From the corner of my eye, I could tell my brother wanted to burst out laughing. Having told him I was about to send some cash over from my online PayPal account to my phone, he couldn’t wait. But immediately I switched on my PC, and logged in to my Freelancer account, the $27 balance stuck out like a sore thumb.
“This is awesome, bro!” It was agonizing, but he admitted it. I was making money online writing.
Looking back though, I could punch my tongue when I remember how I made $27 after writing 18 articles. It must have taken about two weeks? I was busy working on other stuff as well.
Apparently, Freelancer is not a content mill. But if my math teacher didn’t waste chalk in my classes, I must have been earning 0.003 cents per word—that’s $1.5 for 500 words. If this is not the stuff of content milling, then what is?
What in Writing is a Content Mill, Anyway?
There are content mills, and then there are content farms. Content farms mainly used for article submission. Webmasters use them to drive precious traffic back to their sites using link building techniques—to build up a credible web presence.
Content farms enroll you to a profit-sharing scheme if you are more interested in pay or don’t own a website yet. The higher views your piece receives, the better your chances of linking more traffic back to your own website or blog. Or earn from the ad money it generates.
You probably already recognize the following good examples:
In this post, however, we are more interested in the websites that host ready-to-write client orders; websites that’ll pay you upfront to write. These are the content mills.
CMs produce or mill (hence the name) a huge amount of ready to publish articles that are generally considered affordable to requesters and low-paying to writers. Clients are mainly website and blog owners who need fresh and authentic content to publish on their sites to keep their readers engaged and probably seduce them to click the “buy now” button for a product they are selling. Call it copywriting for cheap.
The quality of the write ups also varies as everyone from the veteran to a newbie writer can try the sites out. Often with most CMs there’s rarely a bidding war for orders (like on Upwork or PPH). Authors just log in and choose an article to write out of a pool of many other open orders. Also, prices per word are standardized. Authors are paid amounts based on such factors as skill level and word count.
A few suitable examples include:
Now “decent pay” is a very subjective phrase, many thanks to the fact that living standards across the globe and different writers vary wildly. For some writers a month’s toil from a content mill’s coffers is a bounty so beefy, it could cancel a few invoices and pay a good deal of bills in and around the home. Often times for other writers, it’s barely enough to buy a round of beers for themselves and their friends for a night or two.
Whatever your case, you might want to…write for a content mill. Now, just before you decide to Google my name and improvise on blunt metal to hang me up a goal post, hear me out.
Spoiler Alert: This could be controversial, but you could learn 5 reasons to write for a content mill.
Learn to Write for the Web—and a larger audience
If you are new to writing online for pay, blogosphere or other internet-based write ups, there’s no other place that could be as resourceful as writing for a content mill.
Writing for Freelancer back when I did, I learned a lot. Writing for the web is miles and acres different from academic and brick and mortar publisher material. Big words don’t count. Long, unwinding sentences are a sore sight. And beefy paragraphs make readers quiver like cat whiskers. You can learn to do it the right way when writing for a CM.
Get Back to Form
If you are a veteran with blue ink all over your thumb to show for it, you can benefit from sneaking in and out of a content mill once in a while as well.
Use a content mill to escape a chronic case of writer’s block. Use the content mills to gather up your expertise and confidence to send that guest post to the high-flying magazine you’ve always wanted to pen a feature for.
If you’ve been out of the creative synergy that writing is all about, use a (decent) content mill to rejuvenate your prowess with the pen before moving on to where you deserve to be.
Test Your Writer Skills
Want to find out if you still got it as a writer?
Well, try writing for a couple of clients that can approve (and pay the little cash they do), or reject your pieces outright and leave you eye-tingeing, nose-tweaking and tear-prone. You want to find out if you can indeed rely on your skills to read clients minds on what they need exactly? Try most content farms. The clients can be least expressive of what they want, need or neither, but will want you to revise, rewrite and re-style the draft countless times.
The fantastic difference between writing for a content mill and doing it for a content farm is that the former not only pays quicker, but more importantly, you get to receive feedback back from the client concerning your writing skill.
If you do manage to suave your way across such mischief, you don’t deserve to write for no less than high value clients who appreciate your talented mind.
Help with Self Discipline
If you want or are working as an online freelance writer full-time, then you know what to be disciplined means. You have to write what you have to, when you have to, whether you feel like it or not.
While a content mill customer may breathe down your neck and make unrealistic demands, when you write for a better one, you can learn to work for yourself as if you had a boss whose targets you must fulfill or risk being cut and run on hungry.
Make ends Meet
Writing for content mills won’t make you rich and famous—it probably can’t help pay off a few bills. What doing this can do, however, is to help you fill in your schedule and maybe earn a hundred dollars or so.
When your repeat clients are not requesting as much as they usually do, or the industry is in a constant flux as far as workload is concerned, you can use a content farm to keep your creative flow churning. If you’ve been stuck with your computer screen blank after a time off writing before, then you may concur.
Making a one-off fee of $4.46 for a 500-word article over at Textbroker, iWriter or GNL could be floating your livelihood boat, but for some of you, it is asking too much of you—and your skills. If this last reason feels like treason against Writer’s World, feel free to pass.
Some other factors will also weigh in and directly affect what you earn at the end of the day too:
- Typing speed—the faster the better. Use KeyBlaze Typing Tutor from NHC free for training– if you need to.
- Fast-reading and researching skills—you’ll need to know what to find, where, why and how and then break it down and articulate your point of view in words, sentences and paragraphs that should flow logically and transition seamlessly. Curve out some social media time and use that to learn your way around Google pages and referencing sources. Online researching skills are a big deal in this industry.
- Workflow—just like in the brick and motor industry, freelance gigs are in plenty now and barely available at other times. Remember to make hay while the sun shines.
- Focus—can you maintain producing high quality content for about 10 hours back to back? Doubt it. You’ll need a break for coffee, a chat, some minutes in the bathroom, lunch time, you name it. Heck, I do take 20-minute naps in between assignments to reboot. What you think you can achieve will not always turn out to be what you achieved. Just be realistic with expectations.
Make no mistake: I don’t recommend you to write for any content mill. But if you can once in a while sneak in to pen an article or two for one, ensure you are not used. Conversely, use the content mill to learn and sharpen your writer skill, get back your write flow, test and make yourself relevant to industry demands, develop discipline and for what it’s worth, make an extra $100 to spoil your creative buds. Will you?