Content Mills: Deb Ng Responds

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.

From Deb:
——
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.


Deborah Ng
Freelance Writer/Professional Blogger/Social Media Consultant

Freelance Writing Jobs
The Number One Online Community for Freelance Writers
http://freelancewritinggigs.com

———–

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.

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Comments

  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Deb.

    One thing stands out – you seem to be equating "content mills" with "Web content writing." I think we can safely separate the two. I've written Web content. I've been paid extremely well for it. I would not consider these jobs anywhere near a "mill" job. Just to clear that up.

    You mention $10 an hour – I make ten times that. I market my socks off and work hard to gain new clients. The work pays off. I would advocate that writers spend their time looking for higher-paying work at the outset. Sure, it takes time, but it's time well spent in my experience.

    This is not a choice I would advocate. To me, careers are not built through content mills. They're built through hard work and effective networking.

    Reply
  • Joseph Hayes October 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I've always admired Deb and her advocacy for writers, and we've always linked to her sites from The Burry Man and will continue to do so. I don't find writing for Demand appealing, but then again I'm not starting out in this insane environment. I began by writing community stories for (paying) newspapers, and I used to recommend new writers do the same. Obviously, that avenue is gone, and while writing your own blog might be fulfilling, the percentage of folks who can use that as a platform for a writing career is infinitesimal. So where do "we" go? New writers are getting scammed, because new writers will always get scammed, and penny-a-word assignments hurt all of us, because they always have. The medium changes, the problems remain the same.

    Advocating what might be a legitimate starting point for a writer can only be a good thing: I'd like to believe that there actually are honest business people somewhere in the world, who give a damn about the content they are buying and selling.

    The job of a working writer is to write; it's also to be aware. It's part of being professional.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Lori-

    I've been watching this whole thing unfold and one major misconception that seems to be going around is that writers who work for Demand Studios do just that- only work for Demand.

    You have posted and commented that writing- 'real' writing- is hard work and honestly, it's as if you and others assume that writers accepting the lower rates have no idea how to network or pursue higher paying jobs.

    Many of the writers, such as myself, that use Demand do so because we are in between clients. We would like extra money. We enjoy the security that Demand offers. There are many reasons and I'm not sure that you or anyone else reserves the right to belittle us for it. In fact, I know that no one does.

    I've written what you refer to as web content and been paid a tidy sum. I've had articles appear in a few smaller magazines, and was a Contributing Editor for a now defunct digital magazine. [boy, that one was a lead balloon] I've been paid rates ranging from 0.02 cent a word to $1.00 per word.

    What you're not realizing is everything online is web content. You can make every distinction you would like, but what does it matter to the typical reader? If I, and others like me, can work for Deman Studios and offer factual information for the average NON-WRITER that's surfing the internet in search of information- isn't that better than letting them rely on some blogger that types in l33tSpEaK, telling them that it's quite alright to microwave your silverware clean?

    I'm happy with the articles I provide to DS. If I can average $15 an hour to do so, all the better. It doesn't interfere with looking for other work. Contrary to what a commenter posted here on your blog, I don't passively look for work. It is an active process of -yes, reading mastheads, contacting editors, writing queries, pitches, and even a few articles on spec.

    It is beyond me why other people think they have the right to devalue other people for what they do. Please, don't say that you haven't- because you took a stand with Angela Hoy in calling writers like myself pathetic and laughingstocks.

    What gives you the right? I don't belittle you for the way you've chosen to blog, nor for the type of writing you pursue…I don't have a right to point fingers. But you have chosen to do so. Do you realize what effect your words truly have on others? Deb Ng offers leads, advice, and a sense of community at FWJ. Not only for DS writers, but for any writer that comes there. Anyone is welcome. Anyone is welcome to disagree. Yet, people think it is fine to tear her apart for her beliefs. Why?

    Has the internet really made us all that insensitive? Deb and the writers you so causally point to as pathetic are real people with families trying to make a living. You do not know why they work at DS. You do not know what they do outside of DS for writing work.

    Everyone keeps stating that writers accepting low pay will drive down rates for the higher paid writers- that's not true. There have always been, in every industry, workers that take lower wages than others. If your work is valuable to a client, they will pay a higher rate. Don't be so insecure (not specifically you, Lori, but all writers) to think that one site will destroy the wages for every writer. It won't. The market will bear what it will bear- as it always has.

    Reply
  • Anonymous October 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    "They aren’t looking to flood the web with content. They are looking to put out useful, educational, well-written content."

    But Demand Media IS flooding the market with content. That's how they make money. If you're not clear on this aspect of the business model, read Wired's recent article on the company.

    Daniel Roth reports: "So far, the company has paid out more than $17 million to Demand Studios workers; if the enterprise reaches Rosenblatt’s goal of producing 1 million pieces of content a month, the payouts could easily hit $200 million a year, less than a third of what The New York Times shells out in wages and benefits to produce its roughly 5,000 articles a month."

    I think Richard Rosenblatt sums up how he feels about his freelancers with this statement:

    “We’re not talking about $1,000 videos, so a couple dollars here or there can make a serious difference. For instance, pay an extra dollar for fact-checking.”

    Read the full story here.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_demandmedia/all/1

    If people want to work with Demand Media, it's their choice. Given how Rosenblatt feels about the people working so hard under him, however, I agree with Lori. You are better off (much better off) doing business elsewhere.

    Reply
  • Devon Ellington October 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I have a long response and have to post in Parts.

    Part I:
    I'm going to speak specifically to my personal experience with DS and also talk about my views on mill content sites in general.

