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Demand Media Shifts from “Content Farm” Approach, Writers Lose Income Source

Company is assigning less writing assignments

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Demand Media Shifts from “Content Farm” Approach, Writers Lose Income Source
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Demand Media, with its site eHow, has essentially been the poster child for the term “content farm” – something the company has done much to distance itself from. CEO Richard Rosenblatt has said flat out that he doesn’t consider what the company does to be a “content farm”. Fair enough, but plenty disagreed.

Do you think Demand Media is moving in the right direction? Let us know in the comments.

Eventually, Google’s Panda update, sometimes referred to as the “farmer” update caught up with eHow, but the damage wasn’t as bad as one could have imagined. However, as we told you about earlier this year, the company did begin a large effort to boost eHow’s reputation and content quality. This included new feedback tools for readers, partnerships for niche content, and the deletion/further editing of a lot of articles.

During Demand Media’s last earnings call, it said that it had already removed 300,000 articles. After a recent iteration of Google’s Panda update, we reached out to the company for comment, and VP, Corporate Communications Kristen Moore told us, “I can tell you that we’ve been really pleased with the pace and the results of the new initiatives we announced and implemented in the spring to ensure tighter controls around quality on eHow and across our studio model. We’ll be providing a more specific update on those initiatives and what our sites have seen relative to the Panda updates when we announce Q3 earnings in just a few weeks.”

Since then, Demand Media Studios has sent out the following email to writers and editors (hat tip to Noah Davis):

Dear Writers and Editors,
 
We realize there has been recent concern around assignment availability. We know many of you rely on Demand Media Studios as a regular income source and as a way to grow your careers. For those reasons and others, we want to be as transparent as we can about the future.
 
In just a few years, we’ve worked together to grow the eHow.com library to an astounding 3 million articles. While eHow has been the main publisher of content produced by DMS writers, we’ve also developed other writing outlets on our own properties like typeF.com and LIVESTRONG.COM as well as through partnerships like Chron.com and USAToday. With our eHow.com library already so comprehensive, we saw the opportunity to shift our focus to more targeted categories and other forms of content such as slide shows, video series and feature articles. Good examples of these new formats can be found on  eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM.
 
None of this would have been possible without having spent so many years working with you, our writers and editors, to build our comprehensive library.
 
Looking ahead, as we continue to publish articles for eHow and our other sites, we want to be sure we are building on what already exists, not replicating it. This is not to say we will stop assigning standard titles in How to and Topic View format for eHow.com. But it does mean that we will have fewer eHow.com assignments for the foreseeable future.
 
However, we will continue to add more publishers and sections as we’ve done over the years, and ultimately the work and opportunities will grow for our best writers and editors. We are also excited to completely execute on our vision of having the most qualified writers and editors working on titles within their areas of expertise.
 
In order for this to happen, we need to make sure of a few things:

• That only executable, valid and unique titles make it to your Work Desk.
• That every article is written and copy edited by a qualified professional with background, knowledge or experience in the topic.
• That every article has the appropriate format and word count for the topic to be comprehensively covered.

We will also be putting additional focus on helping you grow within your fields. This means offering ways for you to gain exposure on our sites and new tools for you to promote yourself and your work. We will send additional updates and information on assignments going forward. We will also set up some new avenues for you to ask questions and offer feedback. For the time being, if you have any additional questions, please use this forum thread.
 
Best Regards,
Demand Media Studios Team

This, along with the aforementioned eHow content clean-up initiative, seems to signal a drastically different content strategy than what Demand Media has come to be known for – the “content farm” (or call it what you like) strategy. That’s a strategy, mind you, was generally about writing assignments based on what people are searching for, and including numerous articles on the same topics, covering a variety of different title options. The strategy worked for Google search visibility. No question about it. At least it did for a while. That doesn’t mean that they’re not assigning content based on “demand,” but it seems to be less about saturating the web with run of the mill content.

The company has also talked a lot this year about the increasing diversity in its traffic sources, and its earnings reports have indicated the company is not completely reliant on Google.

We reached out for further comment on the company’s evolving strategy, but they’d not comment on my specific questions. They did say, however, that they’ll be sharing more details in the weeks to come around the new tools they’ll be using to help promote writers, as mentioned in the email.

We’ll certainly be covering the Q3 report when it comes. It’s going to be interesting to hear more about the company’s post Panda content strategy. It may even provide some insight into how others impacted by the update may be able to recover.

