Writing for a Content Mill for $400 a Post: This is Happening

Carol Tice

I’ve spent the past 8 years of my life helping writers move up from content mills to better pay.

So what I have to say now may shock you.

I’m no longer advising writers to avoid all online platforms that sign up loads of writers.

What the what?

See, I recently had a chance to peek behind the curtain at one emerging platform that recruited me to write for them — and I liked what I saw.

Here’s why I’ve changed my tune on online writer sites…

A better content mill?

There’s an emerging trend on the mass-content development scene that offers better pay than the old $5-$10 a post mills ever did. In some cases, way better.

I’m still gathering info, but in the past year, I’ve heard a steady stream of anecdotal stories about better pay from mass platforms, many from writers in my Den 2X Income Accelerator program. One writer earned $500 per post on a lengthy, multi-post gig they got assigned through Contently, for example. Another got $300 assignments from eByline. Skyword and HubSpot are others I’ve heard mentioned in this class.

At first, I thought these were freak, one-off situations. And there are definitely lowball fee offers on all these platforms, too.

But increasingly, I think these types of sites may represent a major new opportunity for writers to connect with some terrific, brand-name clients, name pro rates — and get them.

I call these sites ‘move-up’ mills. They bring hundreds of writers together, but don’t offer the rock-bottom rates of old.

That’s because these sites operate on more of an agency model — putting hand-selected creatives together with their clients — rather than the old mill model of pitting writers against each other to create a bidding war and drive prices to the floor.

My ‘move-up’ content mill experience

I was actively recruited to join ClearVoice for a particular assignment…and went along in part to bring you a spy report on how this platform works. This 3-year-old platform is based in Phoenix, and only accepts about 10 percent of applicants, says managing editor Megan Krause. They have about 100 big-name customers they create content for, including 24 Hour Fitness (and declined to say how many writers have been accepted into their stable).

Here’s my story:

ClearVoice contacted me via email. They had a name-brand financial-services client that needed blog posts:

Content mill - recruiting email

I threw out big numbers, thinking they’d scurry away fast once they heard my rates.

“I’ve been getting $400-$500 a post,” I said.

They said they could go $400 on an assignment they had me in mind for. By now, I was intrigued and said I’d entertain it.

They encouraged me to go set up a profile so I could bid on the gig, which was a pretty easy process.

My ClearVoice editor assured me this was not a cattle-call — their editorial team reached out to a handful of writers for assignments like this, and then let the client decide. They actually call it a ‘casting call,’ reflective of their more selective approach.

I threw my hat in the ring, through a simple application process on their platform. Your profile already has your details, so it’s as easy as clicking ‘yes’ that you’re interested.

Next thing I knew, I had a $400 ghost-blogging assignment for Intuit. Sweet! You compose right in ClearVoice’s WordPress-like dashboard, which is a snap if you’re already blogging. ClearVoice paid very promptly, too, via PayPal.

The no-bidding model

The big difference between this and many traditional content mills is that there was no race to the bottom, with the company taking the lowest bidder. ClearVoice doesn’t drive writers to undercut each other, a setup I despise.

The price of each assignment on ClearVoice is pre-set. Then, the editorial team selects a handful of best-qualified writers and offers them a chance to do the gig. Those interested apply, and the client chooses a writer.

On ClearVoice, there is no wide-open dashboard of scores of assignments you can browse. There are only the opportunities they select you for and ‘push’ out to you.

It’s notable that this is a completely different business model than the old content-mill setup, which is based around driving writing prices down in order to please the hiring companies.

A steady stream of real-money assignments

I kept my ClearVoice profile up to see if they’d ever have any other post assignments in my price range, or if that had been a total fluke.

To my surprise, more emails with the subject line: “We found an opportunity you might be interested in” continued to arrive in my inbox, ranging from $250-$350 per post or so. I’ve been seeing several each month.

I ended up applying to one other gig, and writing one post in that range for ClearVoice’s own blog. Both gigs I took, my first draft was quickly accepted and no rewrites were needed.

This gives me a good rating on their system, I gather:

content mill rankings

Who doesn’t want to hang around a platform that thinks you’re 100 perfect?

There are more lucrative gigs on ClearVoice, too. Recently, I was sent a couple of $675 longform blog-post offers, one of which you can see below. (It’s expired now, so please don’t call ClearVoice to try to bid on this!) I was thrilled to see such a good rate for a longer blog post.Content mill assignment offer


The bottom line: I ended up making nearly $700 with ClearVoice, fairly easily. I’m keeping my eye on this, and if a good gig came along again, I’d definitely do it.

My sense was that ClearVoice isn’t lying about only putting gigs in front of just a few writers, given how easy it was to snag the two gigs I got.

Tips for move-up mill success

To sum up, I think move-up mills are a great opportunity for:

  • Established writers with strong portfolios
  • Trained journalists
  • Bloggers with a track record of driving traffic and shares
  • Experienced business bloggers
  • Writers with defined niches

For writers with little experience and without strong clips, these platforms may work out not much better than old-style content mills, as the gigs you’ll be invited to apply for will pay much less.

