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Sunday, April 02, 2006

The market has spoken. Again...

Article Distribution Services, which was designed and operated in hopes of providing online content writers with a more lucrative means by which they could sell their work, has closed its virtual doors. Why? Simple. No customers.

The motivation that spurred the creation of ADS was that oft-repeated complaint that online content writers are woefully underpaid. Misti S., a freelance writer herself, decided to build ADS in hopes of matching writers with clients willing to pay more for quality content.

Let me preface my views on what happened with ADS by noting that the project certainly seems to have been well-intended. Everything I have read about ADS echoes that sentiment. Its creator felt writers were underpaid and wanted to help them find a way to earn more. There is nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

The end of ADS (noted both at the site itself and at this blog), doesn't surprise me one iota. Wanting more money is natural, but simply having a belief in how the market should operate isn't going to actually influence the way it actually does.

Misti writes:

"Yes, I did know this competition existed when I started the service, but I thought if I marketed my service, and explained to the buyers that they would get professional content it could work. I actually thought buyers would want to pay more for good writing, but I guess I failed somewhere."

To me, that paragraph says a lot. It encapsulates the views of many in this industry. It is based on two incorrect assumptions. First, that it is impossible for buyers to obtain quality content at discount rates. They can and do. Second, that buyers can afford to spend more than what they do for content. Many cannot.

I don't feel a need to start off another round of arguments with people who attack "cheeseball bottom feeders" and who seem to believe that writing for 2 cents per word is like offering your guest bedroom to Osama Bin Laden. I think that horse has been beaten enough already.

Some people wish writers made more. Some people, like Misti at ADS, have tried to cook up ways to make that happen. However, wishing for fatter paychecks doesn't change the market. Article Distribution Services had a lot of fans among those who don't appreciate the nature of the online content market. That support, combined with that desire to see writers make more added up to nothing but wishful thinking.

The market has spoken again. And it doesn't agree with statements like:

"And please, don't lower yourself to the level of selling all your rights for a measly $5.00 or less -- that's just insulting when the buyer won't pay what "all rights" are really worth. In my opinion, I think $200 is a fair price for all rights, depending on the word count and work involved."

Now, before everyone goes nuts on me for kicking Misti right on the heels of the ADS shut-down, let me again emphasize that I believe her intentions were good and I can appreciate her desire to see writers earn more. It was a nice try, but the market apparently didn't.