Suite101.com goes Global thanks to local presence

Vancouver’s Suite101.com announced yesterday that it has expanded into Spanish and French-language countries this week with the opening of offices in Madrid and Paris and the launch of online magazines Suite101.net and Suite101.fr. According to their press release, these new sites are the first of their kind for Spanish and French freelance writers – Suite101 writers earn dividend-style revenue for their published articles, work with professional editors, and retain all copyright to their work.

“This kind of online revenue-share journalism is a totally new model for writers of these languages,” explains Peter Berger, president and CEO of Suite101.com Media. “Our goal is to become a known outlet for Spanish and French freelance writers as an option alongside writing work at newspapers and magazines. We also want to reach experts who might not consider themselves writers.”

Twelve year-old Suite101.com now has an international full-time staff of 28 working in offices in Vancouver, Berlin, Madrid, and Paris plus over 40 editors working around the world. The company is co-owned by Burda Digital Ventures of Munich and Vancouver-based Internet entrepreneur Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures.

Earlier this week, Wertz reflected on the importance of having a local presence when expanding globally and referenced lessons learned going global while he was the COO of AbeBooks.com.

You do not necessarily need an office in every country that you open a website for BUT you need at least a presence in the same time zone and native speakers working for you. Trying to grow European websites from a North-American location with North-American staff will not work but a lot of companies have been successful in running several European countries out of one centralized location with native speakers from these countries. Berlin, London and Barcelona are probably the best choices for such hubs.

On a related side note, Penny Harwood of Think London has been making the rounds at Vancouver events this week as part of their Route to 2012 campaign. Harwood is meeting with Canadian companies to discuss the business opportunities London has to offer, including around the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

Yesterday Vancouver’s NowPublic made news for itself by selling out for an estimated $25 Million. The popular ‘Crowd Powered Media’ site has been a perennial Top 10 finisher on PEER 1’s Canada Startup Index for the past year and was most recently #6 on last month’s index.

Today a fellow Vancouver-based crowd-powered site Suite101.com made a little news of their own. The online magazine announced that freelance writer Lena Gott set a new monthly earnings record for articles published on Suite101.com with a paycheque of US $4,940.77 for the month of July. The most earned by a writer in a one-month period since Suite101.com launched in 1996.

“I can attribute much of my July earnings to my article on the Cash for Clunkers program,” said Gott, who normally earns around $2,000 a month for her articles on Suite101.com. “I strongly believe that writing in article clouds, or webs, and interlinking the related articles results in higher revenue. For the same amount of work, you get more page views because every article has the ability to drive page views to several related pieces, fulfilling the reader’s search for more information.”

Pretty impressive results for one month’s work. If one freelance writer makes that kind of money in just one month, you have to assume that Suite101.com is on to a crowd-powered business model that makes sense. According to thier press release, here’s how it all works:

Suite101.com earns revenue from advertising that appears on each article posted on Suite101.com. Writers earn a share of the revenue from the pages where their articles appear. This “dividend style” of payment continues as long as the articles appear on the site. Suite101 pays writers each month via PayPal. While there is no upper limit to a writer’s earnings, this model means there is also no guaranteed baseline – a fact that can dismay new writers first starting out but that can reward productive writers over time.

Congrats to Gott for raking in the revenue share and beating out Suite101.com’s approximately 2,500 contributing writers for the #1 spot.

Suite101.com – long-time #3 spot holder on the PEER 1 Canada Startup Index – announced today in a press release that they are the most popular Canadian-owned “content” site, surpassing CBC.ca.

While not as exciting as the Ashton Kutcher/CNN race to one million Twitter followers, according to Alexa Rank Suite101.com passed CBC.ca last week with Canoe.ca, Canada.com, and TheStar.com rounding out the top five. Pretty good company. Quite an achievement for the Vancouver dot-com survivor that launched back in 1997.

Suite101.com now has over 2,000 contributing writers and 160,000 original articles on its site which accounted for 14 Million unique visitors last month.