Forbes quietly restructured its pay scale for contributors amid the coronavirus pandemic, ending the $500 guarantee for any writer who had seven posts published per month and reducing the repeat-reader bonus from five cents to one cent. The cap on repeat-reader bonuses was also lifted.
In an email dated April 21 and reviewed by TheWrap, Rob LaFranco, the editor who oversees the consumer and business section at Forbes, explained, “In these unprecedented times, Forbes continues to report the news and cut through the uncertainty like no other news site. As most of you have noticed in terms of your own posts, we are hitting record levels of audience and engagement. At the same time, like every other media outlet, we are seeing reductions in the rates paid for our digital ads. As we affirm our commitment to our best-in-the-world contributor network, this is a necessary time to make sure that our contract with you remains sustainable for the long-term.”
He said that he and his team, along with a group of committed contributors, worked together on the plan. They found the existing half-a-cent rate for one-time readers and $250 guarantee for writing at least five posts to be “most important” to contributors and left those alone.
“Due to the surging traffic, we also have large numbers of contributors who are running into the cap on payment for repeat visitors at 100,000,” he wrote, moving onto the changes. “To many, any artificial cap on potential income seems very against what Forbes stands for. The cap was instituted because, while we want to encourage loyal followings (as best measured by repeat visitors), paying five cents per repeat is not viable for Forbes (or pretty much any site in the world). To rectify both of these issues, we will be shifting the repeat rate to one cent – and removing the cap entirely, so that your potential income is unlimited.”
In addition, the $500 guarantee for seven monthly posts was cut, as was a fractional pay amount on stories older than 90 days. Still, LaFranco wrote, “contributors have an opportunity to earn more than they have before,” given the removal of the repeat-visitor cap.
Forbes announced in February 2018 that it would begin paying all contributors, seven years after launching the contributor platform.
Representatives for Forbes did not immediately return a request for comment on how the new structure has been working.