Monday, January 10, 2011

Writing Jobs, Online Copywriting Jobs: Demand Media Studios

Formerly known as Demand Studios and now known as Studio D, this company offered freelancers pay in exchange for their services. These services included writing, film-making, editing, and title-proofing.

Update: In 2011, Demand Media launched a First Look program, which allowed a select group of writers to receive "first dibs" on the available articles. Those with degrees seemed to be held in higher demand than writers like me, who wrote based on research.

It should also be noted that in August 2015, Demand Media closed it's Austin, Texas office. Since then, the company has rebranded under the name StudioD.

Here are some direct quotes from Jordan, as posted in the StudioD forum:

Today I’m thrilled to unveil the studioD Talent Network, the new face of Demand Media Studios. Under this new brand, we will continue to be one of the leading destinations for quality content creation for brands. As the talent network, our mission is to match you with leading brands to create content that fuels conversations with their customers and fans. Brands need your skills and as part of our network you will have the opportunity to create some of the most engaging content online.

How does this affect you? DMS contributors are automatically part of studioD’s network, no need to reapply or sign up for anything. As we make new projects available, we’ll work directly with individual talent to present them with opportunities. Every project we do will be different; some will require photographers, writers, editors or talent with social followings. Our team will strive to make sure that every match we make benefits not only our client, but you as a contributor, as well.

Because I no longer work with Demand Media, now Studio D, I cannot say with confidence that working with them would be worth your time. As a matter of fact, websites like Demand Studios Sucks might deter you from signing up. This website has certainly had an effect on the company's image—although the majority of information presented is opinion-based.

What was Demand Media?

Since I can't speak on Studio D, as I have never worked with them since the rebranding, I will focus on discussing what Demand Media was before their stocks plummeted.

Demand Media was a "content farm" with an application process. Once accepted, writers were paid to produce keyword rich, original content based on what people were searching on the web. Demand Media provided the title, interface, templates, and editors, but all research and writing was completed by their team of writers. Writers would claim titles in their niche, compose the article, cite their sources, and then send it off to review.

Did Demand Media have guidelines?

Yes, and they were fairly strict about them.

A writer couldn't expect to submit an application, be approved, and start producing content right away. This would certainly lead to rewrites and rejections. Instead, writers were encouraged to become familiar with the way things worked—review all of the guidelines, study them, and if possible, print them off for reference.

Failing to abide by Demand Media guidelines would've surely result in a rewrite request. You only had one shot at rewriting the post before it was completely rejected. If you continued to write rejected articles, you would be placed on writer probation. Writer probation decreased your claim queue and your work was constantly monitored for quality. If you still couldn't get your work up to Demand Media standards, you would be cut.

How much did Demand Media Studios pay?

When I worked with Demand Media, pay for articles averaged around $15 and $20 for a 400-word article. There were also "special sections" available, which allowed writers to apply for to write on specialty topics. The pay per article in the specialty sections was higher than the articles found in the general queue.

How and when did Demand Media Studios pay?

There were two forms of payment at Demand Media when I was a writer for them. Fixed Fee articles were paid a one-time rate (rate was disclosed before claiming). "Revenue Share" articles were paid based on page view performance.

For fixed fee articles, writers were paid twice weekly (Tuesday and Friday) for approved articles. Revenue share was paid around the 10th of the month for the previous month's earnings. All payments were made via PayPal.

Did you keep the rights to your content?

No. When Demand Media paid you for your work, they were basically purchasing exclusive lifetime rights to your content. Your content was allowed to be sold by Demand Media and/or published on any of their partner websites. After Demand Media paid you for your work, you were not allowed to sell or redistribute the work elsewhere. All work remained the sole property of Demand Media.

How much could you earn with Demand Media Studios?

Earning potential depended on a number of factors—how many titles you could claim, how quickly you could write them, and how well your articles performed (for revenue share titles) were all factors in income potential.

Prior to Google's algorithm changes, I was earning a fair supplemental income with Demand Media. I would work for an hour or two per day, five days a week. My weekly income averaged between $110 and $250. Other writers were earning $800 or more per week.

After the Panda changes took place, Demand Media began to crack down and titles became scarce. Opportunities were bleak at Demand Media after 2011.

Demand Media Studios First-Look Update

Demand Media Studios sent out the following email to all writers on October 5, 2011:

Studio Writers,

We are excited to announce a new program called First Look. It is intended to reward our highest-rated writers by giving them the first look at new titles. Starting this week, the highest-rated writers will have advanced access to view and claim new assignments for 48 hours before they are released into the Find Assignments pool.

We've all invested a lot and we want to further reward writers who best exemplify the attributes of good writing. The eligible group will be those writers who maintain an average structure of 4.0 or higher for their last 50 articles.

The score will be recalculated with every new article. While we plan to add this updated score to your Work Desk, it will not be immediately visible. We may also at some point modify this method of calculation. If your average falls below 4.0, you will lose First Look privileges until you bring your score back within the qualifying range.

In an attempt to be mindful and fair to all eligible writers, all writers' assignment claim limits will be set to 10. As with the current system, once you submit an article, you may claim another assignment. We will notify those writers eligible for First Look via email. All changes will go into effect in the next few days.

We will continue to listen to your feedback and invest in programs like this. Please visit this forum thread if you have any questions.

Jeremy Reed, SVP Editorial

After the First Look Announcement was made, Demand Media implemented numerous changes. Writers with a grammar score of 4.0 or higher (based on their last 50 articles) had a 48-hour advantage to view and claim articles. For writers with grammar scores sitting at 3.9 or less, finding articles became virtually impossible.

Content pools that were once a writer's paradise, filled with over 40,000 titles to choose from, became empty, desolate space. Opportunities were scarce and writers began scrambling to find other writing gigs to make ends meet.

Because Demand Media has experienced so many pitfalls since their launch, I cannot recommend Studio D. I advise all potential writers to use their best judgement and to do plenty of research before joining.

Do you write with StudioD? Let us know what you think!


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