Monday, November 11, 2013

Wanted: Suckers Who Know How to Write

What have I been up to for the last month? Well, not blogging, obviously.

No, I've been making time for a daily yoga practice, doing homework for my yoga teacher training, keeping up with work, finding time to bead, hosting house guests, spending time with my son and husband, and trying to keep all of us warm and well-fed.

Which leads me to...

On occasion, I frequent the website elephant: dedicated to the mindful life. The articles on there are fascinating and ring true to me, but the founder of the website, Waylon Lewis, comes across as some kind of self-important misogynistic prig. (Did that sound mean?) Indeed, if you look at his bio page, he describes himself as this edgy "Dhama brat" who seems to think that the 70s open-shirt fashion trend is hot once again. (Did that sound mean?)

I had been tossing around the idea of submitting a few articles to elephant to see what would happen, when my sister came across this: the Apprenticeship program.

For four months, you commit to spending about 10-15 hours a week learning from the staff (including the illustrious Wayne himself) about mindful blogging, social media, and other journalism skills for the electronic age.

In return, you get no financial compensation, and you must pay a $100 deposit, which they can keep at their discretion if at any time they decide that THEIR investment in you is "not worthwhile".

Woa, back up - the writer has to pay the publisher? Are we living in Opposite World or something?

I wasn't so outraged at first, but the more I thought about it, the more angry I became.

Sure, this would probably be a great way to learn more about social media, blogging, and how to use WordPress, which seems to be the current hot blogging/epublishing platform.

But just to make sure that you're really serious about it, YOU have to pay THEM?

Something just seems so wrong about this. It would be like if the publishers of Beadwork magazine, my favorite beading magazine, suddenly said to their contributors, "Hey, we really love your project and all the work you put into it, but if you want us to publish it, you'll need to pay us $180 to cover the costs of editing and photographing your project."


And if you are lucky enough to be able to survive Waylon's sarcastic tone and self-important chest pounding, then you MIGHT be lucky enough to earn a few dollars every month.

But, as he said, it's "highly unlikely".

I did notice a few of the posts where they list the writers who did manage to earn a few dollars a month in compensation for their work. One of the highest-paid writers contributed a total of 28 blogs/articles in a single month, and she was compensated $500.

That seems pretty good, right? $500 for 28 articles?

Not really.

When you think about the taxes that must be paid on income from self employment (around 50%), that means she earned a whopping $8.92 (approximately) per article.

This writer had tens of thousands of page views - which translates to clicks on the advertiser's links, increased readership, and maybe even a few dollars in donations to

And she got less than $9 per article.

If you think that maybe it took her two hours to write each article, that's a net of $4.50 per hour.

She'd earn more money as a waitress, probably, than she would spending her time writing for elephantjournal.

So, if you're a glutton for punishment and enjoy being made to feel worthless while baring your spiritual soul to the world, the Apprenticeship program might be just the thing for you.


  1. I loved "Are we living in Opposite World?" Yes, sometimes I think I am living there!

    Hmmm . . . a security deposit for interns. I don't even know what to say. My mind is too busy boggling. :)

  2. I read about that internship program, too, and was just as annoyed with it as you are. It seems like Wayne has found himself a nice little cash cow.

    I'm hoping that there is some sort of additional compensation for contributing writers; maybe one that they don't tell you about until you've paid your money and survived the gauntlet. Either way, I've lost some respect for The Elephant Journal.

  3. I just found Elephant and enjoy the articles. Now I have mixed feelings. :( Hopefully not too many people will fall for this and it will quietly go away!!!