Many factors go into determining upfront offers and those factors can differ depending on several things. While following this guide may not guarantee that you will receive higher upfront payments, you may see greater opportunities within the network by adhering to the following suggestions. The key is not necessarily to increase every single upfront payment, but to maximize the opportunities available, as well as maximize performance payments.
What is an upfront payment and what content is eligible?
An upfront payment is an initial payment for rights to the content. This is any payment that occurs outside of (and before) the Performance Payment that most content is eligible for. An upfront payment can be made for both solicited and unsolicited content. Assignments for various Yahoo! verticals can come with a higher upfront than unsolicited content. Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, and Display-Only are the three most common rights options. However, there can be others as well, such as Work for Hire. Display-Only content is not eligible for an upfront payment, whether solicited or unsolicited.
Focus on a specific issue
When you have a tight focus on one topic, readers are more likely to be looking for your content. Think about the things you look for when searching the Web. For instance, instead of general tips on pet adoption, you may want something geared specifically toward the pet you are considering adopting. Write your articles on specific subjects that will be relevant and useful to readers looking for that topic.
Follow assignment details
If you claim an assignment (targeted or general), be sure you follow the exact instructions. That means if the instructions say something different from any advice herein, defer to the assignment. When editors see that you can follow all assignment details reliably, they may be more likely to offer you future opportunities.
Do your research
When you need to back up your content with facts, be sure they are from reliable sources. Also, make sure to cite those sources properly, according to submission guidelines and any assignment guidelines. Using multiple sources also helps to build credibility. Wherever possible, use Yahoo! sources, especially within the vertical for which you're writing (excluding user-generated sources, such as Associated Content).
Examine the intended website
Study the Yahoo! website you are interested in. Think of topics that could work well there but are not yet covered. Having an idea of what could potentially align with a particular property can give you a greater chance at upfront opportunities. Being unique is key. That means that you don't want to submit something you already see covered on the property. Instead, try submitting something that works well alongside existing content, provides a new angle, or has not been covered at all but could appeal to that property's audience.
Consider the audience behind the topic
Are you writing about parenting? What stages? Think of the age of the kids you're writing about - and then think of what ages the parents are likely to be; they are your most likely audience, and you should cater your content to them. The tone and style used in your article should be something readers can identify with. For instance, if you are writing an article for kids, using complicated business terms is not going to keep them reading. Upfront payments are more likely on content that shows attention to detail in this and other areas.
Personalize the experience
When you write an article, readers should see the real person behind the story. At the same time, you don't want to ramble about something that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Find that perfect level at which the article provides the information needed with relevant personalization where it fits in with the main point of the article. For instance, if I'm writing an article about picking the perfect daisies, instead of telling a long story about a time when I picked daisies, I would mention how I determine which daisies to pick. I would do that in a way that readers can tell I am knowledgeable and passionate. But it would also need to be something readers can benefit from to answer their questions. When you can use your own unique experience and style, readers can relate more easily. But at the same time, you don't want to say so much that they get bored and click away.
Focus on evergreen material
Focusing on evergreen material is one way to maximize upfronts. Evergreen content is that which will draw a reader's interest for long periods of time, such as unique ways to solve common parenting issues. Evergreen slants can also be applied to trending topics. Some editors may value those topics that have a longer shelf life. This is not to say that other content will not be valued, as articles with a shorter shelf life can be useful as well. They each have their own place and are both great ways to maximize upfronts in different ways. Getting the most out of upfront opportunities often involves taking advantage of more than one way to earn.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and style
Category and vertical style guides are used for many assignments that offer upfront pay. For the best chances at getting those assignments accepted, be sure to follow them closely. This also goes for any and all other instructions mentioned within the assignment details. Proofreading, even after using spelling and grammar checkers, has always been a lifesaver for me when writing for Yahoo!. Programs can miss little things, such as skipped words or typos that are actual words but not words you intended to use.
Optimize your content for the Web
Studying "The Yahoo! Style Guide" is a great way to learn basic html, grammar, editing, formatting, and style as it all pertains to writing for the Web. Content submitted via Yahoo! Contributor Network must be publish-ready. While some content may be edited slightly, never rely on editors to fix poor writing. If your writing needs to be thoroughly edited, it is much better to study up so that your submissions are more likely to get upfronts than declines. You can then submit at a later date when your skills allow you to submit content that is more in line with the platform's needs. Good Web content displays certain qualities. Apart from being interesting, it must be easy for a wide audience to read. It also must be easily found by search engines. Keep your articles concise and informative in an easy-to-scan format. Web readers often look for something that answers their question quickly and accurately in an engaging manner. For more on writing for the web, start with the Contributor Academy course titled "Writing for the Web 101". The Yahoo Style Guide is also an invaluable resource.
Maximizing upfront payments is about taking advantage of the many ways to earn. It's also about covering your bases all-around. A solid article is not just well written, but also speaks to the intended audience, giving them exactly the information they expected and needed in a clean, easy-to-scan format.
More from Lyn:
Maximizing Performance Payments on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
How Much Money Can I Make Writing for Yahoo! Contributor Network?
Why Am I Not Making Money at Yahoo! Contributor Network? Page Views, Offers, and More
**Image credit/copyright: Lyn Lomasi
***I originally published this content at Yahoo Voices on 10/5/2011: