≡ Menu

John Hewitt Defends Demand Studios, Sort Of

writers-inkSometimes twitter is just great. For example Deb Ng tweeted she was reading John’s Is Demand Studios the new Associated Press?

John is a journalist, much more than I am. Although I have read AP pieces coming over the wire back in the day, that clanking machine and it’s production was never integral to my writing life. I did read enough to agree with John that bland is a kind description, and if you think about it, that’s no surprise. Political correctness is only recent in name; many editors (certainly not all)  all over the world have worked not to offend their readership. That’s another topic.

And John may be right when he says I believe that sort of generic writing was the beginning of the end for newspapers…

When I think about my own reading generic writing is my least favorite, even when I need it to learn something or to follow a set of instructions. I remember how quickly I tired of technical writing because it was so repetitive. Bland? Boring! Boring to read to, but any creativity made the end user’s life even more difficult.

A quick look at Demand Studios and their View Popular Article link brought me to a series on passports. Helpful if I want a passport, or need to research the process, but hardly interesting under any other circumstances. That series is over at ehow which means DS is placing articles there. I could also write for ehow directly.

I’m not at all sure I agree with John when he says and I think that it can only have limited success on the Internet.

I suppose it depends on his, mine or your definition of success. Unlike newspapers, the ‘net has the potential of unlimited archives; an article written about passports today could last for a thousand years. Is that success? Probably only if it can be found and is still accurate. More likely the article will exist, but become useless in a decade or less. Which means there will be room for other writers to write about passports over time.

There’s a huge market for bland writing. Demand and the others seem to be helping fulfill the need, at least today. Like the local weekly newspaper, and like AP of yore, these article mills provide an entry point for writers. Most who start there will never go beyond. They will discover they don’t like writing for a living nearly as much as they thought they would. Or they will realize how much effort is required to improve their skill. Or they will discover they’d rather be astronauts or firemen or whatever.

No one who starts at Demand or Associated Content or Triond or ehow wherever need feel ashamed because they are not commanding big bucks. Each has its place, at least right now. Some may last, other models will surely appear.

I’m old enough to remember when we’d never even thought of something like the ‘net, and here we are. I wonder what’s next?

Come to think about it, does everyone here recognize what that figure in the image is leaning against?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 98 comments… add one }
  • So step up, Benjamin. Others are providing proof of how Demand Studios is such a great system, so pony up and show us where your clients are that are so superior to Demand Studios. As Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

    Step up and show that you are one of those people who can help others become just as good as you are by sharing in the wealth of information of these places where people can find work that pays just as quickly. You seem awfully quick to squash any proof of Demand Studio’s credibility, but you have yet to put any proof of your own forward. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see you put your money where your mouth is 🙂
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Tools of the trade, part II =-.

  • Anne – my web article and web content clients are fairly evenly split between those who pay immediately upon work being completed, those who pay in advance for an entire project, and those who pay on a set, regular schedule.

    In my experience, there are as many different payment cycles out there as there are clients. Just to say that Demand Studios are not the only buyer of web content / web articles who feature a rapid payment cycle.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Letting Go Of An Old Friend =-.

  • Why compare Demand Studios payment cycles to print payment cycles? I feel that is disingenuous. Why not compare them to other forms of digital publishing, such as other web content clients, blogs, etc, which feature payment cycles that are as fast, and rates that are higher?
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Letting Go Of An Old Friend =-.

    • Anne

      You may be right Benjamin, although I don’t know any that pay faster than Demand – google adwords pays once a month and so do most other affiliate type programs. Clients pay either on a calendar schedule like monthly or twice a month or when a particular amount of work is done. When I was doing seo work it was pretty much twice a month. At b5, when I blogged there it was monthly as I recall, and about.com, which became a blog while I was there was monthly. So Demand imo seems fast.

      Do you have a different experience?

  • Absolutely, Anne. That’s why so many people love Demand Studios, and why so many of the “haters” have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

    Seriously, can you think of any other place in ANY market on a GLOBAL scale where you can walk in, find articles in your niche, write them, and get paid within 48 hours? I don’t.

    Let’s take a look at typical print publications.

    Query. Wait 3-5 weeks if you are lucky. If it’s a big-time publication you might be looking at more like 2-3 months. Then you write the article. It gets accepted. Many big-name print publications then require you to wait for payment 30-60 days after publication, so even once your article has been accepted you actually aren’t getting paid until it goes into print. That could literally be MONTHS down the road.

    Let’s look at fiction work, in print and digital format. Submit a short story. Wait 4-6 months in most cases for the professional publications to get you a rejection or a go-ahead. Once you get a go-ahead you then go through 2-3 re-write phases until the editor is 100% satisfied with your story. Then you either get paid upon acceptance of the final article, which means you waited roughly 6 months for a payment, or you get paid on publication, which could be another 6 months down the road in most cases.

    Demand Studios? Log in. Scan keywords in your niche. Pick a few articles. Write them. See a turn-around in 48 hours at the most, and a paycheck within the same time frame. Bing, bang, bucks.

    Still requires research (if you are writing out of your niche), but it doesn’t require querying, there is no waiting period, and you don’t have to wait for it to get published to get paid for it. Once it’s approved you are good to go.

    Honestly…if you want to sit around and be old-fashioned and do the query game, be my guest, and while you might make 500-600 USD (or more; some print writers get paid 1-2k for a decent 1k word piece), you have to factor in the time it takes to write a good article that is worth that kind of money. You are looking at day’s worth of time spent doing interviews, researching, writing, querying, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting….and bitching about how unfair it is that “the other guys” are doing work for “bastardized” rates, how they are “driving the market down”, how they are writing “quickie, hack” articles, and so on and so forth.

    Meanwhile, there are writers over at Demand Studios (and similar places) pulling in high 5 figure incomes working simply part-time hours. They don’t have to query, they don’t have to wait, they don’t have to deal with interviews, they don’t have to wait, they get paid within 48ish hours of writing the article, and did I mention they don’t have to wait? The work is right there, all the time, just waiting to get writing. Sure, it’s not Pulitzer prize winning stuff, but like other people have stated, it’s disposable, profitable-as-hell content that is EASY to write and EASY to make money off of.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

    • Anne

      Now that DS is also offering some sort of health coverage, they become even more attractive on this side of the pond. Never got that from any one I wrote for unless I was inside.

  • To answer the question:

    These days articles @ Demand Studios have a turn-around of AT MOST 48 hours. That means you turn it in and within 48 hours you are approved. Since they pay 2 days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) that means you are getting paid within a couple of days of your work as well.

    When you start out you are limited to 10 articles at a time that you can pull from the pool. As you write more frequently, your limit goes up. For example, I had a stint earlier this year when I had a dry spell and I pushed out about 15 articles in a week. My limit went up to 15 articles that I could pull at a time from the pool. The limit is in place not to limit your income, but to make sure you aren’t hoarding jobs that other writers could be making. They only want you to pull what you can realistically cover.

    There are some writers for Demand Studios who can pull over 30 articles at a time the last time I bothered to check. Given the fact that there is a 48 hour turn-over at MOST, even a limit of 10 is fairly progressive. I haven’t done any work in the past 2 months for them as I’ve been busy with other projects but I can say this: the last time I did any Demand Studios work I had a less-than 24 hour turnaround on the 5 articles I wrote. That means I wrote them, and by the time I logged in the next evening those 5 slots were cleared and I was GTG to pull more articles from the pool.

    Given the fact that you can increase your allotment per day with proven results (if you are writing quality content they let you pull more), combined with the ease of method and the fast turnaround for pay and otherwise…it’s really a sweet system. I honestly do plan on using them more frequently in 2010, especially now that they are adding more and more categories where my niches show up.

    In any case…you can easily increase your cap from 10 to 15 within a week, and AFAIK it goes up roughly the same each week as long as you are writing actively and not getting rejected. Browse their forums a bit…I know when I researched it early in 2009 there were quite a few people who are capable of claiming 20+ articles a day, you just have to prove yourself first.

    But even if you are stuck with 10 every 48 hours, that’s 1800 USD per month just to start, and every time I’ve used the system I always get a 24 hour turnaround, which means you aren’t really inhibited in any way, shape, or form.

    It really is a lucrative deal provided you have a niche. And EVERYONE has a niche these days, which is why so many people love Demand Studios. 15 bucks a pop for no-brainer articles and the capability to make hundreds of dollars a day without EVER having to query, cold-call, or come up with ideas. Just fill in the blanks, tag it with a reference or two, and move on to the next. Bing, bang, bucks.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

    • Anne

      It also sounds as if they pay way more promptly than many print magazines… sometimes 30 days after acceptance, sometimes not until 30 days after publication which may be who knows when.

  • Wendy

    My beef is mainly with DS and how they run their business. I do not have any beef with people who write for them. Everyone has their reasons for choosing to work for any company.

    I admit, that I do tend to get into some of the heated arguments over DS; mainly because of some of the comments I see from either side of the fence. If people are going to change their minds and move on from content mill type sites then they would need to be open-minded in order to see other options.

    It’s hard to do that when they’re being called names and put down all the time. All we’re accomplishing is fuel for more fires. I will probably always be against DS, but I will try to hold some respect for those who choose to write for them. I do ask that you look for other options, but I won’t hold it against you if you choose not to.

  • Business writing is also typically higher paying when compared to web articles.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Letting Go Of An Old Friend =-.

  • As far as I understand it, you can write 10 articles at a time, and then wait until they’re approved (usually within 48 hours). This averages to about 5 articles per day, if you stagger them.

    The higher paying articles are often pitches to magazines, which mean you have to wait until the editor approves the article idea before you even write it. While you may make more per article, you often lose time due to how busy the editor is, and may get paid either on acceptance of your article or on publication, which could be months away.

    I hope that helps!

    .-= Kimberlee Ferrell´s last blog ..My Personal Energy Gauge Tarot Spread =-.

  • Heather

    I’m interested to know how one would make $1500 per month working for demand…or $500 per day…my article is cap is 10 articles per week! That means that I can make a maximum of $150 per week, not even close to $500 per day! I’m a teacher and have only been writing for DS for a little over a month, but if I could truly make $500 per day, I would definately be working towards that goal.
    Another thing, I’m interested to know where one might find an article that pays $250, $500, or even $750. All of the listings that I have seen pay even less than the content mills. Seriously…share the details! I don’t want to work for the beans that DS pays, but as I have a full time job, I feel like I’m stuck with it until I have time (maybe this summer) to find some better paying work. What am I doing wrong? Specifically, please 🙂

    • For me, as soon as I write one article another slot opens up. Technically I can go find another title as soon as I send a complete article, even if there are nine left in my queue and even if other articles are waiting for editing. So while I’m told I can only choose ten topics at a time, the truth is, I can write as much as I want on any given day.
      .-= Deb Ng´s last blog ..3 Tips for Being a Truly Objective Freelance Writer =-.

  • I write for Demand Studios, and have been a member for almost a year. I have not written for them on a full-time basis, and I think that is part of its charm. When you have higher-paying client work, you can choose not to work on the $15 DS articles. When slower times come, you can choose to write DS articles while looking for better work.

    Here’s some quick math to help you decide: if you write five articles per day at $15 for five days per week, you earn $1500 dollars per month. That’s well above minimum wage. It may not be a living wage, but a good supplemental income for those interested.

    I’ve heard this debate many times before under many guises. I would have to say that it is a personal decision, and no one can tell you what to do. As long as this model serves the need of some writers and some websites, it will continue to exist.

    .-= Kimberlee Ferrell´s last blog ..My Spiritual Work Tarot Reading =-.

  • pfft, I don’t really edit comments I make on other people’s blogs 🙂 That’s what professional editors are for! 🙂

    The stats I used are from 2008, so granted, they are about a year behind. The only reason I’m intimately familiar with them is I did some work at the start of 2008 on immigration influxes to Australia and Canada from the UK and America and the primary factor was wages and lower rates of redundancy.

    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

  • That is a fantastic, well-phrased article TW! May I add just one thing?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would be your citation for the income information. The only difficulty with using their statistical information is that they are always 2 (?) years behind. However, if the cost of living percentage is factored into their information, your figures are close to the target.

    Oh, BTW, is that a dangling preposition at the end of your sentence: “But the thing of it is, in the 21st century, EVERYONE out there has a niche market they are qualified to write in.”

    Carol: Demand requires that references used to compile article information be stated at the end of the article. I also write in tight niches and had an article returned because one of my three references was from a site similar to Wickedpedia, which is frowned upon by the editors.

    Medical information should come from timely information sites such as MayoClinic, Mellen Institute or a support organization. Personal finance information could come from Bankrate, WalletPop, Wall Street Journal, experts like The Dolans or one of the university sites with a finance major. You get the picture? DEMAND STUDIOS WANTS QUALITY WORK! They are, in effect, “coaching” their writers to research and write carefully.

    It might be nice if you could share your source of these triple-digit projects that you and your followers apparently are writing. Also, consider that article writing might not be the only writing that DEMAND writers do – I have authored an eBook and co-authored another with a third co-author contract in progress and another eBook due in mid-2010. Demand Studios offers a pleasant variety of topics to mix with other lengthy, niche-dependent and research intensive projects.

    Because I tire easily, there are days when I just cannot focus my thoughts and no writing will come from a day like that! Don’t you think it might be a joy for someone living on a monthly and meager disability check to be able to produce … anything? [What am I writing?!] No, you don’t think – perhaps because your feet need not walk in anyone else’s footsteps. Think about it. Different strokes for different folks – hmmmm, a “novel” idea!

  • I actually rarely use Demand Studios 🙂 I think this year alone I’ve only written around 40 articles for them, total. But I happen to take offense to people making baseless and uneducated comments regarding content sites “like them”.

    80k a year is a decent wage, but you have to keep in mind that your living conditions + regional area dictate what you “need” to make to be considered profitable. Not to mention what is profitable for you isn’t for others, and vice versa.

    I’m only an anomaly if you cherry-pick your data. My own research and connections show that most people who use content sites are averaging 50-60k a year, which is a MORE than healthy wage considered against the base median average of 40k USD for US residents/citizens. Similar to the cherry-picked data that Hoy posted at her site, many so-called experts only want to show their own side of the story and ignore the other aspects of the real world. I know, for example, that my glowing praise of Demand Studios was not posted on Hoy’s site.

    In fact, according to my data, you are an anomaly in that you are making beyond the average wage for freelance writers….above and beyond the 60k mark. So it’s a two-way street that is entirely dependent upon who you are talking with and where you are getting your data.

    Kudos to you for making above and beyond, but in the future you should definitely take a step back and look at the broader picture before making wildly inaccurate statements regarding what other people are doing, what wage they are/aren’t making, and how much they should/shouldn’t be making. Every writer out there decides for themselves what is or isn’t acceptable levels of wages and/or living conditions, and for you try and play judge and jury is beyond pretentious. It’s actually quite offensive.

    My own personal situation, for example, is such that if I wanted to sit here and work 40 hours a week, for the entire year, and I really put 100% of my efforts into it, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could clear 100k based purely upon active income (that is, physically writing content for various clients. I still have yet to establish any passive income, but I just launched the website this month and have been transitioning over. That’s 2010’s goal). But I have to ask myself, why bother? My personal security, my status as a writer, my credibility, and my enjoyment of life has absolutely NOTHING to do with how much income I’m bringing in on a given day.

    I just started freelance writing last year (2008). According to the comments you have made throughout this thread people like me are hacks because we don’t measure up to your level of income. It’s fairly ignorant to consider income level as a measure of success, but then again, when your possessions come to possess you, that’s really the only thing you have left worth pursuing. Oh wait, I just made a baseless accusation….

    In any case, I’m in my second year freelancing and in my third year (2010) I could easily break that 100k mark. So could ANYONE using Demand Studios. You keep claiming that it’s “impossible”, and that I’m an anomaly, but the simple math dictates otherwise. As long as people actually sit down and focus on their niche and work 40 hours a week and put out 3-4 no-brainer articles per hour (easy to do IF it’s your niche) of disposable, profitable-as-hell content pieces…that 100k mark is totally feasible. It just requires the motivation to do so. And a niche market. But the thing of it is, in the 21st century, EVERYONE out there has a niche market they are qualified to write in.

    At the end of the day it’s great that you can have success, but in the future…you should really refrain from making grossly biased and uneducated comments regarding other people and their level of income as it relates to their success. As long as they are making it work for them, they are successful. I use the Stephen King approach quite frequently. If you wrote something, got a check for it, cashed the check, it didn’t bounce, and you paid the light bill with that check…you are successful.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

  • Happy to, T.W. — I made $80K last year and will top it this year. Already fully booked to the end of the year. Your formula above doesn’t reflect my reality, as I rarely have to prospect. Once you find good-paying markets and make them happy, you generally continue writing for them, so a little prospecting goes a long way…for me, anyway.

    Thrilled you’re able to make good money on Demand, T.W. Just wish yours was more of a typical wage for writers on these sites. The feedback I’ve gotten from many, many writers on my site, via email, on LinkedIn Groups and elsewhere, is that you are an anomaly.


  • Carol…you continue to show a lack of industry savvy with your biased comments. You make generalization after generalization after generalization…none of which help your credibility. Your 5 dollar per article comment is another generalization. My all-time favorite so far has been your blatant disregard for logic as well as complete lack of knowledge regarding current global strategies for writing when you made the base assumption that people work 80 hours a week for $10,000 a year.

    First of all…let’s just assume, for a moment, that someone DID work 80 hours for 10k USD a year. It might sound like a crappy wage for someone living in a part of the world where they need to make 80k a year to make the mortgage and pay the bills for the family, but what about someone living in Pakistan, or India, or South Africa, or Argentina, or Morocco, or anywhere where their cost of living is such that 10k USD year equals x4 or x5 that in their home country.

    You are not the mediator for the global market. You are not the be-all, end-all when it comes to freelancing. You are not the savior of rates. You are not the god of the pen. Rather than make such grossly misappropriate assumptions you need to educate yourself on how the global market works, and realize that you cannot continue in the mindset that writers are only from your teeny tiny little regional market where they require 80k a year to pay the bills.

    Mark linked an article titled “The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model”. I couldn’t agree more. The 21st century is all about fast, disposable, profitable-as-hell media. Demand Studios satisfies a portion of that market. Understanding that allows writers like myself to make just as much (and more) in some cases than people relying on the prehistoric methods of print publication where people are clinging to the mentality that “print is the only way to go”.

    Why waste my time “marketing” when I have a place where I can walk in, plug in some keywords, and write? Why waste my time surfing for leads when I can log in, plug in some keywords, write, and get paid?

    An analogy I used in the past was this. Person A uses a content site like Demand Studios and spends 5 hours a day writing and makes 500 dollars a day (example only). Person B spends 3 hours a day surfing for leads and finds 2 articles to write. They take him 1 hour each to write, and pay 250 dollars each. He spends a total of 5 hours working, and makes 500 dollars.

    At the end of that 5 hour period, BOTH writers made 500 dollars. One wrote for 5 hours, another only wrote for 2…but he also spent 3 hours marketing and scrounging for leads, which means he invested the same amount of time, and as we all know…time = money. Therefore any time spent actually doing something related to the job = work. It doesn’t matter if it’s physically putting the words on the paper or “marketing” yourself…it’s still time spent on the clock.

    A lot of people here have been honest with their income and are showing profit margins of 50-60k a year. What’s YOUR income, Carol? Put your money where your mouth is. I’ve already shown–as have others–that we are making 50-60k a year using content sites, and as far as most of the comments in this thread go that seems to be the median wage for the freelance writer with any level of skill. I’ve also shown how–if you use your niche markets–you could make 115k a year working with Demand Studios alone. You keep spewing numbers out but you haven’t given anyone any hard proof, nor have you provided any numbers to show your own income.

    I think it’s only fair that you tell us what you make in a given year so we can have some understanding of where you are coming up with your grossly inappropriate figures and comments.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

  • Over on my site, I’ve heard from a doctor who says she lives in fear that patients will rely on the medical ‘information’ on these content-site articles! She’s constantly having to re-educate patients who think they know something about herbs from some mill article written by a non-medical person.

    And Mark above brings up the other problem, of less-vetted work taking over rankings and making search for well-researched work more difficult and time-consuming.

    Issues that weren’t even on my radar, but are part of the bigger picture of the effect of these sites.

    When I see writers like Julie proudly noting that they get $15 an article instead of $5… Over in my alternative universe, writers discuss whether they can get $500 or $750 or $1000. I just worry at how many writers don’t seem to know this other world exists. But if $15 an article and having to churn out 3-4 articles an hour to make a viable freelance wage doesn’t make you feel exploited, then certainly keep it up.

    I’m impressed that so many writers are so proud and happy to earn a fraction of what they deserve, from a company that’s raking in $200 million a year. Don’t you think they should share a bit more of it with the writers who make it all possible? I do. Glad they’re ponying up for healthcare, but how about a rate raise for ALL the writers?

    Carol Tice

    • Anne

      Carol, is your doctor friend more worried about the net than the ads on TV and in print by drug companies pushing every profitable drug they can?

  • “I fear Demand and similar sites will not only lower the fees for writers, but fill the internet with millions of pages of useless content.”

    Well, Mark, you’re probably right. For some reason, I’m hearing “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and seeing Mickey overrun by little broomsticks. ?Deedle-de-dum…?Deedle-de-dum…?Deedle-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum..? .
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • I write for Demand Studios. What I like about it is that I decide what I make. They have articles that range from $5 to $15. I can make as much money in a day as I want. I mainly write health related articles and enjoy it very much.

    In 2008 I lost my job as a Cosmetologist because of some health issues I was going through. I learned of Demand Studios through Anne’s newsletter and have been writing for them about 3 months. There are some weeks that I make more from writing than when I worked in a salon.

    Demand Studios has been a lifesaver for me and my family. I make enough per week to help with bills and have some self esteem. I do not consider myself a bland writer. My articles are well researched and well written. The editors at Demand Studios have high standards and I’ve had what I thought were excellent articles refused.

    As far as searching through pages and pages of content to find research, you eventually develop a list of reliable sites to conduct reasearch. Anyone who has searched for freelance work knows that Demand Studios pays far above the norm for articles. Textbroker is another place I write for, but their rates are far below Demand Studios. I’ve found that I can only make about $3.50 per article there as opposed to $15 at Demand Studios.

    It is easy to sit back and criticize, but until you actually write for a site you do not know the facts. I’m happy to write for Demand Studios, I’m proud of the articles I produce, and plan on continuing for a long time.
    .-= Kathryn Pless´s last blog ..Websit Worth A Look =-.

  • Mark

    See the story in Wired magazine:
    The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model

    Demand exists to create content to in turn make a web page that in turn displays Google ads. When an ad is clicked, Google and Demand share revenue. Demand does not care about the quality of writing. It admits to being just “good enough”. I fear Demand and similar sites will not only lower the fees for writers, but fill the internet with millions of pages of useless content. Soon your search results will be affected by those pages of Demand content created not particularly to be of use to you, but to earn income. When you have to view 13 pages of search results before anything useful and trustworthy appears, then you’ll regret “working for” Demand and similar operations.

    • Anne

      Mark, the article is fascinating, thanks for it.

      Re 13 pages of search before trustworthy stuff… my bet is that google will keep changing it’s algorithms and developing new ways so that search stays relevant… if they don’t, someone will… think how much seo changes every few months.

      • Mark

        Yes, I agree that Google and the other search sites will realize the glut of such pages and figure out a way to give them less priority.

        There is another big problem with Demand.

        I just did a search on eHow, which is operated by Demand. I searched for “How to Avoid Getting the Flu”.
        I stopped looking at the titles about not catching the flu at 31 pages of results. The results go on and on. Demand generates *multiple articles on the same topic*. This is certainly only motivated by profit. How is so many articles about how to avoid getting the flu helpful to a reader? So we’ll read at least two just to be sure the advice agrees? Is that a trick by Demand to increase page views?
        Demand’s how to avoid getting the flu articles will fill the Google search result pages. So if the first Demand flu article is not useful (that writing quality issue), the user can click on the next article link, which is also provided by a Demand writer. The user will soon find enough Demand-written flu articles, which, with the sheer number of articles will likely include contradictory information, that the user will scurry to legitimate health-related websites. But not before having clicked on all those Demand pages and creating page view counts and making those Demand pages even more “popular” and creating higher potential for ad-click profits.

  • Thanks Cathy!
    You took my words right out of your mouth … errrr … I mean You took the words right out of my mouth! I just read the post before yours and while I agree to a point, it might be worth it to look at earnings with a slightly different perspective:

    Carol’s comment about earning $5 an article is an example of how much other writers don’t know about places like DS or TXT. Depending upon the type of article you choose to write, you could earn up to 3x that amount. Writers who choose formats or styles that are not paying the higher amounts will, obviously, not earn a higher income. Articles that I choose have a payout of $15 for 500 +/- words. Since it takes me longer to produce the finished product, why should I pick something with a paltry payout of $5? The short answer is that I wouldn’t!

    Constant-Content is a site where the writer submits articles on speculation. However, there is an area where people in need of articles can post a request. I have never failed to sell my articles written for the public requests. It is true that the site takes a 35% commission. Having said that, you price your own articles or meet the higher end of the requester’s scale. I remember one article I wrote that had a range of $100-150 for full rights. I decided to hit the middle on that one and received $125! It was a 750-word article and 35% went to the site. I ended up with $81.25 for that one. Of course, it was the only article I was able to write that week. Still, the net amount was great for me.

    Folks, be sure you have fully investigated a freelance site before making negative comments. There might be a hidden gem inside! However, I agree that Triond, Helium and others like them may have a hidden agenda – or one not immediately detectable. They might not be a tasty treat for you or me, but others may be very happy with any one of them.

    Well, that’s it from this “hack” today!
    Happy writing

  • Julie:

    Your story is the perfect example of don’t judge without “walking a
    mile in my shoes.” Our differences make the world go round.

    Thanks for sharing & continued success! And most of all-good health!

  • Demand Studios, Textbroker and a few others have one thing in common. Behind the scenes are editors who proof the writing before any of it goes live or reaches a client. DS is a clearing house for several sites that they own, eHow being one of those. Successful websites need a constant turnover of information to keep fresh and up-to-date. It seems doubtful that this will change anytime soon.

    Some of us see these “cookie cutter” sites as lifesavers. They offer templates for various types of articles and those templates allow writers to complete an article a much shorter time – although 15 minutes for 400 words has got to be a world record! I was a mainstream worker for much of my working life. Then I studied to become a freelance tax preparer … and then came THAT DAY. You know the one I mean. The world turns upside down and everything that came before it would never be part of your life ever again.

    That day is called by many names – some of them are even printable. Mine is called Multiple Sclerosis. It did not take my brain or ability to think away from me. It did take mobility, speed and independence. It must be quite a “kick” to make $60 an hour, but some of us just can’t compete in that league. Personally, calling someone a “hack” writer based upon who they work for or how high the bank balance is only shows how little is known about the writing situation of others. Perhaps there was a problem passing the writing test required for becoming one of the writers for those particular sites??

    Presently, I’m Laughing-Out-Loud just thinking about the critics working me over because it actually took more than 30 minutes for me to hammer this out. But, that’s their problem, not mine.

    • Anne

      Julie, excellent… I remember one gal who write me a couple of years ago saying how much the low-pay articles had meant to the betterment of her family… wish I’d kept in contact with her.

  • If they are successfully paying their bills from Demand, Joe, I think that’s great. All the writers I’m in touch with are finding these sites don’t offer a meaningful income, and they’re looking for a way out, to better pay rates where they could actually make their mortgage. There’s nothing wrong with making a living — congrats to all who find these content sites a way to do that. And the big content sites aren’t the only place where you can earn $5 an article, either — they’re just the biggest and best-known places.

    My experience working with my mentees is that the time involved in writing for these sites robs them of time they could spend marketing and landing much better-paying clients. Just my personal experience working with good writers, if they took a single week or two off from that and marketed they’d never use the sites again, as they’d be making higher rates elsewhere.

    Obviously, not everyone writes at a level where traditional magazines and corporations are a market for them, and for those writers, whatever Demand pays is more than they had otherwise.


  • Joe

    @ Anne–I write for Demand Studios and it’s a constant topic within the forums. Many writers (not just one or two) make a goal of writing around $1,000 per week. In fact, there was just a recent post–a challenge of sorts–to get people writing 10 articles per day. That’s $150/day on average (possibly more if they’re writing better-paying titles) and I think the idea was to work at it 7 days/week for a total of $1050 per week–I think that’s about $54,000 per year. Granted, you’d actually have to keep up a pretty demanding pace to actually finish the year with that much, but I don’t doubt that it’s possible. Sure, I don’t actually have any W-2’s verifying people’s claims, but enough people write posts about it that I am confident that it’s not only possible in theory, but also happening regularly. I also know that while forum posts might not serve as evidence in court, they’re a lot better support than random claims like “80-hour weeks for $10k”.

    It’s unfortunate that DS’s forums aren’t open to the public, at least for viewing, because I think a lot of misconceptions could be quashed if some of the disgruntled writers knocking the company took a look at the people actually working there and what they’ve accomplished not only at DS but in their greater careers. In fact, I think I’ll make this suggestion to Demand.

  • Joe – there are definitely “single” freelance jobs out there upon which one could base a very healthy living.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Car Buying Advice From A Car Writer – The Most Important Opinion Is Your Own =-.

  • Joe

    All of the studies and interviews that have been done with writers on content sites seem to indicate that the vast, vast majority of these writers make a pittance. I’d direct you to this investigation on Writer’s Weekly “Demand Studios – what their writers are saying.”– the links at the bottom of this page get you to more documentation on the realities of working for various other content sites.


    It’s very laughable that you’d use another one-sided, subjective piece to support your own one-sided, subjective posts. It’s well-known across the writing community that Angela had a huge agenda and hand-picked quotes for that article to support it. There are hundreds, probably thousands of writers that are quite happy working at DS and would be more than willing to share that. Unfortunately, disgruntled writers that left DS for one reason or another fit into Hoy’s agenda much better. That “investigation”, as you generously call it, was just another odd story of a successful writer that has an inexplicable axe to grind with content sites and those that make their living for them.

    “While there may be a writer or two out there earning a living on each of these sites, and the content sites love to put those people forward, for the vast majority writing hundreds of articles for an average few dollars doesn’t afford them anything like a living, and isn’t the best use of their work hours. Occasionally someone seems to land a good-paying gig from the exposure, but that also seems to be very rare. ”

    The question at hand isn’t whether they earn a living strictly from content. In fact, I can’t think of many single freelance jobs with which you can base a living. Magazines may pay you $1 per word for a 3,000 word feature, but how many of those are you going to write in a year? And how long are you going to wait for that big payout? Isn’t the idea of freelancing gathering a variety of contents, whether that be content sites, corporate clients, magazines, books, etc. etc. So the question should be how effective can content sites be at filling a need. I am far from the fastest, most prolific writer at Demand, but I often knock out 2 or 3 articles in an hour–bringing in anywhere from $30 to $60 an hour. Based on full-time writing jobs I applied for in this poor economy, that’s several times what I’d be making out in the world in my neck of the woods. One of the writing jobs that I applied for–a copywriting position with a huge, well-known Internet retail property– had a very firm starting rate of just $12/hr. While that job would probably have offered better experience for the future, it didn’t pay the bills and would have required a rather long commute. So is Demand “best use of my work hours”? At the moment, absolutely. That’s not to say that I want it to be my living or think that it’s the best I can do, but it certainly pays the bills.

    “Mills are a problem when serious writers with talent think that’s the best they can do.”

    Sure, but that’s making the assumption that Demand writers think that way. From what I’ve seen, they don’t. I certainly don’t. Many writers are published authors, journalists, newspaper editors–and guess what–those lucrative markets are drying up and people need to make a living. It’s not that those writing for Demand are bright-eyed newbies that don’t know a thing about the greater market, it’s that Demand offers a growing opportunity and new distribution model at a time when more traditional opportunities are shrinking. Many Demand writers are actively pursuing those better-paying markets that you speak of, but in the meantime, they’re paying the bills with money made at Demand. What is so wrong with that?

  • An inkwell!!

  • Too many writers are hung up on this so-called “market”.

    First of all, there is no such thing as a standardized market, nor are there any standardized rates. They don’t exist. Why? Because writers are NOT limited to only Western countries. When companies hire out these days they are looking at qualified candidates from any country in the world where individuals have access to an education and English/whatever language is required by the client.

    Standardized rates can never exist until there is a ONE WORLD currency and a GLOBAL cost of living that sees every person in every corner of the world living for the same price.

    Uneducated writers clamor about how “unfair” it is that writers are willing to do X amount of work for Y dollars and how it’s supposedly driving the market down. What market? You mean your tiny little itsy bitsy local/regional market that makes up just a fraction of the global writing market as a whole? Are you really that insulated and uninformed?

    This is the 21st century, folks. The world is your breadbasket. The market is the entire globe. The employee pool is the global pool of educated individuals who (in many cases) actually have better educations than most of the Western students, who are lucky if they can read/write English by the time they graduate high school (No child left behind policy = illiterate people are graduation with astonishing prevalence).

    There is no “market” that is being somehow sullied by content writers. The only market that exists in these cases is the one created by the writers in question who suddenly find themselves lacking work…because they have failed to understand the market’s evolution, and failed to move on with the times.

    If you understand the digital age then you understand how the market works, and you aren’t worrying about what the other guy is making, nor are you worried about so-called saturation and so-called poorer jobs and so-called lack of work and so-called devolution of rates. If you are successful then you don’t have time to look at the other guy because you are too busy writing and pulling in a paycheck.

    Which one do you want to be? The one left standing in the dust coughing and wheezing and wondering where his paycheck went, or the person at the head of the pack, dust-free and with enough money in his pocket to feed his family, send them off to college, and take 4-5 vacations a year with his wife?

    No-brainer as far as I’m concerned.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Research in the 21st century =-.

  • Hi Ann,
    I know Demand Studios in particular (and I’m pretty sure this goes for the others) would probably let me write – but they wouldn’t pay me. I looked at their T&Cs. That’s cool with me, it’s actually good that I’m being forced to figure out my own ways to generate income. And at least this way nobody’s calling me a hack 😉
    .-= Lucy Smith´s last blog ..“Coming Soon” no excuse =-.

