You’re reading it here first: US social media and online publisher Demand Media, which publishes 2,000 videos and articles a day from thousa…

imageimageYou’re reading it here first: US social media and online publisher Demand Media, which publishes 2,000 videos and articles a day from thousands of professional-amateur contributors, will expand to Europe this year with the launch of a UK-version of its eHow.com how-to guide site by Q409. EVP and co-founder Steven Kydd told me Demand will be hiring for the opening a London office — and bring the company’s Demand Studios production division, which employs 10,000 freelance writers, film-makers and on-screen experts across America, to Europe for the first time.

Could it be good news for the many British journalists laid off lately? Kydd wants to recruit at least 1,000 paid freelance contributors in the UK by May 2010: “With traditional publishing, they create all that quality content but the cost structure is just not there… We think this is an evolutionary model in how you create content and scale, in a way that is efficient and allows everyone in the process to make some money. And that’s what today’s traditional publishing lacks.”

Topping up income via crowdsourcing: Demand Studios’ contributors are all vetted and checked by staff before they can contribute to eHow or Demand’s other sites including Golflink.com and Livestrong.com, a JV with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Contributors are paid either a one-off fee, typically $20 but sometimes higher, while some receive ad-supported revenue-sharing deals. That’s hardly going to replace a full wage that a skilled worker may have lost in the media downturn — plus very few UK journalists will be versed in the relatively narrow “how to” school of writing or presenting that has seen eHow receive 32 million unique users in the US. But, Kydd argues it can at least help and that with revenue-sharing — which was only recently introduced — the potential is there for contributors to earn a considerable amount.

“When we started the company we asked, how would we solve this massive inefficiency in the marketplace which overproduces highly qualified people and underproduces jobs for those people to do,” says Kydd. Crowdsourcing rates may sound like mere beer money and, Kydd says, in the beginning Demand thought its contributors would be just “professional-amateurs” – but, following redundancies in American media, “it’s trending much more towards full-on professional”. There are plenty video testimonials from US Demand contributors praising the system.

Algorithm publishing: Demand has developed a content algorithm in an attempt to predict what users and advertisers want to see. Each day Demand Studio writers are offered a long list of topics to write about, generated from search trends and what online communities are discussing. Articles are checked by freelance copy editors and moderated by a mixture of Demand staff and its sites’ communities. A former exec at 20th Century Fox, Kydd says the days of “intelligent people sat around in a room guessing what the public might want”, then spending millions of dollars on a commissioned project, are over. “You need to reduce the risk — if you don’t, you could be terribly wrong”. Kydd says contributors are getting some money and exposure while advertisers reach a passionate audience and “we as a publisher make money because those two groups are finding each other”.

The company, formed in 2006 by former MySpace chairman Richard Rosenblatt, is the biggest contributor of videos to YouTube with over 150,000 to date through channels like Expert Village. It creates 2,000 videos, articles and blog posts a day.

Pluck: Another part of the Demand arsenal is Pluck, the social media community software being used by publishers including Trinity Mirror while it was recently taken up by News International’s thelondonpaper. Could Demand’s UK expansion see its content cross-published to its Pluck partners sites in the UK? “We’ve been having those discussions over the past two days, it’s a very interesting time… many of those traditional publishers are having to lay some people off but they still have very strong brands and vibrant businesses.” And, extending the sales pitch to newspaper websites, he points out that Demand is willing to let them share in the growth: eHow has grown from five million monthly unique users when Demand bought it in 2006 to 32 million uniques this month, according to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) analytics stats.

Europe: So now the UK is in Demand’s sights, how about mainland Europe? “I know there is demand from a large amount of people in Europe and I need to work with our team to roll-out local language versions of our eHow site — so we’re looking at all the big markets you can imagine – UK, Germany, Spain, France, as the next ones to go after.” Kydd claims that thousands of Europeans have applied to be contributors in the past year, but the UK expansion is the priority now.

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By Patrick Smith

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  1. Peter Berger Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    While Demand Media is currently US-only, we from Suite101.com offer these opportunities to UK freelance writers already today. Here are more details:

  2. Judy Williams Friday, June 12, 2009

    Unlike suite101, Demand offers upfront and steady pay, so much so that a freelancer could support himself on income solely from Demand, and not have to depend on residuals from page views.

  3. Former eHow Writer Monday, December 28, 2009

    PLEASE follow this eHow forum thread:


    eHow users have been trying to get an answer to this question for almost 2 months.


