Don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed writing for Odyssey. It's a platform that thousands and thousands of millennials read, and it gives us writers the opportunity to share our story, relieve some stress by writing about what's on our minds, and it can be a powerful tool in communicating important messages. However, I have struggled these past few months with how Odyssey is running. I absolutely love my editor in chief and our managing editor for our team. The problem lays deeper than them. Some of the problems lie with Odyssey itself, but some of it lies with that sharing and reading our articles.
For starters, Odyssey can be argued as "not worth it" if you're not a journalism major or don't plan to write for the rest of your life. Personally, I am going into a profession that employers would not care that I write for the Odyssey. With that being said, people who are going into professions that writing for the Odyssey could be advantageous could argue that the lack of money is worth hammering out an article every single week. They can use this on a resume, it's a good experience, and they are probably way more passionate about it than the rest of us. For me, not ever getting paid is starting to take a toll on me. I don't have to be writing for this platform, but I do because I want to help my team out and I do enjoy writing - to a certain extent. Being forced to write an article every week inevitably causes me to write, excuse my language, bull shit articles. Some articles I'm too embarrassed to even share on social media (the whole purpose of writing them) because I know it's not my best work. I enjoy writing when I have something on my heart. I'm proud of my articles that I put my soul into. But unfortunately, once or twice a month I just don't have anything pressing that I wish to write about, or that I wish to plaster all over the internet. I've already put myself out there way more than I wanted to with some of my articles, to a point where I've felt very uncomfortable. But I simply didn't know what else to write about that week. I'm burnt out, and I know I wouldn't be if I wasn't forced to write about things I don't care about every week.
Another big issue I have is with Odyssey itself. There are about 5 advertisements on each article. No wonder Odyssey emails me every week that I don't get at least 20 shares - they want more people to share my article, so more people view the advertisements, so they make more money! Writers for the Odyssey only get paid $20.00 if their article is the most shared at their respective school. But here's the catch (that effects my team): you don't even get that $20.00 if your school/team doesn't have 12 writers. I write for a school that is very small, and it's hard to keep at least 12 writers on our staff. So for the past few months, we have been writing knowing for a fact that even if we get 1,000 shares, we won't get paid a dime. Now I will admit, I think there's some new thing where writers can now get paid for having a certain number of page views, but if I remember correctly, it's an absurd amount of page views you have to get in order to get that compensation.
The last thing that bothers me is more with the people reading our articles. I realize I shouldn't be complaining about this, and people are allowed to like and share whatever they please! However, it's frustrating that my most popular article, "11 Signs You Grew Up in Mansfield, TX" got over two thousand shares when articles that I have literally sat there and cried writing and felt so passionately about got 4 shares. I write for the Odyssey to help those reading, in hopes that they will read something they need to hear, or can help them through something. It hurts to spend two hours a week on something that you put your everything into, not get paid, and more importantly, it only reach like 8 people. I wish our generation would read things that mattered instead of sharing what lip color Kylie Jenner wore this past week...or the struggles of living in Mansfield, TX.
I really am not trying to be disrespectful toward the Odyssey. I have had fun writing about things I'm passionate about, and I have even met new people who reached out to me because they read something I wrote that they identified with. With that being said, I don't appreciate being exploited and pumping out articles for the Odyssey's benefit without getting compensated or even getting a pat on the back. A simple thank you from the Odyssey would be nice since we are, after all, making them millions of dollars for our articles that we don't even have to write. All I'm saying is, I would be more motivated to write if I wasn't forced to write every week, and if I got paid at least a little something since someone else who didn't put a fraction of the work in as I did, is racking in the big bucks off of my work.