  • “Most who start there will never go beyond. They will discover they don’t like writing for a living nearly as much as they thought they would. Or they will realize how much effort is required to improve their skill.”

    Anne, that was a very good point. Here is an interesting quote by James Michener along the same theme:

    “I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.”

  • Jim

    I am currently “writing” a Baldrige application.

    I challenge anyone to find a more stultifying assignment.

  • Anne– you asked why all the hoopla, and my theory is that it comes down to: Should I care what other writers make or not? Some say “No – why do you care what I make/write, leave me alone” while others say “I have to care, I have to fight against it, because you’re bringing the market down for everyone and impacting my job title.” Really, I think thats the crux, IMHO. Not sure where I fall anymore. Am reading with interest.
    .-= Allena´s last blog ..Get to Know Your Fellow Freelancers – A New Gallery of Writers =-.

  • TK

    Carol Tice I hope you’re not using Angela Hoy’s hit “journalism” piece as a benchmark on which to gauge content sites. I have news for you but Angela Hoy didn’t give a fair representation. I can name at lease two dozen of her readers who work for Demand Studios who sent in glowing recommendations and she didn’t publish them. This isn’t the first time she fudged facts for her benefit. She was biased and unfair in her assessment of Demands Studios and her attack on Deb Ng. Next time Angela Hoy researches a place ask yourself, “is someone who is supposed to be so fair and impartial supposed to sound so angry and bitter?”

  • T.W. – Actually the “entry level” thing was an experiment on my part. I wanted to see if calling it an “entry level gig” rather than a “content site” brought more respect to the idea. It didn’t.
    .-= Deb Ng´s last blog ..On Finding Time for Freelance Writing Work or Why I Don’t Wake at 4:00 A.M. Anymore =-.

  • Anyone who claims that content sites are “entry level” positions, or that places like Demand Studios do not offer a writer the potential to make 6 figures, have absolutely zero clue how the market today works, or how much money you can truly make.

    I’m one of those who relies primarily on content sites for my bread and butter. I’d estimate content sites provide me with 70% of my income. I average around 30 dollars an hour, when you factor in all of my jobs together. In other words, between 50 and 60 grand a year if I chose to work full time. I’m in my second year as a freelance writer, and I don’t work full time. I work around 4 hours a day, 5 at most, on average, although I ramped up in November to 7 hours a day due to a rather large contract that landed on my lap.

    To suggest that places like Demand Studios are a haven for low-talent, hack writers, or for those people who are comfortable making a low wage, only shows your (generalizing) lack of knowledge regarding the global market as a whole. Something I discuss on my website and my previous blog quite frequently is the concept of being relevant on a GLOBAL scale, and that requires understanding that just because YOU cannot make it happen doesn’t mean that someone else cannot.

    Using Demand Studios in particular, I can log on, pick articles from my niche, and I can usually push out a minimum of 4 articles in an hour. That’s 60 dollars an hour. Far from entry level or low paying. 60 dollars an hour @ 40 hour work weeks over the course of the year is 115,000 USD per year in gross income. I’d love to live in the world where 115,000 dollars is considered “low paying” or “entry level”, because in the real world where I live, this is not considered entry level, by any definition. In the real world the average median wage (in 2008) was just over 40k USD per year for US citizens. That’s 21 dollars an hour. Entry level positions are around 18 USD a year, assuming you have a college degree. Specialized degrees = higher starting wages, but the median wage is determined by the AVERAGE, not the specialist degree holders.

    If I wanted to work primarily for Demand Studios, I could easily make over 100k a year, if I worked within my three niche markets. However, I don’t. There’s multiple reasons for this, but mostly related to the fact that I’m focusing most of my spare energy on fiction work, and I have lucrative gigs that pay me a comfortable wage to work in my travel and health-related niches. Our living expenses (wife and myself) are under 10k USD a year. Total. With entertainment. We are 100% debt free, and I am only 29 years old. I can sit back, pull in 30k in a year, and put 20 thousand of that in the bank, after taxes. I generally use Demand Studios as a nice way to take my wife out for a weekend trip or a nice dinner out.

    I do home improvement articles for DS based upon 3 generations of family background and 15 years of experience in the field. The niche never goes away, because no one out there has as much intimate knowledge with construction as I do. You cannot research the things I know, which allows me to simply hop on Demand Studios, pull half a dozen articles, and do them within an hour. My current max is 7 articles in an hour and my minimum is 4. That’s between 60 and 105 USD per hour in my given niche.

    Scoff all you want. My bank account AND my credibility with my clients are proof enough that I am not only an exceptionally skilled writer, but also someone who understands how the digital age works. I’m not the one stuck in the mentality that print is the only way to make a living, or that there’s no way to make money with content sites. Content sites are the way of the future, and as long as you know how to work the system it’s fairly easy to make mid-high level 5 figure incomes with relatively no effort whatsoever. If you want to pursue it full-time you could easily break 6 figures…PROVIDED you have lucrative niches.

    It’s not up to you (anyone) to determine whether or not someone like myself is a hack. My bank account proves otherwise. Jealous much? I constantly see other writers complaining about people who work for content sites, and 100% of the time it boils down to simple jealously that they too haven’t been able to adapt to the 21st century. There’s plenty of money to be made, as long as you are willing to change your old-fashioned views. As I posted on the FWJ website…imagine the guy who refuses to use a printer because he thinks that the printing press is the only way to get “authentic” newsletters to his readers. Meanwhile his neighbor down the street is pumping out 50 newsletters per night while the guy in the basement with his antique is only putting out 10 articles per weekend. He continually clamors about how “unfair” it is, and how the guy upstairs is a “hack” because he’s doing it “faster”, but in reality the guy in the basement has refused to move with the times. He’s stuck in the past, believing that his way is the only way, and that anyone not using his method is a fake, a hack, a no-talent wannabe.

    I’ll bet my reputation any day of the week, and I continually use my bank account as proof that I’m not a hack. Just because I choose to write “no brainer” articles doesn’t make me a hack…it actually makes me smarter than the people spending 4 hours to write an article that could be done in 15 minutes because it’s nothing more than a 400 word blurb that needs to read like the back of a DVD. It’s not meant to be Pulitzer winning content. It’s meant to fill space.

    I’ll take my quickie articles any day of the week, because at the end of the day I’m making more than most of the writers who are complaining about the guys like me.

    • Anne

      I actually call myself a hack some days because, although I don’t sell my work cheaply, much of what I do is far from “great writing,” or “classic.”

  • Just…wow. Not being based in the US, I don’t get to write for these controversial sites, but part of me would be tempted to do it just so I could say so in discussions like this and watch the fur fly 😉

    I firmly believe that people should do what makes them happy, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Someone wants to write even though they’re inexperienced, or just not that great or versatile? I say go for it. The reality is, I suspect, that there are plenty of people who just aren’t good enough writers for magazines etc. to pay them $50+ an article. Does that mean they should go and flip burgers and forget it? I don’t think so.

    If you can earn some kind of living that doesn’t involve peddling drugs to children or making snuff films, then do what you have to. Money isn’t everything. Your happiness is.
    .-= Lucy Smith´s last blog ..“Coming Soon” no excuse =-.

    • Anne

      Thanks Lucy – I thought at least some of the article sites would accept writers from places like New Zealand and other countries? Have you checked?

  • Joe — I’m sure we’d all like to hear from some of these Demand writers who are making mid-five figures from DS — hopefully you can get a few of them to come comment here?

    All of the studies and interviews that have been done with writers on content sites seem to indicate that the vast, vast majority of these writers make a pittance. I’d direct you to this investigation on Writer’s Weekly “Demand Studios – what their writers are saying.”– the links at the bottom of this page get you to more documentation on the realities of working for various other content sites.


    While there may be a writer or two out there earning a living on each of these sites, and the content sites love to put those people forward, for the vast majority writing hundreds of articles for an average few dollars doesn’t afford them anything like a living, and isn’t the best use of their work hours. Occasionally someone seems to land a good-paying gig from the exposure, but that also seems to be very rare.

    As Anne wrote on my site this morning, http://caroltice.com/blog/27
    Mills are a problem when serious writers with talent think that’s the best they can do. I won’t apologize for helping some of those writers get to the next level…have a client who’s doing their initial mentoring session later today, actually.

    Certainly, for those who simply enjoy seeing their name on the Web and/or want to promote their service business or book, or want to earn a little extra cash for the holidays, content sites are probably a great option.

    I encourage professionals to stay off them because there are better ways to earn a higher hourly wage.


  • LOL!!! See – we can always find a positive! 🙂
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Remembering Our Veterans =-.

