"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Demand Studios Review

Demand Studios Review

A lot of people have asked me my opinion about Demand Studios and whether it's worth it or not. There are a lot of things to like about Demand Studios, and there are things that annoy the living piss out of me when it comes to writing for DS, but I will say this much right off the bat with my Demand Studios Review: this website is definitely worth writing for. I'll go through the rest in my normal long rambling posts trying to cover every little detail, but for right now don't let any of the details or mini-rants coming up deter you from expanding to writing for DS in at least a part time basis. But I believe in telling the good and the bad, so let's jump in.

The bad news right off the bat is that Demand Studios is yet another site that is not open to international freelance writers. They are mainly U.S. based, and although there were plans to expand to Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, I have no idea if this has actually occurred yet or is still in the drawing board.

For those of you who are looking to break into freelance writing as beginners, Demand Studios is a really good place to go, and it's a very solid place for established writers to defeat the entire idea of "feast or famine." In fact, if you wanted to make a full time living writing solely for Demand Studios, depending on where you live that goal could very well be possible.

Getting accepted into Demand Studios writing program
You will be required to apply to the program and prove your writing is up the standards desired in order to write for DS. If you're even an average writer, this shouldn't be a problem at all. Just be sure to proof and double proof your writing samples because this would be the wrong time to have a stupid typo sink your chance to write for Demand Studios. If you've already written several articles for eHow, you have an even better chance of getting accepted and should mention that in the application since Demand Studios is the parent company to eHow.

The application process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. In my case, I was approved in two days, but I also believe it helped that I had over 150 approved articles at eHow at the time I applied. That's about as good evidence as you can get to prove you can write up to their standards.

What it pays
Freelance writers at Demand Studios are paid on a per article basis, although writers also have the option of writing "residual income" articles that don't pay anything up front, but can be a source of passive income over time - kind of the way eHow works. Pay can range from $3 for a tip article that is only 100 words and one source (read less than 5 minutes of work), and there are other articles at $5, $7.50, $15, $20 or even more.

I find most articles are either $15 or $7.50, and even when I'm not pushing myself at all it's easy to write a $15 article in 40-45 minutes or 3 $7.50 articles in an hour. Sometimes more depending on the article style. When I'm on the ball and really trying to hammer away, it can be much higher. In fact, two days ago I wrote $210 worth of Demand Studios articles in just under 9 hours.

You won't be able to get those results until you're familiar with DS and the style guides, but it is a place you can eventually reach. So if anyone asks if Demand Studios is a scam, it most definitely is not because you can get paid very well, especially once you break it down on a per hour basis. Most people I know would be very happy with a $15+ an hour job, especially if they got to choose their own hours or work extra whenever they felt like it.

Most articles will be either $7.50 or $15, although occasionally you might see a surge of $20 articles - I made a lot of money through Golflink requests at the end of 2009 when that happened. How much you can make an hour will depend on:
  • How fast you can research
  • How quickly you can type
  • How well you can write to template
  • How quickly you can proof read
That's it. Different styles of articles on Demand Studios have different time requirements, so I'll only briefly cover that, seeing as how each writer is different and figuring out what you excel at or what you prefer to write about can make a huge difference.

Article Styles
There are many different types of article styles, and individual freelance writers are going to excel at different styles. That's one of the most important pieces of writing advice I can give to in this Demand Studios review. Look around, try out different styles, and figure out what works best.

You can read about the different style types and requirements for each one on the Demand Studios articles on the sites, but many of my favorite styles are: fact sheets, decision, list, & about articles.

The fact sheets and decision articles will normally be $7.50 each, while the list and about articles will be $15 a piece, with an occasional $20. My personal favorites at this point are the decision articles, because I can pop those out in around 15 minutes, and the about articles, which take 35-40 depending on how much research I need to do. I made a lot of money off the list articles and they're a simple template, but finding and recording all the address information meant that those articles took 45-50 minutes, so I'm moving away from them to more "about" articles.

However many people might be good at the "how to" articles and can knock them out with little effort. I am not organized enough to be good at these, but there are always thousands available for writers who are really good at that format.

How much can I write?
One of the biggest benefits of writing for Demand Studios isn't the pay levels themselves, but it's the time and work ability. You can only check out 10 titles at a time to work on, but once they are under copy editor review that space can open up and you can pick up another title. This means you can write far more than 10 articles a day. The most I've written in one day was 22. A lot of those were the $7.50 articles, but that still resulted in a $265 day, which is an entire week's take home pay if you're living where I am (where minimum wage jobs are about all you can find right now, if you're lucky).

