Addressing Your Questions About Being a Paid Mouthpiece for Demand Studios

Sorry for going off topic. There must be a blog post somewhere about my affiliation with Demand Studios again, because I received another flood of emails about being a “Paid Mouthpiece”. Though it’s being suggested that I’m not being honest about my affiliation with Demand, I’d like to once again respond openly and honestly about my partnership.

While I did get permission to publish these emails, no one wanted their real names to appear.

Dear Deb,

Being a paid mouthpiece for Demand Studios has clouded your judgment. How can you lie to your community? This is a terrible opportunity. You’ll do anything for a buck.

Actually, that’s not true. There are plenty of things I’ll do for a buck, but there are places I’ll draw the line. For example, I wouldn’t sell my body – though I doubt there would be too many buyers. I also wouldn’t eat objects that aren’t meant for ingestion.

That doesn’t mean I’m not open to partnership opportunities for places I feel to be a good fit for this community.

I haven’t lied to the FWJ community at all. I have suggested that DS is a terrific way to earn money as a writer and I believe this to be true. I have suggested you can use DS clips to land higher paying opportunities and I know this to be true. I also believe we all have choices. I just don’t believe in knocking anyone for theirs. None of that’s a lie.

Everyone here knows I got my online writing start with content sites. I’ve also posted those jobs here for years. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t use them, nor am I going to pretend they didn’t lead to better opportunities for me and others, because they did.

Dear Deb,

Would you still sing Demand Studios praises if they weren’t paying you?

You can look back in the comments here, one member of this community actually brought it all to light before, but I encouraged the FWJ community to look into DS long before our affiliation. Would I have their big ads in my sidebar? Probably not. I’ll post free ads for charity, but not content sites. Would I post their news? Sure, if it was good news. I’ll also post news for other places as well – if they’ll send it to me. I won’t promote sites I don’t believe to be a good opportunities, but I’m happy to spread news and drive traffic to the places I like.

Dear Deb,

Demand Studios takes advantage of their writers. Everytime you expect  a check from them you condone their shoddy treatment. Shame on you. I hope being a paid mouthpiece is worth the shot to your reputation.

No one is misleading anyone. Demand Studios is very upfront about what they do, how much they pay and what is expected. No one is forcing writers to take these jobs. No one is entering into it blind and no one is being taken advantage of.  If endorsing a place I feel good about causes a hit to my reputation, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.I hope after five years of doing this the FWJ community trusts me enough to know I wouldn’t send them in a bad direction, even for a check. However, what hurts more than a hit to my reputation is seeing how other writers are treated. That bothers me a lot. I sort of expected to receive a lot of flack after announcing my partnership. I didn’t expect seasoned writers to call content writers names and question their talent.

There are more of these types of emails, but it’s kind of redundant to answer the same exact questions over and over. Here are all the responses in a nutshell.

  • Yes, I know writers who have used their Demand Studios clips to land more lucrative and prestigious opportunities. Some of them have weighed in here on many occasions.
  • The reason I approached DS about a partnership was their commitment to quality content, something I didn’t think was a concern for many content sites. I also appreciated how writers received guidance from the editors so they could move on to bigger venues.
  • Yes, I think writers from all stages of their career can benefit from Demand Studios.
  • No, I don’t regret my partnership with Demand Studios and will renew my contract as often as they’ll want me.
  • No, it’s not part of my agreement with Demand Studios to defend them on blogs, in forums, Twitter, etc. When I do so it’s only to correct what I see as inaccuracies. I say nice things about them because I believe them to be true and not because I’m being paid. DS pays me to advertise on this blog, not to speak for them. (So I guess I’m not really a paid mouthpiece.)
  • Do I believe there are better opportunities for writers? Absolutely.
  • Do  I believe writers should use DS as a stepping stone only? I’m not sure about that. I think no matter what job a writer takes, she should always keep a lookout for better opportunities – whether it’s Demand Studios or Vogue Magazine. However, it’s up to writers to decide whether or not they want to skip along the stones or stop and set up shop for a while.

If you have a different question about my affiliation with Demands Studios feel free to ask in the comments.

Comments

  1. There will always be people complaining, unfortunately. I just had my first book published, had someone buy it, then came back the next day to tell me everything that was wrong with it.

    There are a lot of people that are proud of what you’ve made this community into, Deb. You can’t please everyone, and the complainers will always have something to say because most seem to thrive on ‘drama’.

    Great job here! Keep up the awesome work. :-)
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..I Guess Beggars Can Be Choosers =-.

    • Thanks, Diana. I appreciate the kind words. This wasn’t really for validation though. I figured someone must be saying something in order for me to receive 27 emails saying the same thing in a single day.

      Congratulations on publishing your book. What a terrific accomplishment!

  2. I am concerned about content mills in general because of they way they’re mucking up the Internet with shoddy content and lousy “advice”. If I’m looking for information about, say, gardening, I would much rather go to a website of a passionate gardener, who happens to address my question on her website, than go to a content mill and get some advice which may or may not be rubbish. So I am interested in the difference between good “content mills” and bad ones, and how I as a casual web surfer or information-seeker can tell the difference. (It would be even better if Google could tell the difference for me and only show me the good links, but I guess that’s exactly what the junk content purveyors want to prevent.)

