Monday, October 19, 2009

The Great Demand Studios Controversy

First of all, I'd just like to say that I don't give a rat's about controversies. The only time that I pay attention to them is if they (1) either affect me in some way or (2) if they unfold in an interesting manner. The controversy that has surrounded Demand Studios in the past has been firmly in scenario one. It's been just an interesting topic that I could chime in about because I have written for them off and on for quite some time. Now, however, it's moved into scenario two.

Angela Hoy, a very well-known writer about writing and freelancing, regularly gathers information from people who have written for various companies and sites and creates long reports about what people's typical experiences are with those companies. She took on Examiner recently in a piece that I thought was a little biased. It included some good and some bad, but I do know a lot of people who contributed stories about the good and those were refused because they did not include specific dollar amounts, but it you read the article, some of the bad ones had no dollar amounts. I'm learning that being biased isn't considered a bad thing online, but I still would prefer a little more objectivity.

Within the last few days, Angela Hoy released this report about Demand Studios. it's an interesting read, and it does present a little good in with the bad. It exposes a lot of the problems that I've faced with Demand Studios as well as the types of horror stories that I've heard from a lot of other people. Of course, this is not at all unbiased and doesn't even pretend to be, as you can see from her ending comments. While I liked reading all of the opinions and I agree with a lot of them, I think that a lot of the bigger copywriters and bloggers don't really understand the role that this type of content writing can play. It's not super great pay per article, but then it doesn't really have to be if it's quick work. However, I pretty rarely write for Demand anymore because they changed their requirements to make the articles take a lot longer and made it tougher for them to be accepted.

It did used to be a great way to earn money by writing about a lot of different topics, and you could even suggest your own. Then, they dropped the pay by 2/3 for articles that were written to titles that the writers came up with. Then, they gradually increased and increased and increased what was expected of us without increasing the pay for the majority of articles, though they did for one type. In the old days of Demand, I actually set my hourly wage by what I could make with Demand. I figured that if I couldn't make as much or more with another project than I could with Demand, then it was costing me money. However, with the changes, the hourly wage that I can expect there has fallen by about $10 per hour. It's no longer very cost effective for me to write for them, but many other Web writers are still going strong there. It's a hassle and things aren't always fair with them, but it's steady, plentiful work and you can make as much as you want and get paid very quickly.

The controversy that has sprung up since Angela Hoy's piece has been pretty convoluted, but now there are whispers of lawyers getting involved, so I've got popcorn ready. There are writing bloggers who think they are writers when they are actually just bloggers who blog about writing. Those bloggers are not people who should be listened to under any circumstances. Their goal is simply to make money off telling writers what to do without having the actual experience or knowledge to tell them what they actually should be doing. Angela Hoy is not one of those bloggers. She does seem to know a great deal about what she is talking about and does have a lot of experience in the field, but other bloggers don't, and some of those bloggers are causing problems. One of them is a, well, let's just say a person who stirs up trouble anytime there is a buck to be made. We'll call him/her the Jesse Jackson of blogging.

So, Jesse Jackson has run all over the Internet to cause problems between the people who write the opinions, Demand Studios, Angela Hoy and pretty much anyone who has chimed in about the whole thing. So now I keep hearing that Demand is going to try to sue Angela Hoy and/or subpoena her to reveal who gave the anonymous opinions and/or fire a bunch of people for talking to her. How does Jesse Jackson figure in? He/she is paid to go around and tattle anytime people talk about Demand Studios badly and is supposed to tell everyone about how great Demand is. So, now people are falling into ranks according to who they are backing, Jesse Jackson or Angela Hoy.

Insults are being thrown, wigs are being pulled off and undoubtedly reputations will be ruined. And for what? For opinions being expressed? For blind loyalty? It's nice to be loyal, but come on, people. Companies and bloggers are just that. They all have good and bad sides and they can be nasty or nice. Everyone, possibly even Jesse Jackson, has times when they are helpful as well as times when you wish they would meet a vampire in a dark alley, so why throw yourself into the mix just so that you can have a side to fight?

One of the secrets of growing up is learning that there is no black and white. Demand Studios is pretty good and it's certainly reputable, but it can be a huge hassle. Jesse Jackson will say anything at all that he/she is paid to say, but I've heard that occasionally he/she can be helpful to some people. Angela Hoy has done many, many great things for writers and continues to be a great source of information, but often she is not objective and I think she may publish reports about companies partly because she simply doesn't like them.

