My Trending Stories

Back in September, I had an interesting exchange with a website called  I’ve been meaning to post about it since, but keep forgetting.

Anyway, it all started with an email from titled, “Blogging Opportunity”:

Hi Autumn,

 We have come across your blog  and strongly admire the content. Your writing abilities and ability to engage readers is remarkable and a very rare asset in this days and age oversaturated blogging community. We would love to have your content  on lifestyle displayed on our website in order to display your creative work to a large platform.

The email went on to say My Trending Stories “aim[ed] to be one of the top 5 biggest blogging websites on the internet.”  And that any content was acceptable as long as it wasn’t racist or discriminatory.

For a brief moment, I was flattered.  It’s always nice to have people interested in your work.  Immediately afterwards, however, I was suspicious.  Partly this is my own nature, but mostly this is because I once became involved in a pyramid scheme in college and have tread carefully ever since.  Especially when people pitching to me 1) want me to work for free, 2) are rather non-specific on what they want from me and 3) open with flattery.

So I did some research: read the articles on their site, searched on WordPress for other bloggers involved and their opinions, did a slog through Google, and paid special attention to their Terms and Conditions.

I don’t know any lawyers, but my father spends a lot of time working with them and I have been well trained.  My first legal document was a bank agreement I signed at around age 10 with my parents to open my first savings account.  My parents made me read the whole thing, highlight the bits I didn’t understand, and bring it back to them for explanations.  Mere Terms and Conditions do not frighten me.  In fact, a couple of red flags popped up after my first read through.  A week or so later, I sent them the following email:

 Thank you for your interest in my writing.  However, I have a few points I would like further information on:   In your email, you expressed interest in having my content on lifestyle published on your site.  My own blog is incredibly varied and occasionally covers topics broader than those your lifestyle category seems to cover.  Which articles piqued your interest in my writing?

I have been looking over your Terms and Conditions. I would like to know the exact rights you have over my content, how those rights affect my ability to publish for other websites (including my own) and when, and in what situations, those rights revert back to me.
Additionally, is the Affiliate IDs and/or MyTrendingStories Earning Program a requirement for publishing on your site?  Should I sign up for either program, at what point would I be able to end my participation in the program?  Also under the Assigning Affiliate IDs section, you say:  “By registering with third parties that share ad revenue with Users and inputting that information into the Service, You hereby appoint MyTrendingStories as Your exclusive agent to handle all such third party ad-sharing transactions as well as to input your ID into the pages you create.”  Do you mean exclusive in its entirety or just exclusive to your site?
The earning program is based on the number of hits your article gets, a policy I find to be total garbage for the writer.  Unless you already have an established blog, you’re simply not going to get enough hits even make pocket change, if the publisher even bothers to pay you at all.  (Some of them won’t until you make at least $5.)
Also, I’m very careful about where I post my content.  On WordPress, it’s mine.  That is not the case many other places.  Usually, work is owned by the publisher, not the author, and if there isn’t a defined term limit on their ownership of your work, you might be in for a fight to get the rights (and possible profit) back.
My Trending Stories could have done a lot of things.  They could have referred me to their legal department.  They could have answered my questions point by point.  The return email I received was this:

Hi Autumn ,

We are a new blogging website established in New York. We are currently looking for our foundation of talented and passionate writers to grow with! We would love to have you contribute to our growing website which we will soon be starting mass advertisement. As mentioned before, we encourage you to even share your own personal blog, where the following that you will gain on My Trending Stories can watch you grow on both outlets. We would strongly love to share your posts with the world!

Which I already knew, because they’d said in their first email to me and on their website.

In terms of the posts themselves, no topic is off limits or imposed so you are free to write about what inspires you the most. There is also no official word count and you have the liberty to post directly on the website with an author login.

That’s nice, but again, doesn’t really answer the question of what posts they were interested in.

In terms of frequency, it’ll be up to you depending on how much time you have! Obviously, the more often the better but there is no imposed minimum and we would say the average among the crew is two to three times a week. All we ask for is that you do remain active and keep us in the loop if for whatever reason you can’t post for a long period of time, like for a month or so.

Uh…I didn’t ask this at all.  I’m starting to wonder if my email got read.

As you can see, on our website, we have several categories to choose from and would love to help mentor you to become an influential blogger. We are here as a community of writers who help each other reach their full potential. There are weekly newsletters to keep you up to date.

Vague, hazy and nonspecific again.  Corporate buzzwords and flattery.  And they didn’t answer my legal questions.  Again.

Feel free to email us at anytime if you have any additional questions or concerns.

I was feeling a little annoyed by this point and ungenerously thought, “Why, so I can get b.s. from you again?”

Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

My Trending Stories Team

No name and I was considering my email recipient’s ability to pass a Turing Test.

I elected not to reply or write for these people.  Though I didn’t see any complaints or people reporting problems when I did my research, I didn’t feel like sticking my neck out for little to no compensation.  It’s rather mercenary of me, I know.  I don’t care, but I do know.

I know this was a really long post and I don’t honestly expect any of my regular readers to bother to get this far, but I wanted to post it to add to the information pool.  If you have any more information on, feel free to add it in the comments.


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