Another angle to this whole thing is that a lot of people just lost a source of income, and from the sound of it some of them are taking it pretty hard. In this economy, that’s not hard to believe. In the comments of this article, for example, Vicky Hunter writes:

There were no articles available in the main eHow pool today for the first time ever. All but a few other specialty channels have been empty, as well. Demand’s thousands or writers are panicking on their forums. Crying, screaming, blaming, begging, fighting, pleading for help from fellow writers – even hinting at suicide. No matter what you think about them, you can’t help but feel some real pain for some of these writers. And Demand still won’t be honest about what’s going on, or when things will stabilize. Some of the jumpers are still hanging on at the site, waiting for things to get better, which, at best, means some few articles for some few lucky writers to grab each day.

The bottom must have dropped out, in terms of revenue, for this to happen. I assume the next earnings report will show this. The stock will really tank after that. I feel bad for the writers. Some were making $4,000+ a month, and many were able to keep families afloat during this bad economy – and now it’s all gone, like that – poof.

One major factor about cutting off these writing assignments is the potential loss of the growth curve, which could come back to haunt the company.

That said, in the last report, the company reported a 32% increase in revenue, with 76% growth in cash from operations. You have to remember that the Demand Media Studios isn’t Demand Media’s only source of revenue. Rosenblatt cited not only the company’s content and media business, but its registrar business as providing significant year-over-year growth. ““We plan to build on this momentum by expanding our brand advertising relationships and accelerating our content platform’s international and social media growth initiatives,” he said.

I guess we’ll find out more about those initiatives during the next call.

There are a lot of questions surrounding Demand’s shift in strategy. Has Demand Media taken too drastic an approach to improve quality? Are writers getting the short end of the stick? Is this going to hurt Demand Media in in the long run? Or is this what’s best for the company, and ultimately for search engine results?

We want to know what you think. Let us know in the comments.

Demand Media Shifts from “Content Farm” Approach, Writers Lose Income Source


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  • http://www.modeltrainhobbyist.com Lionel Bachmann @ Model Trains

    “Content farm” isn’t a bad thing. It simply means that it is a site with a lot of content on different topics, like a farm has different animals and crops. The problem is if you have a low quality content farm. Demand Media has done a good job of getting rid of a lot of low quality content and should be rewarded for that. It’s something a lot of other websites need to do too.

    • FuckRosentwat

      Are you high? The only recognition Demand deserves is the Darwin Award for eliminating its stupid ass from the corporate gene pool. Richard Rosenblatt is a moron with nothing but one failed business after another under his belt. I hope he’s happy at how many people’s lives he’s ruined with his ineptitude.

      • Janet

        If people’s lives are actually ruined because of Demand’s actions, then it’s their own fault. They shouldn’t be freelance writers if they can’t understand the concept of freelance.

        If it was a company laying off hundreds and hundreds of people, I’d be sympathetic. But its not. It’s a client. And any piece-work freelance writer should know better than to rely on one client only.

        • JG

          That reply would imply that there was some form of honor in the way they did it. I know that in my case, I had been there since before there even was a Demand website, had written literally thousands of articles for them, and was given a chance to write three articles to prove my worth. All three were published. All three received exceptional praise from the editors. Yet, apparently, that wasn’t enough to keep me on. It worked out great for me because I make more money without them anyway, and quite honestly, their title selection is a huge problem, but they were less than honest in this matter. I expect more from my clients. Demand is a joke.

          • Adams

            When you hire a bunch of douchebags to run your editorial department, the end result is straight douchebaggery.

    • Berg

      What an idiot. Throwing millions of articles up on the Internet to make a quick profit is just as bad as the link farmers back in the 90s.

  • Vicky Hunter

    There were no articles available in the main eHow pool today for the first time ever. All but a few other specialty channels have been empty, as well. Demand’s thousands or writers are panicking on their forums. Crying, screaming, blaming, begging, fighting, pleading for help from fellow writers – even hinting at suicide. No matter what you think about them, you can’t help but feel some real pain for some of these writers. And Demand still won’t be honest about what’s going on, or when things will stabilize. Some of the jumpers are still hanging on at the site, waiting for things to get better, which, at best, means some few articles for some few lucky writers to grab each day.

    The bottom must have dropped out, in terms of revenue, for this to happen. I assume the next earnings report will show this. The stock will really tank after that. I feel bad for the writers. Some were making $4,000+ a month, and many were able to keep families afloat during this bad economy – and now it’s all gone, like that – poof.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Hi Vicky,

      If you want to email me at ccrum@ientry.com, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Thanks.

      Chris

  • Paige

    Once a content farm, always a content farm. Demand is just shifting to a different form of content until those areas are saturated. When those are saturated, they will shift back to eHow. Demand knows no other business model.

    • Disgruntled DMS Writer

      It’s kind of infuriating how, if they actually knew how to run a company and not produce only crap, so many people would still have full-time work right now. Job creators my a$$.

      I’m not talking about keeping jobs around for the idiots being parodied in these comments, though. Those guys are part of the problem.

