Content Writing Experiment Conclusion

Week 4:

At the end of Week Four we have a total of 38 hours invested for 2010 dollars. That comes to a grand total of 52.9 dollars per hour, or rounded up to 53 USD per hour. I could have put in the additional 2 hours and likely pulled out another 100 dollars or so, but I passed 2k USD before I reached 40 hours of invested time, which means I exceeded the overall goal of the experiment, which was 50 dollars an hour for the everyday, average Joe who can just walk in and write about anything at content sites.

Bearing in mind that my results are nowhere conclusive, it is however proof of how lucrative writing for third party content brokers can be, so long as you understand how to write such content.

There was no exploitation occurring. No one forced me to work slave hours for slave wages. I never once approached the federal minimum wage according to the United States. I put in a couple hours here and there, with the overall goal of showing people that you can easily walk in with a couple hours a night, no cold calling or querying required, and make an easy 2k a month.

500 a week. 2k a month. 24k a year. All for a total investment of 2 hours a day.

How much do you make in your 40 hour a week job at your regular job? If you are a freelancer, how much time do you spend on the phone, e-mailing clients, and trying to drum up work? How much time do you waste commuting to an office?

If you paid attention to Week 3, you will see a lot of hard numbers presented, according to the Department of Labor, the government’s Census site, and the Social Security website. 50 dollars an hour is upper management wages. In fact, it’s more money than the average branch manager makes for Bank of America, according to CareerBliss’ stats.

Some freelance writers will tout their 70-80k a year paychecks as if they are bragging rights. They aren’t, at least not beyond the first glance. Most of those freelancers are working far more hours than they ever care to put down on paper. They spend time cold calling, e-mailing, querying, interviewing, researching, marketing, and performing administrative tasks. When you get right down to it, most of the individuals making 70-80k a year as freelance writers are putting in 50-60 (and beyond) hour work weeks. They will try and make claims like “I made 500 dollars for a 500 word article, and it only took me 20 minutes to write it”, but what they fail to mention is the amount of time, research, phone calls, interviews, and other “behind the scenes” work that went into crafting that 500 dollar article. They might have written it in 20 minutes, but in most cases that 500 word article worth 500 dollars was either based upon 10+ years of experience in a given field, or based upon several hours worth of research, interviewing, and compiling the necessary information.

That’s not to say their way of doing things is wrong. 70-80 grand is still 70-80 grand, and if you can make that kind of wage working a 40 hour work week, you aren’t doing too bad by anyone’s standards. But the thing of it is, if you look at the amount of time put in to arrive at that 80k a year and break it down into an hourly format, you get a nice round average of 40 dollars an hour, assuming a 40 hour work week for 50 weeks a year.

The point of this experiment was not to discredit the viability of traditional freelance methods, but to prove that writing for third party brokers is not low paying, demeaning, oppressive, or in any way, shape, or form anywhere remotely close to slave wages or minimum wage. If you want to sit down for 8 hours a day and pound out content for a website like Demand Studios, you could. And you could be damn profitable at it if you have enough niches to reliably write at a decent pace.

If you can write 3 articles an hour at Demand Studios, you can make 45 dollars an hour. That’s not that difficult, as long as you are a reliable typist and have 3-4 niches in which you can write without having to do a lot of research.

The point is, while content writing might not be as brag-worthy as getting an article published in the New York Times or some other high-profile website or magazine, it pays just as well for those individuals who know how to write the type of content required by these third party content brokers.

Success by its very definition is whatever a person wants it to be. While some freelancers would have you believe that if you aren’t making 80k a year you are a failure, that’s not necessarily true.  If you are someone who is working a traditional 9-5 job for 20 bucks an hour and 2 weeks paid vacation a year, you could easily be making double that by simply writing about your hobbies at places like Demand Studios. Or, if you are a freelancer who is struggling to find clients amidst the bidding wars that go on at places like Elance where you are being asked to write 600 word articles for a measly 1 dollar, you should seriously consider places like Demand Studios, Bright Hub, and other sites that pay 10-15 dollars for those 400-500 word hobby articles that you could write about in your spare time.

