Ebyline: freelancers rejoice, or beware?

The 10,000 Words blog on MediaBistro.com gives freelancers four reasons why they should try out Ebyline, a new platform that “brings together news organizations and freelance journalists.” Describing it as a “virtual newsroom,” the post notes that Ebyline has just added video and audio capabilities to the site (it launched in September last year, but up ’til now, it has only let freelancers sell their written work and photos).

The site works like this: freelancers apply to become registered on the site by providing examples of recent work and referrals from editors. If accepted, the freelancer can use Ebyline to: pitch stories, look for and apply to story assignments, submit articles, and receive and manage payments from publications. The site appears to welcome all types of freelancers, covering a wide range of subjects. But, one important note: Ebyline is only open to American freelancers as of now. Still, it can’t be long before it expands, or a similar site pops up in Canada. (For a quick summary, watch the promo video below.)

The 10,000 Words post recommends Ebyline because it’s free for freelancers (publishers pay a fee), and now, with its multimedia capabilities, a much broader pool of journalists can use it. It also praises its “a la carte” pricing model, where freelancers can sell one piece of work at a time and set their own prices. It also lets publishers buy stories from one another. This is where we start to wonder: how does the licensing work? If a freelancer sells a photo to a publisher, do they retain or lose their rights? If they can keep selling it, will they be competing with that publisher, who can now sell that photo too?

On Ebyline’s freelancer landing page, where you can find the application form, licensing isn’t mentioned. There’s no FAQ, either. But it seems like a pretty important issue to us, and if we were applying, we’d get a legally minded friend to dig through their Terms of Use. We started the application process, just to see if there is more info given along the way, but the site won’t reveal any more info about how it works until you tell it everything about you and your experience.

10,000 Words also praises Ebyline for its automated invoicing. It looks convenient, but the claim that freelancers can receive a cheque “as soon as a week after submitting content” rings empty. In theory, that could happen with any invoicing arrangement, but “as soon as” doesn’t sound like a time frame freelancers could count on.

All that said, is Ebyline a boon to freelancers? Maybe. Is it worth keeping an eye on it and similar services that show up north of the border? Definitely. Sites and services that make it easier for publishers and freelancers to find each other are unarguably beneficial to both sides. So long as freelancers give the terms a close read….

Posted on June 16, 2011 at 11:53 am by editor ·

5 Responses

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  1. Written by Lori Henry
    on June 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Hello. I’m a Canadian who has signed up with Ebyline (you only need an ITIN number to work for them if you’re not American). I was curious to find out more about the service.

    Yes, licensing. In my own words: if you submit an original article, the publisher gets the rights to re-sell it without any further compensation to the writer. It’s another way for publishers to get revenue from writers without compensating them for future sales.

    They also have a syndication option, where you submit already-published articles (or articles that you only want to sell this way), and it only gives the publisher the right to publish the piece once. Obviously, this is the only beneficial way for writers to use the service.

    I haven’t submitted any work yet, but do plan to test it out soon. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Written by Story Board Editor
      on June 19, 2011 at 11:43 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, Lori! That’s really valuable information. And do let us know how it goes!

    • Written by Carla
      on January 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Lori, have you used the site yet? I’m thinking about using it too.

      Thanks, C.

  2. Written by Karen Wirsig
    on June 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    The Canadian Media Guild and the Canadian Writers Group both post freelancer profiles to make it easier for engagers to find them.

    The CMG profiles are at http://www.cmg.ca/freelancebranchfindafreelancer.asp

    The CWG profiles are on the top right of the page at

  3. Written by Don Genova, Freelance Branch President
    on June 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Have a look at this site: http://www.findstringers.com/ This service was founded by former CMG member Gary Symons. He was also in on inventing the Vericorder technology that turns your iPhone into a great little recording and editing machine. I use it to record all my radio clips now. And Findstringers is CMG-Freelance-friendly!

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