  • Katy

    Demand Media can suck it.

  • ShouldHaveKnown

    The proof was in the pudding. Writers who had written thousands of articles were getting fired as of last spring. Titles were dwindling and DMS staff were told to lie or not respond to questions. DMS will go down for what it did to the writers that made its money, it’s called karma.

  • Who to talk to?

    I used to be one of their eHow writers before eHow was handed over to DMS. At the beginning of the summer, they were paying former eHow writers upfront payments to buy the rights to all of their articles. I was offered about $700, in two payments, for the rights to my articles and I signed a contract accepting the offer. This was back in the Spring of 2011. I have yet to receive the payments, although they say they have sent them, they could provide no proof. I had emailed several people and now I’m not getting any responses. I don’t know who else to contact. $700 is not chump change and I have received nothing.

    • CK

      I am really sorry to hear that. They still owe me 15 dollars from 2008. They claim they paid it, but Paypal reveals another story. Their 1099 they send me that year revealed the 15 dollar difference, but Paypals records and my own reveal a smaller amount.

  • A. Pierce

    Demand Studios lied to their writers for weeks as the availability of articles continued to be reduced and we truly beleived that the changes would offer future writing opportunities.We were led to believe that the changes would benefit us, however we were being effectively “laid off.” Many of us had the credientials and were qualified by Demand Studios editors to write in specific categories such as business and finance which no longer exist. There are many writers who provided quality content to them as professionals and didn’t willingly partcipate in “content farming” because we simply wanted to practice our craft at the highest level.While the changes in content are the right thing to do they could have been more forthcoming about the changes and given their writers the opportunity to seek writing opportunities elsewhere. True that Demand Studios doesn’t owe its writers anything BUT they could have given us more respect which they unprofessionally chose not to do. They have brilliantly illustrated what not to do so and probably have destroyed any professional alliances with their former writers in future.

    Good Luck to all of my fellow Demand Studios writers and I wish you much success in your writing opportunities in the future!

  • A. Pierce

    sorry for typo should be “believed”

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/ ChrisCD

    Whether it is eHow, Amazon, Google Adsense, etc. never put all of your eggs in one basket. Why don’t these writers pull together and create their own site or go at it on their own?

    If your writing is that good or even semi-good, you surely should be able to create something of value to the searchers. Searchers will either reward you through ad revenue or buying products or eBooks if you have them.

    You’ve had sense February of last year. And the writing was on the wall before that.

    • Donna

      Probably because it’s really tough to get clients on your own right now. I had a 20-year career in the writing/editing/publishing field. 15 years of that was spent as an employee for companies, and the rest was freelance. I had a lot of clients even a year or two ago, but these days there are more “window shoppers” than buyers.

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/ ChrisCD

    And there are other properties you can still write for that will share revenue with you. Squidoo and Hubpages comes to mind.

    So get some $ coming in and put a large percentage of it back into building your own web presence.

    cd :O)

  • Ken

    A lot of speculation going on from people on the outside looking in. It’s a completely different story from the inside though. True there are many writers that are panicking right now. But is that Demand’s responsibility? No. The writing has been on the wall for sometime, and people have been screaming from the mountaintops to diversify. Some folks just didn’t want to listen. There are also a few who didn’t want to change with the ever-changing guidelines. Bottom line, Demand was (is) the client and its their playground.

    From the business perspective, Demand has done a lot over the last few months. Specifically the weeding out of old eHow content that should have never been up in the first place. Demand did right by the writers in that instance, offering a little better pay to basically rewrite articles for existing titles. It was fair on both sides of the fence.

    A lot of people are pissed off by the perception that Demand lied or held back the truth of what is now happening. No such thing occurred. What did happen is that people continued to ignore the signs and continued to rely on Demand as a single income source. Granted as far as content mills go Demand has always paid better than most, but that doesn’t justify not diversifying your customer base as a writer. Sure at one time you could make a full-time income with Demand, and you still can in certain areas. But even though you could make a full-time income, it is still necessary to add to your own client base.

    The bottom line is that DMS is now accountable to shareholders. It is necessary to show a profit now instead of proposing what profits will be 5 years from now.

    Demand is what it is from a content writing mill perspective. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Demand is going to make moves to be profitable and to last through the changes. As stated by Chris in the article, Demand is much more than eHow. It only makes sense to put more effort into areas that provide a bigger return on investment. Titles will still be available and there will be work on a regular basis. The difference is that the work will be concentrated to areas that many writers do not have permissions to write.

