Lately I have been working with Demand Studios as a writer. For those of you who don’t know what Demand Studios is, the company provides content for sites like eHow, LiveStrong, and others. They pay based on a flat article rate (up to $15) for 400-500 word articles, or you can write articles and earn a revenue share based on views/ad revenue over time. I stick to the flat rate articles, because my blogs provide a “revenue share” from Adsense.
When I first started my research on Demand Studios, I heard all kinds of different opinions. Some suggested the site was the Satan incarnate. Others suggested it was an awesome opportunity. So what is the truth? Well, both. Demand Studios is both great and a pain in the neck. In this review, I will try to provide an unbiased and detailed review and share my experiences so far (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I want to be fair to Demand Studios (because I do like it overall), yet I also want to provide some constructive criticisms.
I actually prefer writing longer than 500 words in my own articles, so you can bank on this being a fairly long post. Okay, here we go…
The Good Points of Demand Studios
Demand Studios is great in many ways. I will briefly highlight the points below, and then elaborate on this a bit more. Here are the high points:
- The Pay–$15 per 400-500 word article is not a terrible rate. In fact, where I live, most professionals don’t earn much more than that per hour. So if you can earn $15 per hour (or more), then you can make a good rate. They also pay via Paypal weekly (although I frequently get multiple deposits per week).
- Flexibility–You can choose and write articles when you want. You have no obligations or requirements. You simply log in and browse their topics (over 200,000), and select the article(s) you wish to write. If you want to write every hour you are awake, do it. If you want to write 1 article a week, do it. It is your choice.
- Opportunity–It is a good opportunity to sharpen your writing skills, earn extra income, and gain experience for your overall writing career. In fact, I have already learned a few tips which have helped sharpen my writing skills (like how to eliminate a passive voice).
Overall, however, I haven’t enjoyed working with them at all. I think this is a phenomenal opportunity for stay-at-home moms, college students, and bloggers looking to supplement income—if—-you can tolerate the nonsense from them. I have already earned a few hundred dollars since joining a couple of weeks ago.
So before I rip into the “bad” and “ugly” points, let me stress that the program overall isn’t evil, and I think it is definitely worth checking out if you are strapped for cash. They are not Satan incarnate, but they are not the literary messiah either! Also, I say that hands down–if you can write—then go to a site like eLance.com and do freelance bids on projects. I think you will find much better projects, perhaps better pay, and probably a lot less frustrations than demand media.
The Bad Points of Demand Studios
Is Demand Studios perfect? Absolutely not! No company is perfect, and Demand Studios is no exception. The bad points belowdon’t really bother me, but I am listing them just to share some of the not-so-good things. My main frustration is the “ugly points,” which I will discuss later. Here we go with the bad points:
- The Pay–Okay, I did write that the pay was a “good point” above, but is also becomes a bad point. How? When it takes you 3 hours to write a $15 article, it becomes very bad pay. Unfortunately, this has happened to me about 3-4 times so far (out of about 20 articles). I chose a title, and struggled to find enough info and resources about it. I then got asked to re-write a few things by a copy editor (which I will discuss in more detail). This led to an overall time of about 3 hours for that article. Certainly not going to make me rich is it? Plus there are other things that can slow you down and decrease your writing time (which I will explain below).
- The Glitches–Their website gets a massive amount of glitches almost daily. You sometimes have trouble logging in, submitting articles, and so forth. I have experienced this a few times in my 2 weeks of experience. I suppose they will work the bugs out over time, but it does slow you down and add to frustrations when you are trying to work fast. Time is money…
- The Article Titles–After spending 3 hours on a few topics, I learned an important lesson: Stick with what you know! It is far easier writing a topic you know about, than one you don’t. Unfortunately, to find a topic that is easy to write about, you have to spend a LONG time digging. I will sometimes find myself sifting through titles for an hour or so to fill my queue. Many titles are very obscure and difficult to write about unless you have specialized knowledge. For example, there are titles such as “How to Change the Transmission on a 1999 Honda Civic,” or “How to Start an LLC in Singapore.” These titles are very specific and difficult to write about–even with research! In fact, you can’t even research some of them, because there is virtually nothing on the web about it. So unless you are very rare to have that experience, you will be frustrated with most article titles.
- The Article Categories–The articles are not categorized well at all. They have a sort feature where you can look through a certain category. Unfortunately, the sort feature is nearly useless. Go to the ‘Health–>Diseases” section, and it will bring up articles such as, “How to Clean a Carburetor for a Harley.” Again, you can get around this by spending time searching, but it takes a long time. They also have a search feature, but it is hard to know before-hand what you want to write about. If you only use search, you can miss some of the better titles which may have never occurred to you. So it is worth it to browse manually, but this takes time.