  • Anne

    Cathy, I’m amazed at the emotion here too! Great for page views 😉

  • Anne

    Joe, can you tell us how you know some are making $40-50k? I agree with your premise… just curious.


  • Wow—this isn’t the 1st time I’ve seen sooo much emotion on this topic. My goal in life is not to judge – sounds simple but it’s really very difficult. And some of that is just what you touched on here, Anne, about journalism and the move to “laugh tracks and entertainment” – what I call tabloid news.

    IMO – I find the whole “reality” genre disturbing in its message that the one who can screw over others the best wins – can you spell Bernie Madoff? At least he got caught but what a mess was left behind. And we take delight in tabloid journalism that will go to any extreme to expose the “dirt.”

    So with all that surrounding us, is it any wonder that we can’t seem to refrain from judging others. Like someone said in the posts (I think it was you, Anne) it’s not like someone is putting a gun to these writers’ heads. I would rather focus on the wonderful generostiy of people like you & Deb and others in our writing community who choose to share what they know to help others.

    Just sign me Pollyanna… 🙂
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Remembering Our Veterans =-.

  • Joe

    “It’s just the opposite — I feel worried and sad for the mostly desperate writers who accept these rates.

    That’s why I’ve been accepting three mentees a month in addition to my writing work, and teaching people how to leave the slum of earning $10,000 a year or so for 80-hour weeks at the computer and join the world where writers earn high five figures or more from their writing and have sane work hours.”

    Wow Carol, while you try to make the flimsy point that writing for DS only brings more low-paying work, I’d like to make the point that writing baseless assumptions fraught with ignorance won’t help your writing cause much either.

    No one’s working 80-hour weeks at DS for $10,o00 a year. In fact, some people are making a healthy salary of $40- $50K working solely for DS. And these aren’t desperate writers who need to be pitied; they’re professional writers that have made the choice to enjoy some of the flexibility and benefits offered by DS. It’s pretty funny when writers are so insecure in their own skin that they need to “pity” and insult other writers that are making a comfortable living, albeit in a different way. To illustrate–I believe that you write for the Puget Sound Business something or other–how would you respond if a writer for Forbes, Wall Street Journal or another vastly-superior business publication scoffed at you and your work because he was earning so much more prestige and money?

    In any profession, there’s a great diversity in prestige, pay and niches. My advice to any writer is to focus on her own client base and work and stop showing anger, pity, jealousy, disappointment or disdain for others that are just doing the same.

  • Will

    “…I feel worried and sad for the mostly desperate writers who accept these rates.”

    Not to worry y’all. We just look desperate in an effort to garner the attention we crave from our betters.

  • I thank you for your response, Peter, and know that I wasn’t ranting at you, but DS. In a way, it’s been a stepping stone for me, kind of something to fall back on as I try to increase how much I’m getting paid for writing, and having it, in my mind, “fail me” as it did twice makes me feel like I’m wasting time. I mean, putting an hour or two into something and then not getting paid for it; I can do that for myself for my blog.

    But I really appreciate your time here; thanks again. And thank you, Anne, for allowing us to take up some of your space.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..A Political Health Care Rant =-.

  • Peter

    You’re right on all points. But please note that I’m a (fairly new) hired gun for DS myself. Not a part of management. Also, I had no intention of diminishing your opinion. I just wanted to clarify some of your objections for you, me and those unfamiliar with Demand Studios.
    I never meant to imply that you shouldn’t be given a reason for rejection or be able to clear rejected articles from your work desk. I should have clarified that, as far as my understanding goes, your copy editor violated DS’s guidelines by not giving you a reason.
    As Anne said, good for you for ditching a company that’s not right for you.

  • Access to unlimited information would be great if there were editors and fact checkers for every bit of junk out there. We are seeing the watering down of journalism through the Internet. First, TV news started entertaining us. Our generation is going to have to define what new is all over again. Opinions, generic content and Blogs are not journalism. Reading online should be done with skepticism. There is, of course, a place for everything. But, reader beware!

    • Anne

      Imo the real reason journalism is disappearing is because of the so called consolidation of the news and of tv and radio. No longer are our big news sources owned by people interested in research, truth, and fairness. Instead they only care about the bottom line, about profits. Hence news disappears and is replaced by laugh tracks and other so called entertainment.

  • Hoo, boy! A surprising amount of emotion here. I fundamentally agree with Joe. Internet news media are in their infancy; AP and others are following the old print model, but with increasingly PC bias. [AP really stands for “Aggravating Propaganda.” But that’s another topic, as Anne said.]

    Regarding DS requiring links: despite what some may think, DS’s objective isn’t just providing basic information; they ask for links because readers want expertly chosen links to follow for additional information. Readers could use Google themselves to generate a jillion billion kazillion links, but that then leaves the task of sorting the good from the bad, the pertinent from the irrelevant, and the accurate from the bogus. A thorough DS writer performs that selection for the reader, saving them time and frustration. This is the fershlugginger Internet, guys. Print media have no links! Links are a large part of the reason we’re here.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • Peter,

    I shouldn’t have to ask why I had an article rejected. I should be told, and I should be able to remove it from my work desk. That didn’t happen the two times I had articles rejected, and I can’t remove them in any way from the work desk. As I wrote on my blog post, I don’t need that kind of scarlet letter flashing at me every time I sign on.

    You also didn’t address the stupid image thing that you now want. Images don’t fit all articles well, especially when one has to select from the minimal choices you offer. Then you want a caption for it that makes no sense; just ridiculous.

    Is it necessary to have my account closed? Whether it is or not, DS’s not having a way for people to close out their accounts is minor leagues at best. A person can leave a job; a person can even close a Facebook or Twitter account. DS gets the benefit of saying “hey, we have xxx many people writing for us”, but it’s a false number because no one can leave if they want to.

    People get the courtesy they show others; so do businesses and websites. Instead of making it look like I’m totally wrong in how I feel, since it’s obvious I’m not the only one who’s griped about your service here, why not see what the company can do to ease the minds of the writers that you (the company) claim you care about?
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Done With Demand Studios Also; The Gripe =-.

  • No Carol, my remark above isn’t part of my contract. Demand Studios doesn’t pay me to go from blog to blog and sing their praises and clear up inaccuracies and misconceptions. I do that on my own accord.
    If you’re speaking on behalf of your mentees, you should clarify rather than state that ALL content writers are disheartened and desperate.

    • Anne

      Thanks for the nice response Deb…

  • Anne

    Carol! I hope you don’t mean you think Deb has sold out to Demand or anyone else. Although that’s what you’re saying. That’s not fair. I’m tempted to delete it but I won’t.

    The think I don’t understand Carol is why you seem so angry about all this? I may be mis-reading you. Deb, like me, works to help freelance writers earn more money… and like you. There are several others here who happily give a hand and help people learn they don’t have to be stuck.

    Please, let’s play nice everyone… ahh I know better on a net post… however, I value both Carol and Deb and I’m not sure what to do.

  • Peter

    I am a fairly new copy editor for Demand Studios. And I understand some of the frustrations expressed by other posters. But there have been some misconceptions posted.
    Demand Studios “How to” articles do not require a reference. But CEs are told to reject (or request rewrites of) articles that merely include top-of-head information. Demand Studios copy is often stylistically bland. But it has to be useful to readers, according to DS rules.

    Mitch, if you want to find out why DS has rejected an article you’ve written, you can ask DS support via e-mail. Generally, however, copy editors are strongly encouraged to give the writer a clear reason.

    There should be an easy way to get off of DS’s list of writers/editors if you decide it’s not for you. But is it even necessary?

    • Anne

      Hi Peter, thanks for chiming in. It sounds like at least one explanation is growing pains at DS. Back when miningco became about.com we had editors who were truly helpful. As the site grew we guides lost contact with the eds and rarely got any feedback – I haven’t been there for several years so I have no idea of what’s going on that way these days. I do know that scaling up is a major problem for successful sites, and when you’ve got something like DS scaling up good editing with good feedback has got to be hard.

  • Just reflecting what I’m hearing from my mentees, Deb. Of course nobody makes writers write for content mills…but I hear a lot from writers who get stuck there and can’t seem to figure out how to get to the next level. That’s who I help. Some writers would like to learn how to make more than the average $1.95 an article research on Writer’s Weekly has shown writers of such sites earn. Others are happy with their status quo.

    Given that you likely make a big chunk of your income these days from FreelanceWritingJobs you’re hardly a typical writer for Demand…and given your relationship with them I wouldn’t be surprised if you were paid to write the pro-Demand post above. Not an option open to most new writers.


  • For all the things I said “defending” DS, Mitch is entirely correct… at least, about the things I know from the short time I’ve been writing for them.

    DS doesn’t accept your expertise. You have to provide a reference to something else, even if you’re an expert yourself. That is irritating. In essence, you’re just writing about what someone else has said.

