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Demand Media Studios: My Account of Getting Fired from DMS
Demand Media Studios is a website that pays $3 to $25 or more for content provided by freelance writers. Recently, the company made a variety of changes to its site, including reducing the number of titles. Though it became known because of eHow, the eHow titles disappeared completely. Titles for other “special” channels also disappeared. Many writers could not find any titles available. Only those with permissions for eHow Home & Garden, Auto Beta, or Tech Beta still had access to titles. In the mist of all this, Demand Media Studios handed me my walking papers.
My History with Demand Media Studios
In the early days of Demand, writers wrote for eHow. We created our own titles, created an account on eHow, and published the articles directly on the website. After sending an invoice, we received a check in the mail. After working on a few projects, I moved onto other things. When Demand launched its website and dashboard program, I became a writer again. During that time, the site approved me for several special channels based on my writing, including Travels, Trails, Golflink, Livestrong, and a special USA Today project. Demand Media Studios decided to create an eHow Home & Garden section with gardening and home improvement titles and I received permission.
Problems with Editors
Many writers express problems with Demand Media Studios editors. The editing is inconsistent at best, with editors frequently offering contradicting information. If one editor tells you one thing, you can rest assured that another editor will tell you something different. A good example is writing out measurements. In my last three weeks with the site, I had no less than six different copy editors express a different way to use measurements. Each did so in a snarky way, claiming that their information was correct and the other editors were wrong.
My Problems with DMS Editors
As Demand Media Studios started “firing” writers and copy editors, the rewrites started increasing. Some were for minor problems, but in many cases I found editors that wrote a rewrite longer than the 400-word article for a simple task. One particular editor claimed four of my articles and sent each one back with a long rewrite request. I have an advanced degree in historic preservation and one of the titles involved Ranch homes. The editor claimed that because he/she lived in one of the houses as a child, his/her experienced trumped my degree.
The same editor changed factual information and added passive voice and inconsistencies to the article. I sent a CE Complaint form to Demand, pointing out my experience. I also posted on the forums, asking if anyone else had troubles of this kind. I woke up the next day to find an email that I was fired or “let go” and that my writing permissions were revoked.
The Demand Firing Email
According to Demand, one title the bad editor inserted false information into was actually correct. The fact that he/she had no references for the information and that my references did and that I did the project in the past was of no concern. The email also contained instances of three articles that supposedly contained false information. Yet all three articles were approved without any rewrites and each is currently listed as-is on eHow.
The firing email pointed out that I had an abandoned rewrite percentage of ten percent in the last six months. That covers the entire period, but looking at my own records, the majority of those abandoned rewrites came during the last month with the lack of titles. While it might sound high, it also means that 90 articles were approved for publication and 87 of those articles had no rewrite requests.
Getting Fired from Demand
As a freelancer, I realize that I am not an employee, but it still stings to lose my writing privileges. At no point in the past did Demand inform me that my writing was sub-par, or that any editor had a problem with my work. I was never targeted for the evaluation program, which supposedly weeded out inferior or bad writers. Looking at my past work, I discovered that I wrote over 4,800 articles for the site since 2008.
I firmly believe that the only reason the site fired me was because of the problems I had with editors. If I did not contact that site about the editor, would I still have a writing position? According to the email, the site conducted a random audit and deemed my work unworthy. The email came through at 11 o’clock at night and less than 24 hours after my complaint.
It is clear from the drop in stock prices and the lack of titles that Demand Media Studios is a sinking ship. As a writer with a published book and a Masters degree, it is clear that DMS is not looking for experts as they claimed before. Another writer was fired a few months ago, despite working on a doctorate and having taught college level English. DMS seems like it is slowly weeding through writers that have problems and leaving only the happiest and most confident cheerleaders left. Once the titles stop completely, those writers will be left out in the cold.
My advice is that if you still have writing permissions, do not rock the boat. Keep being a DMS cheerleader until you wake up to an email that you can no longer write for the site or worse, that the site no longer exists.