    • Ticked At DMS

      Ken, honey its time for you to quietly step down off your high horse and be quiet. Every DMS forum post, every news report, every single article concerning DMS, there you are rambling on for about 10,000 paragraphs, supporting DMS. DMS don’t read these things…you are not getting paid per word…you will not get access to large amounts of titles just for you…you will not get a raise…you will not get to keep writing when every other writer gets shown the door. So why do you feel the need to go on and on all over the web about DMS and what a terrifically wonderful company they are with truly outstanding business practices. You make roughly .03 cents a word but your long-winded ramblings make zilch per word so kindly stop. You make yourself sound like a complete idiot.

      • CK

        Yup.

        • Rebekah

          LOL. Best post on here.

          Demand always sends its PR folks out to write “positive” posts and you can’t believe a word of them.

  • http://writingasaghost.com/ Denise Rutledge

    While I’ve never depended on E-How for work, I feel for those who have. I’ve been directed to some very useful information on E-How by Google, and recently. It’s a warning to all of us who make our livings as writers to never depend on only one Cash Cow unless we’re willing to put six month’s worth of actual living expenses into savings.

    Could it be that Demand Media wants to focus its activities on what the metrics tell the company makes the profits? If the “Content Farm” model isn’t working anymore, then they need to shift gears. Something has to be coming in to pay those $4,000 a month checks. For-profits aren’t charities. They’re going to put money where the expenses produce profits. It’s an ugly reality.

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    While it is a horrible thing to be out of work, the reason people get paid to work is that they can produce something of value. Google’s algorithm change reflected how little value there was in the wish-washy articles. If those same authors would produce meaningful content, they may find themselves employable again!

    A relative of one of my in-law relatives is a good case in point. She worked for one of those “answer your question” sites. She was paid by the answer. Was there any value for her to find a quality answer? No! She grabbed the first Google match she could find and sent it out as an answer. The only redeeming value in her answers was how hard Google works to display quality content. This woman is proud of the fact that she got paid and didn’t have to do much. Frankly, I was embarrassed for her.

  • Steven S

    Demand has been reasonably good to me through the years and I certainly hope I am not bundled in with those some accuse of uninformed writing or haphazard research in support of it.

    What is distressing is that the company seems to be making every classic PR mistake imaginable, especially in its near total lack of coherent communications with its authors, editors and title folk. One has to wonder if anybody is really home anymore. I suspect the company will pay a price for its lack of respect for its contributors.

    • Sace

      Demand has communicated well. In their forum post, they made it clear that there would be a substantial reduction in eHow titles, and then writers come on the forum and scream, “WHEN WILL THE TITLES BE BACK!” It sucks, but it’s over.

  • Writer McTavish

    The key to success in any freelance field is DIVERSIFICATION. Anyone who depends on one source for income is no better off than someone at a regular job where a pink slip could appear at anytime. Or the company could go belly-up…

    My Demand queue is full of titles to write – 25 of them. Sure, they’re the $16 ones and not those delicious $25 I was spoiled with for so long, but hey, I’m flexible!

  • http://Thesharpenedspoon.com Mark

    Demand Studios did not send this email to me, a two year veteran having published more than 2500 of their content farm pieces. The only way their current pay scale works is on volume. With what is being said here and what is playing out on the site, they will no longer be viable for any but the lowest rung of hack writers. Forget getting every damn article written by a professional with associated background. It was not so fun while it lasted, but it was a decent paycheck for the amount of time I spent. The good news is that my experience taught me what I needed to move on.

    • Sace

      It wasn’t an email. It was a post in the forums section.

      • AC

        I got it as an email, but for some reason not everyone did.

      • Mimi

        I also received an email.

  • Katrina

    Demand Media deliberately LIED to its writers for months on end. First we were told the lack of titles was due to a glitch, or technical problem. Then Demand said its publishers, such as Motley Fool, Chron, TypeF and USA Today, were to blame. Tons of excuses. It was only after writers threatened to go public that Demand issued a vague email about the situation. They knew what was coming but refused to be honest about the company’s motives – despite repeated requests for clarification from its writers. Even now they’re still not totally forthcoming.

    How Rachael Ray and Tyra Banks can associate themselves with such a dishonest company is beyond me. I for one will never write another article for TypeF, the Tyra Banks website, ever again. Let Tyra write her own articles from now on.

    • Linn

      Amen.

  • Disgruntled DMS Writer

    It’s sure getting zombie in here. At least one comment comes from a man who posts long “diversify your writing” posts where he encourages people to sign up for even more low-wage, low-quality content farm jobs while trying to drum up traffic for his SEO’d spam site.

    I’m not gonna bitch and moan about how little work DMS has right now. That’s not what makes me angry about Demand Media. The fact is they could have made this work, but they didn’t even try. It is a dysfunctional company only interested in how it makes money tomorrow, not a few years down the line. It won’t do anything or change anything until forced, and it doesn’t have much longer to live. I’m not gonna tell myself it’s okay or give Rosentwat a pass just ’cause “that’s how businesses work.” No, that’s how businesses run themselves into the ground.

  • http://www.HGPublishing.com Peter J. Francis

    I wrote one article for Demand Studios on literacy, which is my area of expertise. I found their guidelines to be excessively restrictive as I was unable to use my judgment about what to emphasize. The process was frustrating and led me instead to develop my own website on grammar and writing, plus offering my editorial skills for hire. Thanks, Demand Studios, for forcing me to pursue other interests. Both the money and satisfaction are much higher.

  • Ticked At DMS

    With 2 yrs & 2,000 articles for DMS, I can safely say their business practices revolves around one thing: themselves. They care nothing for the writers who HAVE delivered thousands of top-notch articles, for little pay. They care nothing about writers who are harassed and treated like scum by copy editors who know NOTHING about the subjects be covered. They care nothing about the writers who are still there everyday, pulling articles from the barely writable titles currently available. They care only for their own pockets. For years, they have made guidelines, titles and edits almost impossible to complete. They take writers by the handfuls and throw them into a lame evaluation program write before they ditch them into the cold. I said it on the DMS forum, I’ll say it again NOW. The writers should ban together, send united emails to the help desk and the refuse to write another title. Without writers, DMS is nothing- there will be no content to publish. There will be no content for CEs to edit. There will be no need for a help desk because nobody will be there to ask for help. The loss of writers effects EVERY job. Besides, we are all fixing to be out of a gig anyways. Why not go out in a blaze of glory?

    • Hank

      Ticked, you really do need to grow up. Get a few years of work under your belt and you’ll understand business. NO business cares about the people.

      I don’t know one business person that started his or her business to help his or her employees. The whole idea behind starting one’s own business is to make money.

      Go get a brick and mortar job and check back in with us about your boss who puts your well-being above his ability to make money.

      We’ll be waiting.

  • JiminyPickets

    I’ve been with Demand for many years.

    Time after time, Demand has cajoled its writers into thinking something great is happening while in fact something terrible comes slouching.

    “The scoring system is just a rough guide, so don’t worry about its pervasive and serious problems.” Actually, your score greatly affects whether you qualify to get into special sections, now the only remaining lifeboats.

    Closing the title-clarification forum so writers can decide the directions their articles should take? 13. That’s the number of abandoned articles I have sitting in a folder because editors and I couldn’t see eye-to-eye, and I had no means of clarifying the proper take beforehand.

    That program to help struggling writers? It’s actually for firing people.

    Those system glitches blocking new and better titles? Actually, there’s a secret strategic shift requiring fewer articles.

    Dozens more come to mind, and that’s only for writers. Copy editors have their own long list of letdowns.

    The number-one problem facing Demand is its staggering inability to be straightforward. Its best writers and editors now wait, cowering, even in the special sections–because NO ONE believes a word the staff says. When it’s not double-talk and vagaries, it’s misdirection or even outright lies.

    Skilled writers and editors are the ones with the best chances of finding (better-paying and more satisfying) work elsewhere, so the exodus is going to start with the very group Demand needs to develop any sort of credibility.

    Why wait for my head to be on the chopping block? The low pay was only tolerable because the work was plentiful. With that gone, so am I.

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    Rosenblatt can say whatever he likes but when I found out they were paying $10-15 for an article and $25-30 for a video I knew that their site would have nothing but junk on it. Those prices are an insult to anyone who has any kind of experience or talent and so what Demand ends up with is people who can’t write or produce videos. Their content is garbage, pure and simple, and they are the very definition of the term “content farm.”

    • J D Rose

      That is an unfair analogy about the talent of Demand Media (Studios)DMS writers and video makers. I have been an Early Childhood Education Consultant for eleven years, and travelled extensively across the United States doing Early Head Start and Head Start program reviews including on Native American reservations, for migrant programs, and in small and large rural or urban areas. I have a degree in ECE and English with a focus on literature and creative writing. I contracted with DMS primarily to build a professional portfolio as an author. I also wrote a parenting column for at risk families for six years that garnered the National Head Start Association’s Eugenia Boggus Leadership Award. However, I would never again write for DMS for the simple fact that in order to produce work for them you have to sign over all rights to your work, including reprint rights. I am neither a hack, nor an untalented writer, and have had articles published on other professional sites like Child Care Today, and book reviews for children published on preschooleducation.com, etc.

  • DMS Writer

    It’s hard to say what this all means at DMS; they are being intentionally vague and ambiguous with their writers. The sad truth is, DMS, like many big corporations, treat their writers as completely disposable– and if they loose a lot of good ones in this process (which of course they will) there are about ten million to take their place. It’s tough as a writer (and as a human being) to be a part of this kind of company, but the sad reality is, almost all companies are like this. All their “happy corporate speak” is just very hard to take.

  • Well Duh

    DMS has echeloned its writers for years, to write a specific way without any hopes of getting raises, and fooling many into thinking that not only was it a safe and profitable environment to work in, but that the stability would last for some time. I’d been working there for many years, and once changes became apparent, and not for the good of the writers, it was time to jump ship. Most of us knew that something was fishy, and new it was time to seek out other avenues. DMS never cared about the writers, never cared about the efforts and sweat that was put into those articles, never cared about the many who relied on those pay checks to feed and support families, nor will they ever. They’re just another corporate shark getting fat off the labors of others, and they could give two cents on whether many of those poor souls lose their homes or put food on the table for their kids. So, for those of you still willing to put up with DMS, why should you care?

  • Former DMS Writer

    I don’t understand why anyone things this is any different than the 1000 other companies who lied to and laid off people over the last few years. It should be clear by now to all writers that you can’t put all your trust into one company. Could I have made a full time living from Demand the last three years? Yes. Did I? No. I continued to work for a variety of places so I wouldn’t get stuck by one.

    When Demand started to get ridiculous with the re-writes and my hourly wage went from $30-40 an hour to $10-20 an hour, I cut back on the amount I did for them and increased what I did for others.

    The final straw for me was the EHow buyout when I was never paid the amount agreed upon and they refused to even discuss it with me.

  • http://www.ipnostudio.com hypnodude

    Actually I’ve never written an article for ehow but I wrote some for another publishing website. At the beginning everything went well but after last changes, probably due to Panda too, traffic has gone down and earnings accordingly. I think it all lies in the fact that all those websites are more or less the same: they profit from other writers’ work while at the same time giving writers very little control about what’s going on and a little share of the big bucks they make.

    The first problem is that they all rely too much on Google which has a kind of monopoly both on earnings and on search results and those websites are kind of forced to put all eggs in one basket so when Google says, or imagines, something they immediately obey.
    An article which is great today and makes you earning money tomorrow can simply disappear because Big G doesn’t like it anymore.

    Second those publishing platforms earn money based on quantity and probably more with traffic coming from places where ad blindness isn’t a normal thing. On the website where I wrote there were thousands of desi aunts articles and they remained there earning money until Google said to clean the garbage.
    Given that they rely on quantity they push writers to write as much as they can about everything and as a matter of facts you see writers talking either about the same stuff over and over or writing about things they know very superficially. Being there for the money it satisfies everyone.

    What I really don’t like is that almost all of these websites take your hard work giving you back pennies and you have no voice, they decide what is right for you. Actually, giving that they are in for the money it makes sense.
    My solution has been to go self employed, I opened my own website and I write there. Obviously I don’t have all that traffic, all that community and all those “great” tools which help me to write more and better but strange as it can seem I earn more money writing by myself. People finds my articles anyway and if I had the time to write more I would earn a much better income.

    Conclusion: those websites are good for someone who has and wants to learn a bit of the tricks of the writing online business but for having an income is much better to get a domain name and start a website. At least you take all adsense earnings for yourself.

    This is just my opinion anyway. :)

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      The problem is that the ‘way things work’ now, it is harder to find the quality found on blogs like yours because of being washed out of the rankings by worthless random bytes of the content farms.

      A computer can’t tell the relative level of quality between what you put hard work and thought into and what others pay pennies to promote the generation of as much pap in as little time as possible.

      Pay less and those producing the ‘product’ either stop producing or more often, produce more to try to compensate.

      • http://www.ipnostudio.com hypnodude

        You’re right Craig. Also since Big G entered the field of selling ads their search results are biased so coming first is not really only a matter of good seo. Same thing with pagerank. They are a business and they do push their own business. Reliability of results is secondary. They get money any time someone clicks on an ad, whatever the quality of the website.
        But given that Big G is the most used search engine we all have to deal with it, even if it’s flawed by money.

        Again, just my opinion. :)

  • J D Rose

    My suggestion to freelance authors and video makers would be to not contract with Demand Media (Studios)if they want fair pay for their work. Between 2007 and late 2010 I watched my earnings per article go from $25 to $15 plus additional revenue from the writer’s compensation program for eHow articles to $3.00 to $15.00 flat rate. Demand Media, when they completely absorbed eHow, also decided to end eHow’s writer’s compensation program (WCP)and offered a flat fee for articles that made the most money and were accessed the most. I had been making app. $400 per month in residuals through the WCP. It was either accept the buyout or take nothing, while Demand Media (Studios) still kept all rights to my articles either way. I was offered app $6,000 in the buyout for close to twenty articles that had been included in eHow’s writer’s compensation program. I accepted the buyout because either way Demand Studios owned my work. Author’s and other freelancers are required to sign over all rights, including reprint rights, to Demand Media (Studios) in order to produce work for them, whether that work is for eHow or other publications they provide articles for like USA Today Live Strong,Yellow Book, etc. Articles accepted by Demand Media (Studios)publications other than eHow may pay $100 – $400 but Demand Media still owns all rights to those articles. Demand Media does help authors and other creative works build a portfolio, but at what cost to freelancers? Demand Media (studios) may then go on to earn thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for those articles since they have exclusive rights to make a profit for them for years to come. Demand Media claim they are there for authors and other forms of creative works, when in fact Demand Media (Studios)is all about themselves which is obvious by what they pay those freelancers who produce work for them.

