So first off, I have news! I sold my first article to Cracked! W00t! I've been wanting to do this for years and actually started actively working toward that goal in mid-November. After months of workshopping and researching and editing and stretching my brain, I got an accept. So, hell yeah and all that celebratory stuff.
Now that the joy is out of the way, I wanted to once more pull back the curtain on the process of what goes into providing content for Cracked. I was actually surprised to discover just how much goes into putting together an online presence devoted to snarky lists riddled with dick jokes and pop culture references.
First and foremost, allow me to tout the fact that Cracked pays. Unlike some other online content juggernauts *coughHUFFINGTONPOSTcough*, the comedy giant takes every opportunity to give credit where it is due and pays its contributors. (As the pay scale changes from time to time, I won't go into that level of detail here.)
So, if you want to submit an article or video idea to Cracked, you have to go through their workshop. There are multiple areas for what you're trying to do: basic list pitches, non-list, timely news, video. You can't just throw an article at them. First, you pitch. There's a whole format (which they provide) of how to structure your pitch. You have to come at it with not only your premise, but bullet points of your article based in fact AND the cited sources to back them up. Sources are also monitored. Nothing from blogs, message boards and a whole list of websites (including HuffPo, nooch.) This means research. I've done DAYS of research for the pitches I have going right now. Oh, and you have to make sure that there is no overlap with other articles on the site or in the workshop. (Imagine my dismay when four entries on one of my pitches had actually just been accepted in a piece by another writer.) Moderators give feedback and if it passes muster, an editor comes and gives you their thoughts. It might need more work at this point, at which point you do that work and keep slugging away in the general workshop until...
...an editor likes it and thinks it's ready to move to the next level: Considering. The editors have daily meetings where they talk pitches and movies. If there's more work to do on your pitch (and, trust me, there is), you'll get editorial feedback. And it's all constructive. Better sources for your facts. More relevance to readers. More depth. More. This can go on for months. I've seen pitches in "Considering" that were being shopped for 6 months or more. The ideas you had originally could be cut. Or they could hang on until something happens and it's suddenly not viable for the article anymore. Regardless, your original premise can change a hundred times over while workshopping the article. And it will be better.
AND THAT'S WHAT SO COOL! It's cool to get working feedback that helps shape things. There's a pitch in the 'shop right now that has changed premise 3 times because it's too scattered, and not quite dialed into the right area yet. This is probably my favorite part of the process. Why? Not just because I dig research and editing, but because one of the problems I have in my fiction is getting entrenched in the "this is how it is" mode. Having to make changes on the fly and re-imagine that something I'm working on CAN have a different shape? That's a necessary skill and it's getting a work out right now. LOVE IT. (And yes, it can be maddening.)
Once you've gotten the minimum number of approved entries for your article and editorial is on board, you're accepted. You get your deadline, type it up and get paid.
So, those little list articles that you read on your bathroom break? There's a shit ton of work involved--and not just what's coming out of you on said break. And yes, there's clickbait in the title. Why? Because there is a click-based bonus structure at Cracked. More traffic? More dough that flows to the writer.
So yeah. I pitched this particular article on December 9, 2015. The final draft is due on March 18. And .... absolutely NONE of my original entries have made the final cut. I've got another pitch that needs one more entry to be accepted. (My collaborator and I submitted 5 yesterday. We'll see what passes muster.) I've got 2 other pitches in the workshop waiting for some love from editorial to get bumped over to Considering. I've had 2 pitches outright rejected and one that I've withdrawn because it wan't working out and I just don't have the bandwidth to devote to it. Tapping out.
That's what's going on with me and how Cracked writering works. Any questions? Ask! :)