Associated Content is popular because you pitch your article idea and AC makes you an offer of roughly $3-$10. Additionally, you get paid according to how many people visit your work, too. You can quickly build a large body of work on Associated Content. Anyone can open an account and begin publishing. In order to get paid up front, you have to wait for your work to be accepted. They do offer another option of being paid only by ad clicks or visits. The flat rate is often $3-$10 and the more experience you get, the more unattractive that sounds. But just to get your feet wet, it’s OK. I don’t write for AC, so I can’t comment more than that. I’m not sure about the quality of articles on the site.
I know there’s a writer there with my name who has written some really religious stuff that I find awkward. I also know that the moms in my writer’s group that write for AC seem to like it, and recommend it a lot. I haven’t ruled them out, or blacklisted them like Helium, but I just haven’t had time to explore all that Associated Content has to offer.