You will find all the posts that relate to Demand Media Studios in this section.
Demand Studios — Getting Hired — Part I
For those of you struggling, I thought I’d create content to help you get hired by DMS. This is the first of a series of posts on the topic.
You don’t have to already be a professional writer to be hired by DMS. You also don’t have to have a ready-made portfolio of work; although, it helps. You DO have to create a compelling writing sample that you submit when applying to DMS.
What do I mean by compelling? Merriam-Webster online defines it as:
- demanding attention
If you are intuitive and clever enough, you can create compelling content about cleaning toe jam out from between your toes or picking up after your dog’s dooty accident.
Before you put pen to paper, peruse through eHow.com or About.com articles. To check out what I’ve written for DMS, visit my eHow.com profile . You’ll find my bio with links to a number of featured articles.
Basically, this is the kind of content DMS uses for eHow.com articles. You may have the ability to write even more compelling content.
When looking through the articles, consider how they are formatted. This is critical when creating content for DMS, since they require this type of format for all their articles. Some articles require a minimum of 3 sections with headings; others require at least 5 sections with headings.
When writing your DMS sample, consider the topics on which you are most knowledgeable. Determine a main article heading, then decide on a minimum of 3 sub-headings that will contain the content of your three sections. What I do when writing content for DMS is to consider the most important aspects of the article title that should be addressed. You don’t have to cure world hunger, but you should explain the most critical pieces of information regarding the topic.
For instance, if you’re writing on homeowners insurance, you don’t have to address everything there is to know about homeowners insurance, but you should address the type of homeowners insurance that most homeowners use. If you want to make sure to address everything for good measure, but still stay within the 500-word limit, insert a “Miscellaneous” or “Other Considerations” heading and only mention the other, less-important aspects without going into great detail.
That’ll give you food for thought for the next post …
Demand Media Studios — Getting Hired — Part Deux
The second part of the exercise to create a writing sample to submit to DMS addresses the outline you create for your article. Use this approach for every article you write, and it will take less effort and time to create future articles. Keep in mind, after being accepted to DMS, you can select from their list of titles for articles, so you’ll only have to come up with section headings and content relative to their titles and your sections.
First, decide on your topic. Use the KISS method — Keep it Simple Silly (aka Stupid☺). If at all possible, decide on a topic that you can write off the top of your head. Are you knowledgeable about gardening? Pick only one aspect of gardening about which to write, such as creating a walkway or building a small retaining wall. Are you an automotive expert? Stick to a simple repair that can be described adequately in 500 words.
Next, pick three main aspects of information you believe are most pertinent or easiest to explain. For instance, if writing a gardening article on building a small retaining wall, you might use the following headings:
- Purpose of a Retaining Wall
- Type of Products to Use
- Benefits of a Retaining Wall
Similar headings can be used for an automotive expert to write an article on repairing a radiator. For instance, How Radiators Become Damaged, What Happens When Radiators Are Left Unrepaired and Quick Fixes for Radiators (or Temporary Fixes for Radiator) may be three headings an automotive expert uses for his sample article.
As you can tell from the list, your sample article doesn’t have to provide instruction; it only needs to provide information. Many writers, especially ones new to professional writing, find it difficult to not discuss the entire scope of creating a retaining wall, for instance, when writing their first articles.
I remember when I first started writing professionally. I so wanted to make a good impression to every new company for which I was hired that my first articles included every dittle, dit and detail related to the topic on which I was assigned. I wanted my articles to be stellar and the company to be happy they hired me. Little did I know, less is more.
Keep that in mind when you’re writing content, too.
We’ll dig deeper into that less-is-more well in the next part of getting hired by DMS.
Part Tres is ahead …
Demand Media Studios — Getting Hired — Part Tres — CONTENT IS KING!
At this point, you should have three headings created. Keep in mind, DMS guidelines state to be as brief as possible when creating headings. I can tell you by experience, however, some copy editors (aka CEs) often expand the heading if you leave it brief. Don’t worry about that, though, since I’ve never seen it cause a rewrite or rejection.
