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Ruffled eHow Feathers

Further to yesterday’s post, I spent some time reading a particularly lively forum thread over at eHow. The thread reminded me why I don’t visit the forums very often. I usually visit them when there is a software issue or a major change to the site. Usually, if I page through the various comments, I could find the answer buried under snarky, humorous and sometimes downright rude comments.

As of this writing, the thread is about 33 pages long. I’ve found that the same questions were asked over and over again and the same answers were given time and time again. I’ve really got to hand it to the moderators over there, especially Julie. I don’t know how she does it. Hopefully Demand Media could spring for a quality bottle of wine and allow Julie to sip from it on occasion when the remarks get too frustrating.

What I Can Glean from the eHow Forums

From what I can see, folks are upset about writing for Demand Studios. I can understand that and have expressed my opinion several times here on NJFM. That being said, eHow writers have a choice. They can either create eHow articles using the Demand Studios interface or not. If they choose not to, then they have the option of using any of the other available online content sites to earn money as a freelance writer.

Those writers who were not pre-approved to write for Demand Studios have the option of going through the Demand Studios application process in an attempt to get accepted as a writer. If that fails, then they have to use Plan B…seek other writing opportunities.

As far as our existing articles go, nothing changes. WCP is still in effect for those and we’ll continue to earn.

Why Did Demand Media Do It?

That’s a question that only Demand Media can answer. I can speculate that it was because of profitability, content quality and ease in managing the writing process, but that’s just speculation and I’m not going to waste anymore time thinking about the why’s. My priority is to think about how I’m going to handle the change going forward.

My Initial Concerns

I had three concerns when I first heard about the change

  1. Increased my contact with Demand Studios CEs
  2. Maintaining the same revenue share algorithm
  3. Article ownership

Concerns addressed:

  1. CE Contact: CEs will review user generated articles. Either I learn how to handle them or stop writing for DS. Don’t get me wrong, most of the CEs are fine, but there is a very small percentage that can find my last nerve and work it (and I’m talking about working it real hard).
  2. Algorithm: According to the ever growing eHow forum thread, the Demand Studios revenue share algorithm is ‘similar’ to the eHow WCP algorithm. Only time will tell so I’m not going to lose sleep worrying about it. I’ll wait until I’ve put forth quality effort, gained results and analyze the results before I make a final decision. That will take a little time.
  3. Article Ownership: Call me crazy, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I write using a pen name over at eHow. Although I try to write quality useful articles, I wouldn’t use them in a resume. They are serving their purpose sitting on the eHow site under my username. If I really wanted credit, I’d use my full name.

A Little Story

Several years ago, an insurance professional (no, it’s not me), was working at a large brokerage firm. One day he walks in to find that his entire department is being dismantled and the entire staff is being redeployed (most of them were let go). This insurance professional had a couple of options. He could complain about the unfair situation, gossip and get upset or, he could pull out his serenity prayer and make the choice to take control of his situation (after all with a wife, two kids and a dog to feed, idle gossip won’t buy food).

Bottom line, in short order he ended up finding another position in the same company, earning more money, closer to home with reduced stress. While he was making calls, setting up appointments and taking control of his future, many of his co-workers were sitting around complaining and comparing horror stories about the unfairness of the situation.

My Advice

Get the facts, analyze your own situation, create a game plan and move on. It may be unfair but, as I say to my kids, “Is it fair that you have full use of your limbs and are in good health when so many other children are born without limbs and have debilitating diseases? Of course not! Sometimes life deals you a good hand and sometimes not. Your duty is to make the best of what you have, fair or not.

(Sorry if I got a little preachy)

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Sher April 6, 2010, 9:49 am

    Hi Felicia,
    You don’t sound preachy at all…you’re just telling it like it is. This is how things work in the real world. Better to be the captain of our own ship than to sink with the crowd! Work with the hand you’re dealt and make the best of all situations–thanks for sharing this advice with us!

    Have a great day,
    .-= Sher´s last blog ..Happy and Successful Expats =-.

  • Shannon April 6, 2010, 12:04 pm

    You sound logical and fair, Felicia — definitely not preachy. Excellent advice! The eHow/DS transition is a “Who Moved My Cheese?” situation. (I know you’ve referenced that book in past posts; I keep meaning to buy it.) People don’t like unexpected change but those who adapt will do just fine.

    I understand frustrations with Demand Studios — but it’s currently the only thing that saves me from a 9-5 ‘real’ job and commuting to Manhattan on the subway, so I’m a DS fan. 🙂
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..New Products for Eco Friendly Living: It’s Not Easy Being Green (Yet) =-.

