Greetings from the Demand Studios Creator Conference

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/09/greetings-from-the-demand-studios-creator-conference/
On th ebeach

Some of my new friends - Demand Studios Creators and Editors

This is NOT a sponsored post. No one is paying to write this post, I’m speaking from the heart.

I’m writing this from Santa Monica, where I’m attending a very unique event, the Demand Studios Creator Conference. I was invited to attend to learn more about Demand Studios, talk with the team, and meet the writers. I can’t even begin tell you what a powerful experience this has been. To say that the folks who are part of the Demand Studios team are passionate about what they do is an understatement. Though they make no bones about wanting to grow and hire new writers to build their websites, they also made clear their desire to help us, the writers, succeed.

In the upcoming days, I’m going to have a couple of the people working from Demand Studios to come by and dispel a few of the myths about them. I’ll also be sharing a lot of what I learned while attending this conference.

I dispelled a few myths of my own yesterday. For instance, I’ve been going on and on about how Demand is such a terrific place for beginners to get a proverbial foot in the door while learning more about the writing process. While that’s true, the truth is ,I didn’t meet one beginner there yesterday. I met intelligent writers and editors with varied and impressive backgrounds. The folks who write for Demand Studios are seasoned journalists and educators. They’re experts in their field.They’re not people who write fluff content off the top of their heads. They do, indeed, know their stuff and they take immense pride in their work.

It’s also been suggested that the folks who write for Demand Studios are a bit…naive. That perhaps they’re not business savvy or smart enough to know what they’re getting into. That’s not the case either. The Creators and Editors I spoke with have been freelancing for years and know everything about the “business end” including taxes and deductions. They take issue with those who suggest they’re being taken advantage of or that they don’t know how to manage their finances.

Over lunch, I asked all my new friends how they felt about the bloggers who suggested their content couldn’t be well written if it was created in 20 to 30 minutes. They were all angry. The Demand Studios Creators who I met take pride in what they do and wouldn’t sign their name to substandard writing. After learning about their backgrounds and their expertise, I agreed they certainly could write articles in their topic areas in under and hour, possibly with time to spare. They also didn’t feel writing for Demand for several hours a day was tedious or boring as suggested on some other blogs. They enjoy their work.

I spoke with editors, managers and V.Ps  and learned about the hiring process and more. Demand doesn’t accept any old writers off the street. They have a rigorous hiring policy and it’s especially strict for their editors. They don’t want to flood the web with content, they want to provide useful, factually correct, engaging, well-written content.

The Demand Studios team is striving to ensure their writers happiness. They know what’s being said about them and they’re working hard to address each of the issues. In the past couple of months, I took a lot of flack for partnering with Demand Studios, but I’m standing firm. After attending the Creator’s Conference this weekend, I can say, without hesitation, that I made the right decision. I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Comments

  1. I tweeted this as well… Can you ask Demand Studios why they won’t let people reapply? If you are not accepted, they will not allow to apply again at a later date.

  2. Thank you, Deborah. I’m fed up with the stereotype about Demand Studios writers. We’re not all uneducated imbeciles who don’t know a thing about writing or how to run a business. Thanks for being our voice and expressing our concerns to Demand, and also, for taking the heat here on our behalf.

  3. I am more than happy with my experience with Demand. I feel Demand offers the best pay scale of content sites. They pay on time and review submissions very quickly. It only gets better and I can not wait for more news on the conference and future plans.

    • Hi Veronica,

      Thanks for adding in! This conference was such a treat. Being able to talk to managers and VPs and the people who behind the scenes was a one of a kind experience. I never worked for or with a place that was so invested in its community. I know there will be a few snorts from the peanut gallery, but I can say with all honesty they care what their contributors want and they’re listening. We all spent so much time discussion the Demand experience and offering suggestions for improvement and they are taking every single one of our ideas into consideration. I think you’ll all be so pleased.

  4. Arvind Arora says:

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks a lot for shedding light upon something that had been and still has been talked about a lot within the Freelance Writing sector, i.e. Demand Studios. Your post is important not only because it breaks so many myths about DS prevailing among the creators, but also because it reinstates their trust and belief that there are places where talented writers are given ample respect, care and decent amount of money also, that too at time!!

    But for people like me, every single nice thing about DS that you tell us, apart from making us happy for our fellow US writers, somewhere gives us a yet another stroke of pain deep within as we still lie eluded from being part of such a wonderful writing organization, only because of some mistake that we didn’t commit (not choosing the US as our birthplace!!).

    As you are present at the conference, and are being heard by them so seriously, I would yet again urge you to put our case in front of them, asking them to allow the (Talented and Competent Only) international writers also to be a part of their pool.