    I actually signed up with DS at a low point, because it appeared so frequently on job listings sites I regularly visited. My show had closed, there wasn't much Broadway work, I was still transitioning to full time writing. I had family issues to deal with, which meant I couldn't go out on the road on assignments the way I often do. From the posts by writers who advocate working for them, it sounded as though there was some flexibility in their rates. When I contacted them to discuss rates and if my areas of expertise were something that fit in with what I was doing, I was told that I'd have to sign up in order to discuss rates (that should have been my first red flag) and yes, my areas of expertise was within their realm. I figured if I could toss out a few articles per week in an area I already knew well, even at a lower than my normal rate, I could keep the wolf from the door as I did another marketing push.

    I was appalled at the low rates — fact sheets for $5? Are you kidding me? And the "articles" were not in my fields of expertise — and I've got a pretty broad range. To write any of their woefully underpaid articles, I would have had to put in a lot of time in unpaid research. It certainly wouldn't amount to $10/hour — which, by the way, is one tenth of my normal rate.

    I considered applying as an editor. I don't remember the rates off the top of my head, but I remember being, once again, so appalled by the low rates that I didn't bother to do the paperwork.

    I contacted them and told them that it wasn't going to work out, and, since I couldn't find a delete button, to please delete my account. They refused, saying they "couldn't." I wiped as much info as I could from the file.

    I can (and do) make 5 or 6 times or more (in the case of fact sheets) what DS offers for the same length article for other publications. The legwork and pitch work is worth it, and still works out to markedly more than they pay, even with that time factored in.

    And I am well paid for plenty of web content, which is a very different than the type of work one does for a mill content site.

    It has nothing to do with geography — I have an international client base.

    There is no way I could earn enough to pay my bills or even supplement my income without churning out dozens of articles a week. There's no way I (or most writers) could keep up quality at such a pace for any length of time.

    It's not worth it.

    The day I signed –and tried to resign – from DS — I landed a six month editing job at my normal rate (which the client, unbidden, raised after several weeks because the client was pleased with my work), got an unexpectedly large royalty check from one of my plays and a royalty check from one of my books. Within three days, work had picked up AT MY NORMAL RATE, and I didn't have to worry that I'd missed an opportunity by working for an employer where I'd have to literally write myself into the grave and still not be able to pay the bills. And the work's grown ever since.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Julie, thank you for your thoughts. Like I said, you're free to take whatever job you like, as I am. The difference is in what we get paid, isn't it?

    I stand by my opinion. I do think writing for content mills makes one a laughingstock in the writing community. What gives me the right to say that? Because I've positioned this blog as a tool for beginning writers to learn about their craft. That includes learning how to market, how to find respectable jobs, and how to weed out what could harm their careers in the long run. That gives me the right. In fact, it gives you the right to disagree with me. I'm fine with that. But I'm not apologizing for thinking the way I do.

    But it's not my opinion that matters. The opinion of your next employer is what you should be concerned about. They're weighing in already. A few writers here have already said they've been told content mill work is not acceptable proof of experience.

    To the "everything online is web content" – yes, it is. I don't see where the disagreement is. In fact, I made mention of it in my first comment here, as I think there's a very clear separation between content mill Web content and other forms of Web content.

    And I couldn't disagree with you more. When writers accept low-paying jobs, it DOES affect us all. I can give you the names of at least six writers who have had these low-paying jobs thrown in their faces by clients who can't understand why they charge an actual competitive rate. I myself have had clients say "Why are your rates 10 times that of these writers?" My answer – because I'm in business, I'm a professional, and I have the experience to demand industry-acceptable rates.

    My goal with this blog has always been to help writers realize their value. I'm glad you're happy working for DS. I couldn't be. I'd much rather make $100 an hour than $10 an hour, which couldn't begin to cover my medical expenses or taxes.

    Reply
  • Devon Ellington October 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Part II:
    So when you say "until you meet the people behind Demand" — I did, and do not feel they honestly answered my questions and then fed me a line about "not being able" to delete my information; "see how they work" — I did, and found it did not fit in with my vision for my work and my needs; "their plans for the future" — don't know them, don't care to, because already I know we're not on the same page, which is fine — it's their business, and I don't have to participate; "meet with the writers" — the content I've read so far from writers who work for content mills is subpar, and most of my clients who pay fairly for content agree; "write for them" — didn't because they can't afford me. I AM qualified to speak about why I don't agree that they're a good choice.

    Additionally, most of writers to whom you refer as "disgruntled" — in your context, disagreeing with working for such a site — in the writing I've read by them, I've found them to be excellent writers who make a good living with their pens by working for clients who provide a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and appreciate the unique skills a writer brings to the table.

    I've also noted a trend from well-paying employers, one I've discussed with some of them at length: If they see a content mill site on a resume or a piece from a mill used as a clip, they don't hire that writer. Sometimes it's because the quality of the clip is so poor. Sometimes it's because they've had negative experiences with mill content writers in the past. And I've taken in several clients who needed me to clean up the mess created by the low quality from mill content writers. For that I charge a higher rate.

    As a union negotiator, I believe that, as a community, we need to work towards a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. A writer has the RIGHT to earn a living wage and not have to work 90+ hours to barely get by or have to count on a "day job" in another field. Put in the work at the craft, hone the skill, be paid appropriately for it. Less than that hurts EVERYONE. Far too many writers go "me, mine, my choice, the check I get tomorrow" without looking at the bigger picture for both their own long-term careers and the writing community as a whole. And, fine, yes it is an individual choice. And other members of the writing community can choose to disagree and continue to work on promoting the concept that writers have unique skills to bring to the table and deserve a fair wage for those skills. Content mill sites do not pay a living wage. I don't know of anyone who can survive on what they pay without breaking down after a few months and still create quality content. And many writers won't be able to write themselves out of the content mill hole.

    Saying it's only "supplemental" and "fill in" (which is not in Deb's post, but is the reason I've heard others give for working for a content mill site)– why wouldn't one instead sell a piece to a place that pays five or six times more? The work is out there for writers who are good enough and motivated enough to go after it.

    Deb says "I like to present the best opportunities". I don't agree that a content mill site fits that definition. We don't have to agree; we can go our separate ways, instead.

