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How do you fancy getting yourself £2 per opinion? Regardless of read levels, community status or mysterious monthly handouts? Well, if you don't mind signing up to another opinionating website, then you can do just this. The site in question is one I discovered just over a year ago as the result of a review here on ciao - it is not as well known as rivals such as this site, dooyoo and u-rate-it, but it is certainly worth a look at to earn yourself some extra cash for your writing. This site is BigRag.com, and was set up by a group of graduates a few years back as an advice site for students, in which members author the content. Although the site still keeps its student focus, it has grown beyond that now to offer a wide range of categories for both the writer and reader. And you don't even need to be student to join - anyone can become a member so long as they are over 16 and living in the UK.
- How does it work? BigRag works in a similar way to ciao for the most part. Once you have signed up as a member, you are free to write reviews, read and rate other members' work and leave comments on that work as you wish. Reviews may be written under one of eight categories - The Mag (an equivalent to the ciao cafe); Universities (for all things directly related to being a student); Mind, body, soul (health and beauty); Going out (clubs, pubs, gigs, cinema reviews, places to visit); Sport & recreation (sports, hobbies, keep fit); Careers (for when you have to leave college and get a proper job); Sound & vision (CDs, DVDs, games, books) and Travel (city guides, transport, holidays). There are also other features that you will be familiar with, such as your own profile page and the ability to "trust" other members.
The first difference you will notice to ciao is that you cannot upload your work directly to the site - you have to email it off to the editors for scrutiny, who will only post it if they feel the quality is good enough and the content relevant to the site. Relevance is a very important feature to consider when writing for BigRag, as it has to be considered of interest to your average student somewhere in the 18 to 25 age group. While this is quite a broad area to write in, it does mean that your magnum opus on last year's Saga holiday will not be accepted, I'm afraid. Once your review is all ready, you simply need to click on the "submit work" link that it to be found on every category page. You will be presented with a form to fill in asking you for the category your review falls into and the title, followed with friendly instructions on how to attach your article - you then just click on "submit" and your review will fly off into the ether, hopefully to land on the editor's desktop shortly after. If your review is accepted, it will appear on BigRag in 2 to 5 days. If not, then it, errr, won't.
The second difference is that you can add graphics to your reviews - something I very much approve of. I really recommend that you take the time to choose some relevant illustrations to fit into your reviews, as not only do pictures make your work look good, they also can help increase the usefulness, thus helping you to higher rewards. The best place to look for pictures is the google image search service....then it is just a matter of cutting and pasting the picture you want into the right place in your text before submission. If you want to edit things further, then right-click on the image and go to "format picture" on the menu that pops up. This feature allows you to change to size and layout of your chosen image to achieve the exact design you want for your article, and is very easy to use.
- Show me the money! The rewards for contributing to BigRag can be substantial in comparison to other reviewing websites, but the system of payment here is very different to other sites I have used. The amount of money you earn per review is not decided by the amount of reads you attract or by being awarded a bonus prize such as a crown or a diamond. Instead, it is decided by the editors when they receive your review. For each review you may be awarded:
Gold medal - £2. For "excellently written, imaginative work, with good choice of graphics and high relevance to users".
Silver medal - £1. For "well written, very useful work with good ideas".
Bronze medal - 50p. For "a good standard but lacking in some criteria".
Small award - 10p to 50p. For "jokes, quotes, low standard reviews, or reviews that are highly factually based with low personal content".
The payments will be automatically sent to your account once your review has been accepted and posted, and will appear under the "outstanding balance" heading on your profile. To claim the money you have been awarded, you will need to click on the "outstanding balance" link and redeem each payment individually - this money will then transfer into the "redeemed balance" part of your account, and it is yours to withdraw whenever the balance goes over £5. I should point out that BigRag makes most of its money through market research, so often you will find yourself having to complete a short survey to be able to redeem an outstanding balance. These surveys only take a few minutes though, and do not appear with every redemption you make.
Payment is made by cheque, which is requested by you through your account page.
- My opinion... On the whole I have to say I like BigRag...but then I would like pretty much any site that sends me cheques on a regular basis. The way I see it, this not a site you join for the community spirit - there isn't one - but for a little extra cash to help pay for your phone bill for all the time you spend online. Having checked the terms and conditions on the site, there appears to be no rule against you copying and pasting reviews you have already written elsewhere onto BigRag, so if you are a regular opinionator this site becomes another repository for your reviews with very little effort involved. A few updates and images maybe before you email off your opinions, but that is about it. And it is not just me doing this - take a look at the top 25 medal table and you will see quite a few familiar usernames up there!
There are other advantages to the site that just some quick cash, though. As payments are decided by the Powers That Be and not by the actions of members, you get a lot less animosity than at other writing sites. Revenge rating, clicking cliques and arguments about who gets nominated for what are all pointless here. Although I have never detected anything of the friendships and community that you get on ciao at BigRag, it is rather refreshing to be able to just read without having to justify your ratings sometimes. And there are plenty of things here worth reading, I can tell you. It takes some damn good writing to earn yourself a silver or gold award.
There is plenty of room for improvement, though. Guestbooks would be a good start to encourage members to visit more, make a community and take a more active participation in BigRag. They might also like to take a look at how they organise themselves - on one occasion, someone else's review (along with their payment) arrived in my account by accident. It just makes me wonder if some of the reviews that I sent were ever given the same treatment...
- My tips on using BigRag 1) Keep in mind that anything you submit to the site needs to be considered relevant to your average student. You may need to edit some of your opinions to make them more relevant, but it is normally worth the extra effort as it increases the chances of acceptance and payment. 2) Do add illustrations to your reviews, as they are vital to being in with a chance of a gold payment. Use the google image search service at www.google.com for an excellent selection of images. 3) If you are using a computer that does not support the "mail to" links in the submission form (my university network won't) then it is fine to just email your reviews. In this case, address your message to firstname.lastname@example.org, attach you finished work as a Word file and put "bigrag submission" as your title. The body of the message needs to contain your name, username, email address, category of your review and its title. 4) If your review has not appeared on site within 7 days, you are entitled to contact BigRag and ask for an explanation for why it has not been accepted. You may wish to use this service as a means of constructive criticism to improve your chances of acceptance and payment in future.
I write for the site, and think it's excellent. After all, earning extra cash is what we're all here for, and I just like how site popularity doesn't determine the money you get over there. Long waiting times for opinions to be posted can be a pain though, and I like the community over here very much.
Joeyruss 17.06.2003 22:55
Excellent op. I wouldn't have the time for two on the go and I'd miss Ciao if I switched. There's some GREAT people in this community. I'm hooked :-)
beatlemanic 10.06.2003 16:37
Sounds good but I'm already wasting far too much time on ciao!