Is writing for NewsBreak.com a viable side hustle?
In 2021? After the new compensation terms?
I recently had the opportunity to try on the hat as a writer for newsbreak.com where I wrote five articles in one week. As popular as newsbreak and other online publishers are nowadays, for this long-time blogger, it was an interesting experience. I took what I learned and turned it into a quick one-week experiment post.
The experiment is ongoing, so I’ll check back in as I move it along, but here are the results thus far.
What is News Break?
News Break (newsbreak.com) is a news aggregator website and app founded in 2015 by Jeff Zheng. Jeff, having previously worked at Yahoo, knew that news aggregation websites were enormously popular across Asia but hadn’t yet taken hold in the US. There was market to be had.
For our side hustle purposes, the answer to the question “what is news break” is a bit simpler. News Break is a website that will pay you an upfront fee for articles you write and has a bonus structure based on how many views your article receives.
It was all the rage towards the end of 2020 when Medium.com was shifting it’s business model around such that writers were having a hard time predicting their income. Another reason it was all the rage is that News Break was offering, at the time, guaranteed base pay.
As of April 1, 2021 the pay guarantee is gone and the focus is on higher quality local content. Reposting your blog posts isn’t going to cut the mustard.
My News Break Experiment
The experiment was simple: try to write a story for NewsBreak each day for a week. Could this be a legit site for a side hustle dad? Let’s see how I did.
I was accepted by News Break in February of 2021, but due to having other things going on, I completely missed the boat on the pay guarantee. I didn’t start writing on the site until April 2nd of 2021. Since I’m not fully vaccinated until May 1, I decided April would be the perfect month to see if News Break was going to be a viable side hustle.
Off the top, the results are encouraging to say the least. I can’t quite believe the distribution this site has, where their audience is, or why these articles are performing this well.
I’ll break down briefly what I did each day, my thoughts, and then some general thoughts about the process thus far.
News Break Day 1:
Having blown so much time already I decided I had nothing to lose. I jumped on Medium.com to see what other writers were doing to make the most of Newsbreak. It seemed like the consensus was toward the end of 2020 that republishing their Medium stories was enough to hit their pay targets. When in Rome…
The story got approved with a CV score of 1. CV scores are “Content Value” scores and range from 1 to 10. So, this was not a valuable story. Medium didn’t think so either, but it paid 25x what it made on Medium, so, I’ll keep going.
Day 2 was much of the same, so we’ll move on.
News Break Day 2:
Instead of republishing a Medium story, I decided to write one that I otherwise would have published on Medium.
Ordinarily I probably would have called it a day. Then I remembered that As of April 1 I was operating under the new payment schedule. So the best practices I was operating under probably weren’t going to work as well as all the gurus had said they would. Plus another $25 plus some page views. It’s encouraging.
Let’s keep going.
News Break Day 3:
Alright dammit. Let’s see if we can do a bit better. Another original article, but this time I’m going to make it local, work on the title more, and punch it up with some better research. Let’s see how we do.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. That is more impressions than I thought I’d get. At this point I’m honestly suprised and intrigued at the possibility. I’m going to try and come up with another local story that I can work with. I’m not a journalist, but I’ll dust off the college paper days to see what I can do tomorrow.
News Break Day 4:
I think I’m getting the hang of what I’m supposed to be doing with this site. I write about a local topic that is kind of timely and that has quite a few people talking about it. It’s not quite news, but it’s adding to a local conversation about an important topic. So, let’s see how topically relevant, local, content fares.
Bam. That’s a result. The content was scored extremely well from whomever it is that reviews these things, it was widely distributed, and the conversion was pretty good. Now I’m hooked for at least the week.
News Break Day 7:
Over the next couple of days I would experiment with Medium style listicles that had a local angle. They weren’t news. They were evergreen guides and factoid articles that would be interesting to read, but didn’t require me to actually be a journalist.
I’m raising a toddler. I don’t have time to break news. I can research though.
The results were sort of middle of the road. The content scores were 8s and 9s, so that part was working. The distribution was in the several thousands, but not tens of thousands. This could still work long term.
News Break Day 8:
Now, this isn’t technically in the first week, but since I had phoned in the first couple of days, I’m going to lump it in due to the result. I think I have a sweet spot to replicate.
This story represented a list article that provided good local value, but didn’t require any real journalism. Anyone who says that citizen journalists can replace beat reporters on the fly is kidding themselves. Especially those with kids. But I digress.
The Truth About News Break… For Now…
I wrote a few more of these types that are currently in pending review status. I’ll have to update this as I go forward because the truth about news break is that it most certainly has side hustle potential. I’m not sure if it will work out or how the rest of the month will go.
If you’re interested in jumping in on the News Break bandwagon, I’d say do it. There’s a number of writers on Medium that are of the opinion that the train has left the station. Which might be the case if you’ve been writing on there since the guaranteed pay era when you could literally cut and paste your prior work.
This is without question more work than that. But here is still a lot of value to be had from a writer’s perspective. Especially one who is trying to plug a few gaps in their pay check or work on their craft while building another income stream.
You do have to be approved to write on News Break, so I suggest you go sign up now using my link. It helps me and we can work on this together. Just don’t do what I did and forget about checking for your approval email. That was a real screw up on my part.
Let’s connect on Medium and I’ll keep posting updates from the 30 day news break challenge.