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.
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?