While I may not change my mind, everyone who visits here has the chance to tell their side of an issue. That was my response on Friday when the content mill discussion turned to why people had left the Freelance Writing Gigs community. I extended the offer to Deb Ng, who has found herself in the middle of this firestorm. Those opposed to content mills (I’m in that camp) take offense with her recent professional alignment with Demand Studios. Those who support content mills as viable work options see no problem with it.
Deb is back to state her case and list her reasons why Demand Studios was a good choice for her. I thank Deb for taking the time to put this together, and for returning to the midst of naysayers (myself included) to express herself. The post below is 100-percent her words, no edits.
On Wednesday evening I arrived at my hotel in Las Vegas only to find they lost my reservation and had no room at the inn. After flying for six hours and riding in the 90-plus degree heat in a cab with no air conditioning, you can imagine how I felt as I dragged my big old wheelie suitcase across the busy intersection in search of another room. Thankfully, I found a place willing to accommodate me and I set up to relax with a cup of coffee and some email. Only there were tons of emails, all calling my attention to Angela Hoy’s piece against Demand Studios at Writer’s Weekly. At least I think it was against Demand Studios, because my name was in there. A lot. It appears Angela Hoy, someone who I respected and considered my freelance writing mentor, and have sent a ton of traffic to in the past, was a little upset with me. I couldn’t tell if it was because I encouraged Demand Studios writers to write in with their experiences or because I have a partnership with Demand Studios. It didn’t matter though, the damage was done. I cried. Then I went out to dinner with some friends and got over it.
I’m not here to comment on Angela Hoy’s piece, though.
Throughout the next few days I received links from blogs questioning my choice to partner with Demand. Aren’t I supposed to be for the advancement of writers and work at home moms everywhere? How can I do that and endorse Demand Studios, a … shudder content mill? How dare I? I also received some very nasty notes from people who jump to some amazing conclusions.
Before I defend my choice, I want to thank Lori for inviting me to tell my side of the story. She’s the first person to do so. I’ve been called out on many blogs and forums for my decision but this is the only time someone asked to hear from me. That’s class. Even though I lost Lori as a community member, I appreciate her respectful argument and invitation to rebut. I decided last week I wouldn’t go from blog to blog defending myself. People tend to twist words and argue and beat every little point to death. So many things have been taken out of context lately by people who I considered friends and colleagues and it’s been kind of hurtful. I knew if I ran off half cocked and defensive it wouldn’t help my cause.
But I digress.
Here’s why I’m happy to be the scapegoat in this whole Demand Studios content writing argument.
There’s not a day that goes by where a representative from a content site doesn’t reach out towards me with a request for advertising or sponsorship. Several have offered me amazing money for endorsements. A couple offered to buy my network of freelance writing blogs so they could endorse themselves when I wouldn’t. I think it’s safe to say I must have turned down about $50,000 worth of advertising in the past year or so. I said no to one very low paying place and they offered me an obscene amount of money to reconsider. I told them to use it to give their writers a raise, but they didn’t. Throughout the years I’ve also been very vocal about the opportunities that I consider unfair.
It occurred to me that I had a good opportunity to align myself with a company I felt (and still feel) treats writers well. Maybe if I endorse a company I respect it might encourage new writers to seek out better paying opportunities rather than those paying lower.
It’s really hard to write about my partnership with Demand Studios without sounding as if I’m giving a sales pitch, but in order for you to know the reasons for my decision, you’ll have to know what led me to my decision.
Everyone thinks Demand Studios came to me throwing dollar bills and I whore’d myself out for the advertising revenue. The truth is, I contacted them. I wanted them to know I thought they were doing a good thing. I wanted beginners to know there was a place to start- and it paid over minimum wage. I wanted the people who are frustrated with reading poor writing on the web to know there was a place hoping to eliminate that.
Everyone who has followed me over the years knows I put community first. It hurts when former community members suggest I’ll sell out to make a buck. I hope most of my readers trust me enough to know I’m doing what I feel is right.
There are many reasons I heart Demand Studios. Some of them I can tell you, some I can’t…at least not yet.
I know that…
– Demand Studios wants their writers to succeed and does everything they can to help.
– They offer mentoring and tools for success – DS editors work with writers on grammar and usage
– They pay above $10 an hour
– They’re choosy about their writers and the writing
– They flew in a bunch of writers to find out how they’re doing and how they can improve.
– They want their writers to earn more money and work on ways to make this happen.
– They have higher paying opportunities available to members and advertised on their forum
– They don’t require their writers to meet a minimum payout and, in fact, pay for all approved articles twice a week
– They’re offering affordable healthcare for their writers.
– There are many more good things coming from Demand Studios.
The real clincher for me was the writing. They don’t just simply sign up writers and say,”OK, write whatever you want, use keywords and let’s get those advertising dollars rolling”. They aren’t looking to flood the web with content. They are looking to put out useful, educational, well-written content. There are a lot of complaints about rejections, but the truth is, we expect this with magazines and newspapers. Why should Demand publish poor writing? If a piece doesn’t make the cut, it’s not published. Isn’t that the way it should be?
It would be hypocritical for me not to advocate “content mills.” I did very well writing web content. It was a wonderful place to begin and an even better place to supplement my income later. I enjoy it and I don’t find it to be an embarrassing or demeaning way to make a living. What I don’t advocate are the mills that hire writers at one rate but continuously lower the rate as time progresses. What I don’t advocate is writing for a buck or two for a blog post. What I don’t advocate is accepting any old bit of writing for revenue. But content mills? Why not? Why can’t I advocate them if they pay a livable wage and show respect to their writers? Why can’t I choose the one I feel to be the best opportunity and offer to endorse them? I’ve never been against content sites. I’ve been against the content sites that treat writers poorly. I wrote for Write for Cash, WiseGeek, b5Media, Know More Media, About.com and LoveToKnow, so it’s clear I’m not against writing content.
I’ve also been clear that I don’t expect writers to write web content forever. I hope they use it to gain experience and use it to land higher paying jobs. I’ve been vocal about that. However, to me writing is all about choices. I’m not one to bash writers about the choices they make or the writing they do. I like to present the best opportunities and let writers make their own choices. To call them names or suggest they have no self respect for writing for Demand or any other website is just mean and wrong.
We see a lot of disgruntled writers bashing Demand Studios (and other places) all over the web. It’s funny how long standing members of my community will trust them, writers they don’t know, over me, someone who has been working hard every single day to present the best opportunities and protect their interests.
Until you can meet the people behind Demand (like I did), see how they work (like I did), see their plans for the future (like I did), meet with the writers (like I did) and write for them (like I still do), you can’t say they’re a terrible place to work. Sure you can listen to some people who have had bad experiences, but then you can also weigh them against all the people who are having positive experiences.
Am I a sell out? Maybe. If promoting a place you believe in is being a sell out I can accept that. I might go down for this, but at least I’ll do so knowing in my heart of hearts that I’m doing the right thing.
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So, Words on the Page community and visitors, what do you think? Whichever side you’re on, you’re welcome to post your opinions here. For visitors, keep it clean, please. One thing I will not tolerate is character bashing, name calling, and any other high-school leftovers. State your opinion. State it as strongly as you like, but be adult. I know my community members here don’t need to be told that, but those of you new to this site – consider it a gentle reminder that may or may not apply to you.