New Year Brings Good News for The Awl Writers

The Awl will ring in the new year by paying its writers, co-founder Choire Sicha told Yahoo!’s The Cutline, adding that the site now draws 500,000 monthly visitors. Sicha said:

Each month, we plan to lop off some portion of our income and share that money equally among the month’s writers. Paying writers has been a top priority since day one. We talked quite a bit about models of pay, and about what models were “right” and what were “expedient.” In the end, we kept coming back to a form of profit-sharing.

This has upsides — for one, it’s an extremely honest and real-world value, pegged as it is to the site’s overall success. The downside might be that the pay won’t be a lot, shared as it is, particularly in the beginning. And somewhere in the middle — neither a downside nor an upside, really — is the fact that straight money, tied to income, doesn’t influence or connote values with regard to what type of work people are doing. In short: it doesn’t reward page-view-hustling.

We think that this meets the test for best practices. It’s practical, after all, while also expressing our values. It should be said that we reserve the right to completely change our minds, however, after we try it out. Trial exposes unforeseen problems; user experience gives unexpected feedback. You never know.

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