Why Demand Media is Good

This time last week, our own Steven Hodson wrote a post describing Demand Media as “the Myspace of online content.” Despite rumors to the contrary by some against this site, we do open editorial, and sometimes that means that things are written that I as editor don’t agree with.

Sometimes it works the other way, where our team argues with what I’ve written in a post, and as far as I’m concerned it makes for a better read, and I’d have it no other way.

I don’t agree with Steven’s assessment, which was based on a Robert X Cringely’ post, a guy who I deeply respect, but in this case, doesn’t really know the market that well.

We’ve touched on this space previously, the most recent post being one I wrote about Examiner.com, the leading site in this post blog network space. I say post blog network with the context that it’s hard to label the space the likes of Demand Media, Huliq, Examiner.com, Associated Content and others operate in. They are at their core founded on the idea of a blog network, but they don’t necessarily reflect the same model that “blog networks” came to be qualified by back in the days of Weblogs Inc, b5media and others.

Personally I remain heavily impressed by what Examiner.com in particular is doing. Not one day goes by where we don’t compete with their content, because they are creating so much content, we often conflict.

Since I left b5media, I’ve been monitoring “writers” forums on a semi-regular basis (maybe once a week) to keep abreast of what writers think of various sites. In that time I’ve seen the rise of the post-blog network sites, and watched what writes think: call me old fashioned, but I’ve always believed that a good ship is one where your writing team is happy. Watching that, here’s what I know about Demand Media: in that space, they pay about the best in the business, and their writers are mostly happy.

Steven notes in his post that Demand Media has a dubious background. I don’t care about the background for the company; many people have skeletons in their closet, and failure in the past shouldn’t be a bad thing if you use that failure to get it right the next time.

He writes that they pay $20 a post: let me say straight up that $20 a post in that market is damn fine money, and most of their writers agree.

Steven notes on Cringely that paying $20 a post may kill professionals, but that’s wrong on two fronts. First, professionals are often providing the content because $20 a post is market high. Second, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in terms of economics in paying a rate that is above your competitors, even when you believe that the rate offered undermines old media. $20 a post won’t kill old media, they’re doing that themselves irrespective of what Demand Media is doing.

I respect what the likes of Demand Media, Examiner.com and others are doing to the point that I should have jumped on the ship myself at some stage. I’m not about to sell this site, and we’re not changing our model, but I none the less respect what they are all doing because it’s a good model that is mostly empowering writers to earn online. That it’s less than what a professional journalists are paid isn’t my concern, because it comes down to market economics. If the market will provide at that price, why not take advantage of it? If old media can’t compete, that’s their problem.