My Thoughts on Seeking Alpha’s Premium Program

Posted January 19th, 2011. Filed under Investing Links

A few days ago, SeekingAlpha announced a premium program that would allow its contributors to get paid for writing exclusive articles for the site.

The payout is $10 per 1000 pageviews. According to SA, top posts can generate upwards of 20k visits, or a nice $200 payday under the current payout rules. I applaud the management team for taking a bold step and paying well-above the reported market rate for similar programs.

Despite the attractive lure of cash, the response has been mixed.

Many contributors have viewed the premium program as an opportunity to earn something for the valuable content they have created. However, in order to get this something, the author must give up exclusive rights to the article in question.

On one side of the argument, Felix Salmon writes that Seeking Alpha’s new program could actually be an unwelcome development:

“Seeking Alpha here isn’t really paying per pageview at all. (If it were, it would pay contributors of all articles, not just exclusive articles.) What’s really happening is that Seeking Alpha is buying premium content, at zero up-front cost, which it can then resell in any way it likes and for as much money as it likes, with none of those revenues being shared with the author.”

In a follow-up article, Salmon continues (note: emphasis is mine):

“Investors, in particular, tend to value the discipline involved in thinking through their thoughts clearly, and then writing them down and having a permanent record of exactly what they thought when. It’s a great way to stop deluding yourself about why you did what you did — and it’s much less valuable if you’re subconsciously trying to write a post which lots of Seeking Alpha readers will click on and comment on.”

I’m a self-taught investor.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to get in the habit of writing down my investment thesis. Receiving feedback, via comments or email, is one of the most rewarding parts of this experience.

I believe that this discussion has significantly improved my investment skills.I would hate to lose the valuable debate with my readers or potentially get lost amidst the thousands of other contributors at Seeking Alpha.

Despite the potential drawbacks, there could be long-term advantages as Whopper Investments points out:

“I am pleasantly surprised by the new policy, and I think it will bring a lot of value investors out of the wood work and encourage them to write new articles. Its not hard to imagine articles on seeking alpha drastically increasing, and strong writers will likely pick up some nice pocket change. However, there will definitely be some negative side effects. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

Personally, I have been contributing to SeekingAlpha since July 2010 and currently have 33 articles published.

While I have a few posts that have climbed over several thousand page views, (the FIS tender offer and a writeup on APT being a few examples) the majority of my view counts come in much lower.

At the same time, Seeking Alpha has undoubtedly helped me increase my exposure and profile in the investment community. I plan to continue contributing articles when appropriate, but doubt I will join the premium program.

As you might imagine from one of the most popular investing sites,  much of the content on Seeking Alpha is oriented towards the opposite end of the spectrum compared to my personal investment philosphy, and therefore in turn, the posts here at Value Uncovered.

I enjoy writing long and detailed posts about undervalued microcaps. I spend hours digging through historical SEC filings, reviewing industry statistics, and performing valuations. This diligence results in lengthy, but hopefully detailed and valuable content.

My posts aren’t the core bread-and-butter of Seeking Alpha – but hopefully they continue to be a worthwhile read for my core audience.


Long APT.

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