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Friday, May 6, 2011

End of an Era: Goodbye to the eHow WCP

"Rich people focus on opportunities,
Poor people focus on obstacles." 
-T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

 For many writers, the official end of eHow's Writers Compensation program (WCP) comes as a big disappointment, if not a total shock. Since the program closed to new articles a year ago, in April 2010, many predicted the eventual cessation of payments. 

Why End the WCP?
Demand Media, which went public in January, has been working to streamline their eHow.com property, minimize duplicate content, and since last spring has put all new articles through a competent editorial process. There are still many articles on the site, including content that pre-dates Demand's acquisition of eHow and some inferior WCP articles, that detract from rather than boost eHow's reputation. By stopping WCP payments and allowing users to remove their content, eHow is both cleaning up its site and perhaps making a business decision as to the profitability of various content.

Buyout Offers
As of May 5, 2011, the WCP is over and done with and no further earnings will accrue. However, Demand Media has made personalized offers to buy writer's content in order to keep it on eHow.com.

Writers still own their intellectual property -- the articles written and published on eHow -- but can no longer receive residual payments via the eHow platform. Thus, many will choose to accept Demand Media's buyout offer for their articles and leave them on the site, transferring ownership to Demand.

Some will decline the offer and instead delete their articles from eHow and move them to other content sites, personal blogs and self-run niche sites. Others have decided to leave their articles on eHow, hoping to profit at least for a little while longer from the secondary streams of income generated by their content: links to their related niche sites and the affiliate links allowed by the original WCP.

My mom accepted her offer of about $220 for three articles, sister #1 took $330+ for her dozen articles, and sister #2 declined $34 for 10 articles. I think they all made good decisions. In the end, much of their articles' value was that they were published on eHow.com. 

Regardless of whether they keep their articles on the site or not, writers who counted on the money they earned from eHow each month will need to find ways to replace that income as quickly as possible. Several writer/work at home mom (WAHM) friends have asked me what I'm going to do.

 My Plans
First, I am going to look at this not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. The quote I shared at the beginning of this post is from a book my husband's sales team was required to read and discuss over the past few months. There are many excellent "wealth files" in it, and I thought this one was particularly fitting for those who write online to build residual income.

A positive outlook is important in order to move forward and to create success in other endeavors. I think of all that I learned from  my eHow.com articles, including valuable insight about profitable niches, and know that I can take this experience, knowledge gained through the surprising success of my "eHow experiment," and use it to build an even higher monthly residual income.

Practically speaking, I'll be concentrating my efforts on the following areas:
To build my residual income on these properties, I'll be
  • Writing quality, original, helpful articles
  • Locating and affiliate-linking to excellent products and resources
  • Backlinking and using social media to increase traffic and SERP ranking of my content
(2/2/2016: For those looking back and wondering... yes, I took eHow's buyout offer. It was fair. It was significant. It was a win-win. And looking back, five years later, I know for certain what a great decision that was.)

That's my plan in a nutshell. What's yours?

37 comments:

Felicia said...

Maria, it was a nice ride while it lasted, but the end of the WCP era has brought a sense of freedom. I no longer wonder when the ride will end. It has ended and its time, just like you, to concentrate on my own sites and books.

I learned and earned a lot from eHow. I’ve got no regrets.

Maria said...

Felicia, What a great attitude!

I agree -- I learned so, so much about internet marketing, niche research and keywords writing for eHow.com and I can use that knowledge going forward.

Further, the WCP along the way were excellent and an incredible help to my family when I was first starting there and throughout the years.

No regrets here -- except maybe the regret that I didn't write more quality articles there while I had the chance. ;)

Julia said...

I just wrote about this today too. I knew this day would come but it sure has lit a fire under my procrastination filled behind to up the amp on my first passion...blogging. I think previously I was a little too happy to sit on my residual income laurels. No more. Here's to new beginnings!

Peg said...

I too am grateful to eHow and the opportunity to earn there. It is indeed the end of an era but I believe your quote (about looking at change as an opportunity, not an obstacle). Still mulling over, planning my niche sites. Onward!

Joey Brown said...

Good thoughts, Maria. There are a lot of upset people but that is life at various times, upsets to the apple cart for sure.

I am ready to start my site and niches but am torn about which host and word press sites?

