Next Gig for Me: Migrant Labor on a Content Farm?

by francine Hardaway on April 30, 2010

I'm always looking for projects for the summer, especially ones I can do in Half Moon Bay, so when I heard about my friend's friend writing for Demand Media, I decided to apply. ( In case you don't know me yet, I've been a writer for thirty-five years, published four books, contribute regularly to four or five blogs, including my own, taught college writing for ten years, and have a Ph.D in English.) I have to admit Dan Gillmor's comments about Demand also encouraged me. 

On the Demand Studios website, i was offered the  allure of the freelance career, working from home, with job security.  Since I have had that for the past ten years, I figured I was qualified. And sure enough, I was accepted.

Demand does some things VERY well. It has an easy-to-navigate site for the writers, with assignments you can "claim." If you claim an assignment, you have to complete it in a week, or it is released to another writer. There are guidelines for writing the articles, and they vary according to the site the article is destined to appear on. The article I claimed for my first job was called "The Adoption of Health Information Systems" and it was for The price I would be paid upon completion would be $15.00.

I thought this was a good test case, because I have implemented health information systems in a physician's office, and I would be able to write from experience and be knowledgeable.  I actually KNOW how to do this.

My first draft was returned to me with the editor's notes that it needed to be put it in layman's language. I thought I had sufficiently dumbed it down, and I wondered who would read an article about this subject except people in health care anyway. I did make the changes and send it back to the editor.

I got it back again, saying "since this is a technical article," we need a reference. I went to a web site (purposely didn't choose Wikipedia) and found a reference. Sent it back again.

So far, I spent about a half hour writing the article, and about ten minutes correcting it, I still haven't gotten paid, and I've met all the deadlines.  If and when I do get paid, how much will Paypal take out for processing?

I'm very conflicted about where to go from here. One part of me understands the automation of everything through technology, and the great cost savings involved. That part admires Demand Media.  After all, I just wrote about adopting health information systems, and I advise people to use 99 Designs for their startup logos. The other part is just plain miserable at the commoditization of my "talent." Do I just make myself "get over it?"

Where does a creative person go from here?  Spend the summer as a Wal-Mart greeter? Or be a sharecropper on a content farm.

Note: I wanted to reprint the article below to show you what I did so you can make your own decision, but I think Demand Studios now owns the content:-)  And I need the fifteen bucks.

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hattie April 30, 2010 at 11:22 am

Gad. There has got to be another way.

PSD To Wordpress April 11, 2012 at 12:31 am

Great post as always..Thanks for sharing this inspirational post here ….

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