Exclusive: Demand Media now accepting UK, Canadian freelance writers

Demand Media is now accepting freelance writers from the UK and Canada – the first outside the US – as part of the first step in a planned European expansion.

The company had 7,000 freelance contributers in February, produces something in the order of 4,000 how-to articles and videos a day, serves two million YouTube streams a day and has already had hundreds of applications from UK writers. If you’re interested, go to DemandStudios.com.

I met Demand EVP Steven Kydd on Wednesday and he told me that the operation is now up and running, just weeks after the company launched a UK version of its mammoth-size eHow site.

Here’s an audioboo with more from Kydd himself…

Behind schedule: It’s not quite keeping to the schedule the company set out last year when I interviewed Kydd for paidContent:UK – he puts the delay down to dealing with growth in the US. To be fair, Kydd may just reach his earlier target of hiring 1,000 freelance writers by May 2010.

How it works: If you haven’t been following this, Demand’s eHow site publishes videos and text articles and uses algorithms to determine (a) what subjects potential readers are searching for and (b) what subject areas are popular with advertisers. There’s a human editor involved in every commission and freelance writers are checked before being employed. Freelancers get a list of things to write about, choose one, write it, and get paid something in the order of $15, though writers can opt for a advertising revenue share instead. Recently Demand began paying $80 a pop to its best eHow controbuters.

Content farm?: The sheer size of the Demand’s industrial content operation has led some to label it – not in a complimentary way – a “content farm” or “factory”. A Wired article in October was headed Fast, Disposable and Profitable as Hell, while one journalist urged everyone to boycott the “disrespectable…sweatshop”. To this, Kydd says:

I think what’s been lost in some stories is that just because we use data content algorithms does not mean that the content is created by algorithms or robots… this idea of using the art of traditional media and the science of the internet is really powerful for us.”

Fair pay? But journalists’ problems with Demand aren’t just about technology, they’re about economics. $15/$20 an article – or even $80 – isn’t enough to make a living and some accused companies like Demand of lowering the overall value of original content. How does Kydd plead?  Not guilty: he says Demand solves two of the main problems of freelance work: irregularity or paid commissions and the time spent pitching. Demand pays twice a week through Paypal and has more than 150,000 assignment ideas up for grabs today.

UK launch: But it’s not a full-scale assault on the British market, yet. UK freelancers can’t be copy editors and can’t get the ad revenue share deal US writers can. The London office, a stone’s throw from the city’s semi-mythical Silicon Roundabout, has a handful of staff – it says eight here – although some of those work on Pluck, the social media integration tool bought by Demand two years ago and used by Guardian.co.uk, Trinity Mirror and others.

Content partners: Watch this space on more deals to take Demand’s content from online to print, as it does with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Kydd says there are “some announcements in the months ahead that will gain some attention”, though he won’t say publically whether those partners are UK-based.

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16 thoughts on “Exclusive: Demand Media now accepting UK, Canadian freelance writers

  1. Pingback: Demand Media to accept UK and Canadian freelancers | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog

  2. Allison

    WARNING: All UK and Canadian writers, please research “eHow UK scam” before you consider writing for any Demand Media. Then read a few interviews with Demand Media’s CEO. eHow has systematically stolen from its freelance writers during the past 7 months by pretending to launch a UK site. It’s only when they were finally stopped from continuing to use writer-owned content that they began hiring UK and Canadian writers. There are other better US sites that actually pay fairly and are honest with their writers. Please do not subject yourselves the abuse the freelance US writers have endured at eHow and Demand Media’s hands, and do not help them to prosper. Please do us all a favor. Investigate first, then choose wisely.


    http://ehowscams.webs.com/ I would encourage you to at least read my blog before telling people about all the great money they can make through ehow. Their take on the $80 per article is false, no ehow writer is paid anywhere near that kind of money, and if you read my blog post THE ART OF THE $80 scam you will see how ehow has pulled the wool over the eyes of the people in the UK.

  4. Patrick Smith Post author

    @Preacher: I understand that not every eHow writer gets $80 – Demand Studios aren’t claiming that and I didn’t write that. As it clearly says in the company’s release – http://www.demandstudios.com/blog/announcing-ehow-premium-homepage-writers – that fee is for 50 selected eHow writers that will be featured on the homepage.

    If you have evidence that this is not the case and no writers are receiving that level of payment, please post it here or feel free to email me privately and I’d be happy to put those allegations to the company and update the post.

    @Allison: I agree people should investigate the terms and conditions before signing up to any freelance scheme – and you may well bw right that there better paid options out there. I’d welcome your suggestions on what those other services are. On the UK writers development, to be fair, the company has planned to roll eHow out to Europe for more than a year now.