I am leaning toward ipages or HostGator, but should I go upscale on word press like Thesis or some other one? The web host include word press blogs and your domain name and other things. Are word press blogs that come with the package deals just as good as the higher paying ones like Thesis? I was advised to go with Thesis by one blogger if I want a more professional looking look overall.

Decisions! lol~

Shari said...

Maria, you can also take a lot of pride in knowing you were one of the eHow writers who helped many of us get started and keep going. I learned a lot from you! Thank you!

Virginia Allain said...

I'm hoping a core group of eHow writers can keep in touch. To help with that, I've made a directory of the ones that have migrated to Squidoo.

hnatalieann said...

I am not to sure where to write these days, Demand Studios feels too much like work! lol

Gayle said...

Thank you Maria, for your thoughts. I am assuming you are going to sell your rights. I am one of the many writers that you encouraged at eHow. I hope I have told you how much I appreciate you! I,also, am grateful to eHow for giving me a chance and starting my freelance career. I have met many wonderful people!

Patti said...

I have no regrets. I learned a lot. But, it feels a bit strange to not be able to log in and check my earnings any long. I've done this for years now.

From my understanding, if you don't accept their agreement they will delete your articles. (2nd paragraph of the Offer Agreement.)

It sounds like many are focusing on their own sites now. Is anyone doing anything else?

Lee said...

Maria,

I was very successful at eHow and I owe you much gratitude for sharing the site and your ebook.

I took what I learned at eHow and turned it into a number of highly successful websites including one for SEO.

If anyone wants some help with a website they can feel free to message me at info@SEOmenu2go.com

Much success to everyone!
Lee (aka LilBlackDress)

Lee said...

Maria,

I owe you much gratitude for my success with eHow. You introduced me to the site and your ebook taught me how to work it.

I went on to develop a number of very successful websites including a Work at Home site and an SEO site.

If anyone needs tips on developing a website, they can contact me at info@SEOmenu2go.com

Wishing Everyone Much Success,
Lee (aka LilBlackDress)

Shirley said...

I am disappointed in the closure certainly, but not only did I gain valuable experience through eHow and the writers there, but I also gained opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise. To date, I have been hired by other sites, hired for ghost writing, hired by a research consulting firm and am contracted to write a book this summer. All of this came because I was "found on eHow". I can't regret that at all. For the summer I will focus on working on my book and re-focus efforts on the other sites I write for.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we can still accept the offer if not all the photos in the articles we used were our.

Kidgas said...

I will be taking the buyout and using the funds to seed a hosting account and a domain name to start working on my own site. I think that I finally have gotten enough online experience that in a year's time, it should be sustainable.

Julie @ The Family CEO said...

I echo the sentiments of many here. I am grateful to have found eHow and grateful that you wrote your ebook, Maria, as it taught me so much.

I'm like Felicia, too. I'm somewhat relieved that it's over and that they provided a buyout. With the article deletions, Facebook login, closure of the forums, etc. it was being chipped away at and I always wondered when the next shoe would fall.

Alicia James said...

Thank you for sharing your insightful view on the matter. I knew the end was coming soon. I really learned a lot from the site. I really appreciate the opportunity that I had there. I learned so much about writing online, SEO, producing quality content and being unique. I am now focusing on my niche site that I started several months ago.

MPofA Crew said...

Hi Maria, I had moved on to other endeavors about a year ago, but still relished the constant monthly payments from eHow.

I am so sad to see that go, but would not be where I am today without eHow, and I would not have ever been convinced you could make a living online without eHow showing me the way.

I have moved on to the Examiner and using the same principals I learned from eHow, I am able to grow my income monthly, just like I did on Ehow.

And to keep from putting everything in one bucket, I also created my own niche, Missing Persons of America blog that I am proud to say reached over 110,000 readers last month. Once again, by using the principals I learned from eHow, my blog continues to grow.

I believe I have finally found my calling. Something I may never have realized with out eHow.

Oh, and I can't forget all the wonderful friends eHow has brought to me. I love them all and feel a bond to each and every eHow alumni. including Peter ;-)

Deanna said...

Maria, I like your positive attitude and agree with you that eHow was a wonderful oportunity for many but we all knew it wouldn't last forever. I'm glad I earned what I did during my time there - and I learned a lot too. I'm also happy that eHow had the class and good grace to offer buyouts because they really didn't have to. I'll be taking my buyout and moving on to other opportunities. I wish you all the best with your sites. :)

Amy said...