    And the picture thing is even worse than Mitch said. DS is only accepting images from their own stock photo library… and that’s only available on two types of articles. They have some “How to Draw…” assignments listed; I still haven’t figured out how they expect you to show someone how to draw without drawings!

    That said, I still say DS is merely a means to an end. In my case, I’m using the articles as a way to publicize my book and blog, and pick up a little extra cash in the process. If DS helps you get to where you want to be, use it and don’t feel guilty. If it doesn’t, don’t use it. But either way, my point is that you need to write in such a way that you are proud to have others see your byline.
    .-= Mike Southern´s last blog ..The Limerick Summary: 2009 Fall Finish, Complete =-.

  • Thanks Anne. Of course, now I have to find another money source, but so be it. 🙂
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Done With Demand Studios Also; The Gripe =-.

  • Carol,

    Again you’re judging and insulting writers who choose to write for entry level opportunities. Don’t cry for us, Carol. We’re all adults. We can make our own decisions. We know our options. We’re not desperate or demoralized. Moreover, a site like Demand Studios isn’t a sweatshop. Writers have a choice to write as many or as few articles as they wish. They’re not tied to their chairs and there are no quotas, minimums or maximims. DS writers enjoy what they do and talking down to us while making assumptions certainly isn’t going to change our minds.

    I only write for Demand Studios on occasion but there are many fine, talented, intelligent people who write for DS on a regular basis and they are very happy to do so. They have a good life from their writing. Not every DS writer does this full time, some, like me, do it because they enjoy the DS experience or because they want to supplement their income between higher paying opportunities. Others enjoy the experience so much they choose to do it full time, even while knowing that there are better paying opportunities out there.

    For any writer to come in and say, “You’re all disheartened and desperate. Come, embrace me as your writing guru so I can steer your poor misguided souls in the right direction” is insulting and disrespectful. There’s nothing wrong with being a mentor, but for goodness sakes, do you have to be so condescending about it?
    .-= Deb Ng´s last blog ..Are There No GOOD Freelance Writing Jobs Anymore? =-.

  • I have just ended my association with DS because of a few things. One, they changed the model, and suddenly the topics I used to write about don’t fit the format they want them in. Two, they rejected two articles I wrote, after asking me to rewrite a couple of parts, without telling me why. And three, they don’t accept that you have knowledge of something, which I do in health care finance, without your linking to something, and adding stupid images that don’t fit the content, and that’s just ridiculous.

    It’s not worth my time trying to figure out how to fit into their model anymore. It certainly did make me tone down my style for them, and I don’t want to deal with that anymore either. And they’ll never get a recommendation from me to write for them ever again.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..My Gripe With Helium =-.

    • Anne

      Mitch, good for you for quitting. When the new model doesn’t work for you there’s no point in trying to force it.

  • Just have to weigh back in and correct a couple misperceptions that seem to have arisen. I see Demand has rewritten their site so that they’re less clear about their ownership of the main sites they “provide” content for, but here’s the co-announcement in 2008 of the formation of Livestrong.com by Demand and the Live Strong foundation folks: http://www.demandmedia.com/press-releases/2008/06/17/lance-armstrong-foundation-and-demand-media-launch-livestrong-com/ . Here’s the one when they bought Trails.com (which started here in Seattle, so I remember this one) http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20080724005305&newsLang=en
    Here’s a USA Today story that documents their ownership of Golflinks and eHow: http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/profile/2009-10-25-ehow-richard-rosenblatt_N.htm
    While Demand does have outside clients, their main “clients” seem to be their own and/or partner sites.

    Some posters seem to have formed the impression that I somehow resent writers making $20 an article from Demand. It’s just the opposite — I feel worried and sad for the mostly desperate writers who accept these rates.

    That’s why I’ve been accepting three mentees a month in addition to my writing work, and teaching people how to leave the slum of earning $10,000 a year or so for 80-hour weeks at the computer and join the world where writers earn high five figures or more from their writing and have sane work hours. That’s what I’ve earned last year and this year, straight through the downturn. I’m booked through the end of the year right now, with work that mostly pays $1 a word or more.

    If you can provide a quality piece writing off the top of your head, you should get paid $100 an hour or more for it instead of $20 or $30 — that’s what experts deserve.

    How do I do that? By not writing for any content mills, for starters! Many writers simply don’t seem to understand how they’re selling themselves short, and that there’s a great big world of paying markets out there beyond Demand, Examiner, etc.

    If you’re interested in shaking off the shackles of sweatshop wages and making a living writing, feel free to get in touch with me, or read some of the free tips on my Make a Living Writing blog at my site.

    And I’d like to apologize for calling content-mill writers hacks. It’s true that many are demoralized people with fine credentials who’ve been sucked into this world. While there is much hack-work being created at these sites, there are solid articles on these portals as well. The sad thing is that many writers don’t seem to understand the low esteem in which these sites are held by good-paying markets, and how being on them often only spawns more low-paying work and doesn’t help you progress to better assignments.

    If you’ve got expertise, start your own niche blog, sell ads against it and keep all the money. Make six figures from your expertise online, like Leo Babauta! I wish I could help more writers see that they deserve a good life from their writing.

    I think it’s time to post the blog I’ve been hanging onto for the right time…I think it’s come. It’s called “7 Reasons Why I Won’t Write A $15 Blog”: http://caroltice.com/blog/27

    Writers of the world unite!

    Carol Tice

    • Anne

      Maybe you also ought to write an ebook and sell it???? You’re sure on the right track.

  • Anne, I don’t know if DS owns Livestrong.com and eHow, but according to their site, they provide content for them and GolfLink.com, Trails.com, YouTube, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Cracked.com.

    Regardless of their point of view about DS, everybody seems to agree that you have to be careful about any info you get off the web. Just to amplify what I said earlier, this is where the “niche” aspect of success on the web comes in. If you can provide information that people know is dependable and trustworthy, you can be extremely successful. When people find such a person’s site, they will tell anybody and everybody about how great you are! The proliferation of unreliable information on the web is the very thing that makes a reliable person successful.

    My uncle Jack used to say that “all a man really has is his name.” The quality of DS articles ultimately falls on the writers, not DS. The mindset of a person who just wants to make as much money as possible as fast as possible is very different from the person who wants readers to see his or her name in the byline and say, “This writer is someone whose work I trust.”

    Personally, that’s what I want people to say when they read my articles, regardless of whether that article is on my blog, an established reference site, or DS. When we start adjusting the quality of our work to match the perceived poverty of the market, we and our readers are the ones who suffer.

    And if you can provide a quality piece by “writing off the top of your head,” you have nothing to be ashamed of. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the sign of writers who are knowledgeable in their field.
    .-= Mike Southern´s last blog ..Crack the Whip =-.

  • Sarah

    This is a very interesting discussion, one that has apparently brought out some bad feelings. I can understand why people write for DS and eHow: it doesn’t take a huge time commitment. I earn a little money by writing, but I have my career sights set elsewhere. I don’t want to spend hours each day writing, and that doesn’t make me a bad writer (or a “hack”). I just don’t like sitting down that long. Every person is different, and not everyone is cut out for creative writing. That being said, anyone who looks to the internet for information should be cautious about accuracy. That is just a well known fact about the internet. Anne and Deb: thanks for your encouraging words.

  • I completely agree with wombat. I base articles and blogs off of AP stuff, whereas I might get a few tips from an eHow article, but I would never expect it to be 100% correct. The trust level toward each one is completely different. I don’t think there is anything wrong with writing eHow articles, but saying they’re just as trustworthy or even newsworthy as AP press is odd. Of course, there are always a few exceptions.
    .-= Autumn´s last blog ..Take Your Writing Destiny into Your Own Hands During Downtime =-.

  • Joe

    @ Carol–

    Why is that people can’t accept the fact that there is a changing writing paradigm. Demand and others like it don’t just produce bland, marketing articles, they fill a need. Their titles aren’t randomly assigned, they’re based on questions people are searching for and are undoubtedly going to keep searching for. There’s a huge need for this type of content on the Internet and content providers like Demand are filling it. Just because it’s not as thrilling or in-depth as your riveting piece on Starbucks, doesn’t mean that it’s “off the top of the head” or “written by hacks”.

    Demand doesn’t operate like a newspaper because it’s not a newspaper. It isn’t going out and reporting on the day’s events and it doesn’t need to. These are general interest articles that answer questions that are being posed every day. Do you really think that people aren’t searching for things like “How to Apply for a Passport”? The questions were always there, but the Internet and search engines provided a means to answer. And companies like Demand provide the answer.

    AP and other more traditional media organizations and reporters that you speak of aren’t prepared to handle that load. So step out of the way and stop whining and complaining when someone else does.

