

    However, it wasn't as simple as writing them in a list in a word doc. You had to log into their database and go through a long process for each topic you loaded into the system. You also have to create a profile and they have all kinds of rules for what you can and can't write.

    From what I remember the pay was good $750-$850 per month for 2 articles per month and 2 blogs per week. But I never made it that far. The set-up was so confusing and daunting that I decided I didn't have time for it. I wish I had stuck with it because I could use the money, but nothing helped. If I called our emailed the about.com instructors they would just send me through a confusing tutorial and it wouldn't help.

    Good luck.
  3. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Oh and they don't pay you for the monthlong training period either. Only if you get selected. So even after setting up the whole site, you could just get a letter saying you didn't make the cut.
  4. digger

    digger New Member

    Thanks for the heads up. That's the way it seemed, but I wasn't positive. Maybe they've made it less confusing?
  5. Roscablo

    Roscablo Well-Known Member

    Prep can be tedious, but they have changed it since mustangj17 went through it and it is much better.

    Now it takes about three weeks with two phases that last about 10 days each.

    The first phase you have to create five or six stories (they give you a list of topics to choose from) and three or four blogs. You submit those to an editor and they give you feedback. If you pass that phase you have to start building your site and getting used to all their technical tools (which are pretty basic) using the content you created in the first phase. You don't have to write any more during the second phase but you can if you want. That's it. No head-to-head crap or outlines or anything else.

    You likely are going up against a few other people, but you don't know who they are. One of the hardest things is not knowing really what the About people are thinking or how you are stacking up against others, etc. And it's not paid.

    But if you get through it, you do get a small bonus and the work is much more spread out. Think of prep as building the foundation of the site and then after that it's smoother sailing.
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