Okay, so that summarizes the “bad” points of Demand Studios. As I said, overall the company is okay, and provides a good opportunity for those looking to earn extra cash from home. These aren’t major problems, and I overlook them. I just wanted to include them as a minor “criticism” of the experience.
Unfortunately, this review still isn’t done, and will now address the “Ugly” parts of Demand Studios. The “ugly” parts are the ones that really bother me and sometimes make me question my efforts with it.
The Ugly Points of Demand Studios
The ugly points of Demand Studios can be summarized in 2 parts: Copy Editors and Rewrite Requests. I want to spend time talking about each of these individually and relate my experiences.
Dealing with Copy Editors:
My Experience with the copy editors has been mixed. Demand Studios gives you the opportunity to be a copy editor (in addition to being a writer). So you can do either one.
When you submit an article, it doesn’t get published immediately. Instead, it must be reviewed by one of these copy editors to make sure it adheres to the Demand Studios Guidelines. They not only make sure it adheres to those guidelines, but they also make sure your content matches the article title.
If your article is good enough, it will get approved and you won’t have to deal with a copy editor. If, however, the copy editor finds errors or thinks your article sucks, they will let you know.
Some copy editors are really nice. I had a rewrite request over a really small issue (they wanted me to add a resource), and I fixed it in just 5 minutes. They were really kind and even complimented me. On the other hand, there are some that drive me bonkers! They are very picky and base their criticisms on opinion only. They can ask you to correct anything, or even rewrite the entire article at their discretion! This leads me to my next point…
Dealing with Rewrite Requests:
If a copy editor finds an error, they will send the article back for revisions. This can be something as simple as correcting a sentence, to something as complex as a total rewrite of the article. This is by far my biggest frustration with the company.
Since working with Demand Studios, I have had about 4 rewrite requests on about 20 articles. Of those rewrite requests, only two were reasonable, and the other two requests were absolutely absurd.
I gladly admit my own faults and mistakes. The “reasonable” rewrites were on things I did screw up (by accident). One article included a lot of passive phrases, because I did not really get that point when I read their guidelines. Fortunately, I found out how to automatically catch those in Word, so now I eliminate all passive phrases before I submit the articles.
The second “reasonable” rewrite request included a couple of mistakes I had made (mainly because it was the 3 hour article, and I was so exhausted at the end of it that I overlooked some mistakes). I had one sentence where I left out a word, and two more that had minor grammatical errors. Those were my problem, and I was more than happy to correct my screw ups.
The problem comes, however, when you get a copy editor that wants to judge your article based on their opinion of how it should be written. This not only drives me crazy, but it also terribly offends me. Let me give you examples of the 2 “nonsense” rewrites I have experienced thus far.
Rewrite Request 1:
This was my very first article I ever submitted. I chose a topic about “Tools Registered Nurses Use.” I seen it and I thought, “Yes! This will be easy because my wife is a Registered Nurse RN, my mom was an LPN, and my wife’s mom was an LPN. I have nurses galore in my family!”
So I toiled away and wrote the article. Before I wrote it, I asked my wife the tools she uses daily on her job. I then scanned Google for other ideas. I then sat down and drafted the articled.
I took careful time to proofread it, I added the pictures, and then I submitted it. I thought it would get instantly approved, and I would be on my way to making more money. Unfortunately, they asked for a rewrite.
The copy editor said this (paraphrasing from memory):
“This is far too much of a generic piece. The items you included are generic items that can be found in any first aid kit. You need to write about tools that actual Registered Nurses use. Include tools that registered nurses use based on their license, that without the license, they couldn’t use.”
I was absolutely shocked! The tools I had included were: Stethoscope, Catheter, IV bags, sphygmomanometer, syringes, bandages, and thermometer. These tools are NOT in any first aid kit I have ever seen (except for the bandages and thermometer).
Those are the tools registered nurses use! It may not sound glamorous, but they use those tools daily. I asked my wife to double check, and she said that was all she used on a daily basis. I then went to yahoo answers and asked, “Registered Nurses, what are the tools you use?” Guess what they said, almost everything on my list word for word!
The copy editor (in their own ignorance) apparently didn’t even know what a registered nurse actually does. Their main job is to distribute medication, start IVs, insert catheters, monitor blood pressure, fullfill doctor’s orders, and so forth. Any other sophisticated jobs are done by specialized technicians or doctors (or highly specialized nurses).
So I changed the “bandage” section to a medicine cart, and I re-submitted the article with the following message:
Thanks for the suggestions. I did rewrite one tool, but I am not going to rewrite the whole article. My wife is a registered nurse, and runs a nursing blog. My mom is a nurse, and my wife’s mom is a nurse. Furthermore, I asked this question on Yahoo Answers and got the same response from others nurses (and I provided a link).
