Uncategorized WAHM Work at Home Moms

Demand Studios Drama and Lies

Angela at Writer’s Weekly publishes a weekly (duh) newsletter for writers. I strongly urge you to subscribe and ignore half of it each week.

The trouble is that she has an aversion to web writing. Every week she goes on a mission to prove that web writing opportunities are bunk. Writers who have failed at these sites are given 3/4 of the attention and the site’s guidelines and compensation plans are ridiculed.

She put out a call for Demand Studios writers to kick off her investigation. Deb Ng, a DS writer and publisher of the Freelance Writing Journal, posted a note on the DS message boards to solicit feedback for Angela. Instead of being glad that her request was reposted, Angela attacked Deb’s professionalism, questioned her motives and didn’t trust any of the positive notes that were sent. Ironically, the happy DS writers I know don’t post much on the forum because it’s filled with whiners who don’t read the rules or guidelines but prefer to use the forums for feedback and to learn the rules. Questions like “when do we get paid?” are answered in the terms of service that you’re supposed to read before you join, but also in the resources that are accessible from the entire site.

Anyway, Angela published a scathing review of DS which closed with the paragraph

“I have a personal message for writers who lack the self-respect to demand fair pay for their hard work. If you’re happy to write for $5-$15 per article, there are plenty of places like Demand Studios that are happy to pay you a pittance for your hard work. Don’t expect writers like me to try to butter it up and make it look like it’s a better deal than it is. Five to fifteen dollars for a well-researched, well-written article, with references and illustrations, is pathetic. Claiming it isn’t makes you a laughingstock in the industry. Everybody’s just afraid to say it to your face. I’m not.”

The phrases I bolded are outright lies.

The fact is: you don’t have to work hard. Choose titles you can write easily and don’t make it too complicated. High producing DS writers can write an article in anywhere from 10-30 minutes. personally, I’m in the 20-30 minute range for most of the titles I choose.

The fact is: Articles actually range from $3 (30 word tip format) to $25 (new livestrong rate)

—–content edited 10-23-09 because I thought tips were 100 words but they’re really only 30 9thanks, Sandy)———————————

Plenty of places like DS?  Really?  Because if there really was, I’d love to sign up to write.

Well-researched, well-written with references and illustrations, that’s a lie. Illustrations aren’t required. I never add illustrations because searching for them can take as long as writing the article. Referenced- YES, you do need to provide references. Actually, it takes less than 2 minutes to find a reference, using the magic of a tool called GOOGLE.  Come on, if a writer has trouble finding a reference then perhaps they should be babysitting instead, or cleaning toilets. If you can’t find a reference for an article, don’t write it. The amount of research you have to do is going to depend upon how well you know the topic.

Laughing stock in the industry- who the hell cares?  Does the industry pay my bills? Do I have some twisted social allegiance to the INDUSTRY of professional writers?  I think not. My allegiance is to my children and I can give them my TIME by working from home and STUFF (because kids love that)  She says “Everybody’s just afraid to say it to your face. I’m not.” I would counter that by stating that you’re not showing bravery, you just look rude. We’re all adults, capable of reading our own contracts and making our own decisions about how we spend our time and where we get our income.

And  actually, that wasn’t the final paragraph, she had another paragraph after that. She was confused about why she was being “publicly lynched” for “trying to help these writers”

Another happy DS writer’s letter responded best to that by saying “That’s a little self important, don’t you think?”

Yeah, I think so.

I love DS. I don’t love the titles, but I love the fast cash.

I sent her a note about my experience and perspective. I was eager to open up my email today to see if my letter gave her new perspective.

Instead, I see that she’s printed (posted) a page full feedback that’s negative. Only one of the letters she posted was positive. See for yourself.

And my letter, for the record, went like this:

Hi Angela,

I’m Lisa Russell, I’ve been a long-time fan of your publication and like the column where you investigate and get-to-the-bottom of things. I also like it when you hunt down non-paying publications and post their stupid responses. I first subscribed to you (different email addy) in 1999ish, and have enjoyed watching your influence grow.

I’ll admit first, that I didn’t read the original request for Demand Studios writers, however, the opening paragraph of your article;

“We have been profiling content mills and companies that have revenue sharing / pay-per-click programs. You know the type. They either offer insultingly low rates for articles (and often take all rights)…or you work your butt off to fill their site with content, and promote their site to get lots of clicks and/or ad revenue. They then earn money on ads placed on your content pages and you usually end up earning less than minimum wage, if anything at all.”

Doesn’t give me the impression that you’re interested in “profiling” them, just that you’re looking to prove what a rip off they are.

There are whiners everywhere, Demand Studios has whiners, surely even print magazine writers have been guilty of whining about things.

In the online writing world, every writer is NOT a professional, not capable of writing complete sentences and doesn’t know a then from a than. From what I can tell, after 18 mos as a DS writer, 3/4 of the writers they accept end up not staying with the company.  People get angry when they’re asked for a rewrite but if you see the way some of these people write, they’re lucky they’re being given the opportunity to rewrite.

I don’t think it’s fair to criticize DS for saying “We are proud to work with freelance writers and copy editors who are capable of consistently producing quality content at a very large scale.” in an area where they’re marketing themselves. Really, should they say “Most of our writers perform well but there are a few who really suck?”

I also want to clarify that images are not required. I don’t waste the time adding images to most of my DS articles.

I haven’t written much this month because the titles don’t interest me, but in the past I’ve made as much As $1100 a week there, when my family needed the income.

To be realistic about the requirement for references, how long does it take to google something?  Credible references from .edu or .gov sites can’t possibly take more than 5 minutes to find. I am always amused when I hear writers say that they spent an hour researching.  What were they looking for, I wonder?

I have 6 kids and would much rather play with them than stare at my computer. I absolutely love that I can hop onto the computer for a few hours a day and bring in a few thousand dollars a month. Between the advertising and affiliate links on my own niche websites , plus Demand Studios and revenue-sharing sites like eHow and Suite101, I support our family of eight completely since my husband lost his job. I work a few hours a day and this summer I took off a few weeks for a family vacation, and spent a gazillionty dollars on dance recital clothes for my kids.

At Demand, I stick with the $20 articles. They aren’t few & far between, they’re reserved for writers who are consistently free from rewrites and rejects. Occasionally some $20 titles will slip through the cracks and end up in the general queue.

It takes me just as long to write a $5 article as it does a $20 article, so why in the world would I write a $5 article? When the $20 titles are gone, I pull $15 titles I can write quickly. Examples of those would be “State Parks in Nebraska” or “Iowa Fishing Regulations.”  How long can it possibly take to write such uninspired topics? If someone is spending an hour they’re wasting their time somehow.

DS also sells content to other sites on contract, but these opportunities aren’t made available to every writer.

I know there’s more money to be made writing for magazines and publishing my own books.  I’m not kidding myself about the fact that for long-term success, DS isn’t contributing much to my life. However, I really am glad that they exist. Where else can I simply grab a title, write it up and get $20 without ever having to pitch it, wait for a response or even look at it again? With 6 kids, there aren’t many brainless jobs I can do from home and make $60-80 an hour.

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, DS surely has an entire staff of web designers, editors and coders that have to be paid from the same revenue writers draw from. I could not do what they do alone.

I’m most interested in what you’re saying here;

“I have a personal message for writers who lack the self-respect to demand fair pay for their hard work. If you’re happy to write for $5-$15 per article, there are plenty of places like Demand Studios that are happy to pay you a pittance for your hard work. Don’t expect writers like me to try to butter it up and make it look like it’s a better deal than it is. Five to fifteen dollars for a well-researched, well-written article, with references and illustrations, is pathetic. Claiming it isn’t makes you a laughingstock in the industry. Everybody’s just afraid to say it to your face. I’m not.”

Please let me know where else I can get paid what I’m getting paid for almost no work at all. It’s not hard work, in fact my 12 year old can probably do it. I work with moms who want to work online and I try to make myself aware of all online writing opportunities. I publish them at http://www.30queries30days.com  It started as a blog to chronicle my magazine writing attempts and challenge myself and other moms to writing 30 queries in 30 days (hence the name) but it’s evolved into my helping other mom-content-writers make more money.

I really do not know of any other online writing venue where writers have access to tens of thousands of titles that range from $3-$20 (I’m correcting you, there are $3 titles, I think they require 150 words)  and simply write, whenever and wherever they want, with no commitment and no other requirements.

Really, I want to know.

I don’t spend much time on the DS message boards. I think a lot of the writers there have too much time on their hands. I can’t imagine having time to socialize and time to work. If I did, I’d probably not socialize anyway, I’d spend more time writing for Suite101. Have you profiled them yet?

Disgruntled writers are often the ones I find guilty. They don’t read the contract or the directions, they don’t follow the advice and wisdom of the site and other writers and they spend more time complaining than writing. At every site I write for, I consistently make more money than other writers because I focus on writing (not high quality0 articles, but SEO friendly articles. Instead of hanging out on message boards criticizing the company, I follow the company’s advice because the company WANTS me to make money. When I make money, the company makes money. Writers who fail to follow directions end up whining about how they’re not makign money.

Writing for the web is a different world. It always seems like you’re so against it, but I think you have to see it for what it is. An advertising-driven way for people with no skills or professional writing aspirations to actually make a living.  SEO skills determine how much money you make, not the site you write for.

The DS contract states very clearly what they’re all about, they’re not fooling anyone. If someone enters DS thinking that they’ll be able to resell their work, or have any control over where it ends up then they failed to read their contract. Period. Words are free. Just write more. It’s not a scam, it’s just an arrangement that you don’t like.

I think if you’re going to “investigate” any possible online scams, perhaps helium.com should be next on your list. Helium requires writers to read the work of others and rate it, like a popularity contest. The article that’s rated #1 is rated not for quality or factual content, but because the writer solicited enough votes. Writers there write so they can “get feedback” and “earn stars’ and “earn badges” and not money. I’ve seen a lot of moms who write for helium thinking that they’re going to make money but the fact is that no one there is really making anything. If you just read their forums, you’ll see.  It’s really sad. 1500 articles for $200 helium has no editorial standards, so probably a lot of helium.com articles suck- these are not professional writers.  But they call themselves writers and the system is set up to give phony rewards (seriously, a star?) and no one really gets any money.

I’m all about the money. I’m homeschooling six kids and my goal is to build up my residual income enough that I don’t have to work again. With my own niche websites and Suite101, I can do that. Last month, my niche websites brought in nearly $1000 and my residual (revenue share) income was about $975.  I write for Demand Studios enough to make up the difference.

Do I want to write REAL magazine articles and books?  Sure, but right now paying the rent and playing with my kids are more important. I don’t want to take the time to learn how to build that kind of income just yet. I’m doing what I know how to do, as fast as possible, so that I can be a mom. I’m no victim and anyone who is laughing at me just doesn’t get it.


http://www.lisarussell.org   because .com and .net were taken

So, to sum it up. Go ahead and subscribe to writer’s weekly, because it’s a great way to learn about new paying markets and also to learn more about print publication and self publishing. Interestingly, there’s an ebook advertising on her site right now called New Path to Riches which, interestingly, tells writers why they should build their own websites and how to make money from them.  As if it costs money to learn about Niche Blogging

And here’s some funny trivia, When you google “writers weekly” I’m on the SERP. Isn’t that funny, here she is bashing web content writing and she doesn’t even dominate the first SERP for the name of her own business. In fact, the first 5 results were her actual site and the other 4 (that weren’t me) were 1- not abot her, 2- not about her 3- about this same topic and 4- about the post that was about this issue.  What a crock. Ironically, it’s not even a discussion of her site that I’m ranking for, it’s a post I wrote called “Sites that pay writers weekly”, just a coincidence that the same 2 words are used in a row.

Interestingly, that post was inspired by a wahm.com message forum post by a gal who is now bashing DS because of her bad experience.

I wish them all success. I’m glad we live in a world with so many ways to make money from words.