Just say the word Wattpad and you’ll either get an eye roll or a confused look. For those of you who haven’t heard Wattpad is a site where writers post stories to share with readers. Most of the stories on Wattpad are free (as of this date) and that’s why Wattpad doesn’t have a good reputation among professional writers. Over the years there have been writers who liken Wattpad to a writer’s mill, a website that produces cheap content while paying writers pennies. However, I believe Wattpad may be worse in the sense that it doesn’t pay writers at all. Well, not unless they become massively popular.
To make matters worse, in 2021, Wattpad was bought by the Korean tech company Naver, for $600 million. Yes, you read that right, they were purchased for half a billion dollars. Now in the tech world, that’s not a big deal but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. I’m mentioning this because they can’t plead poverty when it comes to the issue of paying their creators.
How Wattpad Makes Money
I did a little digging and found the various ways Wattpad is cashing in on the content uploaded to its website and as you will see, the company exploits their website to the fullest through:
- Ad-free subscription services ($4.99 – $7.49)
- Paid exclusive content
- Publishing and movie contracts
As you can see, even if a writer does poorly, they (Wattpad) still make money through the occasional ad click.
The Problem With Their Paid Writing Opportunities
Wattpad doesn’t disclose how much they pay writers and those who are being paid aren’t allowed to speak about it either. This isn’t an uncommon practice within the publishing or entertainment industries. It’s how companies keep wages and royalties low because if you don’t know what your colleagues are making, you won’t know what is reasonable during contract negotiations. However, we live in the age of the internet and I saw a few people claiming that Wattpad pays around $1,000 – $2,000 per month for well-performing stories which isn’t impressive considering all the work you have to do to build your audience. You could make that same amount and possibly more by self-publishing but I digress…
Wattpad also claims to have relationships in the publishing and entertainment industries but so far, there have only been a handful of Netflix movies and a few books based on Wattpad stories that I can find. Nonetheless, Wattpad claims over 1,500 Wattpad stories have been published as books or adapted for television and film. Now keep in mind, there are over 650 million stories on the site, so the odds aren’t good that your story will be published by a major publisher let alone, made into a movie.
Years ago, when Wattpad announced its plans to partner with movie studios and publishers, some writers raised their concerns about copyright but as of this date, Wattpad doesn’t claim ownership of your work. However, when your book is picked up by one of their partners you have no idea what rights you’ll retain. For example, in the U.S. publishing and entertainment industries, it isn’t uncommon for almost the entire copyright to be claimed in a contract.
You’ll Have To Build A Following On Their Site
As I mentioned previously, you have to build a following on Wattpad to get their algorithms ticking. This is going to be hard because Wattpad has so much content on its site. Wattpad writers often have to campaign and follow other writers and engage with their content. Unfortunately, you’ll have to do this over and over again because most people don’t automatically follow or engage. Another thing that will stand in your way is Wattpad’s algorithm which works like most social media algorithms and prefers content that is new, popular (has lots of reads), and has engagement (comments).
When I shared my YA vampire novel in 2012, I soon realized the work involved in building an audience on Wattpad. Even after I hit 5,000 views there was little to no interaction and I had zero interest in spending hours on Wattpad begging for comments and likes. This was before they started dangling the possibility of making money so there was little incentive for me to stay and I deleted my account.
P.S. I don’t regret that decision.
All you have to do is spend five minutes on the site before you realize that the Wattpad audience is young, very young. Here are just some stats according to Wattpad:
- 80% of their audience are Gen Z (those born 1997 – 2012)
- Wattpad has 90 million users
- There’s an estimated 650 million stories on the site
- The average time spent on the site is 60 minutes
It’s also worth noting that their most popular genres are; romance, YA, fantasy and fanfiction so this can be a problem for those who don’t write in those genres.
Pros of Wattpad
There are a few pros when it comes to publishing on Wattpad and here’s what I came up with:
- Reader feedback (Beta readers)
- Being part of a community
- The small possibility of pay.
- The minuscule possibility that your work will be chosen for a movie or publishing contract.
And that’s it, I really couldn’t see any more benefits to publishing on Wattpad—sorry.
In Closing: My Thoughts
When I experimented with Wattpad in 2012, I found it to be a popularity contest and not a site where the best writers got noticed. I also realized it was a place where bored teens go for free entertainment. Unfortunately, this will be an audience of freebie seekers and not fans of your work. Remember fans buy books, not followers. So if you’re interested in getting published or paid, this isn’t the site for that.
However, if Wattpad sounds like something you want to try by all means do it. Just don’t expect to make money or become a literary sensation. To me, Wattpad seems like a site for teenagers and hobbyists who like to write for fun and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, if you want to make a living with your work, your best bet is to skip Wattpad and self-publish your work or submit it to a publisher.
Anyway, I hope this helped you make sense of yet another writing opportunity and if you found this post helpful, please like and share.