Imagine making 50-60k a year working 20-25 hour work weeks. Totally feasible. I do it. So do many others. It’s not a fantasy. Content writing for third party brokers is not some back-breaking, labor-intensive job like many of the elite freelancers would have you believe. The fact of the matter is you can make just as much money writing for content sites as you can writing for traditional clients, and you don’t have to deal with the headaches and hassles of administrative duties.

It’s just another option in a very large world of global opportunities.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this writing experiment and understand that my results are by no means conclusive. They are just one writer’s example of how lucrative content writing can be, if you apply yourself, and if the right conditions are met. If you paid attention to the entire writing experiment, you will see my rates of pay ranged from 40 dollars an hour using lower paying sites, to 75+ dollars an hour using Demand Studios. It all depends on the type of content, the knowledge you have, and how concisely you write.

Stay tuned for round 2, coming later in 2010 when I will be specifically focusing only on writing for Demand Studios, and no one else.

Happy writing, and good luck!

Day 16:

8 blog posts @ 500 words each, 8 dollars each. Research included, 1.5 hours writing time.

3 x 300 word posts for 30 dollars, 30 minutes.

2 hours, 70 dollars

Day 17:

Repeat of Day 16, plus 1 Demand Studios article that took about 10 minutes.

2 hours, 85 dollars

Day 18:

6 articles @ 500 words @ 12 bucks apiece. Rewrite pieces for a web design company updating its services page. Took a whopping 1.5 hours. 72 dollars

3 x 300 x 30 for 30. 30 dollars

2 hours, 100 dollars

Day 19:

X6 articles @ 300 words each, 1 hour, 60 dollars

5 Demand Studios articles, 1 hour, 75 dollars

It should be noted that only 4 of the articles were accepted. I was requested to do a rewrite on the 5th, but I declined to rewrite the article given the fact that I did not agree with the CE’s interpretation of the title in question. This was my first rejection out of 39 articles written so far.

Day 20:

4 Demand Studios articles, 45 minutes for 60 dollars.

T.W. Anderson is the founder of Complete Writing Solutions, and is a freelance writer specializing in travel writing, website content, interior design and home improvement, green-related topics, as well as anything else potential clients need him to be.

Posted in Freelance Writing Resources Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
16 comments on “Content Writing Experiment Conclusion
  1. Anne Wayman says:

    you may talk me into moving out of country after all…

  2. LOL

    You know, I’m only just now scratching the surface of how lucky Europeans are compared to Americans. They work half the hours (generally) for the same amount of money, yet they get to actually SEE their income.

    I’ve spent the past 2 years experiencing this lifestyle, and I have to say…I’m hooked. Working 20-25 hours a week, living like a king, and exploring the depths of history and some of the most wonderful sights of the world is definitely a life worth living. I don’t envy those people living in places like New York or Seattle where they are forced to make 80k a year to even survive. Here. I can make 10k a year for my bills, and spend the other 40k on LIFE.

  3. Carson says:

    If it wasn’t for family, I’d be your neighbor.

  4. It’s a little more difficult to relocate with kids, but feasible. The people behind the Location Independent website/group actually have a child, and they have an entire website dedicated to location independent individuals who live/travel with their families while working in digital media.

    Way I see it…you can make 60k or whatever per year…and have 10k living expenses, or you can make 60k or whatever and spend the vast majority of it on living expenses and have little/nothing to show for it at the end of the year. With the former you can afford plane tickets to travel as frequently as you want, whereas with the latter you barely make enough to get by and are forced to work that 40+ hour a week treadmill.

  5. Dan Smith says:

    Great experiment, T.W.

    I’ve just read through all of the posts from start to finish and am somewhat astonished to say the least.

    I honestly didn’t think you could make $500 a week with Demand Studios or any other similar company.

    Now my only problem is finding a company like Demand Studios that accepts UK writers!

