Worthy Advice: Demand More

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Good day yesterday. I finished a client article and gave her a bonus sidebar (love when I can do that), plus handled about four newsletter articles for a client, including edits. I then spent the afternoon working on personal projects and marketing (always that, right?).

My website is still not up and running. I’m a little fried on the technology to be honest, so I’m going to spend tomorrow getting both the site back up and the blog moved. As you know, I’ve been trying to put aside Blogger for some time now. Getting a little tired of the problems it creates.

The Demand Media news has finally sunken in for its roster of writers, and I suspect the next question they’ll ask is “Now what?” Here’s what – go over to Jenn Mattern’s All Freelance Writing blog and get comprehensive information on what your next moves should be.

Freelance Writing Jobs You Can Pursue Today

Market Research and Planning

Moving Beyond the Job Boards

Keep checking back with Jenn – she has two more posts coming on the topic. Her advice above all others would be the advice I’d follow.

We all knew this was coming. Demand had built a model based on high volume, low pay scales, and convincing marketing that kept writers coming back. The “easy” job may have been easy, but writers were severely underpaid. Now it’s going away. I’d say amen, but I wonder how much worse the next model will be.

I can’t help but shake my head and want to slap something when I read the statistics and words from their own letter:

Demand Media boasts 3 million articles in its database. That’s 3 million articles that were gotten on the cheap. If you wrote even 10 of those, compare what you’ve earned (about $150 maximum for all) to what the average magazine pays (about $1,000 for one). Right. They were great to you, weren’t they?

“Only executable, valid and unique titles make it to your Work Desk.” You know what that means – that how-to-bathe-a-yak article you’ve been working on no longer has a home. And forget one more article on poodle clipping.

Every article will now be written and edited by “a qualified professional with background, knowledge or experience in the topic.” Let’s not even go into what’s wrong with that sentence (do they really mean one qualified professional doing both writing and editing?). The underlying point is previous articles were apparently not given this stringent oversight. And no more copying off someone else’s paper. You’ll be expected to know something about the topic.

“Every article has the appropriate format and word count for the topic to be comprehensively covered.” So now if you’re “lucky” enough to score an assignment, you’re going to do more work than you did before.

“We will also be putting additional focus on helping you grow within your fields. This means offering ways for you to gain exposure on our sites and new tools for you to promote yourself and your work.” Oh, I don’t like the sound of that one bit. There’s that word – “exposure.” For those new to being screwed over, that means you’re cleared to write for free. You’ll still be slogging away for an unappreciative boss, but now you’re minus the fifteen bucks you’ve grown accustomed to. They’ve taken a page from the HuffPo playbook – why pay when they can convince wanna-bes to write for nothing?

This post isn’t to chastise you for former choices – you’ve made them, lived with them, and now have to move on from them. Instead, look carefully at the words of the very people who expected your loyalty and promised the same. This is not a healthy client/writer relationship. Rather, it’s a lesson in how much some businesses will take if writers let them.

Move on from it. Make today the day you start expecting more for your hard work.

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Comments

  • Devon Ellington October 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    This is an exciting crossroads for those with the guts to go for it.

    For the rest, like I said yesterday, culling the herd.

    Reply
  • Wendy October 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The last thing I would ever want to do is promote my (content mill) stuff on their tools. I'm assuming that means social sites like Twitter, etc.

    I deliberately separated myself from the mill reputation I had back then. THAT was the move that helped me grow.

    There are so many people complaining that DS lied to them about this whole situation. Why can't they use that energy toward selling themselves instead?

    Reply
  • Lori October 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I hope there are plenty of DM writers willing to go for it, Devon. I love hanging out with writers who aren't afraid to make things happen for themselves.

    Wendy, that's what makes your career special – you did something about it. Complaining is expected – they feel duped. But thinking it will make a difference? That's crazy times ten.

    I think you're right about the social media stuff. They're open to letting you promote the crap out of their business. They just wrap it in this "exposure" package. I hope to hell writers are smart enough to see through that.

    Reply
  • Paula October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Amen, Lori, but as someone who's been supporting herself by writing feature articles for over 15 years, I have to say it's pretty rare to get $1,000 for a single article anymore.

    It's not so much because some magazines have cut their rates, but because the assigned lengths keep getting shorter. Editors tell me it's a reflection of the ever-shrinking attention span of the American public. Even some trade magazines are running shorter articles.

    Of course, $500 or even $200 for a 500-word article is more than 100-times what DS writers are accustomed to!

    Right now the bulk of my work for Favorite Editor consists of 200-600 word front-of-the-book articles . Or "articlettes" as I call them. It's harder to write short (and write well at the same time), but the turn around is faster, and articlettes require fewer interviews. At $1/word, I've grown to enjoy them.

    Funny aside: I just called to schedule the annual boiler cleaning/service and the woman recognized my name from something I'd written!

    On a serious note: if you live in a climate that requires you to have a furnace or boiler, please get it serviced every year before you turn it on. It can save your life. One year I turned the heat on a week before the boiler was serviced and they found a large hole in an unseen-by-me piece of the venting conduit that connects the boiler to the chimney. The guy said I was lucky it hadn't been too cold, or I would have been dead.

    Reply