What is This Patch Thing?

If you’ve been searching for freelance writing or editing jobs online lately, then you’ve undoubtedly come across job postings for Patch.com.  I did some digging to get the details about Patch.com, so Freelance Writing Gigs readers would know what it’s all about before you decide to apply (or decide to ignore those jobs).  Following is what I’ve been able to learn from my research.

Patch.com is owned by AOL and was launched in February 2009 as a way to deliver local news.  AOL hopes to build the site to 500 local news sites, but currently, there are only about 50 local sites.  Each site is targeted at a town with fewer than 70,000 people.  A separate site, Patch.org, was created to cater to under-served, smaller towns.  AOL makes money by selling ad space on each local site and a team of advertising sales representatives helps to sell that ad space to local and national advertisers.

Each local site is run by an editor (these are the jobs you’ve been seeing listed online lately).  That editor is paid approximately $35,000-$40,000 per year to work full-time (although the hours are undoubtedly far more than 40-per week) and manage all aspects of their local site.  The site editor also gets a budget of about $35,000-$40,000 to hire local freelancers to supplement the content on the local site.  Typically, a local site employs 6-10 freelance contributors.

Local sites are grouped together in groups of 12 called clusters, which are led by a regional editor (you may have seen some of those jobs online, too) and a regional advertising manager.  Usually 12-24 advertising salespeople are assigned to a cluster.

Two clusters grouped together are called a block and all blocks are led by one of four editorial directors and four sales directors.  Those directors report to the Patch executives in the headquarters office.

Content is entered into the local Patch sites using a single content management system.  Recently, Patch entered into an agreement with 13 journalism schools to form Patch U which will enable students to work with local Patch editors (sometimes more than one student will be assigned to a single local Patch site) to create more content.  Patch.com claims that it’s looking for young, enthusiastic local editors such as professionals who have only been out of journalism school for a short time but have the skills and desire to be successful in online publishing and local news.

According to Patch.com editor job postings, the company is looking for the following skills:

  • Local Editors: 2+ years of local journalism experience as well as a degree in journalism
  • Regional Editors: 4-5 years of management experience and several years of journalism experience

So if the above findings are all accurate, it would seem that the Patch editor job is a legitimate opportunity that will enable you to make more guaranteed money than content sites like Examiner.com might provide.  However, it’s a big commitment.  On the flip side, you can put “AOL” on your list of clients and in your portfolio, and undoubtedly, Patch.com content will be well-SEO’d to drive traffic and potential links from bigger-named sites.

A full list of open jobs can be found here.  If you apply, just be sure to get all the details about requirements and payment before you accept a position.  This is still fairly uncharted territory for freelance writers, so proceed with caution.  If you do take an editor position with Patch, leave a comment and share your experience!

Image: stock.xchng


33 responses
  1. Damien Avatar

    I’ve been watching Patch for a while now. I really hope they spread outside of the US. I would love to write, photograph and do video for Patch but I live in Canada. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  2. wombatarama Avatar

    I am doing a little writing for my local Patch site. I had read that the editors work 70-80 hour weeks, and from my communications with my editor, I don’t doubt it.

    I have also read that the editors choose what to pay freelancers out of their budget so it may differ from place to place. Mine pays 30 dollars for 300 words and 50 dollars for more than that. It’s not much, but I am writing about subjects that don’t take a lot of work for me, so as an occasional thing it’s worth it.

    I found that the bar to entry was not very high – she called a place I work for about an event we were holding, and I said, you know, I have a lot of experience writing about that subject, you want me to do it? And she said yes without asking anything about my credentials. I don’t suppose she would have kept using me if I were incompetent – the first submission was a “trial” for a lower fee. But she does seem a bit desperate for content so at least in some places, it might be a good place for a writer to get started.

  3. Debra Avatar

    The only negative I’ve heard is that freelance writers are not paid much. So, if you think the editor’s pay is low for that much work, you might think twice before jumping on board. Then again, in this job market, any job is good and it does give you experience, especially if you are new at writing.

  4. Jeanne Roberts Avatar

    Is Patch a good opportunity for freelancers? Not so much, at least in my opinion. Unless you land one of the premium positions, you’re stuck canvassing neighborhoods, doing interviews and taking pics on about $12.50 per hour, no extra for mileage that I can tell. Once this job is over, it’s over. I don’t think it is fair to tell people that Patch is a good job, when at best most of the jobs being offered are mediocre at best.