  6. Hola, Dan.

    Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself on the reality of the situation. The major problem with most of the negativity surrounding content sites like Demand Studios is just that…negativity. There is no basis for it, it just exists, because people are making wild and baseless accusations regarding third party content brokers.

    The reality of it is that you can make a pretty good wage working for them. Ironically enough, if I had used Demand Studios only I would have averaged more like 750 dollars a week rather than only 500, for a mere 3-4 hours a day of time invested. 36k a year for 20 hour work weeks? Compared to the 40 hour work weeks of the average American citizen working for the same wage? No comparison!

    If more people educate themselves to the reality of the situation you would see much less negativity. Thanks again for reading through, and I’m glad you enjoyed it :) I may do another one later on this year, this time solely for Demand Studios, but it depends on my other clients + my spec-fic zine and all my other irons in the fire.

    Best of luck writing!

  7. On a side note, check out Pure Content out of the UK. I use them fairly regularly in between other clients, and while they don’t pay Demand Studios rates, they aren’t a bad place for in between clients if you need something in a pinch.

  8. Dan Smith says:

    Reading more into Demand Studios (and similar companies), I find it hard to believe that there is so much negativity surrounding them.

    Bearing in mind I don’t know a massive amount of information about them, but if they’re offering paid writing work, accepting it and writing for some money is better than not writing at all?

    Of course, there’s the situations where you might be better off writing for your own blog, etc, but if you’re looking for easy money quickly, then these companies seem fine to me.

    For me at least, if I find a bit of a break in my client writing and I’ve already created enough blog posts to be scheduled for the next few days, I’d rather be writing for money than sat around playing on Facebook or the like.

    Thanks for Pure Content information. I’ll head over and check them out now.

  9. Hehe, I’ve had some rather heated debates with some content-mill haters who have never actually tried to write for Demand Studios (and similar) yet make wild claims about how they pay “below minimum wage” or “stone age wages”.

    Neither is true. As you can clearly see from the lowest paid employee at Demand Studios (the first-time person who is only pushing 1 article an hour) they are making double the national minimum wage as it pertains to the US. I’m not entirely familiar with UK wages, so I can’t say for there.

    Furthermore, if you are someone who can put out a decent amount of wordage per hour (I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking for my day work, which allows me to crank out 2500-3k words per hour regularly) you can make bank on the supposedly low-paying work offered by other sites.

    It’s all a matter of education, really. Content site haters only look at the dollars per word, when in reality there is much much more to pricing your articles than the dollar per word amount. What is really ironic is that most of the content site haters who make 70-80k a year are breaking down to 40 dollars an hour, roughly, when you factor in time taken.

    This content experiment made 53 dollars an hour. That’s more than an 80k a year writer makes on a per hour basis. Now granted, it’s not conclusive, but it does point to the fallacy of their arguments.

  10. Dan Smith says:

    For anyone who has followed this experiment from the UK like myself and realized the potential of Demand Studios and similar content mills, I thought it might be worth mentioning that Demand Studios are now accepting UK (and Canadian) writers.

    Time to have a look at what they’ve got to offer I think!

  11. That’s awesome! They’ve been talking about it for months, so it’s nice to see them making a step in this direction.

    I pull in an easy 500-600 a month from them, and use them purely for spending money while my other clients pay the bills. Great way to make some fast, easy cash.

  12. TC says:

    TW,
    Found you in one of those heated debates over at About.com and happy I did. My wife and I have been planning a writing career together and your ideas and experiences are very encouraging. We haven’t followed the entire trek through your experiment, yet, but we both look forward to it.

    Thanks!
    TC

  13. The experiment was fun :) In reality it was just an extension of what I do normally between clients and projects in the first place…I just grew extremely tired with seeing nothing but negativity with content brokers and third party content clients when I have had nothing but great experiences on my own end.

    Glad you enjoyed the read, and I wish you two nothing but the best. You’ll have to keep me posted :)

  14. TC says:

    @T.W. Anderson
    We’ll certainly keep you posted (and maybe slip a submission your way for your very interesting new publication!)

    TC

  15. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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