Thursday, September 1, 2011

Demand Studios How I Despise Thee (with a capital "D")

Write, write, write says the freelancer. When is what you write more important than the money you receive?
I admit I wrote a thing or two (or three) for Demand Studios back in the day.  They appear to be selective of their writers, and have ins with a lot of online sites (E-How, Livestrong). Writers have to get "approved" . I know plenty of them who have not been and are more than worthy. The approval process was not a problem for me since I was already a published book author and already wrote on E-How before they took over all their articles.  At first I thought it was a good way to make some extra quick cash. Writing mundane how-to articles for $15 each , 10 at a pop was an extra $150 here and there.  What's not to love?
Here's some stuff I wrote, average pay $15, some with Revenue Share I still earn off of.

I quickly found however that it was content writing, and there is no deviation from their plan. I was quickly bored and the topics available to me were mundane or boring.  The "word" on the street was that some writers copy and change the common how-to article and can mass produce them. Some have talked openly in forums and bragged about claiming several variations of the same exact title changing it ever so slightly and submitting for approval. So, Demand ends up with "How To Change a Car Tire", "How to Change a Street Car Tire", and "How to Change the Tire on A Ford Truck." This is simply "working the system" hence a $45 payment for three mundane articles of which your name is now attached.  The jest of it is you write about topics that have been suggested (sometimes suggesting your own but accepting a decrease in pay).

I for one had several problems with Demand.

1) LACKING EMOTION First off, the words you write have to be factual and lacking emotion. You must follow their writer guidelines and how-to formats by a "t."   If not, you will be rewriting them. This impacts your scorecard.

2) COPY EDITOR MAYHEM I found one night I had no rewrites, but the next day another staffer had me rewriting everything. There seemed to be no consistency. Others complained about this too. One article I wrote, from experience, about how to get your artwork exhibited. It was a title I suggested so it was only worth $7.50 to begin with. I thought I'd share some things that worked for me. Immediately it was struck down by the copy editor who told me it just "wasn't that easy."   I felt like this copy editor (CE for short) was telling me what she wanted my article to say when in fact I'm supposedly the artist and expert on the topic. We got into a scuffle wherein she preceded to tell me her husband was some artist blah blah whatever.

3) MUST SUBMIT REJECTIONS OR REWRITES I then stopped writing as it put a bad taste in my mouth. It's highlighted above in tan. Of course, they kept asking me to rewrite it, but I refused. To me, writing something I don't agree with or believe in just isn't worth my time. Abandons or rejections will just screw up your "report card" with them.


4) GRAMMAR MY ASS I noticed their "grammar" and "research" ratings were based on the sheer opinions of their copy editors, who would cross out this and change that in your article, sometimes moving things around asking for a rewrite. My problem with this is (you can view their changes and cross outs ie strikethru's) in your console and you will see the sheer fact is that some are subjective. I will use this example, such as a list of materials needed on a how-to suggested 1/2" board as being a grammatical error and change it to one half inch board.  Sometimes I thought they did that on purpose just so you wouldn't "advance" to the next tier of being able to claim more articles or get a higher rate in pay,  I don't know...I didn't stick around long to find out. 
I'd rather not write than write something they want me to change so they can get paid triple for my article.

5) PUPPY MILL SYNDROME I feel that Demand quickly grew to the "puppy mill" for writers.  By so many people turning out so many articles and giving up rights for a measly $10 or $15 it was selling your freelancing soul to the devil.  It now makes it hard for writers who write more than specified word count  content--to get paid more for articles like we used to.  Many writers are now forced to work for peanuts thanks to mills like Demand.
  
6) LOTS OF PEOPLE LOVE THEM WHICH MAKES IT HARD FOR THE WRITERS WHO EXPECT REAL PAY There are lots and lots of people who defend Demand Studios and write for them now and again. Lots of students, stay at home moms and people needing to make extra money per week do just fine with Demand. They have learned the system and style of writing. They have learned how to avoid rewrites and how to make the CE's happy. Some turn and burn articles like I mentioned above with the car tire example. This "love for Demand" is a big problem for me, because I'm a writer who writes from the soul and places like Demand have controlled market pricing.  I don't expect the die hard Demand-ers to understand that because perhaps they haven't worked for more than $15 or $20 an article, I don't know, but if you drive pricing to peanuts, that's what the market will pay.

7) REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE FOR THEM If you don't care about what it is you are writing, or you don't mind changing your content to make a few dollars, then write for them. If you are a beginner in content writing, this can help you get some articles under your belt, though I don't know that is something to brag about. Being that few (if any) are sold or published to other publications which may get you some good exposure, write for them. I've never heard of anyone getting a job with Martha Stewart's blog by writing for Demand, or become CE of the New York Times....  Just sayin'....


8) THE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WRITE FOR THEM
  • If you want to do creative writing, Demand is not for you.
  • If you want to use emotion and ad lib, Demand is not for you.
  • If you want to create your own content constantly, Demand is not for you. 
  • If you want to keep the rights to your articles, Demand is most definitely not for you.
  • If you care about the integrity of freelancing in general and think that your time is worth more than a mere $15 per article, Demand is not for you.
  • If you don't want to change something that a CE wants you to, Demand is not for you as you will have abandoned rewrites or rejections which will hamper your overall report card.

10) AFTER A YEAR PLUS OF NON USE THEY FIRED ME ANYWAYS I kept my Demand account open 16 months after my scuffle with the CE but never really went back to writing again. I guess I couldn't get past the fact I'd be playing right into the hands of the "mill."  I also write for more than that now, but still.  The system (up until just a few weeks ago) would allow me to claim up to 10 titles at a time still. Fast forward to now,  I received the following letter from them which reinforced everything I had already known about them. (bastards)


LETTER I RECEIVED AFTER ONE YEAR OF NOT USING THEM: 

Dear Cindy,
We regret to inform you that we are removing your Demand Media Studios writing permissions. As you are aware, we look at our writers on a number of dimensions - including but not limited to article audits by in-house editors, overall scores and rejection rates.

Taking into consideration the above factors, it has been determined that your body of work does not meet our standards for quality.

If you currently have any work in progress, these articles may be submitted for review and payment if approved. However, effective today, you will no longer be permitted to claim additional titles.
If you are currently approved for any other roles within the Studio, this decision does not affect them in any way.

We wish you luck with your future writing projects.
Best Regards,
Demand Media Studios Editorial Team

Please DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL. This is an unmonitored email address. Copyright© 2011, Demand Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Read our Privacy Policy. If you believe you received this email in error, please contact us through the Demand Media Help Desk by following this link: Help Desk OR send postal mail to:
Demand Media Studios | a Demand Media© company | 15801 NE 24th St. | Bellevue | WA | 98008






MY RESPONSE TO DEMAND:


Was not so nice.  HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED FROM HELP DESK I asking why am I getting this after a year of non use???


THEIR RESPONSE TO ME: 

Hello Cindy,
Thank you for your recent email.
Demand Media Studios conducts regular reviews of all writers and their work with the studio. Based on this most recent review, we have determined that your style does not fit with our current needs and goals. We consider many criteria in this decision, such as your grammar score, abandoned rewrite rate, and your article approval rate, just to name a few. After your most recent review, it is our decision to end our professional relationship with you at this time. We wish you the best in your future freelance endeavors.
Best wishes,
The DMS Team


MY RESPONSE TO DEMAND:


Was not so nice. Since when on their site I don't have a writing style thanks to them, I'll be happy to let the world know that all of a sudden after a year of nonuse, I'm no longer good enough for them.  How much I despise them on my blog. HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED FROM HELP DESK


FURTHER DEMAND MAYHEM, WHERE'S MY PAYMENTS?  I HAVE NOT RECEIVED MY ONGOING PERFORMANCE PAYMENTS SINCE MY LAST LETTER TO THEM, they have been sitting unpaid for two months now, totaling a measly $20 ...they normally pay per month to my pay pal account (which you then pay taxes on...) I wrote the help desk about that, too. I'll post when I get a reply. UPDATE: PER THE HELP DESK, THEY KEEP YOUR MONEY UNTIL YOU HIT $20 THEN DISPURSE IT...hmmm that sucks since I'm at $19.xx .....


THINK I'M THE ONLY HATER? Don't take my word for it read related links and posts from those who have grown to despise mills like Demand to protect the integrity of WRITERS who put their hearts into what they write!

Undercover article from Angela Hoy on Writer's Weekly HERE. (links to four other articles too!)
Content Mills Like Demand Exposed HERE.
Demand Studios, 4 Reasons it Sucks HERE.
The Official "Demand Studios Sucks" website. Someone is really pissed.
I Wrote For Demand Now I Feel DIRTY.
Read How Demand is Reevaluating Writers.
Read why Ken has changed his views on Demand.
OMG I got Fired from Demand !
I could go on with  100's hundreds more links but I don't want to waste my time. Demand just isn't worth my time or my words.
Exciting news, I'm working on a new site called Design-Swag. Check it out! http://Design-Swag.com
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