So you can write, and write some more, and write some more. You can do a few a day as a side income to save up for retirement, vacation, or an emergency fund, or you can make this a pretty full time gig. It's a great supplement even for professional freelance writers because if you're in a 3-6 week "drought" as far as writing assignments go, there's nothing like being able to jump online and knock out $15-30 an hour whenever there's nothing lined up. It definitely makes it easier to budget and make it through a year.

How Demand Studios pays
Demand Studios pays its freelance writers through PayPal twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. It's a pretty convenient system for budgeting. Articles finished by Sunday night are paid on Tuesday, then articles finished by Wednesday night are paid on Friday. Any articles that aren't paid on one day get rolled over to the next, so as long as you write consistently you'll get paid twice a week.

Is Demand Studios a Scam?
Demand Studios is not a scam, contrary to what many self-righteous freelance writing blogs out there say. I personally don't believe that Demand Studios is a rip-off, either. How many millions of people work for less than $15 an hour? That's $32,000 equivalent in salary, but even many of my college grad friends who make $30-40k a year, they DON'T work 40 hours. They work 60. Or 70, or more. And if you're a dedicated writer, you can easily make $22-$30 an hour on DS and choose to work more than 40 hours a week.

If you consider anything less than 6 figures a rip-off, then fine. But plenty of part time workers, unemployed workers, college students, and struggling people right now will be more than happy to hammer away for $15 an hour and a lot of us didn't start with any back up plan. Why don't I spend more time "improving my value" as one fairly arrogant writer put it? Because I made the mistake of going to college and grad school. If don't start off at zero, I start off with a ridiculous amount of bills each month and if I don't pay them, I go homeless. Again. For the 3rd time.

So $15 an article is fine with me because it's a lot better than what I started with working my way back, and that much money can be a major blessing for a lot of people.

I also don't fully buy the most common counter arguments of "professional writers" because:
  • Printed mediums are dying. There are less and less markets for more and more competition.
  • Already established writers will get the majority of work.
  • There is very limited work that pays really well, and
  • There is limited high end talent.
Some people just aren't going to be good enough to "work their way up," and others have to work 40-60 hours a week to break even for past mistakes (hell0), and keep the rent paid and food coming in while I work on building passive income and working on the business I'm starting with my brother. I don't have 40 hours a month to keep sending out query letters or samples that get nice hand written or typed comments about having writing talent, but not being right at this time. And I don't have the built in connections to force my way in.

The big advantage of Demand Studios is when I want to make $20+ an hour, I can jump online and do it for as long as I want. I love making $72.50-$100 an hour working on the weekly Forex reports I prepare for a couple of clients, but that was, is, and always will be only 1.5-2 hours of work a week. Something has to fill the spare.

Demand Studios Complaints
Now that I've talked them up, let's get toe the common Demand Studios complaints, and some reasons why even previous writers left some very negative Demand Studios reviews. There are some things that be incredibly annoying if not outright aggravating about writing for DS. So lets start with the copy editors.

Straight out, a lot of them either don't know what they're doing, act like they're editing for the New York Times, or you'll receive contradictory information from two different editors. In fairness, I shouldn't have said "a lot," I'm sure it's a minority of editors there, BUT it seems like a lot when a lot of articles get sent back for revision. This isn't always a bad thing - many of the revisions are stupid little things that take all of 2-3 minutes to fix. Spending another 2 minutes on something for $15 shouldn't piss off anyone.

That said, those other reasons can be a hassle. If the comments for revision are paragraphs long and involve a condescending lecturing tone, I simply walk away and let the assignment expire. At that point it's not worth my time. Editors not knowing what they're doing can be really annoying, especially when they ask for revisions that make the articles just sound terrible. But it happens and you have to decide how to deal with that on a case by case basis. For the contradictory info, just make the editor who is going to pay you for that article happy, and try not to let the annoying things bother you.

These things can really throw off your day, but part of being a freelance writer is learning how to develop a really thick skin. You can't survive without it. Also: don't worry about the graphs that tell you what % of articles were accepted, accepted with rewrites, rejected, etc. Most of the writers I've talked to who use DS full time have about 30% of their articles that have to be revised. I usually have 20-25%, and 3-4% where the requests are unreasonable and I simply walk away from them.

As long as the majority of your articles are accepted, you're fine. Any articles I "walk away from" or in the rare 1% times it's rejected, I copy the text and sell it elsewhere. You're not supposed to take the title, but if they don't pay me for the writing I sell it online to someone who will. That's making the best out of an unfortunate situation.

The main Demand Studios complaints are almost certainly going to revolve around the editors. While there is some legitimacy to these complaints, you can either move on and make some money, or don't. I do my best to not let it bother me, and keep hammering away to pay off the bills.

