Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Succeed as a Writer on Demand Studios

I often frequent many writer forums across the internet, and there seems to always be a trend in conversation concerning Demand Studios. Most of them center on the outrageous rewrite requests and many revolve around copy editor rants. I can and do sympathsize with those who express their concerns, but I do think that in some instances, people just are not fit for the writer life. Being a writer means dealing with rejection- plain and simple. I don't care what kind of a writer you are- be it fiction, non-fiction, novelist or article writer, we all must come to grips with rejection at one point or another.

I own a book, "How I got Published" which details the success stories of aspiring novelists. Often, I read it for inspiration for my own dreams. However, I've noticed a trend in many of these stories- rejection was a heavy influence on their success. Some had to face thousands of rejections or put up with near complete re-writes on their novel. The criticism was tough and abundant. Why should other types of writing be any different?

Writing for Demand Studios is one of the best ways (in my opinion) to make money as a writer on the internet (outside of finding your own clients, which many people cannot or do not like to do). They pay you for articles and want them written well and thorough. Yes, some rewrites are ridiculous, but I have found these to be far and few between. Most of the time they only need minor tweaking or additional information. We should not hold our writing so high to think we are exempt from critique, even for a short 400 word article.

That being said, here are some tips on how to reduce rewrites on DS and succeed there as a writer:
  1. Pick a format and stick to it. I started on one format and learned it front and back. I never have had a rewrite request pertaining to style guidelines in this format. However, once I tried to do more (2-3 new ones at once), I received several rewrite requests. I now stick with 2 formats rather than sticking to a specific 'topic'. Download all the copies of the style guidelines for the formats you use to cross check before submitting.
  2. Consolidate research time and find all resources before you write the article. Remember to check the backlisted sites that DS does not allow for use as a reference. I always try to find at least 3 references and one resource for each article before writing. I then come up with all the subheadings at once so I can write in one subheading if I am struggling with the introduction or other heading. (NOTE: When writing Abouts, it is wise to stick with the suggested subheadings. This is just my opinion, since there are typically many rewrites for authors who create their own subheadings).
  3. Stay away from titles that can be interpreted in more than one way. Most, if not all, of my rewrites were for titles that could imply many things. I went with the obvious most of the time, but the CE would disagree and call for a complete rewrite. These types of rewrites are most disheartening, and so I advise to stay away from titles that might suggest something other than what you initially think. Read through them from a different perspective to help decide. By eliminating these titles from my claimed list, I have greatly reduced the number of rewrites I receive.
  4. If something seems fishy, report it. I had my first rejection from a CE who did not inform me of what needed to be changed during a rewrite which led to their rejecting the article. I sent a letter to the appropriate people explaining my situation, and it was corrected almost immediately. Sometimes, and it's rare, CE's are in the fault, so report it if you think you've been treated unfairly.
I hope this helps any aspiring or current writer for DS. As I have only been writing for them for a little over 3 months, I am always learning too. I just know if I had known these things before starting out, I could have avoided a lot of stress.


  1. Your advice is solid. And I mostly agree with you. Rejection is inevitable as a writer and author. However, what I dislike about DS is the way they eliminate communication between writers and CEs. Editorial conversation is a critical part of the creative process. It shouldn't be clogged up with issues--like it currently is. For instance, there is some on-going disagreement concerning how the guidelines are being interpreted for 'about' articles--specifically, 'signs and symptoms' pieces. I made a little over $650 last month and have never had a rejection, but I did recently lose two well written pieces because two different copy editors misunderstood the guidelines. (I don't say this on my own authority--I read over the issues in the forum and DS said that CEs weren't all on the same page with the new changes that had been made). Having the rewrites overturned is pointless because DS said in a recent forum, 'don't bring undo attention to yourself' Um. That isn't too supportive. But, the bottom line on all of it, is that DS is a content mill. We are lucky to get our names attached to the pieces and have steady work. Period. It's a good gig. I love writing for Trails (I just got approved for that) and eHow is okay. I'll keep at it while I am working up to larger freelance projects and juggling my fantasy fiction work.

    I think your blog is great for a good many reasons. The biggest reason is how open and honest you are. I think it is awesome how well you are doing as a freelance writer at such a young age. I wish, wish, wish I'd had the courage to strike out and find my 'voice' when I was where you are now. You should be immensely proud of yourself.

    I hope you don't mind, I put a link in my blog for you. I want my readers to see what its like from another freelancer's point of view. You are far more positive than I am, =) which is a good thing. I think your positive attitude can really be encouraging.


  2. I guess my main problem with the editors at DS was not the criticism, but the aroogance. I know it is difficult to convey tone over email - but I sometimes received dismissive and demeaning comments. Editors are infamously arrogant - and you're right, it is one of the things that writers have to deal with. But that doesn't make it right.