    Although you’ve already said the thing to them on our behalf in an email, still saying the same thing in person will only make the bright morning arrive sooner for us!!

    Thanks again a ton Deb, and I sincerely apologize for putting you through the exertion of talking to them for our sake….

    Take Care,

    Arvind Arora

  5. Great article! So glad you addressed some of these myths. I have been writing for Demand Studios for almost two years and have been very happy there. I also never feel bored because the titles are always different. I would encourage anyone who has a love of writing to apply.

  6. The issue with Demand Studios isn’t the content or their standards. The issue is the pay. The pay is mediocre at best. Demand Studios wants 400 – 500 well written and well researched words for a mere $15. Worse, $15 for all rights. That’s a lot of work for very little pay.

    • Thanks, Anita. As you are probably aware, I wouldn’t mind Demand paying their writers more – but what sets them apart from other content sites is that they do pay a livable wage. When I talked to the writers over the past few days I asked their thoughts. As mentioned in the post above, they all have extensive, impressive backgrounds. Everyone I spoke with is working with Demand because they love what they do. However, love doesn’t necessarily put food on the table. They all said $15 and $20 for an article is better than most places on the web, and also, they find there are rewards far beyond the pay check.

      Demand contributors find the steady flow of work a more attractive means of writing than the query and wait, query and wait method of finding work. They also find it a more attractive option that waiting for days or weeks between gigs. They’re now paid twice a week and don’t have to wait for a check that may or may not be in the mail. We all know freelance writing is a feast or famine lifestyle. I believe it was Laura Spencer who said Demand Studios is ending the famine. I won’t say we don’t all want to write $100 articles, but they’re not as easy to find – or land.

      Demand contributors find that there are other perks, such as the ability to work at home and not have to pay childcare. I talked to an out of work contributor who said Demand Studios saved his life after he was laid off. Moreover, they offer mentoring sessions with editors and other tools and guidance for succeeding as a freelance writer.

      As for a lot of work for a little pay, the writers I spoke with write 2 to 3 articles in one hour. So 45 to 60 per hour. Many of them didn’t earn this much writing for newspapers and magazines.

      It’s hard to convince someone who is just looking at the “but they only pay $15!!” of the benefits, and I won’t try and convince you to drink the Kool Aid if it’s not your thing. However, as someone who writes for Demand Studios I can say I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of use, the availability of topics in my area, and the willingness of the Demand Studios team to work with their contributors and help them succeed beyond the Demand experience.

  7. Thank you for sharing this on your blog. As a Demand Studios writer it is refreshing to see positive reviews outside of our own community. Indeed Demand Studios is a fantastic place to write for and hone your skills as a writer. The editing team is top notch and the front office is always looking for new and creative ways to grow the business and develop writers.

    I would like to address the comment about the pay. As a freelance writer you have the choice of how much you want to work for. $15 for an article that you sell all rights for may not seem like much to some. However, it is better than waiting around for an article pitch to be accepted and then having to chase money down afterward. The opportunity that Demand Studios provides for a freelance writer to generate a weekly paycheck is incredible. Many people make Demand Studios their full time income. Myself included.

    Again thank you for this positive post about Demand Studios

  8. This is an interesting post.

    I have been writing for Demand Studios for a year now and, through them, also have written for Modern Mom and Travels.com. The consistency of the assignments is definitely there, but the work definitely feels like content mill as opposed to the more in-depth and researched writing I do for my other clients. I am one of those writers who can whip out a researched, referenced article in 20 or 30 minutes, which makes the pay at least $30 an hour but, honestly, to make the pay worth it makes the process something other than writing, in my mind. It’s not soulful or brilliant or even memorable.

    • Thanks, Nina. Demand Studios is working hard to *not* be a tedious content mill. Yesterday their product team sat down with the writers and editors and we spent a long time offering our thoughts and feedback for making Demand a better place. I hope you’ll stick with Demand as you’ll find some impressive and fun changes coming up.

  9. As one of the contributors attending the Demand Studios conference in Santa Monica, I can confirm everything Deb writes here. The Demand Media mission is impressive and expanding. I was equally impressed by Deb and the important work she does with this blog.

    • Thanks Kent. I think I made some new, lifelong friends and I’m so proud to count you among them. I hope you’ll stay in touch so we can continue our conversations and share ideas.

      Here’s to the day we can buy a vowel. ;)

  10. I love working for Demand Studios and support this blog post totally! They’re supportive and to-the-point.

    After reading this post, I feel even more of a sense of accomplishment, working for such a great team.

    Thanks Deb!