    Reply
  • Devon Ellington October 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Part II:
    As far as Deb's choices, they are just that — her choices. She can do whatever she wants on her site. I left that community well over a year ago after being a daily visitor and almost a daily commenter for several years, because I was disturbed by the trend towards more content mill listings (among other reasons), had contacted her several times over a period of six to eight months with questions so I could understand the vision she had for the future, and never received a response. The vision I experience on the site and in that particular community was no longer in alignment with the vision I had for my work and the work of my peers. It didn't fit my definition of advocating for writers. That's fine, that's the way it goes. And, rather than waste valuable writing time arguing with other posters on the site who make choices that I feel are harmful to both themselves and others, I left. That's my choice, and I didn't make a big public deal about it or discuss it in blogs and forums. I just wasn't there anymore, and the world continued its rotation just as well as it did before. No big deal.

    The time and energy spent on the forum I put into my own work, which resulted in more and higher paying contracts. Every time one of us negotiates a contract at a higher rate than originally offered, it helps the next writer who works with that particular employer.

    I'm earning far more money running my career the way I am than I could have had I actually started writing for a mill content site. Not only that, but I can follow anything that interests me and get paid for it, which is one of the reasons I became a freelancer in the first place.

    That's MY choice.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Joseph, thank you for weighing in, as well.

    I agree that avenues are drying up. But I think many writers are using that as an excuse to accept jobs that are clearly not worth accepting. When it becomes "necessary" to take $10 jobs, perhaps the writer needs to rethink his or her business. I would advocate for a full-time job rather than see a writer sell himself/herself short.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Devon, thank you. Well thought out post, and it hits every point I'm trying to make here.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Anonymous, forgive me for overlooking your post.

    It's interesting to hear it from the mouth of the man running one of the sites in question. Yes, it's capitalism pure and simple. But I question why writers don't value their skills much more than an extra dollar?

    That the article started out with the image of a man who'd sold out quality over quantity is all I need to hear.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Lori-

    So basically what you're saying is it is ok to insult people for what they do for a living? I'm not trying to be dense or start a flame war in comments. Your statement using 'laughingstock' is an insult. I don't appreciate it at all and I think that you could cover this topic without demeaning others- that's my whole point.

    I make no excuse for not looking for other jobs. I do, I have them, and I have repeat clients. Not something I'm going to keep harping on, because that was made clear in my previous comment.

    I'd like to know your thoughts on About.com, because if we're going to talk content mills, perhaps About should be discussed as well. Demand has many writers placing quite a bit of content on the internet. So does About- not as much, but still a very low wage. Demand takes applications, then gives a writer a job or doesn't.

    About has writers apply, then possibly compete with a group for a period of time with no pay. Afterwards the pay rate is around $800 per month, with revenue earnings.

    Demand pays for every bit of content not rejected or abandoned. So, why is About more respected? Why are DS writers being a focal point? Perhaps because we're a more vocal segment.

    The name-calling, negativity, and general comments on low wages will never help. If you really want to encourage writers to make better choices, don't incorporate opinions on how pathetic they are for taking something that's low. Sure, we all need a thick skin in this career, but having people that say they're there to teach, advocate, or encourage insult you still stings.

    Reply
  • Wendy October 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I see Quantity vs. Quality. I see responses from people who work or have worked for DS; proudly claim that they can fork out so many articles an hour.

    The clients I work for would eat you up for breakfast if you dared to give them something you wrote in 20 min. That includes topics that you know really well.

    There has also been a few who put this company on a pedestal because it's easy money and they don't have to work too hard. Others will do anything to work from home. Doesn't exactly put DS in a very good light.

    In my opinion, their reputation is going downhill, not just because of the pay rate, but because of people who are associating them with "Easy Money" and "Don't have to work too hard" type statements.

    Putting all the blame on those shouting their bad experiences isn't right. Some of the good ones are causing damage too.

    Reply
  • Irreverent Freelancer October 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I think I'm going to stay out of this controversy until I post about my own (very brief) undercover experience. In the meantime, anyone who wants to become a fan (LMAO) of DS, here you go: http://www.facebook.com/demandstudios.

    Reply
  • Wendy October 21, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Oops! I got caught up in the conversation and forgot to comment on Deb's post.

    Deb, thank you for posting your side. It is nice to see after everything went down. It didn't change my mind, but you're doing the right thing by trying.

    The whole sponsorship still bothers me. I would've respected your opinion on DS had there never been the sponsorship. You could've advocated for it without getting paid to do so.

    By doing it this way; you've made it hard for me to know what really is an opinion and what is sponsor-influenced. If that makes sense.

    Reply
  • Irreverent Freelancer October 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I said I wasn't going to get involved in this controversy, but having been a follower of Deb for a long time, I just want to let her know she hasn't lost me as a Freelance Writing Gigs reader. I appreciate all the hard work she puts into that site (free of charge for many years) and believe she deserves to be compensated for that effort. I would rather have seen her take on DS as an advertiser, without vocally advocating for them, because that way I could simply ignore the ads, just as I ignore her job postings that don't suit me. As it stands, I'm having to do a lot more ignoring than I used to, but it's still her site to do with as she pleases–in the same way a lot of us are using our blogs to advocate against DS and better wages. I believe in fully informing writers of both sides, but then it's up to each individual to make the content mill decision for him/herself.

    Reply
  • Paula October 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Being someone cursed with the ability to view both sides of most issues, it seems the biggest disagreement in all of this is what constitutes a "livable wage."

    For me, it's not $10 an hour. For others, that might seem fair. I have a good friend who earned $15 an hour as a temp, and when the company hired her full-time, that dropped to $13 per hour, plus benefits. She wasn't happy with the lower hourly rate, but the benefits made up for it.

