Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Thoughts on the Future of the Writer's Compensation Program at eHow

There has been a lot of speculation on the eHow forums and on message boards and blogs all over the internet about eHow's plans for the Writer's Compensation Program (WCP). I'd like to share my thoughts on the issue, but want to point out that I have absolutely no inside knowledge of the issue and no real beef with eHow. This is only my opinion based on a year and a half of active participation in the site.

First some background:

Basically, there are two kinds of writers on eHow, although some of us fall into both of these categories:
  1. Writers who signed up for free accounts through eHow and participate in the WCP. These writers put up articles on topics of their choice and are paid exclusively through a revenue share arrangement with eHow. Articles written by these writers are identified as 'User-Submitted Article' under the author's name on the eHow website.
  2. Writers who have applied and been approved to write for Demand Studios and are paid by them. Demand Studios writers write articles by choosing titles generated by Demand Studios and are paid either a flat fee or a revenue share, depending on the article. Articles written by these writers are identified as 'eHow Contributing Writer' under the author's name on the eHow site.
I have spent the bulk of my time writing as a WCP writer because I much prefer the experience over writing pre-selected titles and I think the revenue potential is greater. Having said that, I think it's clear that eHow is focusing on the Demand Studios writer and that the DS writer is the future of the site as is evidenced by:
  • Providing a health insurance option for them.
  • Creating a beta group of DS writers to be paid $80/article.
  • Focus on the DS model in comments by Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt.
Additionally, there just doesn't seem to be much attempt to keep the WCP writers happy. Communication with these writers is poor and the bugs on the site are almost enough to drive anyone away. It's not that I think they don't care, I just don't get the sense that the WCP is the focus or priority it once was.

Having said all that, I will still continue to write at eHow. Why? Well, the search engine results and article compensation are great. Additionally, if they do decide to discontinue the WCP, I have no idea when that will be so I keep writing until it happens. It may be far enough down the road that I have time to generate some nice earnings in the meantime. Finally, if they decide to discontinue the WCP there is always the chance that they will choose to 1. keep it open to existing writers or 2. grandfather in the WCP articles that exist on the site and continue to pay revenue share on them. In any of these cases, it is worth my while to continue writing at eHow.

The bottom line is that we just don't know what will happen with eHow and, frankly, that is the case with any site we choose to write for. We are always at the mercy of those who own the site. That doesn't make it an inherently bad situation; it's just something to always keep in mind.

It is worth noting that the eHow community managers have said there are no plans to discontinue the WCP. I believe that they believe that to be the case so I take them at their word. What I am saying is that it is obvious to me the WCP doesn't seem to be the focus of the site and that could result in the WCP experience continuing to get more frustrating and less rewarding. Everyone has to make their own cost/benefit analysis when it comes to writing at eHow or any site.

I will always be grateful to eHow for introducing me to revenue share writing. I've learned a ton from the community and by writing there. I had almost no knowledge of SEO or keywords or affiliate marketing before eHow and now I do. And I've met some amazing people there (both online and in person). It's almost like eHow is my 'first love' when it comes to writing and internet marketing. :-)

Whether or not you continue to write for eHow (and, as I said, I plan to continue) it is to your benefit to diversify by writing on other revenue sharing sites and maybe even creating some sites of your own. I'm having a ton of fun (and some good results) writing for Xomba and I plan to expand to other sites as well. It just makes good sense.

The good news is that you can leverage the writing you've done at eHow to help you on other sites. Write on the topics that have proven to be winners for you at eHow. Create backlinks to your eHow articles and earn a revenue share in the process. Re-write your eHow articles in other formats and you have ready-made content for other sites. There are lots of possibilities and you may find yourself re-energized like you felt when you first discovered eHow.

So that is my opinion for what it is worth. I would love to hear what your thoughts are on the issue.

10 comments:

Gayle said...

Thank you Julie, for your well thought out comments on this issue. I think that in time everything changes and we, as freelance writers,need to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunites. I, also, have learned a great deal about writing for the web from eHow. I also have had some opportunities to make a really good amount of money from them. But, I do think the problems with the site may be an indication of future changes. Have you thought about writing for DS???

Brian said...

Julie, I couldn't agree with you more. I haven't been with eHow as long as you but I get the same vibe that the DS model is now their focus but it serves them no good to cease what already works with the WCP and all the many contributers.

Like yourself I'm finding Xomba to be worth my time. I've got 12 days under my belt there and have already started getting revenue from them and referral traffic to my blog from them. Some of the referral traffic has even translated to Adsense income on my main blog. Diversification is a great thing.

If anything eHow should be used to bridge the gap while you build up earnings on your own sites. You can earn much quicker on eHow than your own blogs but in the long run you own your own blogs and all of the earnings (not just a share of them).

ashley said...

Thanks for the info. It's a little sad to hear since I finally decided to jump on the ehow bandwagon this week (my first foray into making money online), but I hope that I can be successful with ehow while it lasts.

Candace @ Candace Creations said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion on this. I haven't been in the forums at all, so I didn't know about all this speculation. eHow has been good to me as well and I've learned a lot from the process! I'm heading over to Xomba right now, you've got me interested! It's always important to diversify! So whatever happens, you don't have all your eggs in one basket!

Julie said...

Gayle: I've done a very little bit of writing for DS but I just don't enjoy the process as much as I do writing for myself. I know some people really like it there, however. Just a whole different perspective.

Brian: Thanks for your comments. I agree. Glad Xomba is working out for you as well.

Ashley: Please don't be discouraged. I think eHow is still a good avenue for revenue share writers and, as Gayle said, everything changes in time. We just have to adjust to the flow. Who moved my cheese and all that. :-)

Candace: I hope you'll let me know what your experience is on Xomba. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

Amberdawn said...

I feel exactly the same. I didn't know what SEO was before I started, so I'll always be grateful to ehow for that. But the lack of communication does seem to be (at best) a reflection of making the writers happy being a low priority.I too, like to give people the benefit of the doubt and hope that's all it is. In the meantime, I'll keep writing and hoping the WCP continues!

JadeDragon@innovativepassiveincome said...

Very good assessment Julie. I've never seen a site that could seem to care less about their writer partners. I just wrote up a blog article about how ehow seems to be decreasing WCP earnings by doing everything they can to move traffic into their 100% owned content.

CM Herold said...

Nicely written. I've been feeling the same way about eHow's WCP program too. I write for DS also, but I put most of my efforts into eHow because I like to choose my own topics. It's inevitable and obvious that eHow is evolving in favor of DS writers; however, I'm still extremely grateful to eHow because I earn good income, and I've learned so much about writing content on the Web.

Brooke Lorren said...

At least if you own your writing, you can take it somewhere else if they decide to discontinue with it. For quite some time, I didn't keep copies of my own work. I started saving copies of my writing a while ago so I can use it in the future in case a site goes down. I have other places I earn money, so if one door closes, I still am earning.

bestmommy said...

Your absolutely right that ehow is favoring the DS writers. I've been trying to publish a few articles for several days now and keep getting the mechanic with the wrench. However, I get notifications every day of new articles from the categories and writers I subsribe to and every one of those has been from the DS writers not the ehow members like myself. So it just seems to me that they are ignoring the WCP writers, almost to the point of setting us up for failure and frustration knowing that some will just give up and leave, while the DS writers seem to have no problem publishing and getting article views. Just my observations...

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