    Not that I expect you to solve this problem, I’m just thinking out loud!

    • Amy that’s a valid concern and actually the reason I endorse Demand Studios. As everyone who works for Demand Studios can tell you, they insists on quality content. Not everyone who applies to DS makes the cut and every single article goes through a copyediting process to ensure quality content. While you’ll find many writers who go for their passion as garding, automotive or health writers, you will find those who don’t have passion writing those types of articles as well.

      There is a quality control process at Demand Studios and it would be in other sites best interests to put these measures in place as well. I agree with you about the quality content issue, it’s a peeve of mine as well.

  3. I want to speak up in defense of Demand Studios (and Deb!). I write for them, and while that’s not something I want to rest on for the remainder of my writing career, I think that Demand Studios is legit and focused on quality instead of quantity, unlike so many other content sites. Their editors do more than a basic grammar scan of articles — they also fact check, communicate format guidelines and recommendations how to meet them, and provide valuable feedback on what doesn’t work in articles needing another edit

    However, I consider myself a skilled and experienced writer and I put time and effort into my submissions to Demand Studios. If folks are looking for quick, effortless buck, Demand Studios is not the place for them. I look forward to seeing how Demand Studios furthers my writing career. Their service is limited and limiting to me as a writer, but they have always been very up front about what exactly they provide for clients and writers alike. Demand Studios far surpasses the like of Associated Content, and I think people need to get their facts straight before bashing Deb for her affiliation with Demand Studios.
    .-= Betherann´s last blog ..Links for 2010-04-05 [del.icio.us] =-.

  4. I write for DS as well and they have been great. I’ve loved the consistent work and money and they’ve always been upfront with everything. Though I may not write for them forever, working for them has helped me pay my rent this year and for that, I am very grateful. I’m sorry they are getting a bad rap and I’m sorry that you are getting flack. Thanks for all you do.

  5. I always preferred the term “compensated endorser”. Congrats again on Blogworld. I wonder how many complaints you’ll get from people about that.
    .-= John Hewitt´s last blog ..The Benefits of Print-on-Demand for Your Niche Book =-.

  6. I just wanted to let you know how great I think it is that, even though you’ve defended your affiliation with DS several times in the past, you still take the time to address the concerns (regardless of how misinformed they may or may not be)

  7. Danny Donahue says:

    I have written for Demand Studios for about 15 months. I ran across them and applied a few months after beginning my full time freelance career. I have learned a lot working with Demand. I have the luxury of making a good regular check, working with other clients, working on one of several books I have in progress, and setting my own hours. Demand is a client as far as I am concerned. I work for them as much as I want, whenever I want, and I have an option to have health insurance. Demand gave me the opportunity to live out my dream as a writer. They gave me a place to start. No matter where my journey as a writer takes me I will never forget that Demand gave me a secure start in the business.

  8. What is it with people who think that bloggers don’t have a right to make a living? Those same people are probably the ones who constantly write for free advice. Do they complain to the LA Times about the annoying ads on their sites? Do they have any idea what it takes to build/run a successful blog? If someone asked them to spend 80 hours a week and not get paid for it, would they? Don’t they realize that in order to continuously create great content, you have to earn some money? How do they think the bills get paid?

    Repeat after me, “Broad shoulders, broad shoulders (sniffle), broad shoulders.

  9. Oy, again with the Demand Studios complaining. Why don’t people just change the channel if they don’t like the show? I’m a full-time copywriter, but I use DS to plug holes in my time and bottom line. As far as content sites go, it’s the best money you can make.

    Wendy

    PS – Don’t knock that selling your body thing, Deb. ;)
    .-= Wendy Sullivan´s last blog ..When editing becomes obsessive =-.

  10. I’m ok with DS, not singing their praises, but not whining about them like some bloggers… I’m super OK with Deb in general…. But I do have this question in reference to the quality of the content: copyediting is probably not fact-checking- is that accurate?

    Regardless, people must learn to glean and sort info they find on the net. There’s not going to be stopping that deluge of content- even if DS went out of business tomorrow, really.
    .-= allena´s last blog ..Add One Thing – Make More Money =-.

    • Hi Allena,

      There is fact checking in place, plus writers must provide sources. The source can’t be from content sites, or places like Wikipedia that aren’t always accurate. There’s a huge laundry list of sites that aren’t allowed to be used as reference. Copy editors also have a fact checking process.

      I’ve met with Demand reps on more than one occasion and they really stress the need for quality over quantity. I know that’s hard for the detractors to believe, but it’s really their mission and the reason they caught my eye.

  11. DS does fact check – they caught something very minor in one of my articles this week, and believe me, it was a needle in a haystack since I’m a stickler for quality. Yet they did indeed catch something which tells me their editor is on the ball.

