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.
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.