    One thing that caught my eye in Deb's post was when she said DS is offering affordable healthcare for their writers. Considering I spend a large portion of my income on health insurance, that single point might cause me to reconsider my belief that their stated pay rates are too low. So please, Deb, I'd love it if you could elaborate on that point.

    I also want to commend Deb for stepping into the proverbial lion's den and expressing her views on the issue. That's never an easy thing to do. And kudos also to Lori for inviting Deb to do so.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Irreverent Freelancer – You've been saying this about an undercover 'sting'. But yet, you have Elance all over your blog and website.

    Isn't that sort of like the pot calling the kettle black?

    Reminds me of the person that trolled over at the Absolute Write forums. Just go ahead and say what you have to say instead of trying to be a 'secret agent' so you can post your feelings.

    Seriously, own your words. Don't piggyback on this to increase your blog traffic. So far everyone has been cordial, whether they disagree or not.

    Reply
  • janineduff October 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I'd like to give my opinion from the standpoint of a rookie freelance writer. And it probably isn't what you'd expect.

    I've only been doing this for a few months. I started after I got laid off from my 9-5 office job. When you have hardly any portfolio to speak of, a blank testimonials page and pretty much zero income…it's a wee bit (LOT) terrifying. Bidding sites and content mills begin to tempt you like a calorie-saturated sundae on a hot summer day. I wanted to give in more than anything.

    However, I started reading informative posts from fellow freelancers about the true nature of these operations (many of which I found here!). I thought rationally about what would be best for my start-up. Even though I was new to the scene, I was passionate about my creative talents and I knew my work was of value. Spending dollops of time in bidding wars or wasting energy churning out $1 articles was not going to benefit me. Instead, I took the route that felt at the time to be far riskier – I marketed my tail off and searched out higher-paying gigs. I went nearly three months with no income to speak of and only my savings keeping me afloat. It was a slower process, but I'm proud to say my efforts paid off.

    Time I feel would've been wasted producing copious amounts of $1 articles was instead devoted to scoping out new clients that would value my work and pay me what I deserved. I landed two projects with clients that were so pleased with my work that they now give me steady, ongoing assignments each month. Oh yeah, and they pay well too. Even better? I have portfolio pieces I'm genuinely proud of. I also get to work with some great individuals and develop fulfilling, two-way business partnerships with them. There's a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment on both ends.

    I also strived to query more. It was my dream to break into magazines. I managed to get my first assignment this month.

    As a freelancing noob, I definitely had the option to start out contributing to content mills just to get experience and clips. But the way I saw it, whatever I did at the outset was going to influence my mindset and affect the path my career took. I wanted to expend my time and energy finding clients I'd enjoy working with and who paid me fairly, resulting in polished clips I could be proud of.

    I feel like I took the harder route – I had to accept a lot of risks, go without much money for an extended period and market creatively. I had to be persistent and determined. I almost gave up on more than one occasion with the notion that I would just find a normal job again. Yet as cheesy as it may sound, I believed wholeheartedly in myself and my talents.

    I don't regret it for one second. I know it's easy to fall into the trap of content mill sites, especially for newcomers like myself, but I stand firm in my position that it's never the best option. There is always another way. I would rather take a part-time job flipping burgers for minimum wage to supplement my freelance writing income than contribute to sites that will pay me only half that.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Ireev. Freelancer-

    I apologize, we cross posted. Your writing looked very similar to someone who was trolling the Absolute Write forums.

    Reply
  • Irreverent Freelancer October 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Julie, I'm not piggybacking on this site for traffic. My blog earns me no money so I would have no incentive for doing that. Not that it's any of your business, but I'm contending with family medical issues and don't have the time to devote to the topic that I want to give it. I'll get to it when I get to it. In the meantime, as I like to say on my blog, screw you! If Lori thinks I'm taking advantage of her site (or trolling as you claim), she can delete my posts. I won't be offended at all. I think I've mentioned my undercover sting twice, if you can call that trolling.

    As for Elance, almost all of my blog posts about them ream them (as opposed to advocating for them), and my Website makes no mention to them whatsoever other than a link to my portfolio, which has been there for 10 years. I've made absolutely no secret about the fact that I started my career through Elance. I also made very good money there, far more than Demand Studios pays and often more than I make now (without a paid subscription to Elance I might add). I don't see how any of that is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. All that said, the unfounded accusations you're hurling at me are hardly "cordial."

    Reply
  • Irreverent Freelancer October 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Oh sure, Julie, once you see me showing a wave of support to Deb you change your tune. I'm starting to wonder who the real troller here is. Hmmm??? For the record, I never visit Absolute Write and don't think I've ever posted there.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Kathy (Irreverent Freelancer) has had a long history of posting her eLance experiences, good and bad. She's taught us all from it, and I don't see anything wrong with her voicing her opinion here, whether it agrees with mine or not.

    Julie, if you'll read back, the original "laughingstock" comment did not originate with me. I agree with it because it's been proven out several times over – people who write for content mills ARE looked upon as laughingstocks in the writing community. The perception that is held is that there is a passive attitude toward work when one connects with such sites. It is, in my opinion, selling yourself short for fast money.

    Frankly, this is not a one-sided issue. Content mill writers look at writers who oppose that business model as "snooty" and "looking down" on them. Call me snooty, tell me I'm looking down on you, whatever. I'm stating my opinion. You're stating yours. We're always going to disagree on this.

    Fact is I spent a lot of time on this blog encouraging new writers, mid-level writers, you name it. A LOT of time. And I've read a lot of grief from content mill writers dissing the attitudes we have toward the practice. I'm stating without apology my opinion. You're stating yours.

    I'm sorry you take offense at my opinion. You're taking it entirely too personally.

    Kathy, you're right. Deb does put a lot of effort into her site. For that she should be commended.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Janine, hi. 🙂 Thank you for weighing in on this topic. I'm so glad to hear you put the effort into finding the clients! I can relate – when I made that choice, I never regretted it.