I agree with everyone here. It is bitter/sweet. I am so thankful for eHow and everyone who really showed me the ropes, what an awesome experience! I am thankful that I got to meet a lot of really great people and have continued to write for DMS.
I am so thankful but sad to see the end of the road...

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad to see the Ehow community change.

I encourage everyone to stop complaining. The rules of google have happened after a couple thousand people saw an easy way to make cash and rewrite press releases instead of writing real how to's and articles. Ehow writers, albeit a few, are guilty of this as well.

Take a moment to regroup and haul your butts over to Gather and Examiner to start making some cash again if you want to be a writer. Those people who didn't get an offer from ehow should consider it a lesson learned. Unique material isn't rewritten materials and if no offer isn't proof enough, then consider writing a hobby and enjoy it.

Peace!

Cheryl Heppard said...

I agree, I learned SO MUCH by being an eHow writer. I learned about SEO, backlinks, keyword research, etc. We had so much fun on the forum, it was a great experience, besides the eHow problems and lack of integrity. I sold my articles, I don't have the time to move them and the offer was decent.

I will however move my Suite101 articles somewhere, possibly InfoBarrel.

Crystal @ Custom Memorial Quilts said...

Opportunity vs. obstacle - yes, it is all in how you look at it. Thanks for your thoughts and all you've done to help others prosper on eHow, Maria. I've certainly enjoyed my experience and have no regrets either - well, other than not posting more articles. But it's time to move on to better things:)

Maria said...

Thank you to everyone who posted their thoughts, and for all the kind words! I wanted to reply to every comment directly, but it was a very busy weekend with my family and I got behind. I'd love to keep in touch with my fellow former eHow writers; I'll follow your profile links to your blogs or other social outlets.

Anonymous said...

Maria, I've followed your work since your story appeared on CNN a few years ago. In fact, that's what got me started at eHow - thanks for the inspiration. I know you can't talk about the agreement, but can you us if YOU took the offer?

Patty said...

Thank you all for helping me put a positive spin on this. And, yes, I also learned an incredible amount by writing for ehow and DM. I am a better writer because of the experience and you can't sneeze at that.
They offered me what seems like a fair price, so I'm going to go for it and then see what lies around the bend.

petulantM said...

If you haven't already accepted the offer, you may want to wait until closer to the deadline. I had 12 articles swept (I had removed some photos to which I wanted to retain the rights), and I believe only the articles listed under "my articles" are the ones eHow will purchase. So I think I just retained the rights to 12 additional articles.

Has anyone else had any articles swept since the offers went out?

Robot Trooper said...

Hello fellow eHow writers,

I made a decent amount of money from eHow (with 200 articles) and the offer Demand Studios made was huge but I deciding against this.

I believe I can rewrite many of my articles for Demand Studios and continue revenue sharing this way. It is taking more time to write for DS because of the tougher standards and lack of images.

I don't see many posting of people rewriting eHow articles for DS. Other people are just moving them to other sites like Hubpages or Squidoo.

Does anyone think porting eHow articles to DS a good idea?

Romian1

Maria said...

Robert, moving the articles to the Demand Studios rev-share program is not a viable option -- Demand Studios took down the WCA (writer created assignment) tool weeks ago. Thus while you can choose form Demand Studios' rev share titles, you can NOT create your own, unfortunately.

A rule of thumb when determining whether the offer is fair or not is, is it about 12-36 months' income for the articles? Thus if you were earning $500 a month, for example, $6,000 would be a good minimum (since it's a take-it-or-leave-it situation it makes sense to sell even if it's lower; the work of moving the articles as well as the reality that they likely won't earn well elsewhere may tip the scales toward selling).

Robot Trooper said...

Hello Maria,

Thanks for responding to my message.

Many of my articles were technical and loaded with images that I created. Lots of work went into these articles.

Based on the rule of thumb you've mentioned, I've been stiffed.

I saw some posts mentioning eHow articles that are republished in sites like Hubpages will do bad because Google will think that the Hubpages article are duplication. I don't understand this.

Rom

Tim (WolfTech on Ehow) said...

As Shari said, you were one of the Ehow writers who helped encourage me to write quality articles and learn SEO. Beyond eHow, it has helped me when writing content for my own website (which I started when the new article submissions were ended and I was denied for DS). I'm really torn on what to do, could you explain the part of your post regarding the copyright implications, as I was under the impression that we wouldn't even be listed as the authors anymore :P

Thanks and I'm glad you were able to come to a decision that you were happy with :)

HS Schulte said...