Content is King
The next step in your quest to become a DMS writer is to address content. You’re heard the old cliché “Content is King.” Well … it most certainly is!
Creating quality content is not that hard once you get the hang of it. It just takes some practice and determination, especially for writers with little experience. One thing I do when writing content for DMS is to first create it in a Word document. I insert the title I selected from the pool of articles in the DMS system and headings I created. The content comes next.
Write Deliberately/Less Is More
In writing for DMS, you must, and I cannot stress this enough, MUST write deliberately. What do I mean by that? DMS guidelines state the following:
- Demand Media Studios’ goal is to provide the reader with information to help him make decisions. Use active verbs and strong nouns. Keep the content short, simple and easily digestible.
- Always write for an American audience, unless the title specifies otherwise, such as “Grants for Businesses in England.”
- Write in a “conversational” voice, and speak directly to the community in an inclusive tone.
- (BULLET #4 — CRITICAL) Write in the active voice, using the traditional “subject-verb-object” construction. Avoid passive voice when necessary.
- Do not include empty adjectives, such as “fun,” “easy,” “great,” “terrific,” “fantastic” or “unique,” the most misused word in the English language.
- Don’t make unsupportable claims about product performance. The Zone Diet isn’t a “great” or “effective” way to lose weight; it’s a method for losing weight.
- All articles must contain evergreen copy that will read just as fresh five years from now as it does today. For this reason, avoid dating your copy with years and words like “new” and “hot.” For example, if a place has been open for 10 years, write “since 2000,” as opposed to writing “It opened 10 years ago.”
- Write articles in the second or third person to pull the reader into the piece. Never write in first person (unless otherwise noted in the format style guide or site-specific guidelines), and don’t use the impersonal “one” as a subject, a construction that invariably leads to awkward, stilted phrasing.
- Start sentences with actionable verbs, which encourages lean prose. For example, write “tear open the package” instead of “you can then tear open the package.”
- Humor may be used sparingly to add personality to the article but shouldn’t be tangential.
- Don’t reference the layout or the article’s position on the page; these elements could change. Likewise, don’t refer to the article’s content anywhere in the body copy. For instance, phrases such as “all of the items included in this article are pet-friendly” are prohibited.
Bullet #4 correlates to writing deliberately and the term I mentioned briefly at the end of the previous getting hired by DS post – less is more. DMS states, “Write in the active voice, using the traditional “subject-verb-object” construction. Avoid passive voice when necessary.” This should say, “Avoid passive voice when possible.” I don’t believe it is ever necessary to avoid passive voice in writing content, but it certainly is possible and should be done.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides good examples of passive voice usage. If you want to know what to avoid, check out their webpage. Do an Internet search on “passive voice,” and you’ll find other good examples. Understand the meaning of passive voice, and you’ll be equipped to avoid it unless it’s unavoidable.
For example, write “You [subject] can build [verb] a retaining wall [object] almost anywhere,” instead of “Retaining walls can be [passive voice] built almost anywhere.”
Here are some other examples of what I call writing deliberately versus using passive voice and more words than needed:
- When building a retaining wall, [“you” is the implied subject] select [verb] the product [object] with which you will build it. Instead of, “When you build a retaining wall, pick out a product that you will build your retaining wall with.”
- A retaining wall [subject] not only accents [verb] a yard or garden [object], but it helps disperse [verb] standing water [object]. Instead of, “A retaining wall is not only a nice accent to a yard or garden, but it also will help disperse standing water.”
As evident in these two examples, less is significantly more. If you can delete a word or consolidate several words into one, you have a stronger article. This tone is more authoritative, direct and powerful.
After creating the content to your sections, read your article out loud. Are there words you can delete? Can you replace several words with one word? Ask yourself those questions when listening to yourself read the article. I still sometimes do this.
When writing an article, regardless of what company for which I write it, I try to make it as strong as possible when writing the first draft, but don’t give it too much thought. When I edit it, I look for ways to make it more concise with more punch.
Providing quality information in your article is critical, but writing in this voice is equally critical. If you get the hang of it, you will get accepted by DMS and have less rewrites and rejected articles.