    It comes down to this – you have to be content with your choice. You have to be comfortable with how you've framed your business and your talents. For me, I cannot justify putting the same amount of time (or more) into volume work for fractions of what I can make elsewhere. That's my choice. If you're out there and you're opting to work for a content mill, that's your choice. I don't have to like it or respect it. You do.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Now, can we PLEASE get back to the topic at hand, which is the excellent post Deb provided for us? There's an undercurrent of bashing starting here, and if it continues, I'll delete offensive posts. Note that offensive does not mean those that disagree with my opinion. It means those that call out others and diverting from the main issue, which is that Deb Ng was gracious enough to present her side in a thoughtful, professional manner.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Deb, I want to address your post directly. I respect that you are promoting some place you believe in. That in itself is a winning argument.

    You mentioned the perception that was generated when you aligned with Demand – it's correct as you stated it. That was the perception I got, too. I can speak to that side of it. I have always felt your site was a good place to find credible work. Separately, I didn't feel content mills – well, I don't have to repeat how I feel about them! But when I read you had aligned with one, I did feel a sense of betrayal since for years I'd known you as someone who advocated fair pay. I'm glad you've represented yourself here today, and I thank you for standing in the midst of the flames and letting your experience speak volumes.

    I respect your opinion and your position. I can't agree with it, but I'll defend to the death your right to it. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Irreverent Freelancer – No, not your wave to Deb, but the fact that the troller wouldn't post anything polite towards anyone.

    The person I'm speaking of posted comments that looked quite a bit like your style of writing and used a nickname in the same vein. They had links to Examiner on their site- which in my haste, I confused Elance with.

    I apologized, but yet you're still going to be nasty? That's your perogative. Don't blame it on dealing with a family illness. My daughter is autistic, my mom is dying, and yet I have not gotten catty.

    Lori- You're right. I am taking it personally. I know that you didn't originate the comment. But what I'm trying to say is taking the stance that it is ok to call people names puts you on the same level as the people you're saying called you snooty.

    I guess at the bottom of it is this: Many of us work hard and are thankful that there is a place like Demand Studios for when jobs are slim. For when we're between articles and maybe the company you or your spouse works for goes under. In my eyes, DS is far, far better than places like TextBroker.

    If not for Deb posting about Demand, I'd have kept ignoring my account there. I had a bad experience in the beginning. Hated them. Told everyone I could to stay away from them. When Deb posted that DS was coming on as an advertiser, I felt betrayed, too. I didn't visit FWJ for a while. Then one of my better clients decided that an article spinner was a great way to get more mileage out of the money they'd paid me.

    So I decided to give Demand one more try. It gave my family some much needed extra cash. I trust Deb and that's why I went back to DS. Now they're offering Health Insurance for even lower than the Freelancer's Union – so I can't see how it is a bad thing to give some of my free time to them, if only for the insurance.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    BTW and FYI – I inadvertently included Deb's contact info, which is now gone. I'd like to thank the idiots who decided to slam her through her Skype account. I'd also like to remind them to grow the hell up – the rest of us did.

    This is a discussion for adults. If you cannot conduct yourselves as adults even in private, I have little to say to you. And I don't want to know you.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    And I meant that "thanks" sarcastically.

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Julie, again, it comes down to your choice versus my choice.

    What's interesting is that I'm merely repeating a shared opinion in the writing community. I have never said, "Julie, you're a laughinstock." I said "I do think writing for content mills makes one a laughingstock in the writing community." I never said I personally thought you were a laughingstock. I said I agreed with the assessment, the general feeling across the writing community that this type of writing frames writers in a very negative light among their peers.

    FYI, Kathy has never been a shrinking violet. She wouldn't hide behind an alias to speak her mind.

    I'm glad you're thankful for DS. I'm glad it's been a positive experience for you and I wish you well with it. I disagree with your choice, but as I said to Deb a few posts ago, I will defend your right to choose.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Lori-

    I'll send you the link to the troll post/blog privately. You might see why any names is a sore point with me, even used in general.

    It isn't about me, though. When I saw the comment used to address freelancers, the first thing I thought of was some very hardworking people I know and respect.

    I do respect your opinion- I'm just here to be a supporter of the DS writers and for Deb. I appreciate you giving us all a chance to speak our minds and for letting Deb share her side. She's been getting slammed far too much for something that's easily ignored by people who don't want to join in with DS.

    Reply
  • Wendy October 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I'm feeling kind of bad for her right now. It's one thing to disagree with her on some points; it's a whole different ball game when you gripe with Skype.

    Reply
  • Irreverent Freelancer October 21, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Erm, I didn't use the family medical issue as an excuse for my so-called cattiness. I used it as a reason for not yet following through on my tease about an undercover sting. Please don't twist my words around to suit an agenda.

    I've apologized personally to Lori for this thread turning into a personal attack against me instead of being what it was intended: a chance for Deb to air her side of the issue and an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of DS/content mills. I extend that same apology to her readers as well.

    Now can we please get back on topic?

    Reply
  • Lori October 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Wendy, I feel badly, too. No one deserves that. And least of all Deb. She's never shown any animosity or unkindness to anyone. Not in my orbit, at least.

    Julie, I would like to see that. Thank you.

    Kathy, YES! I'd love to!

    Reply
  • Paula October 22, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Call me crazy (you certainly won't be the first), but I viewed Lori's reiteration of the "laughing stock" as I would if my best friend had said, "You know that outfit makes you look like a dumpy frump, right? Now let's see if we can't find something else that will look a bit better on you."

    (Hey I could have used the phrase that friend used on another friend back in college…she had on so much makeup that she looked "like a "two-but hooker on a half-price night." But I was trying to be nice.")

    In short, it's someone who cares enough to tell you how you could be perceived by others.