And that's pretty much it, folks. That's my review of Demand Studios. Especially for beginning part time freelance writers, college students looking to save up for spring break, or for the unemployed who need some income, any income, DS is a very good option - especially if you're trying to build up passive income but you need more money now. The editors can be a pain in the butt, but buy a punching bag and put it in your office every time one gets to you and the problem is solved.

I hope that helps. If you have any more questions about writing for Demand Studios or why I'm a firm believer that DS is NOT a scam, and while it's not the end all, be all, to freelance writing it beats the hell out of being homeless, working for minimum wage, or adjuncting as academic slave labor (sorry guys). It's a great stepping stone, and if you're from a background where a long life of poverty is reality, it's one heck of a step towards getting to the right place, please feel free to leave me any questions in the comment section and I'll do my best to respond.

Demand Studios & eHow Update: Okay all, there has been a huge change at eHow and this change is going to drastically effect the parent company, Demand Studios, as well, IMO. As of April 5th, 2010, eHow has shut its doors to its writers and will only accept articles from parent company Demand Studios. Not only do I strongly disagree with and dislike this move, but I think it's going to eventually make writing on DS much more difficult, as well. I'm going to take a little bit of time to find out what I can before coming back and talking more about what I think this all means for freelance writers.


  1. Thanks for the review. I've heard bits of good things & bad things about DS, so it's good to see an actual review that considers pay, assignments, etc.

    A friend of mine does writing assignments for a company called ODesk (www.odesk.com), which seems similar to DS in some ways. ODesk also has assignments for proofreaders & other tasks. I'd be interested to see your take on that outfit if you ever use it.

    --Dave B

  2. Hi Dave,

    Not a problem and I'm glad you found the review useful. I have heard of ODesk. I checked them out early on when they were just getting started and decided not to spend time there because I thought Guru and Elance had much higher profit potential, even if they did require a paid membership. That being said, in fairness a lot can change in a couple years and I've heard enough good things from other online freelance writers that I've definitely been mulling at giving them another look.

    I actually hesitated at joining Demand Studios for almost a full year for the same reasons you mentioned - I heard some bad reviews, heard people complain about long wait times to get approved, and many other things. While I have had a few editors I wanted to strangle with a keyboard cord (but as a writer it's only inevitable you're going to run into a couple sooner or later). I can't even remember whose blog it was I read - if it was WriterGig at the Work at Home Mom Blog or Felicia at No Job for Mom blog, but after reading from one of them about Demand Studios I was convinced to at least give it a try, and now I'm pissed off at myself that it took that long. The year and a half since being laid off from my previous job in Austin could have gone a lot easier and smoother if I had just tried them out earlier. But you live, you learn.

    Thanks for the kind words, and I wish you all the best in your online writing career.

  3. I've been writing for Demand Studios for about three months and my feelings about it are almost completely in line with yours. I like the upfront money and the flexibility it provides, while also wanting to cry at times over ridiculous copy editor problems. Overall, I'm very happy with my experience there. I'm also working on building up a passive income stream, mostly at Suite 101, and it's nice to have something to help with the bills while I focus on that. Great post!

  4. Hi Kathy,

    Always good to hear a second point of view. It really is the balance. Most of the time I'm very happy writing for Demand Studios, and I'm definitely grateful for the constant income stream they can provide for freelance writing, but once in a while you run into a copy editor who is just incompetent or nuts, and that really can throw you off. I think the stat I'm most proud of is I've left 8 articles to expire without doing the revisions, because the editing orders were so ridiculously demanding that there was no way it was worth my time. That's hard for me to do, but considering the 150 published with no issue, I don't think it's going to hurt. Suite 101 is one I've heard about constantly, and still need to get to myself to check out. Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad you liked my Demand Studios Demand Media review.

  5. So now that eHow is only open to Demand Studio writers, have you heard anything back on the process of getting hired by them is?

    I've been recommending DS to people I run across that are hard up for money, but if they're all but impossible to get into, I'm going to stop.

  6. Hi Dan,

    I'm not sure, to be honest with you. I was writing for Demand Studios prior to the entire eHow fiasco, so I didn't have to worry about getting approved since I was already over there. I've heard some mixed reviews so far. Some writers have said they have no problem getting in. Others claim they've been rejected and they don't know what else they can do.

    I don't think they would be all but impossible to get to...I know the editorial standards at Constant-Content are by far and away the toughest I've found online (and that's not a bad thing - learn to price right over there and you can make a great income), so I would think solid writers with good writing samples shouldn't have a problem getting into Demand Studios, but I honestly can't say for sure what the process is right now. I'm still mulling over whether or not I want to write for eHow through DS, but after giving it a lot of thought I think in June when I get a touch of spare time I'm going to write 30 with decent keywords (but none of my best ones) and see what results I can get and if it's worth it or not. I still write for DS for the cash, though. I'd tell people just apply and see what happens. You can even try more than once by having more than one e-mail. Right now that's about all any of us freelance writers can do as we watch how this all plays out.