    1. Christopher T Avatar
      Christopher T

      Well – that’s not really fair. The 12.50/hr is for the CLC/listings position, and if you’re good at it, you can move between several developing Patch sites to keep the job going – I’ve been doing listings since July. Chances are, if they’re canvassing in your town, they’re also doing others in your region. The articles are a completely separate gig. I was a f/t journalist for a major metro daily in Boston – well respected in my field, contributed to some national mags… had a recognized byline. And even still, writing for online outlets usually yielded me $25 for a feature, whether 300 words or 800. So, $40 (average) for an online story isn’t bad at all – it’s competitive. The days of keeping your eye on the print-gig prize and holding out for those $125 features is over. Patch is one of the only journalism companies that’s actually growing rather than laying people off, so…

      1. Alyssa Avatar

        Hi Christopher,

        I’ve been offered a CLC/listings job in my town. I haven’t started training yet. Can you tell me what I’ll actually be doing? Will I need to sell ads for the directory?

        1. Michael C Avatar
          Michael C

          Hey guys,

          I completed an entire Patch with only one other CLC, so I literally have done this hundreds of times. I can’t speak for all CLCs, but I can say what my experience was like.

          LE is right; it’s per listing, not per hour. Once I was in a groove, I could easily make anywhere from $25-50 an hour. You’re really only going to need 5 minutes to get the info you need, but for me it was very easy to fall into conversation. You will meet a lot of great folks, so this is common! Closed listings pay $3. There’s not much else to say other than make absolutely sure it’s closed and not moved out of your Patch!

          There are some great editors. I initially worked under a regional and then under a local editor. Both were amazing. You are required to do 30 listing a week (only one full-day of work depending on how fast you write), but you can request more listings per week as you like. I heard there were some CLCs doing 100 a week! Only problem is that there is a finite number of listings to be done, so once they’re gone, they’re gone.

          One other thing that isn’t mentioned in the handbook is that once you’ve completed a Patch, if you’ve done a good job, the local / regional would forward you to other Patches that need CLCs, if you ask. I would suggest asking! I mentioned I would like to continue with Patch and my regional got back to me with 6 different Patches to choose from.

  5. Ann C. Avatar
    Ann C.


    Thanks for this article. Like a lot of writers, I’ve seen the Patch ads absolutely everywhere. I kicked them an application, but haven’t heard anything. That doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate, though. Perhaps an interview with a writer who’s running a Patch site would be enlightening.

    Again, thanks for answering some burning questions!

  6. Julie Avatar

    Wow. I just answered one of the ads that a local Patch site posted asking for freelance writers and reporters. After I sent a nice coverletter, writing samples and my resume, I decided to do a search about the Patch that was launching near me. Turns out, it is being run by an editor who graduated from college two months ago. Is it wrong that I want to bow out of this? I’ve been a writing professional for 10 years, and hiring a recent college grad with almost zero real world experience to be an editor seems more than a bit…questionable. While I’d love to go back into print journalism, I don’t think this is my answer. 🙁

    1. Ann C Avatar
      Ann C

      @Julie – Thanks for your comments. This is the real-world info I was hoping someone would bring up. I can see why, with 10 years of experience, you feel it’s not your answer.

      My gut tells me that the recent grad running that Patch site is exactly the kind of person they’re looking for. Someone who wants to get their feet wet as an editor/reporter, has grossly underestimated the amount of work and overestimated their energy to perform it, and doesn’t mind (or perhaps doesn’t need) the kind of income that supports a household. If I’m wrong on this, many apologies, but that’s just my read, based on the comments here.

  7. Bob Avatar

    70-80 hours per week. If that’s what it takes to get ahead in this world (at my family’s expense), I’ll pass.

  8. Monica Avatar

    Might be useful to not knock it, until you try it.

    I have been working for Patch.com for about 4 months now as a CLC (Community Listing Collector) and now I write freelance write, on occasions for them. As for the comment about $12.50 per listing for the CLC’s…well to be honest, it has helped me pay my bills for the last 4 months.

    I average about $300-$500 per week extra for honestly about 20 hours max of work. That includes taking the pictures and writing the listings. Gas…well, as a freelancer, you can use the mileage and the gasoline as a tax deductible expense. Just keep your records in tact.