    Everyone has a complaint. Unbelievable. DS is upfront about their expectations, how much they pay, and when they pay. They pay on time and promptly. If you can write quickly and accurately, you can probably knock out at least 1-2 articles per hour for them. With an average pay rate of $15 – $20 per article, that’s $30-$40 per hour! Pretend you did that every day for 8 hours a day, five days a week. You could conceivably gross over $60,000 a year! Now tell me that’s ripping writers off? Unbelievable. And I really hope my math was correct….I estimated $30 per article, 8 per day/40 per week x 52 weeks in a year. Give or take.

  12. Well, I posted my comment on my blog when it became far too long for this box.

    http://juliefletcher.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-deb-ng-and-demand-studios.html

  13. Deb,
    I don’t think you’re a mouthpiece for Demand Studios. You entered into a contract with them and been upfront about it. My rule of thumb is that I don’t trust any of the content mills, be it DS, Examiner, or what have you, but I’ve felt that way long before your affiliation started. For every positive comment I read, there’s a negative one, and I just decided that the overall murkiness wasn’t something I was comfortable becoming involved with. That’s me, though. If your relationship works for you both financially and ethically and you’re treated well, that’s what’s important.

  14. Deb… in fact <<>>

    I too have no problem with Demand Studios… ignore the folks who complain. Or take pleasure knowing you’re making an impact –

    A
    .-= Anne Wayman´s last blog ..Internet Openness In Grave Danger With Net Neutrality Ruling =-.

  15. I find the whole issue of whether or not Demand Studios fact checks its articles kind of odd. I’ve written three books for a major publisher and hundreds for articles for newspapers, magazines, and corporate web sites. In the past three years, only two articles have been fact checked. Look no further than the NYT debacle a week ago for evidence of how little fact-checking is done. http://tinyurl.com/ydj6afn

  16. Some people need more work and/or different hobbies.

  17. Whether or not people agree with you on the validity of DS as a good source for freelance work, I’m amazed at the people bashing you for endorsing them. You’ve been very transparent about it, and make sure to mention on every DS post that you’re in a partnership with them. Would you bash someone endorsing Hershey’s because just because you personally don’t like chocolate? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Also, that’s a trick question. Everyone likes chocolate. :)
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..The Ten Commandments for Web Content Writers =-.

  18. Hi Deb,

    I write for DS and one of the reasons I applied was because of what I read on your site. You are always open and honest about writing and writing opportunities and the writing world would be a better place with more like you.

    Ignore the moaners, they’ve obviously got nothing better to write.

  19. Charles says:

    DS is great. It’s not going to make anyone rich, but I would not be able to make a living as a writer without it. I am a new freelancer, and I can’t land as many high paying jobs as some people due to my inexperience. That doesn’t mean I am a bad writer, and DS proves that.

    Further evidence of DS’s commitment to quality: the eHow migration (Deb! Please write about this!!!). Demand Media owns eHow and decided to fix the quality issues on the site by discontinuing it’s writing program and transferring writers who met certain quality standards to DS. This is likely costing DS quite a bit of money as they will now have to pay more for most eHow articles and will also have to administer a complicated migration, but they did it anyway.

    ps. Deb, please write about this migration. There is a great deal of misinformation and confusion out there about this.

    pss. Hey, you should write about the eHow migration. People are confused.

  20. Sheesh, in the time it took for people to write a nasty gram they could have written a DS article and made $20 bucks! It saddens me that there is such judgment and division in the writing community. I think we all want the same thing to do what we love and be able to take care of our families. Every writer will not be able to write a best selling novel that gets optioned for film, or be on speed dial for the Washington Post but every writer can pursue their dream in a way that works for them. Maybe everyone should put all that energy into developing their own talents and managing their own writing business.
    .-= Karen Swim´s last blog ..Rock it Out in the Key of You! =-.

  21. Robbie Reed says:

    I can’t wait for a quality Internet search engine that filters out “content.” I’m not insulting content of the present company but, quite frankly, most of the content on the Demand Studios group of sites is lacking. Limited word count, lack of pay to provide quality research and a number of articles with such poor editing that it makes for painful reading. I’m offended when a Google search brings up DS material, as opposed to one or two quality pieces of well researched work by writers with degrees and experience in the field. Every title searched has seven or eight DS variations of the same title, all put there the sole purpose of selling ad space.

    Rather than speculate on what’s happening at DS, read about the $1 billion sale that’s in the works at: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-amid-reports-of-possible-ipo-demand-media-adds-guber-james-to-board/

    • Hi Robbie,

      Demand Studios is probably the only “content mill” that has a quality control process in place. All accepted writers must cite sources and back up their facts or articles won’t be accepted. Also, articles must go through a copyediting and fact checking process.

      If you don’t care for the Demand Studios model or the company itself, that’s fine, but to say the content isn’t researched is to show ignorance. Writers have to adhere to strict guidelines for writing, researching and more. They can’t take information from any old source and have to be prepared to back up everything they write with facts.

      Also, most Demands Studios writers do have degrees and experience. They’re journalists, editors, authors and people with long, esteemed careers in writing. Most of the writers who apply to write for DS are rejected due to lack of experience or skill. You’re talking about writers who don’t do their research, when it appears to me (with this comment ) that you’re also not doing your research.

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