Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Demand Studios and Defining Your Job

I've weighed in on the pros and cons of writing for low-paying content providers in the past, so there's no need to revisit the whole debate. Today, however, I managed to remind myself about two important things regarding Demand Studios and other low-budget content farms. In case you need reminding, too, here they are:

The Good: Sometimes you're getting paid to learn! 

I recently snagged an assignment about creating writing prompts for third-graders. Next month, I'm presenting to middle-school students about the writing process. What a perfect excuse to do a little research and get paid (a little) for it, I thought.

It worked out just like that. (I'll paste a link to the article here as soon as it's published.)

The Not-So-Good: Some assignments are poorly defined.

In my excitement over the first article, I grabbed a second, on creating T-shirt slogans. The problem? The assignment just wasn't well-defined. I should have recognized that, but it's not always easy.

An article for eHow, for example, is supposed to be pretty cut-and-dried. Think how to tie your shoelace, or replace the engine block in a '79 Camaro. It might be involved (and you're supposed to cover it in 500 words) but it's well-defined.

Now, I think it's more fun to wrestle with T-shirt slogans than with engine blocks, but the fact is, I wasn't dealing with motor head T-shirt slogans or political slogan.  I agreed to write about T-shirt slogans. Totally unqualified, undefined T-shirt slogans. Dirty T-shirt slogans? Funny T-shirt slogans? Nope. Maybe I could have covered that in 500 words.

My mistake. I'm still wrestling with the slogans. On the plus side, I got a blog topic out of it. I also got  a little philosophical exercise thinking about the creative vs. the copywriter.  While that may be worthy of a blog entry, it definitely doesn't belong on a T-shirt.

If I figure out what makes a good T-shirt slogan, I'll be sure to post it here. And if I figure out how to make money entertaining philosophical thoughts, I'm outta here!