I jumped through their hoops. Not only did I fill out the application, supplied two or three examples and then waited for a reply. Not a long wait, but still it is part of writing isn't it. Hurry up, meet the deadline, submit the copy, and wait.
Then with approval came more forms to fill out. They needed tax information including social security number. I hesitated, but decided I couldn't fear everyone. So I filled it in. Next they wanted a bio to run with my work. Short bio. Done. Then, if I wanted to get paid I must sign up for PayPal. It is something I've avoided all of these years having heard about hidden fees and missing money and fighting to get what was yours. But I'd also heard people say how easy it was, safe, worked well, accommodating. I signed up. Oh and then I was told if I wanted to surf their pages I needed to replace my Internet Explorer with Mozilla's Firefox or something similar. Its free, but just one more software to put on my poor computer. I did it.
Now the clouds parted and I was eligible to pick my assignments. A long list of generic topics unfolded before me. Broad based titles "Kenmore Sewing Instructions" "How to build a Gazebo...."
And the prices: $15 for 500 words. For me to make $200 a week I'd need to write about 15 articles a week. Not an unachievable number, but still, I can write one piece for The Washington Post and receive that amount. Of course there was no guarantee that the WP would buy the piece. So I suppose a ready market was worth something. The $15 per article is the highest they appear to pay. Unless after awhile you can ascend to a favored status where they'll make better deals. No one is talking about that.
So far, other than seeing this opportunity bordering on sweatshop wages, I haven't seen any other red flags. But I put a request out on Facebook and was referred to Erik Sherman's blog. I've known Erik through my stint at Freelance Success and know him to be honest and informed. He's a member of ASJA and is an expert on contracts. He's a good person to consult if you have a contract question and he will help regardless of membership in ASJA or not.
Erik refers to Direct Studios and a variety of other writing markets as Writers Mills. You know like puppy mills? He's very opposed to these venues and warns every writer to stay away and not let them make millions on the back of poorly paid writers. Poorly paid hardly covers the paltry sum.
But there is another side to the argument. Perhaps not as strong as Erik's but it comes from impoverished writers who need a guaranteed income. This may be piecework writing, but it has potential for money attached and the amount is dependent upon how much work you can do. Sometimes a writer has to take what is available at the time of their need. Or at the time of their feelings of panic and fear when looking at their budget. Is it better to work for one of these writers mills as opposed to slinging hamburgers at MacDonald's or any other lowly entry level job? At least the person is writing. And I would think if one is turning out that quantity of copy, one is learning to do something right.
I would like to join Erik and take the high road, but economic necessity can be an imposing adversary. Desperation -- is that a good reason to take a job? It is a bit daunting to realize that this particular company is raking in approximately $200 millions a year. And according to Erik, the CEO is none other than the MySpace genius Richard Rosenblatt. He sold MySpace to Rupert Murdock for $600 million if Erik's figures are correct. I doubt that Mr Rosenblatt would do anything for a measly $15, but who knows. He isn't working for those wages now, but maybe he began as humbly as his writers are now.
Either way you look at Demand Studios it is a writing market. According to expert freelancers, one must have a mix of markets in one's business plan. I'll let you know later if it is a keeper. When you visit Erik's blog, if you look through his recent posts for writers mills, you will see some other similar markets -- if you're so inclined.
Oh, and I understand that Demand Studios hires only people from the United States.