    Reply
  • becky October 22, 2009 at 6:00 am

    I signed up with Demand quite a while ago, but I honestly couldn't find any topics that suited me. Especially not for the pay. It's hard to search their site to begin with, and some of the titles are so vague you can't even figure out what they want. And the last time I went there, at least half the articles were mislabeled into the wrong categories, making my search that much harder.

    From what I've seen, it is not a livable wage, not even if I lived in the rural area where a large part of my family is.

    I also used to be more active on Deb's site and I do still look at the job postings, but I've skipped a lot of the articles because she has been going on and on about how she doesn't want to get involved in the drama anymore, yet keeps trotting around to various sites defending herself. And on her own site as well. It's not what I want to read to further my career.

    Reply
  • Anonymous October 22, 2009 at 11:41 am

    What I don't understand is how people go around the Internet complaining about what DS pays and then continue working for the company!

    Personally, I make about $60/hour working for Demand. I could make more, but I'm a very easily-sidetracked person, and I tend to veer off into reading other blogs and looking at cute puppies on the Daily Puppy. When I work steadily, I make closer to $70/hour. I make about six times more than most people I know, and twice what my friends with multiple graduate degrees make. I also don't have to commute, pack/buy lunches, buy work clothes, get up at the crack of dawn to get ready, put up with BS and office politics, or work on projects I don't like just because they've been assigned to me.

    Another thing I don't understand is why everyone is always saying DS is horrible because writers should be spending their time querying magazines, newspapers, and other markets. That's all well and good, but what if none of those queries are successful? If you spend 5 hours querying and nothing comes of it, all you've gotten really good at is writing query letters. In 5 hours, I can make $300 to $375 with DS.

    DS is not for everyone. If you are not a fast reader or a fast typist, you're going to make $10 or $15 an hour, which isn't worth it. If you have a reference library with resources you can use to write your articles, type above 60 WPM and have really good reading skills (for research), then you can make a good living.

    I don't think it's fair to look down on other writers who work for DS. I'm using my skills and talents to make it work for ME, and so are a lot of other people.

    Reply
  • Anonymous October 22, 2009 at 11:50 am

    The thing about Deb is that she doesn't spend all her time pimping Demand and touting content sites. Through her blog she encouraged me to "go for the gold" and I did. She always said to get a start writing content not to do it forever. She's right when she says she's the content mill scapegoat. She doesn't push DS all the time and she doesn't only talk about web content. When other writing bloggers are talking about giving us lowly content writers "b**** slaps" or "tough love" she's nothing but gracious. She once let me Skype her and coached me for an hour (for free) so I could get a job I wanted. She takes hours out of her day to post leads and give advice. I'm grateful even if no one else is.

    Becky, I haven't seen "drama" from Deb in a long time. She could have said something about Angela Hoy but she didn't. The Angela Hoy thing bothers me, actually. I feel betrayed by Angela's "agenda." I have no problem with Angela going off on Demand Studios but now I know she was skewed and biased. I know people aren't going to believe this but in the article about Demand she left out lots of details and twisted stuff to her benefit. The stuff she posted about Deb telling DS writers to only send positive stuff to Writers Weekly? Deb didn't say to send positive comments only. She told us that Angela Hoy wants to know how much we make on an hourly basis and "if" we're having a positive experience. On her own blog that same morning she said she expects people to be honest. There was a lot Ms. Hoy left out for her benefit. She encouraged people to send screen shots from a private forum. Is that ethical? Angela Hoy linked to a thread at WAHM by someone named "Teen Mommy" about how she was fed up with DS. Teen Mommy was fired for defrauding DS. She was under 18 and she said she was over 18. She was caught, fired and is bad mouthing DS to everyone and sent Angela Hoy all that stuff. Angela Hoy who is supposed to be the investigative journalist protecting writers everywhere didn't check her source.

    I wouldn't have believed Angela Hoy's piece if I wasn't part of DS and the forum. I'm sad that she lied because I trusted her as someone who wouldn't do that.

    Angela Hoy received many letters in praise of DS and Deb but chose not to post any of them. Only the same old people who come out and gripe against Deb every time someone posts about her.

    I don't care if you write web content or not. I think everyone should live and let live. I just want to say I think Deb is getting a bum rap. I know no one wants to believe Angela Hoy would twist things around for her benefit but she did. Deb has more self control than me. I would have given Angela a piece of my mind. Does anyone else find it interesting that Angela Hoy will ask scammers for their side of the story when she investigates claims but never asked Deb to respond to her allegations?

    I'll stop now. You probably think I'm some crackpot. This whole thing stinks and I think everyone needs to look at all sides of the story before tying Deb to the stake. Not here. You're all pretty nice here, but in general.

    Thanks for letting me vent on this. I understand how you feel but I just want people to remember there are two sides.

    Oh and someone who cares about writers and wants them to do better wouldn't call us laughingstocks. Angela Hoy lost my respect.

    Lisa

    Reply
  • Jodee Redmond October 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I am one of the columnists who maintains a blog on the Freelance Writing Jobs Network. I think that Deb made an excellent post here. I can't comment on Demand Studios, since I don't work for them. As a non-U.S. resident, I am not eligible to be hired by that company.

    All of the bloggers on the Network post on their own subject matter and as I've visited my colleagues to read and learn from them, I haven't noticed anyone going "on and on" about DS or drama. I did write a post recently about how I feel the freelance writing world should be big enough to accommodate lots of different choices. I wouldn't have pressed "Publish" if I didn't believe that and I stand by every word of it. And as long as we are talking about choices, I did write a post some time ago about reasons why a writer may want to consider working for a content provider company.

    I am not aware of Deb Ng "trotting around to various sites defending herself" but if Becky would like to share the links, I would be quite interested in reading about it.

    As far as what Deb decides to post on her own blog on the network, that is up to her. It is, after all, "her" blog. I post what I choose what to post on my blog on the network and while Deb is always available to offer support or for me to approach with an idea, she has never told me what I can and cannot write about.

