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Vocal Going Silent

Is this content creation engine losing steam?

By Allycia LauraPublished 4 months ago 4 min read

Just to set some things straight right off the bat, by no means do I think that this site will be shuttering any time soon; this is not a rallying cry to abandon ship, but instead some things I have observed since getting back into using Vocal as a platform, and some things that are concerning for anyone trying to make it as a content creator, or even just trying to get better at writing/get feedback.

For some context, I had started writing on Vocal around 2019, when it seemed like it was just taking off. I wrote sporadically, juggling other jobs and college classes, and not putting my all into it, but it was still exciting to think that maybe, somewhere along the line, I would strike gold and one of the stories would go viral. For most of us, making actual money off of this site is only feasible if you are literally churning out content everyday, if not multiple times a day, and basically making writing your full time job. At that point, however, it would almost make more sense to just start your own blog and get ad revenue.

“But having your own blog would mean organically growing your readership”, I can already hear you thinking—and you would be correct… but you have to do the same thing here anyways. I have had 3 stories published in the last 3 days, and I have literally NO reads on them as of writing this. On a site where the entire point is for writers to be able to present their work to readers who choose what subjects they want to read about! Am I a poor writer? I would say I am just as good as most of the other content creators on this site. Does it have something to do with the fact I am not a Vocal + member? I am almost certain of it.

After being gone for 3 years, coming back to a site where there was now a premium option seemed incredibly suspicious—not only are you now giving the company’s site foot traffic, free content, and, in order to promote yourself, promoting the hosting website—you are now paying to get paid. It could be seen as an investment by creators who are already making money, but for me, and others who perhaps haven’t quite mastered the art of clickbait, it is another monthly fee that is ultimately just draining your wallet. Unfortunately, I feel like this push for membership is leading to the same road as other content sites—highlighting and promoting stories from people who pay for premium access, while your average creator is fighting for the few views their stories get.

Only making the situation worse is how insular and echo-chamber like this site is anymore. I used to see ads for Vocal everywhere; mostly on Instagram and Tumblr, when that was still a big deal, but you could even see ads for them on Youtube. Now, its rare that I see a hint of them on Instagram, which means less new readers and writers are being exposed to the site. In a perfect world, word of mouth and the already established base of users would hold the population steady and get new creators on the site, but that’s not guaranteed. Eventually, I see a lot of writers moving on and using other platforms, or changing from writing to video essays/more visual mediums, and the traffic on this site will slow down to the point that no one will really be making profit. Unless you are looking for them specifically, I have found that vocal stories do not come up in search engines (at least not in the first few pages), so its even less likely for readers new to be engaged with the platform on their own.

My last gripe/concern with the site is how easy it seems to have gotten to get stories approved, leading to what I honestly think is lower quality of work; when I first starting writing on the site back in 2019, I was lucky if my essay was approved within a day. Normally, it would be 2-3 days, and while nothing I wrote was ever denied/turned away, having it sit in a queue for a few days made it feel like someone was actually taking the time to look at all these stories and check for plagiarism, spell checking, grammar errors, and the the writing quality overall. Right before I sat down to write this, I whipped up what I consider to personally be a rather lackluster poem, and it was approved almost immediately. I literally hit submit, saw it in my “submitted” tab for a moment, refreshed the browser, and it was gone, already OK’ed to be read within a span of seconds. Similar occurrences happened with the previous two pieces of writing I had submitted since I came back, and while I’m not complaining about efficiency, it makes you wonder what we are losing in having the submissions handled by what I assume is bots.

In short, am I going to continue to write for the site? Yes, if for no other reason than to potentially get them to pay me to critique their site.

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About the Creator

Allycia Laura

Incredibly large opinions for such a small stature

Artist, gamer, mischief maker

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