  3. I write for Demand Studios and enjoy it quite a bit. I get to work from home and make a decent living. Having been a writer in several mediums I have to agree that the frustrations often noted by other writers at DS are simply a part of writing life. Yes, occasionally the complaints are legitimate, but if you can find a job (never mind one that allows you to work at home, or pays between 15 and 30 dollars an hour) that is completely free of headaches and aggravations and I'll jump on that like a tick on a dog! Now, with that said, I'll admit that there are occupations out there free of stress, aggravation, and headaches--they're called vacations.

  4. Wonderful post. I love being a writer for DS. Great company!

  5. J.S- Thanks for linking to my blog. I try to find the positive when others are stuck in the negative. Writing should be fun in my opinion!

    Eve- I completely agree with you. Unfair and demeaning comments should not happen, and I do think that opening the line of communication between writer and CE would help things.

    MissWrite- You hit the nail on the head! if only writing were like a vacation... sigh, I guess I'll keep dreaming!

    Kristal- I love writing there as well. The writer community is much more professional than any other site I've written for.

  6. Rachel,
    Thank you for the excellent information. I've been with DS about a month, and when I ventured out into another style (away from my habitual How Does and Strategy), I started getting a plethora of rewrites. I really appreciate your advice on sticking with one or two formats that you do well.

    I really love working with DS. I have complete freedom to do what I want, when I want, and get paid to chase links all over the internet. It is also patently obvious (at least to me), that Demand Studios actually cares about its writers. No, the system isn't perfect; no system ever is. They are, however, consistently improving.

    Ruth St. James

  7. Thanks for posting. I've written my first four articles for Demand Studios and had one minor re-write. Good point about sticking with one format.

  8. Hi Rachel,

    I'm new to DS but am really enjoying it so far. Have only had a few minor rewrites, and honestly, I think they each helped make my articles better. As you said, rejection is just a part of a writer's life: love it or leave it.

    Thanks for the tips - I'll definitely be using those in the future!


  9. Rachel,

    Thanks for the info. I just signed up as a DS writer so your tips will certainly help before I even get started. Quick question: do you recommend flat rate or revenue share? Call me a skeptic, but revenue share just sounds shady for a newcomer like me. :)

    Thanks so much,

  10. Merrell, I would recommend flat rate articles. As I have not written any for revenue share, I could not say whether or not they are more profitable. I like the peace of mind in knowing exactly what I will get for an article.

  11. Hi Rachel, thanks for the excellent advice. I was wondering, are ther milestones for new writers that determine how many of our articles are edited per day? I saw a post where some writers said they made hundreds of dollars per day or wrote 25 in a day. How is this possible when no more than 6 of my articles has ever been edited in one day?

  12. I'm sure Rachel is going to answer this, but I'm here, so I figured why not. The longer you write for DS, the more articles they will allow you to place in your 'assignment' box at a time. After your first 10-20 articles, the ones that are being edited no longer count as being in your assignment box, so you could do 25 by choosing ten at a time. I would rather commit suicide than write 25 articles for DS in one day, personally. :)
    But, I've heard some people love it and thrive there. Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great. Don't get discouraged by me or the editors--mainly the editors.

  13. So far I have only rand into 1 arrogant editor. He said my writing was awful without giving any explaination why. Most CE's will give you specific things to change. You should keep in mind that CE's aren't making any extra money by requesting a rewrite. They are actually helping you to tighten up your article and make you a better article. Basically, just suck it up. It's not that bad.

  14. Thanks, Rachel. Great advice on sticking to one or two formats. I was feeling obligated to write in three or more different formats. You've eased my mind!

  15. Thanks Rachel,

    I really enjoyed your advice, and will definitely be sticking to my two favorite formats.

    Rejection is just part of life. Job-hunting, the dating game, writing, it's all the same. I figure if I can learn to take it in stride, I'll eventually be successful at something.

  16. That's good advice. I also stick to a few formats, and stay away from the ambiguous titles.

  17. Thanks for this. I've just started at DS after reading many of the negative comments that you mention here. I figured, "what the heck", if don't make it at least it won't be for lack of trying. I'm glad to see your comments and so far my experience has been pretty painless.

    Of course you are right about the rejection part. I look at it like this: writers are artists and artists are often times rejected before they hit it big.

  18. Thanks for your insight. I am brand new at DS, as of yesterday. I'm finding all the requirements and guidelines quite daunting. It will be a steep learning curve.
    My main "objection" this early on is their severe limitation on resources--there seem to be far more "blacklisted" sites than allowable ones!
    According to their intro/welcome statements, they do allow/encourage interaction between authors and CE's, in the interest of encouraging new writers and improving the site.
    From what I've read here, though, I guess it remains to be seen if that's just PR BS.

    Thanks for this post! I'll keep it in mind.

  19. Great blog and I totally agree with your points. Rejection is part of a writer's life and most of the time I am greateful for the CE's advice. OK, sometimes the odd one can be a bit snarky, but I've dealt with far, far grumpier people in other writing day jobs.



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