Contributor FAQ

What exactly is a “Contributor?”

A contributor is anyone that helps in the development of the project. Some contributors help with day to day tasks like web development and translation, but most contributors are writers who create original works.

As a contributing writer, what would I do?

Contributor works generally fall into one of two categories: articles and personal stories. These works are categorized into our hierarchy of topics (like homestays or studying abroad). The articles are meant to provide practical information about a specific topic. The personal stories are meant to shed light on the more personal aspects of our topics in a real life context. We are open to new ideas, so please don’t let these two categories limit you – please let us know what you have in mind and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Do I have to be a professional writer or an expert on a specific topic?

No. Anyone that has a genuine interest in one of our topics can contribute. If you would like to share a personal story, the only requirement is that you have good writing skills and something interesting or beneficial to share. If you want to write an article, you’ll need really solid writing skills and some good knowledge on your topic of choice, but you certainly don’t need to be a professional writer or expert in the topic area.

Is this a long term job?

It depends. In most cases the job will be short term, but in some cases it could extend indefinitely. It depends on how well your initial contributions work, what your interest level is in our project, and what opportunities are available in topic areas in which you have an interest. If you’re not really a writer, but can contribute some personal stories that are interesting or useful to our readers, then you may just work with us short term. If you do good work and can write with authority on a variety of topics, we’d be extremely pleased to have you as a long term contributor. Everyone starts out as a short term contributor with an agreement to create an initial contribution. Then we take it from there.

How many hours will I work?

The number of hours you work depends on your writing style and the type of contribution you make. Typically for someone contributing a few personal stories, you might work 5 or 6 hours. If you are writing an article, it may take a little longer depending on the length of the article and the amount of research that is required. Your total number of hours will depend on whether or not you continue to contribute long term. Long term contributors may do 5 to 10 hours a week, depending on their availability. As far as how many hours you can work per day, that is really up to you. If we agree to an initial article that might take 5 hours, you’re welcome to do it in a day or two weeks.

How are contributors paid?

Contributors are paid at a rate of $10 per hour. We work on the honor system for reporting hours, so upon completion and submission of your work you report the number of hours you worked and a check is sent for the appropriate amount. There are limits on how long a contributor can work on any given piece, so if you think you’ll be out of the normal range, you should talk with us before spending a great deal of time working. Typically a single contribution might be expected to take between 2 and 10 hours.

Most publications pay by the piece, why do you pay by the hour?

We debated the best method for paying contributors. The reason we decided on an hourly rate is that we didn’t want writers to feel a time pressure. So for example if we paid $50 per article and someone wrote something that ended up taking longer than they initially thought, they might feel like they have to sacrifice quality in order to come away with a reasonable effective hourly rate (e.g. they’d have to finish in 5 hours to make $10/hr). We think that paying by the hour allows people to relax and simply take the time that is needed to do a good job.

For translators, there is a similar issue we considered. In some cases, a translator has to make a decision on “how good” to make the translation. A translator may be able to do a “good” translation in a short amount of time. They can probably do a “very good” translation with a little more time and effort. At the extreme, they could spend countless hours doing research and finding the perfect way to translate every single word and make an absolutely fantastic translation. But in some cases “good” is good enough. In our case, we’re looking for somewhere closer to “very good.” After the “very good” point, the benefits are not worth the costs. By doing it hourly, it lets us make that decision and the translator can then take the time required to reach that level of quality.

Is there an editing and review process?

We do not have a formal editing and review process, but we do provide feedback to our contributors. Typically first drafts are sent in when the contributor feels they are ready for some feedback. Submissions are then read and suggestions and comments are sent back for the contributor to consider. The contributor can re-work the piece and re-submit. This process may repeat a couple times until everyone is happy with the result.

What is the required turnaround time for contributions?

We want to be as flexible as possible so we can fit into your schedule. The last thing we want is to lose a great contributor because they feel pressured to get something done in a certain amount of time. This is not a full time job and we realize most people have other priorities that may take precedence. So the short answer is that there is no required turnaround time. However, we have limited resources to stay abreast of the status of many different writers at any given time. So, we typically ask for an initial draft within about two weeks from the time you agree to contribute. Reviews and revisions of the work may add another week before the work is published. So, let us know if you don’t think this will be realistic for you. For personal story contributors that can’t meet this timeline, we ask that you simply let us know and then get back in touch when you have the time. We can just put you “on hold” until you get back in touch. On the other hand, if you agree to write an article, and it is on a subject that we want to get published soon, we may want to give the assignment to another writer with more available time. There are no hard rules here and everyone’s situation is considered on a case by case basis.

I see that you have some basic biographical information about contributors. Are contributors required to provide that information?

This type of information is included with personal story contributors because it is often quite relevant to the perspectives they present through their work. People contributing articles typically do not include this type of information with their contribution since it is not as relevant.

The biographical information is not absolutely necessary, and is therefore optional. We believe having this information will help people find stories that are most relevant to them. One day we hope to have hundreds of stories from a diverse group of contributors. Consider someone who comes to our site to learn about homestays. Imagine they could search for stories written by someone of the same gender, nationality, and age that did a homestay in the exact place they want to go. They will be able to get much more value out of these stories than they would the stories of someone of the opposite gender that did a homestay in another country when they were a different age. People with different backgrounds have unique perspectives on the issues that personal stories tend to bring out. If each visitor can find stories from people with similar backgrounds, they can get the most benefit from our collective work.

Do I have to provide a picture?

Pictures are optional. We realize some people may not feel comfortable sharing a picture and that is perfectly ok. We hope people won’t mind though, as we believe it really adds something to have a picture to go along with a person’s words.

I do not live in the US, or cannot legally work in the US, can I still contribute?

While we are unable to pay contributors without proper work authorization, we would be more than happy to accept contributions on an unpaid basis. This project is based on the idea that we can find generous individuals with diverse backgrounds to share their stories and knowledge with the world. Typically a contributor will spend just a few hours on any given contribution they make. If you decide to contribute, we hope you’ll find that this is a small amount of time to donate for the benefit of the many people your contribution will reach. Think of it as being a helping hand in a sincere effort that will make a contribution to the international community and benefit many, many people for years to come.

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