  11. JudiBWriterand Editor says:

    I enjoyed your article, Deb. I love working for Demand Studios. I think they really strive to create high quality content so that their name and reputation is associated with excellence, not with unhappy employees. I think those who bicker and complain wouldn’t be happy anywhere. Demand Studios is classier and more respectable than most of the other similar companies. I am proud to say that I work for them and hope to stay with them until I retire.

  12. Hi, Deb. Thank you for this blog post. As a professional writer/editor who has worked in a variety of related fields for almost 20 years, I have very few complaints with Demand. I’m sure that I don’t need to mention that the U.S. is still in a severe recession. Nine percent of the jobs in my city are gone and won’t be coming back any time soon. Most full-time writing/editing positions I’ve come across in my particular city pay $10-$12/hour without any benefits. That’s just the reality of the economy.

    So I don’t mind spending more time per article for DS when I find a topic that interests me and the time is warranted. I look at providing quality writing as an investment in my future.

    • Agreed, Lisa. Freelancing is a feast or famine lifestyle and DS is steady work. Some writers enjoy it on a full time basis, others prefer to do an article or two a day to supplement their income. Either way, having regular money is never a bad thing.

  13. Hi Deb,

    It was great meeting you at the conference! I just wanted to challenge anyone who has doubts about Demand Studios to examine the technologies they’ve developed for their main resources such as Golflink.com, Livestrong.com and Trails.com. Then take all of those mobile and PC applications and team them up with highly editorialized content and a constant stream of new materials and then tell me if they still think the company is still just a content mill.

    As all of us saw at the conference this week the company is not only becoming respected by many top writers, but also by content firms looking to create high quality articles for their own online (and well respected) properties. I think this last talking point speaks volumes for Demand Media and specifically for Demand Studios and the people who work for and with DS.

    • Hi James,

      It was very good to talk to you as well! Thanks for weighing in. I think we were all impressed by what we learned over the weekend. Indeed, we’re not talking about just another content mill here.

  14. I’m curious about the first line of your post, in which you say it isn’t a sponsored post. Then I read that you’re now a partner with Demand Studios and they advertise on this site.

    I am new to this site and this part of the business, and I apologize if you’ve addressed this issue before and I missed it. I really would like to understand the distinction before thinking seriously about trying to find a sponsor.

    Thanks.

    • Hi B.J.

      Demand Studios sponsors FWJ as an advertiser. However, I wanted to make it clear that my posts about the conference had nothing to do with that arrangement. No one asked me to post what I did, no one paid me to post what I did – the experience made such a positive impression on me I wanted to share it with my community. I didn’t want everyone to write it off as a sponsored post. My post about the conference went beyond my agreement with Demand.

      Also, as discussed with the Demand team, if there was a positive experience, or things I don’t agree with, I’ll discuss that as well.

      I hope that makes sense?

      • I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not sure an individual post can really be regarded as not sponsored when the subject of the post actually is an FWJ sponsor.

        You’re certainly up front about the partnership. I probably wouldn’t have handled the disclaimer the same way.

        Thanks for the conversation.

        B.J.

        • Hi B.J.,

          To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to word this post to reflect my personal opinion and not make it look like I was writing something positive because of my partnership with Demand. It’s sort of damned if I do/don’t situation. I had an amazingly positive experience with the Demand Studios team and contributors. Even if they weren’t a sponsor I would have posted what I did – but I think you raise a valid point. I suppose I’ll have to leave it up to the individual to decide whether or not I’m sincere.

          Thanks for your opinion, it matters.

  15. Barbara Alvarez says:

    Deb, sorry it’s taken me this long to get a post on your blog! I’m glad you wrote what you did — I’m only now seeing family beginning to understand that I’m actually starting to make a living (not) working at home.
    DS has only been good to me (picking me to go to the conference AND selected me as a top creator, and a year’s membership in the Society of Professional Journalists!) Now, if that’s not recognition and support, I’m flummoxed if I don’t know what is!
    I’m glad i had the opportunity to meet you; I plan to visit FWG more often and make posts. Barbara

  16. Ronald Coomins says:

    I’ve immensely enjoyed my DS experience. I compose articles only on subjects I know well (computer troubleshooting, DIY), so my work rarely receives rewrite requests or fact-checking queries. Richard Lally, Eve Lederman and their assistants are encouraging and fair on the Help Desk. Some of the copy editors can be borderline abusive, but Richard and Eve will correct them if you complain. The money is better than most similar sites pay, and the payments arrive on time. I don’t like the DS forums. Too many whining writers, and it’s obvious that those who complain loudest are the laziest and least skilled. Most of the posts are shrill and embarrassing, little more than rant sessions without any positive purpose.

  17. Hi Arvind,

    Be assured your concerns have been heard. Demand Studios is working on ways to bring in writers from other counties.

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