See? That's how you do it. Instead of taking sides, try to piss them all off. Is that really so hard?


Carson said...

I'm with Reverend Jackson on this one, basically.

Overall, though, you make a good point. DS, etc. have their place. They can work for some people, they're a disaster for others.

Why is that so controversial?

L. Shepherd said...

Beats me. I think people just like to be able to classifiy themselves in some way, and if there is something that they can use to do that, they will. It's the same with political parties, carnivore vs. vegetarian, etc.

Tracy K said...

Angela Hoy has no writing experience either. She has no formal training. She started a POD business and began her newsletter as a way to drive traffic to her business. She wasn't a "writer" before that. Her whole writers weekly is a vehicle for making money.

See here:

Angela Hoy also changes her tune to serve her purpose as in this case when she endorses $9 jobs:

She has an amazing history of going after people she considers the competition:

Here she gets a little pissy because the About Freelance Writing Lady used some of the same markets as Angela has in her newsleter:

Here a guy reached out to Angela for help and she say no because he's competition. So helpful

He's a jerk in the end but she brought it on.

I've been following Angela Hoy for ten years and I can't believe how many people's she's fooled. The proof is there if you dig hard enough.

L. Shepherd said...

In the pequin link he is a pretty big jerk to her, but it's true that she should be willing to help with advice and such. That's what her business is supposed to be all about.

The author's lawyer link didn't come through, so I'll try to post it:

That link is an interesting review, but it's only one. It's possible that the book wasn't good or that it had some flaws. I haven't read it, though, so I couldn't tell you.

I don't really understand what the Absolute Write link is about. There's nothing about it on the link that she is said to have posted. Also, no one goes to Absolute Write without being embroiled in some drama. I know of one current About guide who was banned from it, and I don't think banning is really that rare there. It's a ridiculously useful site that you can look at for weeks and still find great stuff on, but it's moderated by people who really have nothing else in their lives and cause drama to feel useful. Still, those who get banned are usually causing trouble.

As far as the $9 jobs link, I agree with her completely. Minimum wage here is a little over $7 an hour. I know several people who make $10 or less an hour, but the cost of living is low here. I know that in your neck of the woods it's hard to live even on six figures, but that isn't the case everywhere.

The About situation sounds like a pretty clear copyright infringement situation, but then you are only getting her side of it there. I'm sure they have their own side that they aren't posting. If About was infringing, well, they shouldn't.

In the end, like I said, both of them have plusses and minuses. Hoy might get a little snippy in her posts, especially when she talks about residual sites, and she may not be as helpful or objective as she could be, but all of it really pales in comparison with some of the things I've seen the reverend do.

No one is perfect, but I'm not seeing a real smoking gun of impropriety. There may be one out there, but these aren't it.

Tracy K said...

I could show you a whole slew of bad reviews for Angela Hoy. As far as a smoking gun of impropriety there was the time a writer asked her to write a guest blog post and Angela flew off the handle and posted her email exchange with the blogger even though the blogger asked her not to.

Read the comments to learn Angela Hoy posted emails after a request not to.

I don't care who people choose to worship. I've known Angela Hoy for years and think she has so many people fooled. I just want people to know that Ms Hoy is just as bad, if not worse, than others. I've been collecting links about Angela for years. and I mean years.

L. Shepherd said...

Yes, you've said before that you think people worship her. They don't. I certainly never said I did.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how far this story has gone. I write for DS but I'm not a cheerleader. They have their problems, but I find my time to be mostly enjoyable. That's just my personal opinion. Some people enjoy negativity or will twist a few sentences to make it seem like it's DS doing them wrong.

Angela seems to talk a lot of smack on DS, but she isn't telling us where "better paying online gigs" are. We can all be a little biased. I'm still surprised by how out of control this drama has gotten.

I do agree with her on Examiner. To me, Examiner seems shady and is screwing writers over for fresh content.

Don Shepard said...

"...but it's steady, plentiful work and you can make as much as you want and get paid very quickly."

This is precisely why I write for them. I will get better paying gigs at some point, but right now it allows me to earn part time money while finishing an MS. They are not perfect...but who is? I will likely be relying on them for the major portion of my income in a few months...better than driving to a 9-5!