Demand Media’s freelance writers are up in arms after Demand Media decided to slim the number of writing assignments it offers.
The company once known strictly as a “content farm,” is cleaning up is content, with a stronger emphasis on high-quality writing from knowledgeable authors.
This is a smart strategy because relying solely on SEO-gaming articles has its limitations.
But, as with any transition there are going to be casualties.
And as we reported last week, those casualties are Demand’s army of freelancers who will have fewer assignments.
When we detailed some of those changes, Demand’s chief revenue officer Joanne Bradford told us “It’s still one of the largest pools of writing assignments available in the world. We don’t feel like it’s that dramatic of a change because it’s not like every assignment was being taken.”
Shortly after our story ran, we heard from one of Demand’s writers. Bradford’s quote was “hilarious to those of us who are still working for [Demand Studios]. As of Oct. 8th, 7:34pm, there are 278 articles available in the writing queue; prior to the email the number was around 40,000. This isn’t simply about deleting titles that were considered low-quality, and there were plenty of them, the site has essentially shut down.”
From another freelancer: “The ~650 titles or so that I referenced in my last email are down to just about 39 as I write this email. I guess the largest pool of writing assignments on the internet is limited to that.”
We gave Bradford a chance to respond. She reiterated what she said last week. The general How-To articles have been reduced, but there are more assignments in specialised verticals that pay better, such as autos and home and garden.
“The folks that are more generalists and have written the short-form how-to articles are finding less assignments. This goes hand-in-hand with our quality improvement and focus on using people who have expertise about the topics they write about,” said Bradford.
One disgruntled writer complained that Demand hasn’t been clear about its intentions to cut back.
“The reduction in the number of stories available actually started somewhere around last May,” one writer told us. “First, they told us that nothing at all had changed, that basically we were imagining things. Then they said they’d found a small technical glitch that was causing stories to somehow get stuck in the pipeline. It’s clear now that they were lying the whole time.”
“I think we’ve been pretty clear to our writers about the reduction in the articles in the changes in qualifications,” she said. “I don’t always think that they understand the impact to individuals. I think that those individuals speak out. The people who are the most dissatisfied speak out the most often.”
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