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      How do you think they were able to make the change from quality to quantity?

      You found out the diminishing value placed on quality the hard way.

      I’ve actually read some of your articles and gained by doing so.

    • Mark

      Whaaaaaa, Whaaaaa, Whaaaaa.

      You sound like writers are part of an entitlement program. You contracted yourself out, accepted the terms and now you’ve turned into a biatch.

      Your type is the problem, Not Demand Media. They were above board with you from the git go. Now you cry fowl.

      Eat it, pal.

  • http://IraMency.com Cindy

    They have already gotten a reputation as being a content mill. Doesn’t matter what they do now. Sort of like if a puppy mill decides to add some pet supplies and call themselves a pet store, who will go there?

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

    I wouldn’t care what eHow does were Google to add a “Don’t include results from this site” next to eHow’s waste of bytes. Better yet, deep-six the entire site.

    They would have to improve their ‘quality’ just to make it up to the level of being a ‘content farm’.

    Take a look at http://www.ehow.com/how_6717507_remove-plugs-jaguar-1990-xjs.html

    That article could almost be about a lawn mower or scrape any car make/model from Google and search and replace.

    It makes it sound like changing plugs on a Jaguar HE 5.3L V12 is a walk in the park, ‘moderately easy’ it says and, includes NOTHING useful to help someone who has never done it before.

    Obviously the person who wrote the article knows nothing about what they are trying to get paid for supposedly being an expert on.

    Here’s an article for the author of that article titled “How to write an article”

    “Get 1,000,000 monkeys, remove brains, supply with computers, publish on eHow.” There, that was moderately easy, no?

  • Walter Pickut

    I wrote for Demand Studios for 2 years at $20-$25/article after a layoff from my day job. I also wrote fiction and non-fiction and newspaper articles, some free for clips, some paid and some for the simple pleasure of papering my office wall with rejection notices (inside joke for starving artists). DMD was part of what made it legit to job hunt as a professional writer. That levereged me into major commercial work. Thank you DMD. That and my DMD pay checks (always on time and on target) was all they owed me. However, while they play fair and legal, they don’t play nice. They accumulated (last count I heard) 7-10,000 freelancers, from high school wannabes to PhDs with a few free hours on their hands, and some freelancers who moved to full time. But that net eventually caught way too many “too small to keep.” They then appear to have high-graded the catch for the best fish, and let the minnows slip back into the pond with only platitudes for farewell. While anything that looked like severence or layoff could have created employer problems, a public show of raised standards in the writer pool would have enhenced their credibility. That is probably understood within the industry but a public perception of a Pied Piper boss rates low on the civility scale, not that it matters to shareholders. But any self-employed freelancer needs to understand business, grow a thick skin, become highly adaptable because it is a Darwinian world out here… or get a 9 to 5er and get used to punching a clock, which is (marginally) safer. DMD is run by some pretty smart kids and they appear to understand adaptability at their level. This might be a buy opportunity in the market.

  • Rebekah

    It’s just the same crap, different day.

    Demand Studios will always be a content farm and will always treat its writers like garbage. Why do you think they have the worst reputation on the internet?

    I used to write for them, but no longer, and most of my writer friends are the same. You’ve got to be desperate to write for Demand nowadays. And even more desperate to invest in them (has anyone seen their stock being sucked into oblivion? Pretty funny.

  • Geoff

    More proof that Demand Media deliberately LIES to its writers. It has a section called eHow Select that the company pretends doesn’t exist, yet it has many assignments available. DMS forbids the writers within this section from telling other writers about it. This at a time when most sections over at Demand have zero titles for writers to write. Here’s an email that Lydia, the Content Manager for eHow Select, sent out this weekend:

    Dear eHow Select writers,

    On behalf of the eHow Select project team, I would like to thank you for the articles submitted to the program so far. We are all extremely proud to be working with such a dedicated and passionate team of writers, as evidenced by the lowest rewrite and rejection percentages among all eHow sections.

