Initial Thoughts On The Vocal Creator Bonus System
It's Good to Talk (and Share)
At the beginning of 2021, Vocal rolled out their new 'Creator Bonus' system.
In essence, it's pretty straightforward: The more active you are, the more Vocal will pay you.
And, unlike the old system, this activity is now two-fold. It's no longer simply about what you produce as a writer, it's also about what you do as a member of the Vocal community.
Let's look at two strands individually. Firstly, as a writer.
Although the way you will earn money will change ever so slightly (i.e. bonuses being paid straight into your wallet), and the reasons why you might receive a bonus (e.g. hitting a significant milestone) are new, essentially, nothing has changed.
If you produce good content, and people read it, you'll earn money.
As a writer, I'm not going to criticize the way Vocal have opened up a few more potential revenue streams. For my part, I greatly like the idea that, in addition to possibly making money from 'reads', tips, and Challenges, I can now also get the odd bonus direct from Vocal along the way.
I'll have a piece of that pie, thank you.
The best thing about this is that I don't really have to change anything.
I'm not going to alter how I either write or organize my writing time; it's taken me a year, but I finally have a system, and I'm not changing that right now (it took too much effort to reach this point). My approach is far from perfect, but it's working for me. So I'm sticking to it.
And the fact that I can now tap into the whole-bonus thing as well just by keeping on doing what I'm doing?
It's fairly much one of the most simplistic instances of a 'win-win' situation I've ever encountered, and I'm all for it. There is not one dissenting voice in my head.
It's a new system, and there'll undoubtedly be glitches and inconsistencies to be ironed out. But, in theory, I'm all in favor.
It gets a big 'yes' from me.
It's the second part of the equation I really like; being an active member of the Vocal community.
I've already seen some negative comments about this on the various Vocal-related Facebook groups I'm a member of.
"Won't it encourage people to simply 'heart' articles in the hope of generating income for themselves?" "Will people randomly share others' articles on social media because it might affect their own bonuses?" That kind of thing.
My answer is, "Yes: Both of those things will happen."
But - really - so what?
For a start, your work is being read, liked, and being shared. Even if it's done in a cynical attempt by someone simply to make money for themselves, you're still going to benefit.
Not only am I never going to decline any extra 'hearts', I'm also not going to complain if someone shares one of my articles - if that person has a larger following on social media than me, how many extra eyes are my words being put in front of?
And, who knows, maybe one of those people will then read another of my articles. Maybe they might even share one themselves...
Ripples. Ripples, everywhere.
I do not lose. I only gain. Just as you do. (And, of course, as Vocal does.)
Even if the whole thing is only done because someone is trying to improve their own bonus payout, inevitably I benefit as well. I'm getting more 'likes', more shares... it's another 'win-win.'
But, I also like it because I don't think everyone will go about this side of things cynically.
Humans like nothing better than a financial incentive, and that will motivate us. Let's not pretend it won't. But, whatever the motivation, it will also encourage us to seek out new writers, new pieces.
And some of those we will fall in love with, and champion.
I already have. Like many, the chance to earn through reading was a primary impulse. But, this week alone, I've already discovered three writers on Vocal I would never have done had it not been for the new Creator Bonus system. And I've read articles I would not have consciously sought out.
And my world is already a bit richer for having done this.
That's because - at some point - it stopped becoming about trying to up my own bonus score; I read because I was loving what I found. The cynical attempt to simply try and make money was quickly overpowered by my love for the written word.
And that's why we're here: We love it. Reading, and reading; that's we spend the hours on Vocal that we do. If we can make a bit of money, good. But we're really here because we love words. We love stories.
And that will always shine through.
Additionally, despite the odd grumblings on Facebook, I've also noticed a tiny change in those groups. People are now more actively engaging with each other, commenting on, and sharing others' work. More than that, they're being supportive.
It's suddenly become a pretty great community to be part of. Writing is always a lonely endeavor (multiple that by a million during a global pandemic). Right now, it's a damn sight less lonely.
I really don't care if cold, hard cash forced this situation into being. I'm now a member of a nurturing, supportive community, some of whom have already said some very lovely pieces about my work.
And they've shared some of my articles to their own 'followers' - people I would have had no way of accessing previously.
Not wishing to repeat myself, but this is - again - a 'win-win.'
It's early days, and who knows how the system will ultimately fare. But, at this stage, I like it. A lot.
I'm getting more reads, I'm finding new voices, new stories, and I'm engaging with my fellow writers a heck of lot more than I used to.
A more detailed explanation of the Creator Bonus system, can be found here - https://vocal.media/resources/introducing-creator-bonuses-on-vocal
If you've liked what you've read, please check out the rest of my work on Vocal. Among other things, I write about film, theatre, and mental health: The story of my admission to a psychiatric ward, and my attempts to rebuild my life following my discharge, starts with 'Flow: The Psychiatric Ward.'
You can also find me on Elephant Journal and The Mighty.
If you've really liked what you've read, please share with your friends on social media.
If you've really, really liked what you've read, a small tip would be greatly appreciated.