David Kirkpatrick

July 27, 2010

One small step toward better internet content

And a giant leap for content producers (like myself, for instance.) The freelance writing world has been in crisis for a long while now, in part because of high unemployment. Anyone who’s taken freshman composition in college can suddenly declare themselves a freelance writer. The problem is you have to have clips to get work for the most part, and the easiest way to get clips is to work for nothing, or almost nothing, and go from there. Couple that dynamic with the internet’s need for content and unscrupulous business people who are more than happy to exploit people who want to write and you find a situation where companies are literally offering a penny-a-word or less for so-called SEO internet content. For writers, good luck on even finding the one-time bargain basement dollar-per-word rate for marketing communications. My current rates are down and my client list is a lot smaller than even a couple of years ago. Glad to see there’s some push back against this trend from places that might actually make a difference — search engines.

And if you’re looking at getting into freelance writing, I strongly, strongly urge you to avoid Demand Media, Suite 101, and the other content mills out there who are only going to exploit your talents, not pay you an even remotely a fair wage, and in the end leave with with clips that almost any legitimate media outlet will reject as more than worthless.

From the link:

Gabriel Weinberg, creator of upstart search engine Duck Duck Go (DDG), says that some time ago users requested that he remove from results from eHow.com. The site is owned by Demand Media, a $200 million a year “content farm” that produces 4,000 articles a day by playing freelance writers to churn out articles at bargain basement rates, based on what people are searching for and how much ads those search terms are worth.

Knowing little about the site and the discussions swirling around the quality (or lack thereof) of its content, Weinberg wasn’t moved to act on those requests until he discovered evidence that Demand Media, which owns eHow.com, was buying up domains for legitimate businesses and redirecting them to their own content.

“It pushed me over the edge,” says Weinberg.

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