    Now, I take pictures really fast so 25 listings worth of pictures are about 3 hours work and then another 4 hours, uploading and writing. Three to four sentences on a business, is not hard at all to write.

    For the freelancing assignments, Patch.com do indeed pay well IMHO. $25 -$100 bucks for 250-1000 words…for a newer (within the past year) freelancer myself…it is miles better than Examiner.com

    I am working my way to know a number of LC’s Local Editors in my community with the CLC work. So, I predict that all long as I keep doing a great job as a CLC, the more freelance writing assignments to come.

    So far….so good!

    1. Christopher T Avatar
      Christopher T

      Rock on, Monica – you and I have gone the exact same route with Patch and I’ve felt like my prayers have been answered in many respects. No micromanaging, I can work at my own pace, have moved from town to town. I use my bike and it’s getting colder, but the CLC work has been perfect for me and now I’m looking into a f/t LE position. For the record, the editors I’ve worked with have all been around 30… I love how quickly people want to develop an attitude about a new opportunity when they could be working already.

  9. Ann C Avatar
    Ann C

    Monica, thanks for your input. You seem satisfied with how Patch.com treats you, and that’s great, especially since you’re obviously new to the writing field.

    I must say that I have *tried* to try Patch, myself, but got no reply from them, even after applying for more than one location in my region. I thought this was curious, because my qualifications seemed to fit their requirements perfectly, and then some. Those Patch locations I inquired about remain unclaimed. It left me with the impression there was nobody “at the wheel” at Patch.

    So, don’t knock me for being skeptical. My experience with them is that they’re not responsive. That’s why I was curious about other people’s experiences.

    I would be curious how many hours you would spend on a 1000 word article to earn that $100. You may be spending more time than you think. Regardless of your personal satisfaction with the pay, though, writers are professionals and ought to be paid as such, yet Patch still doesn’t impress me as a place that pays the going rate.

    Here’s the thing. $12.50/hour is great for clerical work, grocery work, fast-food night manager, etc., but writing takes an education, and professionals should be paid as such. Also, this wage equates to about $25,200 a year – poverty level for a family of 4. Perhaps that explains some people’s qualms about the wage.

    The Internet has turned many previously well-paid professions into providers of free services with the hope of future pay, and the only flaw in the plan is that this no/low pay could go on for years. Not exactly great for the economy as a whole.

    Okay, that’s my soap box moment for the day.

  10. Ann C Avatar
    Ann C

    I came across an article in the L.A. Times featuring an editor running the Manhattan Beach, CA Patch.com site. I think it’s worth reading, for an up-close look at one person’s experience. For those unfamiliar, the Manhattan Beach area is a small, relatively well-to-do community in the L.A. area. One would expect their ad revenue to be solid, due to the economic climate there. This article tells that editor’s story:


    Another article (link below) examines the Patch.com business model described in the L.A. Times article, and gives a picture of the ultimate profitability of a Patch.com site. The author makes a few predictions for how such a site survives and makes money for AOL in the long run.


    It appears that the current editor of the Manhattan Beach site is not the person mentioned in the L.A.Times article. The editor featured in the article doesn’t seem to be listed on the site. Perhaps he has been replaced.

  11. LE Avatar


    I think you are confused on how the pay works for the CLC’s. It is $12.50 per LISTING, not per hour. I have been working as a CLC with Patch for a little over a month and love it. I can set my own hours, work at my own pace, and work as much or as little as I want.

    I average about 10 businesses per hour in the field, and can usually write 5 listings in an hour (with distractions). Using those numbers if I go out for one hour, and come home and spend 2 hours entering the listings, I have just made $125 for just 3 hours of work.

    I’d say $41 per hour is pretty good, especially considering how easy it is!

    1. Ann C Avatar
      Ann C

      to LE:

      I’m not confused. Both Jeanne and Christopher quoted the $12.50 per hour. Perhaps they are confused. Or perhaps your understanding of your own pay is a bit muddled. I don’t know what a CLC is or what a listing is, or how one obtains these listings at the fast rate you mention.

      Did any of the posters here read the articles that I linked to?

  12. aisha Avatar

    Hey guys I was just looking at others comments about path.com
    They are very diverse. But it is interesting that those that talk down about patch.com have not tried it, and those that like it are the ones working.