Your blog posts are always so interesting. I love the breakdown of your residual income.

Although my residual income was never as high as yours, I had finally averaging above the $1,000 mark until the eHow buyout. That certainly put a dent in my residuals!

Although eHow was good to me with their offering, I feel I am back at square 1 earning barely $400 per month, mostly from Squidoo now. I have also begun my own websites in my favorite niches hoping to gain some stability and break the dependency on sites that aren't my own.

HS Schulte said...

PS. I just saw your "rule of thumb" response. I agree with those numbers. I received what I'd have expected from residuals in 30 months. It was a lump sum that should tide us over until we can build up our work elsewhere. The tax implications are killer for this year though!

HanieB said...

I tend to agree with Felicia's post. However, I wish I would have jumped on eHow's band wagon a little sooner.

Although we haven't met while writing for eHow, I do have to say, due to people like yourself, I feel I learned a lot more, and was happy to be a part of eHow while it lasted.

I was accepted to write for demand media, and the moderator said my article was great for a first time, however I had to re-write it. I guess I didn’t understand what it was they wanted me to do, so in the end it was rejected.

Since then I haven’t really had the desire to write for them.
At this moment in time, I have taken every last minute to decide if I should sell my articles to eHow, or keep them. Part of me is so proud to have had my articles published with eHow, that I hate to remove them. However, I also wonder if the site will change so much that I'll just find my content blasted all over the internet and nobody will ever know I ever wrote for eHow at all.

What do you think writergig/Maria?

Do you think over time, my content would be sold off and my name removed from the article, or do you think eHow will preserve my name attached to those articles and they will stay on the site?

Some of my articles did do very well over time, and I think I would like to keep them, and continue earning elsewhere.


As it is, I had noticed one of my articles found on a completely different web site, which almost looked like an eHow replica. I contacted the owner of the site, with no response. I didn’t appreciate how they made it seem as though I joined their site. I simply requested they remove my name and artlce.

Though I love to write, since all the changes took place at eHow, I decided I would focus more on my other endeavors.


I now use my writing skills to create unique crochet patterns, or create crafty creations, which I then use for an awesome “how to” tutorials for which I sell as a PDF file for a profit.

From this idea,came my blog dedicated to the artist who has a wide range of artistic ability, and interests found at www.haniebcreations.com for which I “should” spend more time developing; I figure I have time to develop it, as long as I stay connected with other eHow successors, and continue to learn and grow.

I would love followers,and promise to develop to be follow worthy.

There really is so much one can do if they use their "niche" or "creativity".

I believe it’s more about having a passion and drive for making your way in a world filled with many avenues for which to explore. Opportunity is everywhere, and there is endless potential for earning income online if you have a creative mind.

Also,following dedicated writers such as yourself, and writemom is a great way to learn what can be done to earn as a writer.

Several months after I joined eHow, and began to see the earning potential, I sought out other successful writers and began to keep a close watch. Ultimately, that is when I stumbled across all you had done with your experience, and decided to take advantage of the wonderful information you have had to share. So thank you for sharing.

Stephanie Gellepes
now A.K.A HanieB.

Maria said...

HanieB-- As soon as you sign the agreement and accept the buyout, the articles will revert to a default author name. They'll no longer have your name or username attached to them, unfortunately.

While they haven't said it officially, i doubt the content will be moved off eHow because it would be considered duplicate content by Google.

Which brings me to another point -- even if you remove your articles from eHow, they are not likely to earn well elsewhere; Google will not rank them well (majority of the time).

If the offer is good, accept it. Then use your best ideas/ best performing article titles elsewhere -- perhaps even building a niche site around one or more.

HanieB said...

Thank you! That's great advice.
I've followed your blog here, and look forward to reading all the great information you have to share.

Take good care! (~.~)™...H.B.

Marcia Frost said...

Can anyone tell me if they didn't receive the amount they agreed to? My $280 has suddenly become a ridiculous $28! Unfortunately, I was out of the country at the time I agreed to it so I couldn't print it out, but I am absolutely positive about the amount (who would consider $28 for a dozen articles).

Please let me know if anyone else has received a different amount then promised.

Thanks,
Marcia