Can You Really Make Money Writing For Demand Studios / Demand Media? Updated for 2013
2013 update at end of article.
Yes, Demand Studios is a legitimate opportunity for making some quick cash while working from home.
Like so many other people, I want--no, need--to make some extra cash. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and it keeps me busy. I'm definitely not sitting around eating bonbons and watching soaps. I could work at the mom thing full-speed 24 hours a day and never run out of work. But let's face it, in this economy, and with my children getting older and in lots of expensive sports and activities, it would be helpful if I could contribute to the family income. Enter Demand Studios, the online media company that lets writers work at their own pace, set their own hours and choose from their endless list of topics. This sounds perfect for me, since my education and work background involve journalism, advertising, and technical writing. I'm in!
I followed their application process and was accepted to write articles for two of their websites, eHow and Answer Bag. They gave me lots of materials to read on their writing guidelines and specific style requirements. It was quite a lot of material, but an easy read. Their style took a little getting used to, but overall it's not hard to follow. It's necessary to follow their guidelines in order to have your articles accepted and published, so that you can be paid.
I was stoked to be accepted as a writer. Most eHow articles pay $15-$16 for around 400-500 words. If I could write one an hour, that'd be $15 per hour. Not bad for working at home in my pajamas at 11 o'clock at night. I immediately began searching in their "Find Assignments" section, looking for a topic that would be appropriate for me to write about. That was my first reality check. This section can be quite laughable, to put it nicely. For example, when I searched their section on animals, looking specifically for dog-themed assignments, some of the topics under this heading included "How to Change the Heating Coil in a 1994 Cavalier," "How to Troubleshoot an Airhandler Float Switch," and "What are IRS Plan Disqualification Penalties".
I decided to get smart and search the word "dog". This is when it got really frustrating, as I was told "no search results found," which is ludicrous, since when I cross-searched through animals/pets/dogs, there were numerous selections with the word "dog" in the title. Why didn't they show up in my search? I finally found their list of titles having to do with dogs. But titles such as "How to Convert a Propane Grill to Hot Dog Cart" still weren't what I was after. So with this long, wordy paragraph the point I'm trying to make is this: when you're figuring your wage per hour, don't forget to figure in the time it takes to find a title that is appropriate for you. It can be a real time-suck to wade through all the crazy, poorly categorized titles to find one that fits you. Sometimes it takes me longer to find the title than it does to write the article.
Which brings me to the photos. Same problem. Photos for an article are not required, but Demand prefers that each article have at least one. You can only use their photos, and good ones are about as easy to find as good article titles. Instead of just sending an article in without a photo, I become a woman on a mission and end up wasting tons of time searching through page after page of odd photographs. Don't be like me. You've got to blow off the photo if you don't find one right away.
Is it worth it?
Of course, that is a question each writer will have to answer on their own. If you can write quickly and confidently, then your answer may be "yes." Personally, I tend to employ a sloooowww writing process. I write a few sentences, read them, tweak them, write a few more sentences, read the entire article from the beginning, tweak some more... you get the picture. For me it is a slow process, and I can easily spend a couple of hours on one of those $15 articles. References are required on each article, which means that even if you are writing from personal experience, you still have to find a published, reliable source to back up your facts. This step adds time to the writing process. And then there are rewrites. Some of my articles have sailed through the acceptance process with only minor tweaks from the editors., while others have required lengthy rewrites. This will bring your hourly wage down even more. The more I write for Demand Studios, the faster I'm getting at it, and the more familiar I am with their style. The rewrites for me now are few and far between, and my writing pace is picking up. Still, I find that I'm often spending way too much time on articles with such a small payout. A thirty-minute article is a good pace for me, and gives me a satisfactory hourly wage. I sometimes hit this goal, and sometimes do not.
Some Love Demand Studios, Others Hate It.
Writing for Demand Studios can be frustrating. There are the crazy titles. The poorly sorted categories. The low pay. And then there are the fickle copy editors, or "CE's." CE's are the subject of many snarky forum posts by frustrated writers. It seems that they sometimes don't know what they want, contradict themselves, take themselves and the articles too seriously or demand unnecessary rewrites, among other complaints. But it sure is easier to deal with authority anonymously, on a limited basis and over the internet than it is every day in person. So far I have encountered only one or two CE problems and other than that they've been helpful, nice and easygoing.
The Money, Honey
Demand Studios pays directly into your Paypal account twice per week. From what I've seen and heard about other internet writing opportunities, Demand pays very well compared to other freelance sites. Remember to sock away a portion of your earnings, since you will fill out tax information with Demand, but because you are a contract worker they do no witholding for you. While these $15 articles aren't going to make you rich, the money definitely adds up. If you write three per day at $15 each, that adds up to $1350 in one month. Not bad for working in your PJ's.
March 2013 Update
The situation at Demand Studios has changed yet again. As of this writing, things are now set up so that writers must first apply to write for Demand. Once you pass over that hurdle and are accepted into the program as a writer, you then must apply to be a "specialist" for their various topic sections. The requirements to be accepted into each section vary, but for most of them Demand requires an education and/or professional experience in that field. If you have prior experience writing about that field, that is a plus and in some sections is required. Current sections are:
- Business & Finance
- Family & Relationships
- Fitness & Well-being
- Food & Drink
- Home Décor
- Real Estate
- Feature Writing
- Golf Tips
Keep in mind that just because you are accepted into a section as a specialist does not mean that there will be guaranteed work available. Some sections might have plenty of work available for a period of time, then run dry for a period of time. The good news is that most articles pay around $25-$30 each, rather than the $16 that they paid a few years ago.
Additionally, it might be good to know that according to some folks posting in the forums at the tell-it-like-it-is website DemandStudiosSucks.com, Demand seems to be rejecting writers who are extremely qualified in favor of those who have more basic qualifications. Speculation by these folks is that those who are extremely qualified will write highly specialized, intricately detailed articles that will be above editors' heads. I have no idea about this, as I got tired of the constnat run-around. I never bothered to apply for any of the new sections as a specialist and have not written for Demand for some time.