  7. Hi,

    I found your post after failing to apply for DS due to my being a non US citizen.

    Do you have a similar site to suggest for an international writer?


  8. Hi Out and About,

    I'm not as familiar with sites for non-US writers. I'd suggest checking out oDesk, as I believe they're still free for a auction based set up. Elance and Guru are great places to find work, but require subscriptions and some time to build up a portfolio. For long term passive income options, I think you might have a lot more going for you like with (I believe, but double check on these sites) Xomba, InfoBarrel, Squidoo, and HubPages. I hope you find something there that helps. Best of luck!

  9. Hi,

    I've been writing for DS for over a year as well. Everything that you've said in this post is what I have experienced. Some of the editors' comments can really get on my nerves. They can throw me for a loop. What I need to improve on is cranking out more articles. Any suggestions? What's your opinion on the Scorecard?


  10. you can see my opinion on demand studios on my blog http://changingmylifekimberlycummings.blogspot.com

  11. Hi Kimberly,

    I'm sorry you ended with such a bad experience with Demand Studios. I've had websites or clients dump me in similar fashion before and it's never fun, to say the least. I enjoy the theme of your blog and hope your writing career as well as your goals in regards to changing your life go great for you. Thanks for stopping by and offering a good counter-point.


    Master Dayton

  12. Hi Fel,

    My best advice for cranking out more articles is to think of a couple niches or specialties where you know the material well enough (and ideally know a couple reputable sources online, as well) to crank out material more quickly. Avoid articles that require contact information - it's amazing how much of a time drain that one small part of the article is, and avoiding those articles definitely increases your speed. I would also say to look for a specific style of article that you're faster at. I've found one or two types of articles on DS that I'm simply faster at producing than others, so those are the Demand Studios articles that I stick with. Hope that helps.

  13. Hello, everyone
    does anyone know any websites where i can find jobs as a write like Ds that pays as well as DS does.
    Thank you all for your help.

  14. I was wondering if you stayed with DS since the ehow fiasco??? Also what companies pay as well as DS??? I am not a writer at heart but need something to supplement my income when my job at Lionbridge is slow. Any advice on what is the best type of article to write my sample for DS would be appreciated.

    Thank you and enjoyed your article

  15. I do still write for DS. I went away for awhile when there were virtually no titles I could find that were practical for writing, although the recent influx of titles has been much better again. A good list or how to article works well for DS, and although they're not quite as good take a look at BrightHub. In the long run finding private clients is the way to go, IMO, but that does take time.

  16. Nice article. I just got my fifth DS article accepted and already I have run into the "contradictory advice" issue with editors. Fortunately none of them have been unreasonable...yet.

    One thing I will say about DS--and this is not a drawback about the site as much as my own realization about freelancing--is that searching for titles and researching (oh yeah, and eventually writing) for 9 hours straight is difficult. I think that all DS writers have indulged the thought "Oh I could write 2 articles per hour, at 50 hours a week, and make 75k a year!" Easier said than done.

  17. Demand Studios is a MESS! From beginning to end EVERY step of the way is as difficult as they can possibly make it. For NO reason except that they take their power trip pill each day. I write for four companies whom I LOVE. Not that they are perfect--all have their little idiosyncrasies, but professional, organized and for the most part, reasonable. I added Demand as a fifth company to write for and ran away screaming!

  18. I hope to be successful at DMS. I have been freelance writing for 2 years. I'm nervous about those editors

  19. A very strange thing happened with me - I suddenly got an email saying that I had been accepted at DS, sent in the tax form and added all the other stuff they wanted.

    I started applying for many specialities and got rejected on each one, though it was content published online or in print!

    Before I could do any of the 'test' assignments, I got an email saying that they had revoked my writer permissions!

    Then I got another email saying that they accept writers from only USA, Canada, etc. etc. and as I am in India they cannot accept my application - this after I queried online about how to go about accepting assignments.

    I got a welcome package from them and spent considerable time going through all the pages and filling out my profile, etc. etc.

    I wonder why they accepted me in the first place, then sent me a welcome package and then revoked the permissions and then said they don't accept writers from other countries!

  20. Thanks so much for this review! I'm relatively new the freelance writing field but would love to be able to make a living from it. I saw a job posting for Demand Media Studios on Pro Bloggers jobs and wanted to make sure it was an authentic opportunity, because I've been accidentally sucked into writing mills with lousy pay before.