This year I’m focusing on spending some time on passion projects, some of which revolve around writing (see my 2022 plan).
One of the activities I’ve explored is using Vocal to publish some of the short stories that I had lurking in my Google drive (see my stories posted here). Whilst it was a good way to actually get them finished, and shared online, I won’t be spending time developing my Vocal content for a number of reasons.
This is just my own experience, but if you are considering using Vocal as a creative platform, you might want to know a bit about it before you make a commitment.
What is Vocal?
Vocal is a website that allows creators of written content to publish work, and interact with others. It also enables to earn when your work is read. One of the most unique things about the site is that they also run writing challenges, which award cash prizes.
Everything is geared towards a paid membership
Although there is a free version available, most if not all of the benefits come with a subscription to Vocal+ which is their paid membership tier. You need Vocal+ to enter into the cash prize challenges, earn more per read on your work, and lower the minimum redraw on earnings from $35 to $20.
I got a free Vocal+ membership for three months and used it to enter some of the challenges. I found the unpaid version of Vocal very restrictive, and pretty much everything about it funnels you towards purchasing a membership which is $10 per month. This brings me to my next issue.
It’s difficult to actually earn anything
$10 per month is pretty steep for a subscription where you are creating the content. You are basically paying for the privilege to publish you work, which seems a bit crazy when WordPress exists for free.
Yes, there are cash prizes, but you actually need to win a challenge amongst thousands of entries to claw back any money spent.
You can also earn money from ‘reads’, but during my trial I only earnt 6 cents. Maybe I didn’t create enough content, maybe the content wasn’t interesting enough, but regardless it’s a long way off covering the membership fee. Vocal also claims that you can publish one article and get ‘royalties’ forever, but in reality the older an article or story is, the less it appears on feeds and the less likely it is to be seen.
Readership is not organic
One of the great things about blogging and WordPress is the community of like-minded people, or readership with similar interests that you can build. There’s nothing nicer than getting comments on a blog, or contributing a comment to someone else’s post that you found useful.
Vocal doesn’t have a great organic community of commenters. I think this is partly because the nature of the content is more article or short story style, and partly because creators are spending time on there trying earn enough to cover membership fees rather than engaging with an audience.
Either way, even the most popular content doesn’t appear to attract any kind of interaction.
The challenges do provide inspiration for fiction
The one thing I really like about Vocal was the writing challenges. These vary from works of fiction that need to include a particular feature, to articles that speak to a particular idea.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a Vocal+ member, or even have a free account to see what the challenges are. Having said that, a deadline to submit does wonders for getting things written!
Although it was good motivation to write and actually complete some short stories, for me, Vocal just hasn’t been worth it and I won’t be putting any more time into it.
Have you tried Vocal? Have you had any success?