Guest Post by Eric Bank:
A majority of freelance writers will testify that the arrival of blogging and site-building assignments cannot be reliably predicted. Intense periods of non-stop activity are often punctuated by unwelcome spells of “enforced rest”. Unfortunately, expenses keep mounting even during the non-productive periods. There are, however, a few fee-per-article organizations that freelance writers can turn to when necessary.
With a daily viewership exceeding 70 million visitors, the biggest and most well-known of these “content farms” is Demand Media Studios (DMS), the company that owns AnswerBag, eHow and LiveStrong. As with most other content publishers, DMS requires new authors to submit a writing sample of approximately 400 words. Upon approval, you initiate a try-out phase in which you have a week to complete three blogs. It’s up to you to choose your article topics from the DMS portfolio of over 160,000 titles. You can winnow your picks by screening for topic, file format, and fee. Let’s analyze each selection factor:
Topics: DMS provides sixteen top-level topics such as weddings and automotive. Each topic can cover dozens of subtopics that guide you as you choose your articles. For instance, should you like weddings, you’ll see subtopics on brides, decorations, engagement rings, and so forth. Even though most competent freelancers can write cogently on almost any subject, it is sensible to pick topics that correspond to your interests and background. DMS favors a helpful yet professional writing voice that requires some familiarity with your topic. In other words, you are encouraged to select topics you already understand.
Formats: You can select from about two dozen formats, ranging from item lists to full “topic views”, which are well-balanced articles that explore a topic from an array of viewpoints. You needn’t be worried about the details of different formats because DMS has a style guide for each one. In fact, DMS has assembled a fairly comprehensive set of resources that aid new authors in rapidly acquiring a feel for their assignments. Articles require 400 to 500 words. (To be honest, I invariably write on business topics that, in my opinion, require at least 600 words to cover in sufficient detail. I once got slapped down for writing a 700 word article. Bottom line — you should stay close to the length limits). You initially may find it useful to work with several formats — you’ll quickly discover a few that match your inherent writing style.
Fees: Seriously, you are not going to retire on a private island working for DMS, but if you have other sources of revenue, the modest cash you earn from DMS might come in handy. Fees for write-ups range from $3 to $40, but the majority of articles earn $15 or $17.50. In addition, you can sign up for a revenue-share plan in which an author creates articles from his or her own subject list; the articles pay to the degree they assist in generating click-through revenue for advertisers. Payday is semi-weekly via PayPal.
It’s possible to reserve up to a dozen articles at once, but be advised you have only one week to complete the bunch. I usually reserve just two or three because there are always a lot of topics from which to select. Every article you post is edited by an experienced copy-editor. These folks will occasionally return your work so that you can patch up any particularly significant errors. Most editors will make the small fixes for you. You will be evaluated with respect to grammar and research; it is a one-through-five point rating system sorted by month. Just hang tight and you’ll quickly learn how to satisfy the editors.
Besides freelance writers, DMS works with movie makers, copy-editors and topic professionals. Wages vary by job. Other players within the content creation and distribution industry include iSnare, Writer’s Access, Suite 101, and About.Com (operated by the New York Times). If you want or need to earn some extra cash and can devote a little time, perhaps a gig with one of these content farms will be worth your while.
Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Eric Bank has been a freelance writer of business-related articles since 1985. He holds a Master of Business Administration from New York University and an Master of Science in Finance from DePaul University. Eric freelances through HedgeFundWriter.Com and EricBank.Com.