    Demand continues to improve and strive for higher quality content. In the meantime, the need for that content continues to rise. Why are some writers so threatened by that? If you have a better method, I’d challenge you to offer it.

    • Anne

      Right on Joe… the ‘net really has changed so many things… it will be interesting to see where all this is in another five years.

  • Carol Tice wrote:

    “Demand offers article marketing pieces to Web sites, written by hacks primarily, who toss them off the top of their heads in a half-hour. ”

    I’m so upset with all of the writers who toss around insults simply because they don’t approve of the writing, the pay or even the model. Unless you know the people who write for Demand, know their background and experience, you simply cannot call them hacks. Because a writer is prolific doesn’t make him a hack. I spent time with a number of DS writers – all who are experienced journalists, educators and writers who write for DS for any number of reasons. They have Masters Degrees, MBAs and Ph.ds. They take issue to being called hacks, and so do I.

    I recently wrote an article about removing juice stands from the carpet. This isn’t rocket science. I have a seven year old and juice stains are a way of life. Why would this take me hours to write? There’s no heavy research and I can write 400 words in 15 minutes – but I usually give it another 15 minutes to proof. If that makes me a hack, so be it.

    I think certain writers don’t approve of the DS model and throw words like “hack” around and call the writers lazy because they want to justify their disapproval. It’s a shame that people who are supposed to be so creative can’t be more civil with their words or their disagreement.
    .-= Deb Ng´s last blog ..The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Facebook =-.

    • Anne

      Yeah, Deb, I’ve been surprised at the anger at the article sites… sure it’s low pay, but no one is holding a gun to my head to write for them.

  • Here’s the thing though: if you were going to apply for a passport, would you trust content you found in a web article that you have no way of knowing is up to date or even accurate, or would you go to a government website to make sure you were taking the appropriate steps?

    I know what I would do.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Car Buying Advice From A Car Writer – The Most Important Opinion Is Your Own =-.

    • Anne

      Having been to the US Government’s site on passports recently, I appreciate an article with a decent overview – don’t know if the one I found on DS/eHow is that article – it would give me a head start I think in trying to figure out what the .gov site is trying to say. So I’d use both if I knew about the article or could find it in a single simple search.

  • As someone who has written for both Demand Studios and the AP, my mind is boggled by this comparison.

    I wrote for Ehow, and all I had to do was write down what I already knew about something or maybe check a few links on Google. There is no comparison to the amount of research, interviewing and attribution necessary in my work for the AP. The only thing that both have in common is that the style rules out a first person perspective. The difference in how far you can rely on the content is massive.

    I am sorry if someone else is going to have their feelings hurt by this, but is exactly my experience writing for Demand Studios that taught me not to trust anything on the web without verifying it. You personally may be a good writer doing thoroughly researched and accurate work for Demand, but I saw nothing in their system that would guarantee that everyone else is.

    • Anne

      Interesting wombat. Glad to hear from someone who has written for both.

  • Hi John,

    I think you’ve proven that it is totally fair to call AP copy bland.

  • I’ve just started doing some writing for Demand Studios, primarily for the extra money. I write a golf blog called “Ruthless Golf,” and I’ve written a self-published book on putting that’s only been out a little over 4 months, but both have been received well. So (obviously) I decided to try a few golf articles at DS. Perhaps I can contribute a couple of useful thoughts to this discussion.

    Titles for DS articles are already created; you pick one and write it. I don’t know if I’d call the writing “bland” exactly, but with the limitations on word count and format, there’s not a lot of room for style. In fact, often there’s not a lot of room to adequately cover the topic! But are the articles written by hacks? I don’t think that’s fair; DS probably has some working for them, but that’s why they request so many rewrites. I have trouble complaining; out of three articles so far, only one requested rewrites… and the editor was a PGA Certified Professional who helped me make the article considerably better. When you can respect the editor, a rewrite is no big deal.

    I view the DS sort of writing as “surface research.” Surfers can find enough info to learn some basics, but eventually they’re going to have to pay somebody to get the in-depth instruction they need. That is the direction the web is headed, I think – a lot of readily-available info that whets your appetite enough to make you open your wallet. DS publishes a bio with most articles, and they allowed me to mention both my book and my blog in it. Think of this style of writing as samples that allow readers to decide if they want to buy more.

    As far as John’s article goes, I think he actually has identified why he can be successful on the internet. In the past, businesses looked to monopolize an entire market; but on the net, niches are the key. There may be only one market, but thousands of niches. DS fills a niche, as John says, but only a niche; there are a thousand or more other niches that need creative, insightful, detailed writers. I see my DS work as an opportunity to advertise my niche, while expanding my influence to another niche. My DS work doesn’t change my niche at all, other than to help me see ways to further differentiate myself from DS’s niche.

    That’s my take on this debate. DS isn’t an end, but a means to an end. If the means suit you, you’ll find good things in it; otherwise, you should avoid it. Both sides are right… after all, to paraphrase an old saw, the web really is about ME.
    .-= Mike Southern´s last blog ..Introducing the Practice BRAINge =-.

    • Anne

      Nicely said, Mike. Good thinking here.

  • John Lister

    I think it’s a little unfair to call AP copy bland. In principle, AP stuff is never meant to be read by the public and should be the basis of a story which a journalist them flavors for their audience. (In reality these days it’s all too common for websites and even newspapers to simply reproduce it verbatim.)

    And with no disrespect to Demand Studios, while the style may be the same, the onus on AP staffers to get original facts and make sure they are 100% accurate is infinitely greater.

    • Anne

      Yes, staffers, but with the “consolidation” of the newspaper industry, newspapers rarely have fact checkers or seasoned staff anymore… their corporate masters insist on cutting employees for temporary gains in profits, then wonder why people don’t read newspapers anymore.

  • Mike Liechty

    News/information stories “with no point of view” is EXACTLY what I want from a news organization. I don’t want the writer’s view on local/national/world events. I want as objective a report as possible. Keep your point of view for the editorial pages.

    • Anne

      Mike, I’m with you in theory but when I’m truly honest with myself I’ve always got a point of view and it shows up even when I work to be objective. That’s why I like a variety of sources.

  • Hi Carol,

    You said it for me, “news of broad general interest”, AP is news written for no one in particular and with no point of view. Demand Studios is general content written for no one in particular and with no point of view. AP may have a more professional workforce, but the philosophy is the same.
    .-= John Hewitt´s last blog ..Is Demand Studios the new Associated Press? =-.

  • Eve

    LOL – I didn’t see the comment by Carol Tice before I posted a comment.
    I don’t know why I even bother even more. Next time, I’ll just send you, Anne, a personal email or tweet when I want to thank you or say something nice. The negative attitude of some people on this issue is so tiresome.
    .-= Eve´s last blog ..A Story About My Blog Comments and ESLCafe.com =-.

  • Eve

    Thanks, Anne, for writing that no one should be ashamed of writing for DS, ehow, etc. Some writers look down upon those of us who choose to do this type of writing. Writing blogs all over have become venomous in the comments section, with people arguing and insulting each other over this issue. Thanks for being a pleasant blogger. 🙂
    .-= Eve´s last blog ..A Story About My Blog Comments and ESLCafe.com =-.

    • Anne

      lol eve, you can always email or tweet, but I love to see the comments here where all can read. I’m glad the ‘net has provided so many venues for people to get started. Sure I wish they’d advertise more openly and I suspect they will eventually.

      Pleasant? Good. I try to be even tho’ controversy can drive many more page views.

  • eHow is owned by Demand, along with LiveStrong.com…and all I can say about the latter is shame on you, Lance Armstrong!

    Demand Studios is certainly not the Associated Press of today. AP is news with real editors and news of broad general interest, which paid reporters enough to where they could actually go out and gather some news. Demand offers article marketing pieces to Web sites, written by hacks primarily, who toss them off the top of their heads in a half-hour. Not sure I see a connection at all.

    Carol Tice

    • Anne

      Carol, I didn’t realize Demand owned eHow and LiveStrong – I’ve used LiveStrong as a way to track food and get some exercise tips. There I think most of the users ignore the articles and find value in the tracking and forums.

      You may also be right about AP – although I’ve certainly seen AP articles that were mostly filler which is another way to describe much of what we see in the article mills… filler and there’s probably another term… hack writing that fills up space between real stories… again in the eye of the beholder.

  • Thank you for noticing the article. My definition of limited success seems pretty well described by the passport article you read. An article telling you a few nuggets about how to get a passport would work for a company like that, but if you really want to get the flavor of international travel, an eHow type article isn’t going to get you very far. You want to read about the experiences of a traveler with a voice and an opinion.
    .-= John Hewitt´s last blog ..Is Demand Studios the new Associated Press? =-.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »