Monday, October 19, 2009


So there is a lot of brouhaha over Writers Weekly expose on Demand Studios and once again we have lots of controversy and conflict.

In this corner, the freelance writers who, apparently, make $1000 a word and feel sorry for us slobs who can't figure out how to get up on their pedestal.

In the other corner, the slobs. The ignorant masses who aspire to write and who, poor souls, are suckered into writing at pay-per-click sites or for content mills. Demand studios pays *gasp* 3 cents a word, if you're lucky. A far cry from the freelancers' income.

Okay, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but before you smack me, consider this:

In the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre, a professional pay rate for fiction starts at 3 cents a word. For Sci Fi, three cents a word is 'art' that can be nominated for a Hugo or Nebula--kind of like an Emmy or Oscar for writers. (By the way, I got my start in fiction, in the fantasy genre.)

For Demand Studios, it's a crime against humanity.

The same three pennies have completely different meaning depending on where the words are published. For me, it's semantics.

Would I like Demand Studios to pay more? Hell yeah. But you know what? They are the highest paying so-called content mill out there and they will drive prices up for everyone else, which is a Good Thing in my book.

Do I dislike the editors at DS and think there are areas that need major improvements? Yes.

But I'm not going to feel sorry for or dissuade anyone who wants to write for Demand Studios. It's a good gig that develops some solid skills for new writers.

Now, here's my comment left on another blog in response to all the hoopla.

I think I will be the lone voice of dissent here. I am having a good experience on ehow. I haven’t written an article since 9/20 and I am on track to make more money this month than any other.

Am I getting rich? No. But how many freelancers doing it the ‘right way’ would still have revenue coming in if they weren’t writing and actively developing clients?

Could I build this into a $500 a month revenue stream? Yes.

I think there are a few salient points being missed in this debate:

1. Not all pay-per-click-content mills are equal. Some are better than others. Suite101 and ehow are probably the best pay-per-click markets. As for content mills, believe it or not, Demand Studios is the highest paying content mill I’ve seen. I am not thrilled with Demand Studios–their editors sometimes appear to be maliciously capricious and they don’t allow for any back-and-forth with editors to clear up minor issues–but they are still the highest paying content mill and they are actually raising the bar, in my opinion, for other mills. The ability to just work and not worry about pitching, queries, acceptance etc… is refreshing.

2.Not all writers are created equal. I’m sorry, people who have written 100 articles and earned less than $100 are doing something seriously wrong. They are working with the wrong sites, don’t understand SEO or are otherwise failing to hit the mark.

I’m around the $5 mark and don’t yet have 100 articles yet. Nor have I even hit the one year mark as a pay-per-click writer. Heck, I haven’t even hit the six month mark. At a year, I will have earned $60 per article. Considering I spent _maybe_ an hour on each of my articles, this is a good return on investment.

A lot of the financial analysis being done to show how awful content mills are presupposes that the writers could actually get freelance work that pays top rates. I hate to say it, but some of these writers are at content mills because they aren’t marketable anyplace else. In addition, all the financial analysis is done with a steep negative bias. I calculate $60 per article, the naysayers only look at the earnings I have, not the one year projection. It’s a very selective view and I believe it is inaccurate.

3.Not everyone can take the time to nurture a client. I love the freedom of pay-per-click content. I have a small child at home and am limited in how much work I can do. I do not have time for a needy client. I’ve tried. They make my two year old look mature.

Are there downsides and valid issues? Yes. I am not claiming perfection, simply that the downsides are not quite as steep as others believe and there are some nice upsides too.


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