    • Felicia April 6, 2010, 2:12 pm

      Shannon, you hit the nail right on the head. It’s most definitely a ‘Cheese moving’ situation. How we respond is key.

      BTW, I don’t miss my subway commutes either. I used to travel the iron horse in a prior life too. 🙂

  • Deborah April 6, 2010, 2:32 pm


    Thank you so much for this post. I was pretty upset about the situation and did a bit of complaining. After a good night’s rest, a decent breakfast, and a hard look in the mirror, I realized what was best for me.

    At this point, I want very little to do with Demand Media. I question their ethics and do not want to be a part of an organization that is so poorly run. I stopped being lazy and started sending out resumes again. I have hope that there are other options.

    I’m thinking about working for their competitor, Howcast. I know I have the skills to find better gigs and it just took a little time away from the situation to see that.

    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I’m totally moving with the cheese! 🙂
    .-= Deborah´s last blog ..Review of Freelancer.com =-.

  • Mandy April 6, 2010, 2:34 pm

    Thanks, Felicia, for trying to sort out the facts. The details are fuzzy. It seems to be they are trying to go one of two ways: if it’s a quality thing, then they are trying to publish better articles by requiring writers to apply, then submit to their editorial process. If so, then it’s a good thing that will hopefully get more page views and better pay for writers.

    On the hand, if it’s a change that is designed to save them money by eventually paying less to writers, then e-How itself will suffer. As even newbie writers get their feet wet and their confidence up, they will gravitate to the sites and venues that pay them fairly for their work. In the end, these writers will win because if e-how quality and pay take a nose dive you can be sure that there will be some other start up out there poised to take in all those terrific and experienced writers.

    One thing is for sure, the web isn’t getting any smaller and will always need writers to create all that content. I believe the successful sites will find a way to do that fairly.

  • Crystal April 6, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I also spent some time on the forums and basically came to the same conclusions. If I don’t want to play, I can always take my marbles elsewhere. I second the idea for Julie to have a little wine or maybe some chocolate or something – I sure wouldn’t want her job! Anyway, I’m anxious to see what the future holds. I have no experience with Demand Studios and have heard mostly negatives but plan to proceed optimistically nevertheless. What have I got to lose? When the rules change, it’s best to flex rather than fight.
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..New AdSense Revenue Sharing Writing Site – 80% Revenue Share! =-.

  • Beelissa April 6, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Felicia, thanks once again for an excellent post.

    I had a thought about that small group of CEs that seem to be able to push your buttons. I feel the same way. I wonder — working on a theory of mine, not sure if it’s accurate: do you think topic matters? do you find more problems with CEs when you write on one category vs. another? I write about things that I know, and they range from technology to bread baking and knitting and printing/publishing and web design and home improvement and diets and health-related topics and gardening. I got a really nice note from one of the CEs who edited 2 of my articles on computer fonts. It started me thinking that editors edit based on category, just like writers write that way. So if you identified categories that were troublesome and steer clear of those . . . ? what do you think?
    .-= Beelissa´s last blog ..New Year’s Resolution =-.

    • Felicia April 6, 2010, 3:36 pm

      Beelissa, I wish that were so, but I don’t think your theory holds true. Last December I wrote 100 articles on one topic. 98 went through without a problem and two were edited by that one CE that should be working in a prison or some other occupation, just not editing articles. 🙂

  • Lex April 6, 2010, 5:19 pm


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And let me say I agree with you completely; Julie is an incredible, and incredibly patient, asset.

    Regarding Copy Editors: Demand Studios takes that CE role seriously, and the CEs are their most audited group. If you deal with unpleasant or impolite CEs, report them, and we will handle them. We don’t want CEs at Demand Studios who make our writers’ lives more difficult.

    • Felicia April 6, 2010, 6:05 pm

      Lex, we’re going to take you up on that. Like I said, for the most part, the CEs are pretty good, but there are a couple of bad apples and boy, can they make life rough.

  • Rachel @ Pen Meets Wallet April 6, 2010, 5:27 pm

    I love how you compared the end of eHow’s WCP with that story about the insurance professional. This is so true on many levels, and it’s a reminder to hike up your pants and get going rather than sit and mope.
    .-= Rachel @ Pen Meets Wallet´s last blog ..The end of eHow? =-.

  • Aimee Larsen Stoddard April 6, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I so appreciate your no-nonsense approach to freelance writing. Thanks for continuing to put all of the ups and downs into perspective.
    .-= Aimee Larsen Stoddard´s last blog ..What Foods Are Bad for Pregnant Women to Eat? =-.