    I do my training as a CLC this Thursday, and I am very excited. A CLC for those who do not know is one who is sent 30 listing or more per week to go out and interview businesses, take photos and enter them into the patch directory, getting paid 12.50 per listing, NOT per hour.
    Im a homeschooling mom of three, and I think patch will fit in great with my life style.

    I am interested in getting my feet wet as a writer as well. I have written for associated content, and other online sites and blogs as well. All though this may not be everyone, it is good for those getting started. And at 300.00 per week, when My family does not depend on my income to survive this is fantastic. Photography is a hobby, I enjoy being outside and doing research, so I will be getting paid to enjoy my time. Sounds good to me.

    Perhaps I will blog a bit about it

    1. Ann C Avatar
      Ann C


      1. Those who are having doubts about Patch are typically experienced writers.

      2. Those who are trying it, like yourself, are inexperienced, trying to get their feet wet.

      3. There is such a thing as a shill.

      Go ahead and do your CLC, have a great time, and with luck, writing these little listings will turn you into a writer.

  13. Pumpkin Patch Avatar
    Pumpkin Patch

    I bagan work towards the end of the summer as a CLC (Community Listings Collector). I traveled to businesses and organizations in my area as assigned and took pics and confirmed info for Patch. They want to have the most accurate business directory online and that is why they send a team of people to physically visit these places. Many times info and pics could be completed quickly, other times it was not possible. However, it was not inconvenient for me seeing I lived in the same town that the listings were in. If one did not live in the area, then it would most likely not be worth their while. I personally had a great time meeting new people and chatting with local business owners about how they began, etc. I was also able to complete the listings at my own pace and make my own schedule to work around my other commitments. Now that the directory in my area is complete I freelance for my local site.
    With the job market as it is I am thankful for this position and also the experience. I work with a devoted editor who has many years of experience in this field.
    I was reading Patch before I came across their emploment listing. I was absolutely thrilled when they announced they were coming to my town. I love the fact that the news is posted on the site within hours. The event calendar is great too. It allows to me to see exactly what is going on in my town day to day rather than searching all over the place for activities to do with my children, etc.
    I also love the idea that I am working for a company that gives back to the community with volunteer work and advertising space for local charities. AOL is truly putting this together well.

    1. Pumpkin Patch Avatar
      Pumpkin Patch


  14. Linda L Avatar
    Linda L

    Dear Pumpkin Patch,

    Your story is very similar to mine. I’ve been working with my local Patch since September and absolutely love it. I started out as a Community Listings Collector and am now writing for my local Patch site. My town’s Patch site is a fabulous place to get up-to-the-minute news, and the events calendar is a great way to find out about fun things to do in the community. Kudos to AOL for developing a model that works for underrepresented local communities and for folks with an interest in freelance writing and online journalism. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

  15. RFC Avatar

    I recently applied for Patch.com for a few local editor positions near where I live. My work hours have been averaging 50 – 60 hours a week ever since I graduated school 6 months ago, but I only make $1,000 a month. My credentials meet all of their requirements so I expect a call from them soon. I don’t mind working the hours just as long as it is something I like doing and get paid more than what I am now.

  16. Usef Avatar

    I’m a CLC and it’s AMAZINGGGGG. I am in a bigger market, so I’m able to straight up kill the listings in different cities. I average anywhere between 80-120 a week, about $1250-$1400 a week, I’m pulling down!!!

    I’ve never had a job so easy with this much money coming in. I know it’s not full-time guaranteed salary, but the work I’m doing at the rate, this is a $65,00 – $90,000 a year job depending how hard you smash it each week. Where else can you find a job that pays like a $65k a year workload AND you get to work part-time, your own hours, and get free hookups from businesses?? Nowhere!!!

    1. SDP Avatar

      Hi, I’m interested in this position. Where did you find the posting for it? I checked the patch.com website and did not find not one posting for a CLC position in any city?

  17. JJ Avatar

    Annc: I worked as a CLC in Florida. They don’t pay $12.50/hour. They pay $12.50 for a directory listing entry on a business. Once I figured out the most efficient way to do it, I could do 1 of these every FIVE MINUTES. I only worked 2 days a week/ half days and was making $600/week. I could have made a lot more but I have another job and didn’t request a lot of work from them. But beware, the Patch editor/regional editor will try to squeeze extra works and ridiculous stuff out of you if you don’t push back and say no. I’m sure some suckers are only averaging $3/hour because of that.

