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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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 eHow.com 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 eHow.com 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?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry Maria but I'm laughing just a little at you. You've been so ludicrously smug about eHow and now they're about to screw you the way they've screwed the rest of us.

There goes your revenues from your little e-book.

Ha. Just a little bit but ha.

Shirley said...

Excellent summation, Maria. As for me: I decided some time ago to diversify. eHow appeared to be a "cash cow" but nothing stays forever and I knew that back then. So, I have residuals that will (I hope) continue from eHow, I'll do some upfront and rev share for DS, and I have 2 other residual pay sites, 1 blog and a product design website I submit to. That's enough for my plate right now.

Rachelle said...

Maria, I was happy to read your thoughts about the new eHow format. My plan remains the same as it has been. I always advocated for diversification in my writing, and I would never place all of my eggs into one basket. The old eHow will be missed because the money was amazing, but others sites are more professional and right on eHow's heels at bringing in the cash. I'll see you over at D.S.!

Addie protivnak said...

Hi Maria, Excellent advice. It makes more common sense than anything I've read. Free lance writing is a business and how you run that business will determine how you succeed. Like any business the smarter you are about the business and the more work you put into it the better. You expand as you learn and have the means to do it. I don't think anyone is out to harm anyone else. I think what eHow is doing is just good business.
Thanks
Addie

plin said...

Excellent advice Maria.

Do you have a list of other potential writing sites that will be good to try out for beginning writers?

Starri Knytes said...

I sincerely hope that your decision to stay with eHow or Ds works out for you. My limited experience with them was not good. I had way to much trouble with their publishing BUGS. I wish you continued success. Come find me at http://starriknytes.wordpress.com
Cheers ~ Starri

survivoryea said...

Maria-Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to seeing how you do with the revenue sharing. I've only been at eHow for 8 months so I'm constantly learning from all of you that have been leading the way. I think it is time to diversify but I'll just go one step at a time! Right now I'll concentrate on DS-- thanks again.

Veryirie said...

Though I've been able to publish and have written a few articles for DS since last August, I plan to step back from both eHow and DS to better evaluate my position. For the type of writing that is my forte, DS is NOT the right place for me as it doesn't encourage individual creativity. I want to feel like what I put online matters and DS, though it's been great for the twice weekly pay, does not fill my other needs. So, yeah, I'm "shopping".... I do however plan to drop into the forums to "see" how others are doing and, of course, finish off the eHow Dolly tour. Good Luck to you all! Pam

Amberdawn said...

I agree that it's important for each eHow writer to think carefully about their goals for writing online before they proceed.

I have decided that I don't need the money that bad to warrant research, finding references, and dealing with rewrites. I can make more money taking the odd stipend here or there teaching after-school programs and writing curricula.

My priorities for writing online are I'd rather have the freedom, creativity, and ownership of my writing, and make a little money. I enjoy blogging, and I'll look for other writing for content sites that will let me keep my copyright. It's okay if it doesn't pay as well as eHow did. Though I'm grateful that they'll leave our articles to earn residuals for us.

I might try DS, just to challenge myself to learn a new style. But I won't publish anything on there in my own field of education, since I might someday want to compile my works for larger publication.

Dave Ward said...

Sorry you have an ugly troll leaving comments Maria. The healthy ones among us are celebratory of your success and grateful for your willingness to continue sharing your thoughts. As to the comment that ehow was now somehow nailing you, I am glad to know that for now you will continue to earn that residual income as will the rest of us. Perhaps even the e-book could be retooled for DS or some other site since the principles are primarily transferrable. I wish you all the best as always. To the anonymous troll... leave your name. There's no sense fighting in the dark.

Maria said...

Anonymous -- laugh away.

Shirley -- diversifying is the best strategy for online writers, keep at it.

Rachelle -- don't give up on eHow. I'll miss the WCP too, but one may be able to be even more profitable via DS b/c the publishing tool is more reliable.

Addie -- Good point! eHow made a business decision, and as writers we need to make rational business decisions as well and not rash, emotion-driven, knee-jerk reactions.

plin -- I've reviewed several other rev-sharing sites on my blog and will update my experiences with them as well.

Starri -- best of luck, keep writing!

survivor -- you can do it, after a certain learning curve DS is easy to write for.

veryirie -- The limits at DS are frustrating. What about startig a craft niche-specific website or blog?

Amber -- The new model won't appeal to everyone, and I certainly respect that. There are so many opportunities to build residual income online, find the ones that suit you best, I agree!

Dave -- Thank you, you are too kind. But don't worry, as we all know, the best revenge is living well. :)