The irony of the Internet is that it is both the last frontier of economic freedom and the truest example of the Occupy movement's complaint. Generally, when one becries the wealth of the few won at the disadvantage of the many, the “many” in question are paid for their labors. This is not true of the Internet. From the Huffington Post to Her Campus Media, success on the Internet depends on exploiting the unpaid labor of thousands of writers.
For any upstart organization hoping to buck the system, reality sets in quickly. The system generally exists for a reason. Oddnob founder, Wade Ogletree, admits it was the same for him. “Paid markets are going under. The only successful model is the one that depends on writers working for free.”
The same market forces that drive businesses to outsource jobs overseas lead Internet businesses to seek free labor. It's the edge they use to compete and thrive. Meanwhile, any business hoping to reverse the trend, whether by bringing employment back to the states or actually paying their online labor, finds themselves at a lethal disadvantage. After several false starts, Oddnob may have found a third alternative.
“The moral argument for the current model is one of capital,” Ogletree says. Owners have “skin in the game”, and it is that risk that reaps rewards. Oddnob changes that by offering writers a choice. They can contribute for free, if they want, or they can join what Oddnob calls The Writing Desk. Members of the Writing Desk receive a newsletter with writing tips, but, more importantly, their membership changes the business model in the writers' favor.
Each content page has two or more ads. For content submitted by a member of the Desk, the author's Google Adsense code is substituted for one. All revenue generated by that ad goes directly to the author. In a business where revenue is ad generated, this becomes a clean way of sharing revenue potential between the business and the writer.
Oddnob desires to provide other ways for writers to make money off their work. Contests awarding cash prizes for best new articles may be added. Writers published in the Writing Desk newsletter will be paid at professional rates. For this, the company intends to charge nothing. It is free to sign up and start taking advantage of this revenue sharing model.