    Based on those encouraging numbers and on several other factors, we have decided to introduce a new feature that will allow you to nominate other writers for future inclusion in the program. At the bottom of each article published on eHow, you will now find a “Nominate” link that allows you, in effect, to vote for its author. The portfolio of writers who have been nominated by current eHow Select members will be reviewed by our team and, if their portfolio meets our quality standards, may be given access to eHow Select.

    This new feature, however, does not affect the current recruitment procedure. Our team will continue to review non-nominated writers, as well as applications made through the HelpDesk.

    We would also like to remind you of the confidentiality of the project. As outlined in the guidelines that were sent to you, discussing the project on third-party websites or in the general sections of the Demand Studios forums can lead to having your eHow Select privileges revoked.

    Lydia
    Content Manager eHow Select

    • Howard B

      Anyone who buys into this facade that there is something called “eHow Select” deserves to be disillusioned. This fabrication came directly from a site of DMS writers who are immature and angry because DMS does not value their services. They post on and on about how they’re so smart, so educated, so above all the rest of the DMS writers, but beneath it all, they’re just losers.

      There is no eHow Select. There never was. They’ve started this insidious little rumor because they don’t have a lot of common sense and they’re vindictive.

      This little group claims to have advanced degrees, but if they do, which is unlikely, there’s something wrong with our system of higher education. More likely, they’ve invented their degrees and on their closet walls hang hand-colored diplomas.

      Posting their little lie also crosses into the area of libel, since it’s an obvious untruth and it’s designed to harm DMS’ reputation.

      • Thomas Q.

        And saying that people fabricated their degrees isn’t libel?

      • Geoff

        Uh, I currently write for this section at Demand Media so it most certainly DOES exist. You’re obviously not in the loop.

        • Howard B

          Thank you for the IP.

      • glorybug

        @Howard B — Y U no menshun Lysis? Lol.

        Unless you somehow have proof that DSS (which, no doubt, is who you are referring to), members have ‘fabricated’ the ‘eHow Select’ section, your comments have no value. Also, how could you possibly know whether or not anyone at DSS holds a particular degree?

        I do not know if such a special project does actually exist, or if a DMS writer does need to be nominated to be allowed access, but I do know that whether real or fabricated, you seem butthurt at not being invited.

        I haven’t heard personally from any writer claiming to be in the program, but if it’s real, I’d love to be included. Being butthurt is a waste of time.

        I’m inclined to believe it’s real, if for no other reason than that it falls in line with almost every other non-transparent thing DMS has done in the past. The letter posted by Geoff sounds exactly like previous announcements made by DMS.

        • Howard B

          It’s a fake. And the intent is to damage DMS’ reputation by making real writers think that DMS is pulling a fast one. Why aren’t the rest of your good buddies posting here?

          • Thomas Q.

            Do you have proof of that intent?

          • glorybug

            I think you just outed yourself, buddy.

            There’s only one person who keeps incorrectly claiming that people post on DSS… and that would be Metallion.

            You aren’t smart enough to figure out who has ‘buddies’ there, but smart enough to ‘know’ the project is ‘fake’?

            Put up or shut up. You say the project is fake — then prove it. You have absolutely zero credibility just because you ‘say so’.

            Especially since it appears that you couldn’t cut writing for DMS, know that you can’t pass your third article, and are intentionally not writing it so you can still access the forums and annoy/stalk people there.

            I seriously doubt DMS can be damaged by another website — they do a pretty good job of doing it all by themselves.

  • Kim

    Demand screws it writers over AGAIN. They’re basically firing everyone who has a grammar score of less than 4.0 (on a 5.0 scale) without actually having to SAY you’re fired. There’s a sh*tstorm swirling in the Demand forums tonight. Here’s today’s email:

    Studio Writers,

    Below is a message from Jeremy Reed, Senior Vice President, Editorial:

    We are excited to announce a new program called First Look. It is intended to reward our highest-rated writers by giving them the first look at new titles. Starting this week, the highest-rated writers will have advanced access to view and claim new assignments for 48 hours before they are released into the Find Assignments pool.

    We’ve all invested a lot and we want to further reward writers who best exemplify the attributes of good writing. The eligible group will be those writers who maintain an average structure of 4.0 or higher for their last 50 articles.

    The score will be recalculated with every new article. While we plan to add this updated score to your Work Desk, it will not be immediately visible. We may also at some point modify this method of calculation. If your average falls below 4.0, you will lose First Look privileges until you bring your score back within the qualifying range.

    In an attempt to be mindful and fair to all eligible writers, all writers’ assignment claim limits will be set to 10. As with the current system, once you submit an article, you may claim another assignment. We will notify those writers eligible for First Look via email. All changes will go into effect in the next few days.

    We will continue to listen to your feedback and invest in programs like this.

    Thanks,
    Jeremy Reed, SVP Editorial

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