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As you are aware, I have written many opinions, though I wanted to make this one the best ever. Why ? Because I believe as writers, it is the only way to progress, making the written word better, more readable, more enticing, more detailed. Perhaps I will fail, although I will try.
REWARDS AT CIAO
I wanted to write a Ciao related review because there is much more to being a member of ciao than just writing reviews, and the rewards offered are there for any member to gain, and sometimes, being a member isn't enough. It takes know-how to actually get the best out of being a member of ciao. Even after a year's membership some areas of Ciao were grey areas and I thought it was about time I took the initiative and went on a road to discovery to find out what rewards Ciao really has to offer, apart from the obvious ones.
WHAT ARE YOU ENTITLED TO AS A MEMBER OF CIAO ?
In basic terms, you earn from the reads that your reviews get, although there is much more to Ciao than that in the way of rewards. Let me try and explain the way in which these rewards affect you and I as members and how you can maximise your Ciao membership.
This is an obvious way in which to earn money quickly. On your home page, go into the setting marked "surveys". It took me a while to set this up as I thought that surveys were sent out automatically to members, although I was wrong. Filling out your profile on each of the types of surveys that are available for members increases your chances of getting surveys and what they consist of is like a questionnaire, some long and tedious, and others short and simple, although it is a sure way of making your earnings on Ciao better than not participating at all in what I consider to be an easy earner.
There are frustrating points with surveys, in that if you have an email asking you to participate and do not respond quickly, you can be eliminated because too many people beat you to it. You can also find after a few pages that you do not correspond to the kind of people that the survey requires. This is no reflection on you whatsoever, but just means that the survey is targeting a certain faction of ciao members and you are not within the parameters of that choice. There will always be another Survey, so here there is no need for concern.
The earnings on surveys are a pretty wide range. I think the most I ever earned on a survey was about £3.00 although these small amounts soon add up, and I believe that any member that does not participate in surveys is actually losing out. The amounts currently on offer with surveys tend to be between £1 and £10 and so you will see that by taking part, your earnings can amount to a tidy packet.
PAYMENTS PER READING.
Most members will be aware that they get paid per member read, but many will not know how much or how it is calculated. This is simple to work out, and if you tap on the name of a product that you have reviewed, you will be taken into a page that tells you how much the review pays, by displaying pound signs next to the product name, i.e. one, two or three pound signs. You are paid by the rating you receive, i.e. helpful, very helpful or exceptional. There are four positive rewards available to members, although one is not monetary. For products that pay nothing and for café reviews (in general), the reward is the participation and feedback you receive. For paying reviews, there is a scale of 0.5p, 1p and 2p, according to ratings.
Here, from my experience of the site, I would say it is far better to have reviews that are very helpful ones in order to earn more and actually get more satisfaction out of the site as a user.
NEW PRODUCT REWARDS
If you are in fact the first to write a review of a new product that has never been written about before on Ciao, you will get double the normal rate for the first months' readings and this quickly mounts up, encouraging users to add new products and make the database of Ciao wider, and more complete.
Many people mention the premium fund and it is really confusing for a new member to know what they are talking about, although here in general, this is paid to what are considered the best reviews of each month and is a sum of £2000 shared amongst members who produce "the cream of the crop". How this is defined is a little bit of a mystery and Ciao state that they will not publish details of who earned what, because it opens up avenues of abuse between members. I actually disagree with this premise, and believe that it would be helpful to know which reviews earned what.
There are also the Diamonds, given in recognition of quality reviews, and these are published monthly on the members page and also in archives of diamonds awarded since the start of Ciao. Another way to earn a diamond is to enter the monthly competition, and details of this can be found on the members page under the Community announcements. There are at present 10 diamonds a month.
OTHER EARNING OPPORTUNITIES.
Have you ever pressed that button on your home page that says "accounts" and looked further than the amount you earned ? I recently found that there is an area here of great importance, and a possible earner that remains hidden to people who do not seek it out. There is a small phrase that really does not stand out that much at the bottom of your accounts page which states "More ways of earning with Ciao" or words to that effect. When you press this button, you are taken into offers which can and do pay Ciao members for their participation and these are provided by something called Ciao Advantage. This month the possibilities are a little limited, although one of the links takes you into an area where a prize is being paid of £100,000 which is nothing to sneeze about. A small detour from your ciao account page takes you into a wonderland where the possibilities are endless, although in some areas restricted to users from the U.K. only. Sign up for the latest deals and see where it takes you. It really is an adventure into the unknown.
Whilst you may not earn money each time in this section, there are masses of savings to be had and it really is worth a look.
Here is another way to be rewarded by your membership. By linking your ebay auctions to the site (and this is a very easy procedure), you immediately have more viewings, because one of the things I learned about people is that they are curious and will look.