    Becky, if we are not offering you content that you want to read to further your career, please do let us know what kinds of topics you would like to see and we will do our best to incorporate them into our free resource for freelance writers.

    Reply
  • Lori October 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Paula, thank you for getting it. That's exactly what I'm conveying here. I'm saying "Here's how the rest of the writing community views you." I agree with the assessment – that's how content mill writers are viewed. I didn't come up with the viewpoint. It permeates throughout the profession.

    Becky, thanks for posting your story. I'm glad you're here! I think Deb's defense of herself is an unfortunate side effect. She shouldn't have to defend her choices, but she's sort of forced to with all this banter, isn't she? What upsets me is that instead of folks saying "I don't like your choice" some will choose to snipe. Not productive, and it sucks up everyone's time.

    By the same token, the choice she made did send some shock waves, so I guess it was a natural reaction for people to feel the way they did.

    Anonymous, the point isn't how fast you are. Well, maybe that's part of my point. How long can you maintain speed? How accurate? The idea is the material you generate, whether it's fabulous or not, has a certain stigma attached to it. That's what employers are saying. They're also catching on to the idea that the insanely low per-article rates are something they can bargain with. That hurts ALL of us.

    Lisa and Anon, this post is here for this very reason. Instead of the opposing sides going on the defensive or offensive in separate corners, we're doing it here. I think a lot of good has come from it, too. When everyone is able to speak freely and object freely, it allows us to come to a resolution – the live-and-let-live variety.

    I don't know if you've looked through my blog, but I've worked hard at educating and motivating writers. I've done what I could to encourage them to accept no less than their true value – not someone's idea of their value. It pains me personally to see people accepting ridiculously low rates when it's not necessary.

    Anon, you said what if the queries I suggest aren't successful? Then you do one of two things – you restructure your queries to better target the magazines (and get help with it if you need to), or you change your marketing plan and try another avenue.

    Every month I post my monthly assessment. I'm showing rather than telling other writers what my approach is, what's successful, what isn't. More importantly, I'm being accountable to these people. I'm also inviting them to do the same. Devon Ellington has an entire website devoted to her career assessments.

    This is a business. You have to work it like one. I'm not saying you're not trying – you are. But maybe you're missing a few of the tools that can help you get over that wall.

    Jodee, totally agree. Your blog topics are yours to determine. Are you part of the Demand network? I'm gathering that from your last line. If not, where's your blog located?

    Reply
  • Jodee Redmond October 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Lori,

    No, I'm not part of the Demand Studios network.

    My blog is here: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/jobtips

    Reply
  • lwidmer October 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks, Jodee!

    Reply
  • Allena October 22, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I feel kind of "whatever" on DS. I always tell readers at About.com to do it if you must, get clips, move on, move up, watch your hourly. Always. Move up, move up, move up.

    What's sticking me is the laughingstock comment, and I think I found the first use of it: Hoy said "Five to fifteen dollars for a well-researched, well-written article, with references and illustrations, is pathetic. Claiming it isn't makes you a laughingstock in the industry."

    So, hmm, glad to know that it's not the content site writing itself that makes you a laughingstock, considering I like my job at About, and the mortgage payment that comes with it.

    Reply
  • Lori October 22, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Hi, Allena! Thanks for stopping by.

    You are correct – that was Angela's quote in her newsletter last week.

    And you're correct on your assumption – it's not writing content. It's writing for content mills that underpay its writers that's in question.

    Reply
  • Lori October 22, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Lisa, you may want to be careful calling Angela a liar and accusing her of twisting facts. I would wager she knows how to investigate and report. Her representation included mostly feedback from DS writers. They're the ones who were unhappy with DS.

    And the line in question? When I read it posted elsewhere – yea, it read like it was encouraging people with positive experiences to respond. No, I'm sure Deb didn't intend it to sound that way. But it did.

    Reply
  • Deb October 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Lori,

    I'm posting this as anonymous as your form wouldn't allow me to use my name and email, for some reason.

    I have been staying out of responding because I don't want a whole lot of tit for tat and back and forth, but I will say Lisa is correct in that Angela Hoy left out a few details for her convenience.

    For example, this is what I originally said in my post on the DS forum regarding Angela Hoy''s inquiry:

    "Angela Hoy at WritersWeekly.com is investigating Demand Studios in her series about content writing sites. She's asking for writers from DS to send her a note detailing how long it takes to write each article, your hourly rate, and in general, if you're having a positive experience.

    Weigh by sending your note to angela@writersweekly.com. "

    and this is what I said at FWJ:

    "Do you write for Demand Studios? Writer's Weekly is looking for experiences from DS Writers. Tell your story to angela@writersweekly.com. While I believe everyone should be honest in relaying their experiences, I will say I don't believe it to be fair to compare DS to sites such as AllVoices and Examiner (previously profiled at Writer's Weekly) which pay their writers very little residual income. Angela is looking to learn how much you earn and how long it takes you to write each article. She wants to know your hourly rate per article. Edited to add: Please don't send any more emails regarding DS to Angela Hoy. She's been inundated with responses and has everything she need"

    As Angela has screenshots I'm sure she would agree this is what I originally said.

    It wasn't until later that I made a comment that all the disgruntled people were going to come out of the woodwork. As you can see, there's a difference between what I said and the way Angela Hoy portrayed it. However, I don't wish to battle Angela Hoy. I'm going to let people draw their own conclusions, as they already have.

    I appreciate everyone's feedback which I'm taking into consideration. I'm only posting this here because most of you have been very respectful and because you actually asked for my side of the story.

    Reply
  • allena October 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I've enjoyed Angela and her site. As in the past I've enjoyed you, Deb, and your site. But but but I was very taken back by Angela's post, as I read it like this "Deb this" and "Deb that." Quite unprofessional. Now, we all have our unprofessional days. We are human. So, in general, again, and overall, both sites have been helpful to me, and, from what I hear, to my new writers.