  • Fujoshicat April 6, 2010, 11:51 pm

    Felicia, I agree. When something unexpected like this happens, it’s time to regroup and make decisions based on the facts and on what you want for your life and your career. It can be a wake-up call. I still believe in residual income for content writing and I think that eHow’s WCP will be the model for other website entrepreneurs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see sites popping up with similar WCP-like programs, given eHow’s success with it. And then we can all sign up to write for them. 😉
    .-= Fujoshicat´s last blog ..Demand Studios and the End of eHow’s WCP Program =-.

  • Kidgas April 7, 2010, 5:32 am

    I found it quite ironic that about the time I want to maybe go back and give eHow a try, the system is changing. I am at least OK with the fact that I was pre-approved to write for Demand Studios. I think I will give it a go for a few articles and see what it is like. The concept of a little upfront pay is also somewhat interesting to me as well. I will have to see what transpires over the next few months.

    I can bet the forums are lit up. I remember the comments with the random sweeps. It might be worth a few minutes of entertainment.
    .-= Kidgas´s last blog ..Dead Laptops =-.

  • Julie @ Write for eHow April 7, 2010, 8:41 am

    As I read the eHow forums, I often thought the people there should all be getting a copy of ‘Who Moved My Cheese’. Life is about change and no business or workplace is immune from it. The ones who adapt and move forward are the ones who will prosper in the end.
    .-= Julie @ Write for eHow´s last blog ..Another Great Source of Passive Income: Mr. Rebates Referrals =-.

    • Felicia April 7, 2010, 8:52 am

      Julie, I love how you phrased that.

      “Life is about change and no business or workplace is immune from it. The ones who adapt and move forward are the ones who will prosper in the end.”

      I’m jotting that one down in my ‘favorite phrases’ book. 🙂

  • jseven April 7, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Thanks for this blog, Felicia. I have been with eHow for over a year and I’m making the transition to Demand. My biggest concern is how each writer/worker is treated, this is the difference in a giant corporation being great or terrible. One can never forget their small beginnings and become a “Mr. Potter” with a cold soul and all eyes on the money pit, creating a huge wedge in potentially great employee and boss relationships. Lex and Julie have spoken volumes to me so far, in greatness.

    One thing is right, we can’t expect the internet scene to stay the same and we should not put all of our eggs in one basket.

    Hope you don’t mind, I linked this to my blog, God bless!
    .-= jseven´s last blog ..Recent American Government Decisons Increase Nostalgia Desires =-.

  • April April 8, 2010, 10:51 pm

    Ha! Ha! I can’t help but giggle a little at Demand Studios actions with this. I had applied to Demand Studios about a year ago and was denied. About a month ago, I sent them a message asking them if it would be possible to apply again, as I have gained some experience writing online and felt my writing had improved. I was allowed to apply again…and received yet another denial. I found it rather ironic that my writing did not meet their standards, yet I do well on other sites where the standards are said to be much higher. When I received the denial, I simply shrugged it off and moved on. Now, two weeks later, I receive an email in my ehow inbox that they know I had previously applied and been denied, but based on the quality of articles on ehow (which, by the way, are some of my lesser quality articles) I have been pre-approved to write for Demand Studios!?! While I am a bit excited and curious at the prospects, I am a little leary of the negative comments I have read about DS. I guess I will just play it by ear and see what happens! I’m still a bit taken aback by the irony of it all though…especially considering the fact that I included a link to my ehow articles in my last application that was denied!

    • Felicia April 9, 2010, 7:46 am

      April, that’s funny. 🙂 I guess you get the last laugh.

  • jseven April 9, 2010, 3:33 pm

    That does make you wonder, they are grandfathering most of us in but are they going to accept us is the question? The forums at eHow are already getting stories of the rejections going on with their rewrites that make no sense.
    .-= jseven´s last blog ..Changes at eHow Causing Big Time Nostaligia and Reminiscing =-.

    • Felicia April 10, 2010, 7:02 am

      Jseven, that’s exactly why I don’t go to forums unless there is a specific question I need answered. Too much speculation, negativity and counterproductive talk for me.

  • Julie April 9, 2010, 7:04 pm

    I was here earlier and decided to leave in order to make a dent in my inbox. This was one of the messages waiting for me:

    “Dear Julie,
    “We wanted to let you know about an exciting new partnership we just announced with USAToday.com. Earlier this week USAToday.com launched a section called Travel Tips, all of the content of which is being provided by Demand Studios freelancers. Having the opportunity to create high quality articles and videos for a national publication like USAToday.com is something we are immensely proud of and is a testament to the talent and skill of our community.”