  18. JJ Avatar

    I should ad, that as far as writing the actual news articles for Patch, the pay didn’t sound great to me. If you have to go cover an event and spend a couple of hours there you’d be screwed. If it’s something you can write from home in 30 minutes it looks like good pay. But that’s just my opinion as someone who hasn’t written news articles since college (a long time ago).

  19. Edie Avatar

    Great discussion. I work in print media as an editor and was recruited by a friend to try out for patch. She didn’t mention that successful recruits yield $2,000 for a LE and $5,000 for a RE. Anyhow…i went through the whole process and did extensive research.
    I had three interviews, took the test and was assurred someone would get back to me. During this time HR: lost my resume and also had to reinterview me, because it lost my interview notes; referred me to another RE for an interview because of not realizing I was already in the chute with another RE. Very erratic, not impressive. Also, there were technology glitches re retrieving resume and writing samples I sent.
    The RE was very nice and I know I was seriously considered (and still may be) although my weakness was I no longer lived in the town they wanted me to cover. She promised to get right back to me, that was weeks ago. Maybe she is no longer there, or they lost my address or something like that.
    In the town where I work, a Patch has launched. They hired the guy we got rid of for good reasons, professional and personal, so I know they didn’t do due diligence.
    I carefully watch how quickly these sites are updated. The major daily and other regional dailies beat these guys all the time. The sites are definitely happy talk focused and not good at breaking news. Also, clearly AP style isn’t a concern.

  20. Sandra Avatar

    I’ve been writing for Patch for a few months, and I’m starting to get annoyed. They don’t pay a lot, and they take forever to pay. Maybe it is just the editor for the Patch I write for. I completed 2 short articles in late January that were published, and I STILL HAVE NOT BEEN PAID YET.

  21. Kris Avatar

    I have been writing for Patch for 6 months. At first I loved it. I was getting paid $50 to do a weekly column. Then I signed on to do another weekly column and in spite of it being a lot more work, I’m getting paid $35 per article. Sometimes these articles take 3 hours to complete because I’m interviewing groups of people. I’ve been trying to get out of doing the latter column but my editor can’t find anyone else to do it.

    Lastly, they also started a “moms council” where moms give advice for a weekly column, and those moms don’t get paid at all!! Patch is getting free content.

    My editor is nice, but she’s young , a little disorganized (probably stretched way too thin), and she’s horrible (inexperienced?) at managing people. I can’t imagine that the writers will stay at Patch long-term. I’ve contemplated giving it up more than once. The combination of the pay for my $35 column and the frustration of an inexperienced manager is very tough.

  22. Matt Avatar

    I’m in politics. I frequently work 60-80 hour weeks trying to elect candidates, pass referendums, build unions, etc. I have never made 40k a year. That seems like an unimaginable large number to me. Border line bourgeoisie.

    Ok, I know it’s pathetically low, but for journalism in this day and age? It’s like a goldmine. I say writers should go for it, and then unionize and demand more. Lets see Ariana Huffington and AOL take a pay cut to pay us!

  23. That Guy Avatar
    That Guy

    I know this thread hasn’t been touched since March, but I still felt compelled to weigh in here on the CLC discussion. Those of you who are stuck on this $12.50 /hr. vs /listing really need not argue with the actual CLC’s who’ve repeatedly confirmed that pay is based on output; I can assure you they aren’t “muddled” on how the compensation structure is set, as one foolish comment pointed out.

    Secondly, those of you who knock the legitimacy of the “writing” aspect associated with the CLC position are missing the point. These individuals are not writing fluff pieces just for the sake of content like most of the contributors to the editorial/journalism side of Patch. It’s just a job. And even if you want to classify it as “clerical work,” which you very well could, it certainly isn’t clerical pay. A lot of the comments on this page sound like they come from people with no work ethic. I’m a contract business consultant who took this job on between assignments … and I love it. I just finished a $2,000 week working as a CLC. That’s right, $2,000 a week. And it’s not my first. I could care less what I’m writing about if I’m being paid this kind of money.

  24. TJR Avatar

    The patch site reminds me a lot of the examiner; both have a local feel to them.

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