Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Demand Studios: My Experience

I joined the Demand Studios (DS) community as a writer in March of 2008 and in six months wrote over 180 pieces of content for and using the DS writing tool. (note: in an earlier post I said it was 130 but my DS account shows 187) I did this while building up my residual income, and stopped writing for the flat upfront fee when I reached my residual income goal.

My experience with Demand Studios was very good -- I chose their titles from the list of available assignments, wrote efficiently and was paid promptly. I made more money per hour than I had as a full-time editorial assistant/ reporter for a weekly newspaper in Washington, DC only a few years previous. I never experienced the overly picky or crazy Content Editor (CE) rewrites many DS writers detail. Only 2 or 3 of my early articles ever came back for edits and were subsequently approved.

Last spring, April-May of 2009, I wrote 15 Demand Studios revenue-sharing articles to compare the DS rev-sharing model to the eHow Writers Compensation Program (WCP) with which I had already experienced a great deal of success. I found there was no real advantage at the time, and felt the eHow platform was more lucrative for me and gave me more freedom as a writer. Over the past year, the articles have earned over $10 each on average, and of course are continuing to earn.

As I noted in my previous post, the reason those rev-sharing articles didn't earn as well as my WCP articles, in my opinion, is that I didn't pick the titles -- DS did -- and their pagerank (PR) was not as high as those posted under my well-ranked WriterGig profile in the WCP. Further, I did absolutely no promotion or linking to the DS rev-sharing articles. I simply wrote them and left them and saw a PayPal deposit every month for the residual income. At the time, the revenue-sharing was capped at five years from the time of publication. Thankfully, DS has now lifted this cap and the articles will earn into perpetuity as they do with eHow's WCP.

Now that the eHow WCP has been closed to further publishing, I'm revisiting Demand Studios as one of the many facets of my residual income business. There are many things to like about publishing articles on, most notably the high page rank and monstrous traffic to the site. The main difference now is that the writing platform has changed from the eHow tool to the Demand Studios tool, and that the rights to the articles written through DS now belong to the company and not to the writer.

There is no reason to cut yourself off from the excellent earning potential that is eHow. If you are worried about the ownership of the content, save your favorite niche writing or material you want to use in your own publications for yourself. But with the ease of rewriting content and the gazillions of niches available, there are scores of titles you can write for eHow through Demand Studios to which the copyright is a moot point because you have no need for or interest in publishing the material in a book or website not owned by yourself.

Demand Studios made a business decision--  to merge eHow writers with Demand Studios -- that will benefit the company as a whole and its writers, too, in many aspects (less spam and a higher quality standard). Now the business decision of where to write and how to earn money online is yours -- just as it has always been.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Revenue-Sharing Articles at Demand Studios

With the recent changes to eHow, many eHow writers question the profitability of the revenue-sharing model at Demand Studios (DS). Since I've been a member of eHow and a Demand Studios writer for more than two and a half years, I've had time to experience both platforms and communities.

Last spring, April-May 2009, I wrote and published 15 revenue-sharing how-to articles through my Demand Studios account. This was intended partially as an experiment to see which was more profitable, and in response to a DS incentive in which the articles received both an up-front payment as well as long-term revenue-sharing.

To date, not including the up-front bonuses, the articles have earned a combined total of $172.84, over a time period of almost 12 months. This works out to $11.52 per article so far (of course, they are still earning money). As you can see, this represents a fairly long ROI (return on investment) for eschewing the up-front payment of $15 and opting for the revenue-sharing model. Still, these articles have a higher earnings potential than the articles written for a flat, one-time fee.

My eHow articles written as WriterGig for the WCP have earned much more per article, even when accounting for the longer time period that most have been online. However, there are several factors that contribute to this discrepancy:
  • I wrote my eHow-WCP titles, but had to choose DS-generated titles for their rev-sharing articles at the time.
  • My WriterGig profile page on eHow has a higher pagerank (PR) than my DS profile on eHow; also, the DS profile does not include a page with links to all of my DS articles.
  • I've worked to backlink my eHow articles to improve their pagerank and traffic. 
I'm confident that, with enough effort and following the same method I used to maximize eHow earnings, I could build up another profitable article library through DS for long-term residual income (I'm thrilled that they've dropped the 5-year cap on revenue sharing).  We've been assured through the eHow forums that the DS revenue-sharing formula is as good as or better than the one currently in place on eHow.

I recommend that current eHow writers merge to Demand Studios, or apply if you were not automatically approved, to give yourself the ability to publish through that platform if you so choose. This will not affect any WCP articles you have already written, but will allow you the opportunity to build a library of articles on DS that earns well in its own right.

Have you tried the DS rev-sharing model? What's been your experience so far?

The New eHow

As of a week ago, eHow has dramatically changed its article submission and publication process. Gone are the days when anyone could register as an eHow writer and submit content for instant publication. New members must now apply through Demand Studios to publish articles on and current member-writers have either been accepted as Demand Studios writers or notified that they didn't pass muster. Those whose article acceptance rating (the ratio of articles written and published to articles deleted in the eHow article sweeps) was not high enough to warrant automatic acceptance can apply to Demand Studios separately.

All articles currently on eHow that were written in the Writers Compensation program (WCP) will stay live and continue to earn money, no matter the author's new status.

What's good about these changes?
The overall quality of eHow articles should go up as junk accounts are closed to new submissions and poorly written articles and spam become negligible. With an application process and article review/ edit sequence, articles published on eHow should be overall of a higher caliber than some of what has been published in the past.

Payment for revenue-share articles could go up or down, depending on whether or not the algorithm remains the same and whether the changes result in higher page rank and traffic for eHow or not.

What's bad?
 New writers who don't get accepted to Demand Studios won't have the opportunity to learn the ropes of online writing on eHow, nor benefit from the feedback of the community to improve their writing.

Demand Studios will own all articles submitted to eHow. Previously, eHow writers retained copyright and ownership of their articles and could edit, delete and republish as they saw fit. Now, new articles become the sole property of Demand Studios/ Demand Media and all rights to the content will be retained by the company, not by the writer.

 What's my advice?
Start by clarifying your online writing goals to yourself. Write them down. Consider your involvement with eHow in light of your online writing career and what direction you want it to take. The eHow/ Demand Studios setup will appeal to many freelance online writers who enjoy the flexibility of writing as much or as little as they like in any given week, the availability of up-front pay and a library of titles from which to choose and consistent, reliable payments.

The signing-away of article ownership and rights will be a deal-breaker to many independent, entrepreneur-minded writers who wish to own the means of production, not sell their articles piecemeal to a large company that can do with them as it likes. 

As for me, I have been a registered Demand Studios writer for nearly three years and while I wrote hundreds of articles through DS while I needed the up-front pay, as soon as I had my residual income streams at the level I needed, I switched to writing almost exclusively for myself with content on to which I retained rights, as well as multiple niche websites, a few blogs, an info product and content on other revenue-sharing sites.

Will I personally write articles through the Demand Studios platform? Yes, but with some hesitation and with lesser volume than on eHow. In 2009, I published 15 revenue-sharing articles via my Demand Studios writer account, and added another one this morning (it's still pending). In my next post on this blog, I'll share how those DS rev-sharing articles have performed.

My advice remains the same as it has over the years: diversify your online income streams. Whether or not you decide to submit articles to the new eHow, build up your article presence elsewhere on the web, especially on sites and blogs that you yourself own.

With these recent eHow changes in mind, what's your online writing plan going forward?