Today I received an email from Demand Studios concerning my last post here on WordPress. Alas, my fears of not being able to receive anymore money from Demand Studios, if I did not sign the new agreement, turned about to be unfounded. In the e-mail the DS staff clearly stated that the new agreement does not affect revenues from past articles. I am relieved to know that my revenue sharing income will continue as is.
Is Big Brother Watching?
To be honest I am glad that DS contacted me about the matter and I don’t feel that is it out of order for them to so. In my opinion, it is good policy for individuals involved in any type of internet activity to Google their own name and keep track of who is following them. I have no problem with companies like DS doing the same thing. Their intentions may be as straightforward and simple as trying to gauge their reception and response to their online activities.
An Important Reminder
This little episode also serves as a convenient reminder to think twice about what you say on the internet, for once though words are out in the web, there is no taking them back. Looking back, I would have worded my statement slightly differently and perhaps tried to contact DS directly before posting. So long for now and happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
The “Dark Side of the Moon” as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
New Notice At Demand Studios
I went to Demand Studios today to check up on my monthly earnings and lo and behold I was not able to access the information. It seems that DS had posted a message that I needed to update the Contributor’s Agrreement that I had signed, when I started writing for the company back in 2008. That in itself was not so bad, but the fact that the site programmers had changed the page coding, so that I could not access my earnings data without signing the agreement has made me rather upset about the whole state of affairs at the Santa Monica content mill.
What It Means
At present it looks like I will not receive any more money from DS unless I sign the agreement. Is anyone else experiencing the same thing?
My first impulse was to sign the agreement so that I could continue receiving the measely 15 to 25 dollars per month that the California company still owes me on Revenue Sharing articles until they expire several years from now. However, common sense came over me and I realized that DS should honor its previous agreement without any further ado. Having to sign an additional agreement after my termination as a regular article writer seems way out of line.
What This Means
My hunch is that Demand Studios is presently facing a host of complaints and legal actions regarding the way that they let go of the vast majority of writers during the summer of this year. Personally, I am not so mad that I was let go, but more upset over the way that it happened. The real issue that bothered me was taking articles that I had claimed, out of the queu, so they could not have been completed. However, on their behalf, I must say that they did allow articles in draft to be finished.
At this point I think I will not sign the new agreement, because I don’t think it is necessary. Losing the several hundred dollars that will eventually come my way seems minor compared to what they are asking me to do… And that is modify an agreement after it has gone into effect.
Demand Media has been in the news lately. Though now the focus is on the CEO, Richard Rosenblatt, who recently was featured in an article by NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) Magazine. As far as the NYSE Magazine is concerned, the main interest is on the innovative style of Mr. Rosenblatt, for there is no mention of the substantial price drop that occurred right after DS went public.
Nothing But Roses
In fact, the article fails the mention the price drop and instead focuses on the main personality, innovative attitude and business sense of Mr. Rosenblatt. Richard Rosenblatt got involved early in the web and internet with the formation of iMall back in 1994. Later on, he posted his favorite recipe for making a great Marguerita on E-How(please note Rosenblatt use to own a bar) and today he still receives almost 200 hundred dollars a year in advertising revenue. Although small potatoes in today’s finance world, the short piece taught Richard an important lesson in advertising and how the internet can be used to generate advertising revenue – a reality that is very important to the survival of Demand Studios.
Throughout the article, the emphasis is placed on “raising the bar” and “a innovative attitude to producing information that site visitors need or wish to know. Coupled with the acquisition of numerous websites, including a partnership with actress-turned-fashion-guru Tyra Banks, Demand Studios now supplies information to a large amount to viewers, whose daily numbers reach the tens of millions. In turn this has attracted many influential investors. So far this has not panned out, but the company only started selling stock back in January.
The article also fails to mention Google’s recent changes in page rankings, an event that has challenged the staff of DS to keep up the rate of profits. Although disconcerting, the slight adjustments made by Google should not prevent long term growth of the company. Perhaps, the release of a substantial number of writers like myself, who came in early on in the development of the company, merely serves as a way of bringing in new blood and keeping the content fresh and interesting. Or it could signal a major move from small journeyman writers towards big-name personalities like the already mentioned Tyra Banks.
