Beyond Demand Studios

I have decided to blow off Demand Studios for a while. Some of that simply coincided with the creative blahs that left this blog unattended for a week. But most of it had to do with money.

DS pays a flat fee of $5-20 for a 250-500 word article – preferably with photos. I decided from the get-go that they didnt pay me enough to find photos for them. But they had some topics on the list that I actually had an interest in, so I wrote them up, and the money appeared in Pay Pal. All well and good.

But what they purchased for less than a penny a word was All Rights. So I can’t re-use that material elsewhere, which – so you know – is the staple of free-lance profitability. The difference between a hobby and a living is the ability to sell an article (or at least a version of it) several different times.

My stuff about headlamps and forest rangers appears on Trails.com, if you care. But I’ve been paid off and have no incentive to actively promote the content.

Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly did a long expose on DS recently, and while I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, the fire kinda went out after I read it. I don’t care the Freelancewriting.com is in cahoots with DS. I don’t really mind that DS makes a lot of money (a lot!), though I think they’d be better served sharing a little more with the writers.

To be fair, Deborah Ng, of freelancewriters.com objects to Hoy’s characterizations.

DS claims proficient writers can earn above minimum wage, which runs contrary to my experience. Of course, I am notorious for over-research. If I knew the subject of a $20 article, and could bang it out off the top of my head, this would be true. But that seems the exception for just about every writer.

I do not, as a matter of policy, track writing income by the hour. On that basis, I make far more money as a stagehand – let alone a technical director – than writing anything. I calculate income by the published word.

Now, factor in that I don’t have to query – they pick the topics. BUT factor in my time slogging through their long (and slow-loading) topic list, chock full of unclear, troublesome prompts. Well, still easier than concocting a 250 word query.

Even so, $.04/word – max – is below my minimum rate – which is based on first rights, not all rights, and never includes photos (always extra!).

I’m not saying I’ll never write for them again. After all, the check cleared. I’m just saying that I’m not that hungry – and I don’t anticipate getting that hungry.

Web writing in general pays a fraction of what free-lancers have become accustomed to from magazines. But the web isn’t dying – its growing, Magazines are having the opposite experience. So I ask myself, do I want to fight with all the other veteran freelancers for a hold on the last parts of the ship still above water? Or do I cast about looking for a new way to stay afloat on what has become a very different ocean?

(The metaphor’s a mess – I know. This blog is always a first draft. You get what you pay for. )

I’m not the only one trying to figure this out.

Meanwhile, after 23 articles, my Examiner earnings are still below what I grossed in 9 articles for DS. But that will eventually reverse. And my Examiner experiment is more of self-education about SEO than serious revenue generation.

And I just took a gig blogging about the suns for phxsunsnews.com for a rate so low I dare not speak of it. But that’s largely recreational.

I’m thinking about starting a blog covering the sea-change in short non-fiction. Since I’m desperately trying to keep track of it anyway.

But I’m not making any promises – unless  you’re writing me a check.

Now you know.

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3 thoughts on “Beyond Demand Studios

  1. I found this quote from Angela Hoy at another website. She responded to someone who complained about a low paying job at Writer’s Weekly.

    “While I agree $9/hour isn’t anything to shout about, there are many people working for minimum wage (or lower, if they actually track their hours when working on a flat-fee basis) that would be very happy to earn $9/hour. In our town, $9 per hour would be a very welcome wage as this is a low-income part of the country (our minimum wage is $6.50/hour). Many people are working really crappy jobs for minimum wage here and would warmly welcome a $9/hour, home-based job. But, the cost of living is lower here, too. In New York City, $9 can’t even buy you parking while, here, you can buy yourself dinner for $9. So, you really have to consider the circumstances of the individual writer and their geographic location, as well as the work involved.

    “A job paying $9/hour at 40 hours a week means $1440/month. I don’t run those $2 per blog post ads or those 1 cent per job listings, but $9/hour is an acceptable wage for many.”

    Yet the people who earn $15 from Demand Studios are slaves with no self respect?

  2. I read that quote too. There are people who do very well by DS because they have that gift of slapping out 250 words on a random subject in an hour or so. I’m not that fast, partly because I compulsively over-research, even though I know that 50-75% of my new-found knowledge won’t make the final article. That’s fine when I had 30 days to write 1500 words (at $.10/word). That style is a money-loser with the DS model.

    So I didn’t mean to imply that everyone who writes for DS is a chump. I’m just saying it didn’t turn out to be lucrative for me.

  3. Pingback: Writer’s Group notes 3 December 2009 « What Have We Learned?

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