Friday, October 28, 2011

Are there other places for writers like Demand Studios?

Demand Studios titles have dried up for most DS writers. Even many of the 15 percent, or so, who are in “First Look” are finding little or nothing to write. A question keeps on popping up on the DS forums: Are there other sites that are like Demand Studios?

The short answer is “no.” But while there are no sites exactly like Demand Studios, I think it’s possible to cobble together a substitute that is at least satisfactory and potentially much better.

The best path out of Demand Studios probably depends on the path you took to get there in the first place. Roughly speaking, there seem to be three partially-overlapping groups at DS: people who chose DS because they wanted to work at home, people who were career writers, and people who enjoyed picking titles from a list.

More after the jump

Working at home

Demand Studios is hardly the only work-at-home option. The best resource for finding other work-at-home jobs is the WAHM forums. The site is aimed at moms, but you don’t have to be a mom or even female to join. Just looking at the forum titles will give you an idea of the huge range of things that people have done to make money at home, and the discussions themselves are quite active.


To look for other online writing jobs, Google “writers wanted,” check Craigslist (but be wary of scammers), and bookmark some of the many sites that list writing jobs, such as Freelance Writing Gigs, the Absolute Write forums, Freelance Writing Jobs, and Write Jobs. Keep on reading the Demand Studios general forum, too. I found my now-favorite writing site because someone on the DS forums was raving about it.

I'd suggest staying away from revenue-share sites, for the most part, especially sites that have been targeted by Panda. The best bet now is to work for clients directly or for sites (such as Constant Content, WriterAccess, and Textbroker), which act as middlemen between writers and publishers.

To branch out beyond online writing, check out the job listings at Media Bistro and take a look at the classic guide, the Writer's Market. If you buy the deluxe edition, you’ll get a year’s free subscription to their online database as well.

If you were mostly a creative writer before DS, this could be a good opportunity to find new, more interesting projects that don’t require writing about computer-generated topics while typing into little boxes.

If you had professional writing experience before DS, brainstorm new ways to get back in touch with old contacts.

Picking titles from a list

It may seem silly, but one part of writing for content sites that always appealed to me was browsing through lists of titles. It’s not that I couldn’t think of my own topics to write about, but seeing those lists somehow kick-started my brain.

Textbroker and WriterAccess both have lists of requested titles. While their pay rates are often (though not always) less than Demand Studios' rates, you can usually write articles for them faster than was possible at DS. Also, both offer the chance of being selected for direct orders at potentially higher rates.

Don't burn bridges

While it may be tempting to leave DS with a bang, you can't predict what will happen next at this company, which has always been  unpredictable. They could come up with new projects some day that would be just what you were looking for. I certainly wouldn't count on it -- but I wouldn't rule it out either.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Big changes at Helium and Demand Studios

Photo by Jonas B
I've been a critic of Helium since the disastrous retooling of the site in December 2010, but I have to give credit where credit is due: Helium took a huge step forward this week by announcing plans to publish page views and pay rates. Moving towards greater transparency sets a whole new positive tone for this formerly secretive company.

More after the jump

Helium is also changing the way it calculates revenue share. The company's blog post revealed the old payment formula, for the first time, and it turns out the formula relied heavily on the site's rating system, giving more income to articles with higher ratings. The new revenue share system will pay strictly by page views, which I believe is a lot more fair, considering how flawed the rating system is. In a way, it's an admission that the rating system, the site's original claim to distinction (even the site's name, Helium, referred to the way the rating system was supposed to lift quality to the top), no longer carries much weight.

Pay rates were posted on the forum. They vary by category (topic), and the current range is $1.25 to $2.00 per thousand page views.

Demand Studios seems to be moving in the opposite direction, away from transparency. It soon became clear that the vaguely-worded memo sent out on Oct. 5 meant there would be little work left for writers and editors who weren't assigned to special projects -- and this was after months of the company claiming that the slowdown was only temporary and/or was a technical glitch. Confusion still reigns because after the "buh-bye" announcement, DS then announced a program to help writers new to the site. There are no titles, but they are hiring new writers?  No one seems to know what is going on, but suspicions are running high.