Nonetheless, the DS stock price has declined by 75 percent since it opened. Many investors are aware of this and have shied away from placing money with this company. However, these are the small guys that buy the public stock, not the big Kahunas who fund the operation. According to the tone of the article, the innovative attitude of its CEO should be expected to carry the company through whatever turmoil comes their way. Much of the written piece serves as a window into the world of Richard Rosenblatt, who incidentally was labeled one of Fortune magazine’s “50 Smartest People in Tech” in 2010.
Last week I received a very nice response from the description of my departure from Demand Studios. The original material was posted right here on this blog. Anyone interested in the world of content writing ought to visit Demand Studios Review and check out carefully what the staff has to say. They are very helpful in outlining the risks of just working for one client and they even go as far as to carefully appraise other content writing opportunities. I was not aware of the site until one of their staff left a message on my DS Just fired Me post.
Report From Fired Writer
Just as I have been writing this entry I just noticed that DS Review posted a statement from an ousted writer. As I read her story, I am beginning to realize the cuts at DS may be running much deeper than first imagined. This writer had been active with DS for three years, maintained a high grammar rating and had all three of her samples approved, yet she was still let go. Up until I read her tale, I figured that if only my rejected article had gone through, I would have been OK. Now it appears that this is not the case.
I’m not really sure what to say at this point, except that I don’t feel so alone as to what happened. The unusual thing about writing for a place like Demand Studios is that there is little personal contact except via e-mail. In the three plus years that I wrote for DS, I only met one person face to face and that was an editor, who I joined at a Japanese restaurant for a Saturday afternoon meetup in Lumberton, NC. Hopefully, something can be learned from this episode that somehow I feel is affecting quite a few people in a negative way.
I really want to be mad at Demand Studios, but in all honesty, they have done nothing more than try to save the company from all the curve balls that Google has been tossing them lately. The latest one is called Google Panda, which I can’t really explain, but I know it has something to do with algorithms and page rankings. P.S. if you want to learn about an algorithm, all you have to do is watch the Social Network or look up the term online. You might find that it has something to do with algebra and a Persian mathematician, named a al-Khwārizmī.
How It Happened To Me
A week ago Tuesday (August 2) I was sitting in the Winnipeg Public Library (yes, that’s in Canada) working on my slew of assignments, when I decided it was time to take a break and grab a sandwich at Tim Horton’s. (What else do you do when in Canada) When I returned to the library and went to the DS website, I discovered much to my surprise that DS had removed all my claimed assignments and placed me in the “Writer Development Program”, three words that I have now come to loathe. My work in progress was retained, but everything else went poof!! Gone forever never to be seen again. Instead, I was faced with the task of choosing three new assignments and submitting them to the senior editors. Once this was accomplished, I would simply sit back, relax and wait for my new work to filter through the system.
How It’s Gone
The good news has been that I found three assignments without much difficulty that I felt I could write with ease. I did this and submitted the three pieces within a few days. All three came back for rewrites with some rather complicated instructions, so I took my time and resubmitted each one. Yesterday, the first rewrite was rejected and I have not heard from the other two. So unless my rejection is overturned (highly unlikely) my time with DS is kaput. In fact, they have even removed my ability to look for new assignments. All I anticipate right now is to have the last two articles pass through, so I can at least collect a small bit of money.
Despite some of the bad press Demand Studios has received around the web, I have enjoyed my stint with DS and have learned much about writing content and Search Engine Optimization. At times the writing task has been very frustrating, but I have enjoyed being able to complete a short article and see the finished results online. My writing has improved and providing content for DS has encouraged me to jump in and tackle other writing tasks. In fact, I have been at the point for a while now, where I need to put more effort into other types of writing. My complaint concerns the way in which the writing ended, but my problems are small potatoes to the challenges that Demand Studios faces now that they have gone public.