Should I Go Back to Writing for Demand Media?

Before I started blogging in personal finance, I wrote articles for Demand Media. It was a great gig nearly two years ago. For a mere 450 words and an hour of my time, I could earn $20-$25 publishing articles like “The Negatives of ABC Costing Systems.” It’s nothing I would put up on my Facebook timeline, since it read like a technical manual on whale classifications, but money is money. The titles related to subjects I studied for my MBA were easy, even if my writing wasn’t going to win me a Pulitzer.

Last summer, Demand Media burned a lot of bridges with most of their writers, including myself. When I say “burned bridges” I mean they ushered all of their writers onto the bridge and set fire to both ends. They let thousands of copy writers fight each other for a very small pool of article titles, eventually kicking most of their writers to the curb altogether. Many writers went from earning hundreds (if not thousands) each month to $20.

Writing just isn’t the same these days

That Was Then, This is Now

I hadn’t given Demand Media much thought over the last year. I’ve been too busy blogging and making money blogging. A few weeks ago, I was curious to learn what writing would be like one year later. So, I reapplied to the Business and Career sections (two sections I’d previously been accepted until being unceremoniously ejected without explanation).  I had no trouble getting accepted, although it took nearly three weeks to get a response.

To my surprise, things had improved greatly. There were tens of thousands of article topics to choose from. The topics themselves seemed more natural and less exotic. Even the available sites for publication seemed more interesting. I saw less of eHow and more Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Gate and The Nest.

Most articles earn $25-$30, which is higher than most will find doing staff posts.

Writing, Only Less Fun?

In comparison, things seem to be back the way they were a year ago. In fact, when it comes to title selection, it’s better than ever. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to join The Dark Side a second time.

The writing is formulaic and boring. In fact, the style guide for article structure has actually become more pedantic than before. I’m not ready to extract all fun out of my writing and go back to copy. The people at Demand Media do not have much of a sense of humor; Cracked.com must have been a fluke.

I’ve been rejected by editors on numerous sites over my last four years of blogging and online writing. In fact, I quit political blogging over a particularly harsh rejection. Still, it was more enjoyable than the constant battle with the Demand CEs.

I wish I was over-exaggerating, but some of the CEs were quite intolerable. One CE rejected an article, because they believed that teaching music was not a profession for musicians. Once an article is rejected twice, your efforts become fruitless and earn you $0. I’m not sure I’m ready to submit my articles to overbearing editors.

If you are looking to make money writing freelance, you’ll have a hard time finding a better site to write for. However, I plan to take a pass.

7 Responses to Should I Go Back to Writing for Demand Media?

  1. My wife wrote for Demand a couple of years ago and was also cut loose about a year ago. They claimed she was plagiarizing. My wife has been a copywriter for 10 years and never did any such thing. She made ok money with it for about a year but always had battles with CE’s that seemed to be on power trips. I understand if you’re writing for a well known publication, but Demand is simply about link building and not really good content. Short story long, I think you made the right choice to pass.

  2. I think I could make better use of my time. It is sad that they burned their bridges but it seems like they’re still doing fine. Something to keep in mind though should I ever need some extra income for something.

    • JP says:

      For one-off online money, I’ve yet to see a site that pays more. DM isn’t a horrible gig, but as I said, the format does suck the life out of writing.

  3. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. It’s probably not a great way to spend your time either since you are building your online businesses.

    • JP says:

      Where it is nice, is that I can write and article and pocket good money without any strings attached. Whereever/whenever I have a free hours. I write as little or as much. That kind of ultimate flexibility does sound enticing. Even if there is plenty of blog work to be done.

  4. eemusings says:

    I did try to apply a couple years ago but they weren’t accepting writers from NZ.

    The hourly rate is actually not too bad, but given that I’m now an established full time editor/writer, I’d be reluctant to put my byline on Demand pieces, though as you say it sounds like they’ve teamed up with some more prestigious publishing partners of late.

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