    Unfortunately, their silence is VERY revealing.

  4. Unhappy ehower Monday, December 28, 2009

    One thing all you UK writers, eager to join the ehow setup, should definitely do is to check out the forums on the US site. See how many bugs the system has, how often questions go unanswered, how often people lose articles that simply disappear, and how the backlinks that once went to these vanished articles now point the readers to articles owned solely by ehow so only it gets any payment off of them. I can only wonder if ehow is going to clone the articles of US writers and place them on its UK site without paying the writers for any earnings made at the UK site, which is what seems to be happening, won’t UK writers be made to suffer the same fate in reverse? I had a sudden drop off in my ehow earnings and upon checking the Google listings of several of my once top earning articles found that in each case the same article but on the UK site was listed first before the US site listing. Articles that were once earning me around $10 a month are now making me no money because people see the UK listing first and go to it. All the ad revenue from the UK listing is apparently going somewhere else and try as we might, ehow will not fully answer our questions about it.

  5. beentheredonethat Wednesday, December 30, 2009

    Ehow and Demand pay low rates in USD, how are they going to make it attractive to writers who want decent payments in Pounds Sterling?? Uh…they aren’t, it’s just going the be the same low-wage for low-quality content scheme they have in the US. I don’t know why anyone in the UK would get their hopes up about a new employment opportunity with Demand. Save your time and write a novel, or start your own websites, or go back to school. The $$$ is not there.

  6. The UK site set up has really ticked off current ehow writers. I’ve blogged about the ehow uk issue a few times already. Why ehow seems hell bent of hurting themselves with bad PR I can’t figure out but it is Interesting to watch the train wreck.

  7. If I was living in the Uk, I would look upon eHOWs expansion as a dark day in UK history. This company can not be trusted. They have a nasty habbit of letting you write articles, letting those articles mature, and then deleting them, bring you earnings to an end, then they take the dead articles URL links and redirect them to DS writers articles.
    They have also out right robbed writers by placing all their articles onto their UK site, collecting money from the ads, and not sharing a cent with any ot its U.S. writers. Those are our articles, not eHOW’s, and they earned profits from them and pocketed the earnings. And to this day they refuse to answer any of the outraged writers questions. These people have business practices that come closer to be a scam then a real business. Google eHOW UK scam and see how many articles there are on this very subject.

  8. Love the article title: “eHow Targeting UK’s Laid-Off Writers.” Of course they are! They targeted the US writers, and there’s no one here left to scam. Only they forgot to hop across the pond to do it, (even though they have offices in London, and as one of the world’s largest domain registrars and ISPs could have hosted the “UK” site there instead of in the US), and they robbed everyone blind in the name of “globalization” without ever leaving the country.

    @ Thirdstone, I hope UK writers see your comment and take it to heart. I don’t believe that eHow has any intentions of paying anyone they don’t have to, much less UK writers.

  9. eHow has done yet another article sweep, removing many users most popular articles for various reasons.. Some for not following guidelines, or as my “How to Choose the Right Shampoo and Conditioner” was removed for due to and I quote, “COMMON SENSE”… the following articles remain on eHow

    How to Boil Water
    How to Boil an Egg
    How to Tie a Shoe
    How to Wash and Dry Dishes By Hand
    How to Shop at a Pottery Barn
    How to Apply Lip Gloss

    Seriously! Bogus! Mot of the listed above articles are by “eHow Contributing writers” … Only two of the above mentioned were by eHow members. eHow terms of use also gives its writers a false sense of security. Writers still retain rights to their content… BUT….

    “…You hereby grant eHow a worldwide, royalty-free, freely transferable, freely sublicensable (through unlimited levels of sublicense), non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, transmit, distribute, publicly perform and display (including in each case by means of a digital audio transmission), and create derivative works of the User Generated Content, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed. You also hereby waive any moral rights you may have in such User Generated Content under the laws of any jurisdiction. You hereby appoint us as your agent with full power to enter into and execute any document and/or do any act we may consider appropriate to confirm the grant of rights, consents, agreements, assignments and waivers set forth in these Terms. You agree that we may (but are not obligated to) display your User Generated Content, and your user name or your actual name (according to the preferences you select at the time that you register) along with your User Generated Content.”

  10. As a vetted US Demand Studios writer who never produced a keystroke after my first visit to the Assignment Queue, I’d rather eat corn flakes for dinner than compete with Demand Media’s team of monkeys with laptops!


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