INVITE A MEMBER
This is another way for members to gain 50p. You can invite your friends to become members of Ciao, although I would advise that although it may feel tempting to invent accounts for the 50p, it really is not worth the bother, and creates problems for the site as a whole, as multiple accounts are not permitted, and as ISP or internet addresses can easily be traced, is to be avoided at all cost ! As stated in one of the comments here, the fifty pence will not be paid until that member produces a review, and there are even more earnings to be made during the first six months of their membership which is a real incentive.
Something that you may not be aware of is that if you place a banner on your own website inviting people to join, these are treated in the same manner and you will gain your 50p per member that joins which is a useful aid to anyone who already has a website.
Not been brave enough to do one yet, but I am working on it. Ciao pay 10 Pounds for accepted video reviews at the moment and that's quite a bit of incentive to put yourself on film and describe a product that you know and use a lot so that others can actually see on film instead of reading reviews.
NON MONEY REWARDS AT CIAO
CIAO MOST WANTED
This used to be a great honour, and it was only by being recommended by other members that you could become Ciao Most Wanted, and thus have your photograph displayed to other members as such. Little by little, I found that the importance of this aspect of Ciao became less and less important, and now it appears that members who have written on Ciao from the beginning cannot be Ciao Most Wanted without displaying a photograph of themselves, which to me seems very unfair.
I asked Ciao recently what they thought about the idea of me giving up my silver dot, taking up a white one, and becoming a new member again with the same name. I don't know how many people will understand what lay behind this enquiry and I shall tell you. When I was a white dot, no one knew me, but there was a kind of camaraderie between new members, all lost on this huge site, learning the ropes, and little by little, we grew to be part of each others lives. Many of these members are part of my life, although that buzz of newness has disappeared, and the incredible amount of encouragement that I experienced between my peer group of new members. Many of you will know people that started on the site at the same time as me. They have become real friends to me, and one of the biggest rewards that a site like this gives me is the friendship, the ups and downs, the scandals, the tears, the heartbreaks, the loneliness, and knowing that those people who shared their lives with me trusted me enough to do so.
No amount of money can give a reward like this. I have seen people suffering from death to loved ones, and terrible stories about the loss of children, incidents in people's lives that touch me to the very core, and have helped wherever I can to be a friend to anyone on site that felt they needed it, although the friends that have done the same for me are amazing.
When you write a review, the feedback you get from people is incredible and adds to the great buzz of being on a site like Ciao. I wish in many ways that people earned nothing in the way of community points for comments, as I believe that the person who should be rewarded is the person that wrote a review worthy of comment.
This three point thing about writing a comment really does bug me, because I know that when I started on the site, or in fact was a blue dot, I was actually making comments for comments sake, and that is pretty sad. Thankfully time taught me to be more careful with my comments and that "Good op" and words like this are meaningless to friends who have put their all into what they have written. I truly believe that if Ciao were to give the person writing the review the points instead of the person making the comments, then the numbers would be fairer and those who encourage human interaction by writing reviews worth commenting on would get their true rewards.
Now here, guestbooks can be really rewarding. I get up out of bed after a bad night with arthritis, and I turn on the computer, go into Ciao and find a message that says I made someone really happy with a poem that I wrote for them. The gesture on my part was so small, but the comment made immensely touched me and was a reward in itself, as are many of these messages of support and friendship on the site.
Not sure I like the word buddies. It implies all things American to me, and friends is much more pleasant a word. Imagine how it feels when you get your first person trust you, based on what you write, what advice you give, based on who you are and what people learn about you. I am still amazed at the freshness of having a new person trust me. I think the reward that this offers is very satisfying and humbling all at the same time.
READING AND RATING
Here on the site, we have some pretty wonderful writers, and the rewards of reading and rating, whilst not obvious when you start to write on a site like this, are that you get to understand how the site works, as well as reading some incredible writing. There are two reviews which will always stand out in my mind as astounding. One was a poem, and whilst poetry is not everyone's cup of tea, this one was about old people, and the accuracy of the description and the sentiments and truth behind the words, spoken as if from the point of view of the old and forgotten was amazingly accurate. The other was a story of the origins of a wedding ring which coloured my world whilst I read it, in wonderment of the descriptive detail and colour painted by the writer. It was and still is amazing. To have access to such great work is a reward in itself.
OFF SITE REWARDS
There are several options available for Ciao members. There are sites made by members for members, and amongst these, my own site Reviewwritersforum.co.uk which is a fun site with talk about many ciao concerns and Opinionators.co.uk for people who want discussion. Each site is rewarding in that the people that took the time to make these sites did so at their own expense and time, and are giving members a place to go, like a break for a little bit of discussion, and for getting to know members better.
REWARDS IN GENERAL
The financial rewards from Ciao are not as good as they were when the site started, and when you consider the number of words that you write, and the amount you are paid, could almost be paramount with slave labour. So why do we Ciao ?
I believe that the ultimate reward Ciao offers is the community factor, people sitting at home and being part of a huge online community makes the idea of financial earnings pale into the background. It really is the people, the way they treat you, and the newness that each day brings us, as more and more writers join the site, and add new blood to an already thriving community.
Ciao and thank you for reading. Hope that my words were helpful at least.