    Oh, and Lori, sorry, I missed it in the comments where you already sort of addressed web content, content mills, pay etc.

    Reply
  • Lori October 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    First post here, Allena.

    Reply
  • Julie Fletcher October 22, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I would like to add: Angela Hoy may have used emails from DS writers, but she did not use the ones that were very positive. I wrote her and did not mention FWJ, Deb, or anyone else. I was a subscriber to Writer's Weekly, though I won't be visiting there again.

    This was my email- my average per hour has changed since my husband has a new job. It's far too hard to try to keep up the rate of speed now.

    Hi Angela,

    I write for Demand Studios. Typically it takes me about an hour to
    write 2 to 3 How To articles. I've recently switched to Fact Sheets
    and can finish 4 in an hour if I have no distractions. When I'm
    feeling frisky I can get 20 of either format out in one day. (lots of
    coffee for that!)

    It averages out to around $30 an hour for me.

    Demand pays me promptly via Paypal, usually about 6 PM EST. My very
    first payment was later than that, it came in at 9 PM EST, which was
    fine with me since DS is located on the West Coast and it was 6 PM for
    them.

    When I was first accepted to DS they were having major changes in
    their structure and my first 9 articles were not paid for. They did
    not take ownership of the articles- when I notified them that I had
    not received payment I had the option to send in an invoice snail mail
    or take back my work. I ended up taking back the work, posted it on
    eHow and my revenue has been far more than what I was owed- so it
    worked out.

    The Editorial Staff and Help Desk staff has been nothing but friendly
    and helpful since I decided to give DS a chance again. I'm very happy
    with them and this is from someone that used to despise the company!
    No, I don't work for them outside of writing, nor am I being asked to
    give a good review. I'm just very impressed with how far the company
    has come since my first bad experience to change it into a resource
    that is a lifesaver when the regular gigs aren't coming through the
    pipe.

    You can use my name if you wish.

    Thanks,
    Julie"

    This is what I received in response:
    "I received soooo many notes about Demand Studios that I must do something I really hate to do….send you a form response. I am so sorry!!! 🙁

    I am compiling many of the submitted comments and will post them in my article next week. We will not be publishing any names or identifying information.

    Thank you sooooo much for sending your story to me, Julie! 🙂

    Hugs,
    Angela"

    I may be wrong and missed my email in the bulk of the others posted. It's possible, but I'm too disappointed in the representation of Deb and the people who choose to work there that I don't want to bother anymore.

    Reply
  • Anonymous October 23, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Interesting how no one has anything to say anymore when Angela Hoy is called out for (and proven to be) being a liar.

    Reply
  • becky October 24, 2009 at 3:02 am

    I don't think it's appropriate for me to list links here of what I've seen over the last few months. There was a controversy over what a FWJ reader had posted on his own blog, and Deb responded on hers. Then there was the WAHM board back & forth stuff. And some of the posts on FWJ have been Deb defending her choices over and over again. I realize that she's frustrated with the criticisms. I would be, too. I get that. But at some point, Deb, I really hope you just own your choices, stop trying to defend yourself so much, and just get back to helping people. You are always going to have critics. We all do.

    My perceptions might be entirely wrong. But they are what *I* have felt is coming through on Deb's posts. This almost desperate need for approval. And believe me, I know that trap (too well – it has paralyzed much of my personal blogging). I want people to like me. I don't like controversy (and hadn't meant to cause any by my comments, honestly). It has been a little tough to read some of the posts from Deb. And I haven't given my feedback on the site because I don't want to be skewered for just stating how *I* feel right now. So I've just stepped away, with plans to check in every now & then and see how things are going.

    I think FWJ can help writers, just like I think Lori helps people here. The two sites serve different audiences and I truly think there's plenty of room for everyone.

    And Lori, if you feel you need to kill this because it would just continue to stir things up, I am totally okay with that. I wasn't sure if I should respond and if you feel it's going to make things worse, I totally understand. See you on the flip side of the weekend!

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  • Carson October 26, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Hi. If writing in lower paying market sectors makes one a laughingstock, I'd hate to think of what I am!

    Not only have I written countless cheap articles over the years, I'm now running my own little content mill.

    While many might think that makes me either a fool or a devil, I can assure you that I'm actually a relatively decent guy.

    I personally believe that lower paying jobs CAN be just fine and dandy for the right people under the right circumstances.

    These broad-brush criticisms of all low-rate work don't ring true to me. I think they often stem from the idea that there is one best way to approach writing, when there's actually plenty of room to develop one's own business model.

    One other thing… I'm seeing an "eat your own" thing happening in the comments to some of the recent controversy surrounding these issues. People are going after the likes of Deb Ng and Kathy Kehrli in these comments, for instance.

    While there's obviously some controversy regarding Deb's DS affiliation, she's done a lot for writers over the years and I think she deserves a little better. Kathy's Irreverent Freelancer blog is a great watchdog site that looks out for the interests of freelancers.

    I've known both of them for a few years and have been on the opposite side of them in these rate debates (and they were sticking up for the "get more money" sides of things, btw). I've grown to appreciate them both even when I disagree with them. It really surprises me to see so many people (and I'm not just referencing this thread) taking people like that to task.

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  • Anonymous January 20, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I think places like Demand do hurt all of us. Sure people have the choice to work at subpar rates for a company like that. I just replied to a request to a similar site and told them they need to think in bigger dollars for me to consider. I'm cool with them saying now.
    What I am not cool with is the thing no one is talking about. A great deal of revenue, specifically on the internet, is raised by ads. When companies like DS come in and flood the market with cheap articles for less, it lowers the cost of advertising. That's what these "articles" really are. When the cost of ads are low, publications pay less to their talent. That is where the real problem is.

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