    “The Travel Tips site serves as a resource for sophisticated travelers, providing functional tips and guidance while travelling. For each article on the site, the byline and bio of the author is displayed alongside the piece.”

    “We would like to congratulate the Demand Studios freelancers that were involved in this project from our title editors right through to our writers, filmmakers, and copy editors.”

    “We continue to create content for the USAToday.com Travel Tips section and are currently looking for more writers to join our talented pool. If you have significant travel experience and/or an extensive writing background and feel you would be the right fit for this project, please send an email to travelseditor@demandmedia.com outlining your experience and highlighting any relevant clips.”

    Life’s a laugh – sometimes a huge, roaring hahaha!

    • Felicia April 10, 2010, 6:58 am

      Yep, got the same email, Julie.

      Actually, it’s a good thing. There are so many more writing opportunities for DS writers. It seems people are concerned that they won’t be able to get enough of the DS pie with the influx of eHow writers. Now the pie just got a little larger.

      Personally, I think there’s enough pie on the internet for everyone. 🙂

  • Master Dayton April 10, 2010, 11:44 pm

    It’s definitely a mess however you look at it, but I think adaptation is a necessary skill in life, so no argument that as annoying or outright frustrating as this has been on a lot of people, you always have to assume that at some point things will change. Be a firm believer in Plans B, C, & D. Recently I was just accepted into Suite 101 so I figure I’ll give them a shot, and maybe put out 10-15 eHow articles through DS to see if the royalties stack up at all or not. Beyond that it’s all about building my own websites until they make enough I don’t have to deal with editors anymore, but until then, I’m sure I can learn to deal with it. Thanks for the level head and clear insight!
    .-= Master Dayton´s last blog ..How I Became A Freelance Writer =-.

  • Deanna April 11, 2010, 12:42 am

    Wow – I go away on vacation for a week and look what happens! I just learned about the eHow flip-flop. Great post – I think your advice is very good. Instead of complaining it is best to decide your next plan of action. That’s what I did the moment I learned the news about eHow. Luckily, I have other writing sites to fall back on. Not sure if I am really up to submitting articles through DS – I may just put my energy elsewhere. I will be interested in hearing how it goes for you and others at the new eHow-DS site.
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..SEED.com – Writing Site Review =-.

  • Julie - Inspired to Write April 12, 2010, 1:57 pm

    I stopped going to the forums for many of the same reasons as you. So, it is nice that you summed it up for us. I still have to figure out what it all means. I am focusing on my blog now and my Suite 101 stuff….

    People like to complain when there are changes without really knowing the facts. I don’t know the facts yet, so I don’t know if this is a good move or bad. Hopefully, in the long run, it will be favorable!
    .-= Julie – Inspired to Write´s last blog ..Embracing All the Joy Life Has to Offer =-.

  • Maria (WriterGig) April 14, 2010, 9:07 am

    This is absolutely a lemons-to-lemonade situation. When it comes down to it, the ability to write articles for revenue-sharing on eHow is a profitable venture, whether the platform is eHow or Demand Studios. Virtually all of the benefits remain. It’s up to us as writers and online entrepreneurs to work toward achieving our goals with the tools available — and hopefully, help others in the process.
    .-= Maria (WriterGig)´s last blog ..Revenue-Sharing Articles at Demand Studios =-.

  • Derrick April 19, 2010, 7:08 am

    With Demand Studios now open to Canadian and UK writers, American writers will be given a run for their money.And Demand Studios will grow bigger and bigger.Sooner or later,they will be accepting Australian writers

    • Felicia April 19, 2010, 8:32 am

      Actually, I think it’s a good thing that Demand Studios is opening its doors to other countries. Why not share the love/frustration around the world? I think it will be doubly frustrating for international writers because not only will they have to adapt to the Demand Studios process, they will also have to write American English which isn’t always so easy to do if you’re not from here.

  • HappyFetus January 4, 2011, 12:56 am

    Hi Felicia,

    I’ve been writing with DS for 1 year exactly – on and off, and only when in need of a quick wad of cash. It becomes tedious work if you do it too often.

    I’m an Australian writer. I had to find an alternate method to begin working for them (at the time, I was quite desperate).

    International writers from English speaking countries shouldn’t have too much of a problem learning AmericaniZed English. We’re all bombarded by American media in our day-to-day lives so I would think (after some practice of course) that Aussie writers especially could adapt quickly. I can’t see why South Africans, New Zealanders and the rest of the Commonwealth nations couldn’t adapt either.

    Can’t wait for the day when Australian writers are finally permitted to work for DS!

    Have a good evening. I’m a big fan.

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