Nurses don’t have a “license” to use a tool. The license only reflects that the nurse has acheived a level of competency in education requirements, skills, and knowledge as defined by the state issuing the license. Nothing more, nothing less. It isn’t like nurses whip out a certificate before they use a tool.
I can lie and make up some fancy tools if you want, but they won’t be tools used by most registered nurses. Xray machines are used by Xray techs, blood machines are used by lab techs, etc.
There are certainly many sophisticated machines to write about, but unless the title is changed to “Fancy machines in the medical field,” it would be dishonest to say a registered nurse uses them. Furthermore, there are some tools used by registered nurses in certain specializations, but these would only apply to a specific type of nurse. For example, a registered nurse who specialized in urology may use a dialysis machine, but even then he or she may be accompanied by a tech or doctor, and only a urology nurse would use this tool.
I then re-submitted, and the article was accepted. As I said, this was my first article with them, and I was so frustrated I almost quit right there. However, I did keep going and I am glad I did. My other articles were approved (most times), and when I did get an occasional rewrite request, I had geniunely made an error.
Yesterday, however, I got yet another “opinionated” rewrite request, that had no reasonable suggestions. They thought the article should have included more information about something. I wrote about creating an eCommerce website, and the editor thought I should have included more information about the software (even though I actually exceeded 500 words trying to be as detailed and specific as possible about every step), and I not only mentioned several softwares, but also how to upload it to a server with links provided.
I just got frustrated all over again. Here is the bottom line: I spend a lot of time writing GOOD content before I submit it. It may not be 100% perfect, but it is competent, readable, and contains relevant and useful info. When I do that, I want to be paid. I don’t want to hear some jerk’s opinion on it, who probably knows nothing about it in the first place (like the first person I had who asked for the rewrite).
If I made a grammatical mistake, by all means, let me know. I would be happy to correct it. But for crying out loud, if the article is relevant, useful, and readable, please do not waste my time for a measly $15.
This really frustrated me again, and if you write for Demand Studios, I have no doubts that you will also encounter this. I think that even J.K. Rowling or Stephen King would get regular rewrites like these. I heard horror stories of people being told the most silly things in a rewrite request, such as: “You need to explain how to remove the actual wings from the buffalo” (on an article about making buffalo wings…hint: They are made from chickens!).
That is not only a frustration, but a major time sink. You toil away all day and submit articles, only to have a random copy editor come back with some random advice on how the article could have or should have included more information.
Don’t get me wrong, this won’t happen all the time, or even every day. But my guess is you will probably encounter this at least 1 time for every 5-10 articles you submit.
They Have Like 1,000,000 Rules and Change Them Frequently
Another problem is all the “rules.” You have to write in a particular “voice” for each type of article. You can’t cite a big list of websites in the “resources” section, which is annoying and time consuming to say the least. You must start sentences with an action verb, yadda yadda ya. Seriously, they are having so many rules depending on which article, perhaps they should offer college level courses on how to write a crappie 500 word article. They are totally absurd and a turn-off with so many regulations and rules.
What’s even more absurd–I can’t stand ehow articles myself—and the reason is that it seems Demand Studios literally ENCOURAGES boring content by their rules and restrictions. Everytime I search for something, I totally avoid it in the search engines because I know with the 500 limit and all the “rules,” it isn’t going to be helpful.
UPDATE: A Year Later When I Originally Posted This Draft
After writing a few articles for Demand Studios last year, I have long decided to stop completely and instead invested that time into my own blogs. This was the best decision I have ever made!! I am making thousands more than I ever did writing for them!!
Demand Studios is a 100% waste of time and arrogant in their practices, and produce (in my opinion), very dry and boring content. In fact, after not writing anything for a year, I get an email today saying they are going to “evaluate” my next articles to make sure I still have good quality.
The truth is you will make far more money either writing your own articles (on a blog), or by doing freelance on a site like Elance.com. I stopped working with them after they literally had ZERO titles that were interesting, and their arrogance continued to grow, and they continued to annoy me with re-writes, rules, etc.
For example, I wrote an article about how to wash a car at home. In the article I wrote to avoid using dishwashing detergent (these detergents can be abrasive and damaging to a car’s paint). So the copy editor sent the article back, saying something like, “Is it really relevant or important to specify to avoid using dishwashing liquid in the article?”
I was thinking…”What?” You waste my time, delay payment for my article, and bother me because in your own ignorance you don’t know that using home dish detergent on your car is a bad idea (and nearly everyone in the world says to avoid it), and you just want to “double check?” Gimme a break. This is the exact reason why I predict failure on Demand Studios business model.
$15 bucks for an article is WAY TOO little if you have to endure arrogance like that and, when I wrote there, the rules and attitudes promoted boring useless content. My advice–start your own blog, or freelance on a site like Elance.com so you can actually earn better money, write more interesting articles, etc.