Friday, March 5, 2010

Evil Eye on Demand Studios

So to finish off that rant against content aggregators... (And please do visit one of the many sites furnished with inane content by the bleeding fingers of desperate writers like Cockatoo: eHow, Answerbag, Life123, Livestrong, Gardenguides, just to name a few. Cockatoo promises you will not be not disappointed.)

Continuing from last week, here's Catch #2: The miserable pay rates.

True, Demand Studios, unlike other content aggregators, does redeem itself a little just by the fact that it offers them at all - most aggregators only offer pay-per-click compensation where, in order to get paid, people not only have to read your article, but also click on some of the beautiful advertising that decorates every inch of its perimeter. And, actually, I guess because it wasn't finding its flat-fee-payment scamming methods lucrative enough, Demand Studios also offers this kind of maybe/maybe-not compensation.

(You'll have to excuse the change to first-person - Cockatoo gets tired of saying "Cockatoo.")

They call it "revenue sharing". Yes, from the side of the naive writer, that's a way to put it. From the side of Demand Studios, though, it would have to be "revenue-stealing." That is, if they were honest, which of course they're not. On their website today, I read that the average writer supposedly makes $20 an hour.

HAAAA!!! HAAAAAAAAAA!!!! (You should imagine Cockatoo's eyes bulging while she yells this maniacally a la Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.)

Here are the reasons for the HAAAAA's:

1. As mentioned in the previous post, you have to waste a lot of time sifting through either stupid, undo-able, or mis-categorized titles before you can find one to write on.

2. You have to waste a lot of time researching and learning about topics because their selection of articles doesn't allow you to write about anything that you might actually know something about. Not only that, they require you to cite at least one reference for every article, presumably to lend their content an air of legitimacy and reliability. And pretty much all factual claims have to be backed by references. My first article, "Fashion Hairstyles for Men" had to be backed by references. Yes, the references can be crap. You can cite almost anything, so long as it's not Wikipedia, or one of the many sites that get their content from Demand Studios like eHow and Answerbag. It doesn't seem to matter. I guess they've figured out that most people won't actually click on the references to verify their quality, so as long as they just have something to stick there at the bottom of the article they're fine. Still, needing to find even bogus references means research is inescapable, no matter how idiotic the topic or how familiar you are with it. And that means more time wasted.

3. Now they actually require you to find a photo in their database to put at the top of certain articles. Oh. My. God. (Eye's bulge.) If you don't find one, you have to give a reason why you didn't. So there goes more time wasted not only putting together, but also making pretty, a stupid article that very few people are actually going to take seriously.

4. Finally - the ridiculous rewrites and rejections that eat up even more of your time. I had an article rejected because I didn't define "market capitalization." Today, on the Demand Studios site I read a writer complaining that she had an article rejected because she forgot to add "as of 2010" after some salary info she cited - even though the editor knew that this was precisely what was omitted and could have simply thrown in the 3 words herself. It makes sense that this is what writers would experience, though, since copy editors at Demand Studios are payed a flat-rate per article edited, something like $3.50. So editors are motivated to get through as many articles as quickly as possible. A lot of the time it's probably faster to send a rewrite request or reject an article than to give the writer a break and do the work of fixing it.

Sifting, researching, learning, prettifying, writing, rewriting, at a rate of $15 for a 400-500 word article, $7.50 for one of 150-200. To make those $20 bucks an hour, you'd have to write about 450 words; go through this entire process, from sifting to rewriting, in less than an hour. Yeah. Okay. From my experience, on a good day, the pay rate is something like $10 an hour. On a bad day, when it takes me forever to find a write-able title, to comprehend the topic, to cite everything, to write to the precise word-count, and then, on top of it all, I get a rewrite request, the rate can plummet down to about $3 an hour. Your probably wondering why I'm still doing it.

Because Cockatoo is Cuckoo. She suffers from severe social anxiety and finds it nearly impossible to hold down a job for more than 6 months. (Really, this is just code for "she hates people and waking up early.") Writing for Demand Studios allows her to earn money without having to deal with people or a lot of the discomforts of being a wage-slave. She's sure she'll find a better deal eventually.

Anyway, I wonder how they even came up with this figure, given that writers are not paid by the hour and never have to give any information about how long it takes them to write their articles. Well, I guess it's never really hard to come up with a figure when all you have to do is pull one out of your ass that sounds good.

I said last time I'd give some tips on how to scam Demand Studios back. There comin'. Next time. I'm not done with these content aggregators yet - there are still plenty more to rag on.

For now, Cockadoodle.

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