  5. GloryBug

    The real question is WHY all of the sudden Demand Media has decided to announce paying $80 per article to 50 DS writers. They are already churning out 4k articles a day at much less pay. They’ve already been supposedly using computerized searches for key article titles… The announcement comes at the same time as the announcement to allow and pay UK and Canadian writers to join. Coincidence? Doubtful. More likely cheap WOM advertising to get a lot of new non-US writers. Some ideas about that at http://glorybug-thebigpicture.blogspot.com/

  6. Paul Bright

    Glad Demand has expanded beyond our borders! If you guys want an extra edge once you start writing with Demand Studios, check out my website. I’ve been with them for more than two years and developed a system that helps you crank out quality articles faster.

  7. Pingback: The middle of the end for quality journalism « Fine ale and cheap wine

  8. Susan

    To Patrick Smith: What is your response to the allegations of hundreds of U.S. eHow writers that articles written pursuant to revenue sharing agreements were copied (“mirrored) by Demand Media onto its “U.K” eHow site in 2009 to avoid paying contracted-for compensation and/or to inflate eHow’s value at the same time Demand Media was courting a buyer for eHow?


    As I have tried to explain, it is not, as you have stated, ehow writers who will be earning $80 per article. Ehow and DS wanted people to think this, to stir up news reports on its expandsion into the UK. Rich, the Manager at ehow has said himself no ehow writers will be making $80 per article. The hand selected few are DS writers, not ehow writers. And since the hand selected few are being kept secret, my guess is no one will be making $80 an article. I honestly believe it was just a stunt to get free press, which it has done. You have to understand how DS and ehow operate, their practices have been very questionable as of late.
    Let me attempt to explain a bit clearly what has happened. Ehow is expanding into the UK, I think we all understand that. Ehow cloned all the USA writers articles onto the UK site, so the site would have legs under it until it got going. Ehow made money from ads on those articles, but never reported this back to the USA writers, worse, they redireted the earnings into a ehow account and never shared any of that money with the USA writers. Word got out and ehow was forced to remove all of the USA articles, this is a fact.
    So the UK site now desperately needs content, and thus needs to get press coverage to attract those writers it desperately needs for the UK site. DS and ehow came up with a clever plan to put a story out there that ehow writers, a select number, will now be making $80 per article. We all began to ask as soon as the story broke, which ones are going to get the $80 per article and how do we get our names on the list. The reply was that this program is not open to ehow writers, only DS writers whose work also is posted on the ehow site. When asked for the names of any writers who are getting $80 per article, ehow and DS is silent, they can’t give you names because I don’t think anyone is being paid $80 per article. The whole thing is a PR ploy. But please don’t miss the whole point, which was they (ehow and DS) wanted people in the UK to think that some ehow writers were making that kind of money, and as I have stated, not one ehow writer makes or will ever make $80 per article.


    Patrick, I am so glad you posted a link to that story on the $80 per article announcement. Using that story you posted, maybe I can now make my case to you, and this is the first time I have seen this story. Yes, they do state it will be ehow writers, that much is clear. In fact, the name of the program is actually titled eHow Premium Homepage Writers. I think its safe to say we both can agree on this so far? Now if you would go down the page, to INCREASED EXPOSURE, and an example of a writer who is now earning $80 per article is listed. Is that an ehow writer or a DS writer? As I have tried to explain, ehow pulled a quick one on you and anyone who ran with this story. These are DS writers, not ehow writers. I believe you to be an honest reporter. In this case, ehow and DS hood winked you. Rich is the community manager at ehow, and he has said no ehow writers will be able to qualify for this eHow Premium Homepage Writers program. So why name a program eHow Premium Homepage Writers when in fact, ehow writers will not be part of the program? Free press for the ehow UK site, I hope using this very article you posted, and looking it over you will begin to see what ehow cleverly did with this story. By the way, I did try to find a link to you to talk about this, but you don’t seem to have a link up, and I am no good at trying to figure out how to type in emails. But I think I have explained this fairly good.

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  12. Michelle

    [...] The interview, conducted by freelance journalist Patrick Smith, is well worth listening to as it offers a window into the minds of those who are beginning to pull the strings in the publishing industry. [...]

  13. Pingback: psmith, journalist › Demand Media: The $114 million content machine that has nothing to do with news

  14. Pingback: The future of news…? | Journalism@Brunel

  15. Pingback: Interview: Demand Media EVP Steven Kydd on farms, going public and conquering Europe « MediaBriefing Experts' Blog

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