What I loved best: At ClearVoice, you set your rates and let them know only to send you gigs above your floor. No more wading through mountains of garbage to find the one pro gig!

Of course, the catch is that you’re at the mercy of the platform’s gatekeepers on whether or not they think you’re qualified for a gig, and send you the listing. So write a strong profile on the platform. With this model, that is your calling card for gigs — there’s no opportunity to write a cover letter.

Have you written for a ‘move-up mill’? Share your experience in the comments.

Leave content mills -- Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator


  1. Ronda Swaney

    I also had a great experience with ClearVoice. They reached out to me just as they did with you. They needed a ghostwritten blog post for a Healthcare IT company. The rate was $150 for 200 words. I only started working with them this month. That has been my only assignment so far, but I’m hopeful there will be more. I wrote the assignment on Aug. 3 and was paid via PayPal on Aug. 4. You can’t complain about that!
    I also have great things to say about Skyword. I’ve worked with them for a year now and have garnered roughly $23,000 from them in that time. Like ClearVoice, they also reached out to me directly. I also think Skyword really cares about their writers. They invited me to join their Contributor Advisory Panel. It’s a small group but about once a month they send a survey to ask your opinion as a writer about certain things they are doing. They have also held a conference call with the group so we could discuss certain topics as well. They also awarded me their Breakthrough Award earlier this year, which led to a handful of prospects reaching out to me about other work. Working with Skyword has been a great move for me.
    I think the key for making money through sites like this comes down to working in a good niche and building a strong portfolio. My prime niches are healthcare and IT, and I’m also now dipping into the financial sector. Those have been great niches for me and are certainly paying off.
    If you play your cards right and have a solid niche, I think companies like this provide a viable and reliable income path for us freelancers.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Ronda —

      I’m excited to hear you’ve also had a good ClearVoice experience, and have done well with Skyword! I met with some Skyword execs a few years back, and their rates weren’t quite where I want to see, so thrilled to hear you’ve found them a good source. And not surprised to see you have a strong niche that editors can latch on to for assigning you — I think that’s key.

      The only caveat I want to lay on people is…stay diversified and keep marketing on your own!

      You said they’re a ‘reliable’ income path, but I’d disagree there. Don’t get complacent, and don’t let any one of these platforms represent too much of your income…because they’re NOT reliable. You’re still trusting your career to a platform that could change, ban you, or see the clients you like vanish overnight.

      I’ve mentored too many writers who got comfy because they had $500 assignments coming in from Contently et al, and then one day, the work just dried up and disappeared. The 1 or 2 clients they were writing for through that platform went away.

      Meanwhile, their marketing skills got rusty, and then they went down the financial drain while scrambling to get their income back together with their own clients.

      While I’m excited by the potential of these platforms, they should always be PART of your income. Stay diversified!

      • Ronda Swaney

        I agree with what you’re saying. By “reliable” I meant content agencies generally are good places to find work. Not just platform agencies like ClearVoice and Skyword, but also smaller boutique agencies. I work with several as well as directly with business clients. I keep a 50/50 split between agency and direct client work, aiming to keep 10-12 active clients going at once. Yes also to not getting complacent. All agencies and clients go through spells where their work levels off or they disappear completely. You are so right about staying on top of your marketing. I keep marketing even when I’m happy with my clients and income, because you just never know when one of them will disappear or flake out. Like the writers you mentioned, I learned that lesson the hard way. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Carol Tice

          Right on — glad to hear you’re keeping it diversified, Ronda!

  2. Joyce

    I’m glad to see others are noticing a trend. Scripted is one site I’ve used to get better paying jobs. Not quite in the range you mention, but $50-$100 per post. I’ve also noticed that the clients on the bidding sites are beginning to understand the need to pay more for better writers. While you still get a lot of low offers, you can also get $50 to $100 per post. To make this work for me, I only choose jobs which fit in my niche, so I can write with less research.

    • Carol Tice

      DEFINITELY a key, Joyce. That’s why I passed on that PEO/HR post at $675 — not something I could have readily cranked out, so I thought it’d be too much work for the money.

    • Abby

      I signed up for Scripted some time ago, with no such luck. Can I ask how you actually get work? I’ve literally never seen a job come up on my dashboard, am I just unlucky?

      • Carol Tice

        I don’t know how Scripted operates, but if it’s similar to ClearVoice, you may have set your floor higher than they get many gigs for, Abby. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I DID see opportunities even though I believe I set my floor around $250 per post.

      • Joyce

        I have been on there for a while, and I have a client that requests me directly. I don’t have to search on there for work anymore. I think they have changed things to focus on people with complete profiles, so having one that showcases your expertise is important.

  3. Andre

    Personally, I’m on Progressive Content, where they consistently pay ยฃ300 – ยฃ400 (about $400-500) per article. I haven’t made any bids yet because the required turnarounds tend to be quite quick and thankfully I’m quite busy at the moment. But I’ll be trying it out when my schedule frees up.

    • Carol Tice

      Ooh, never heard of that one — thanks for adding another possible move-up mill to know!

  4. Sheha

    I haven’t gotten any gigs from these platforms (or known of their existence) so this information is quite refreshing!

    For my part, I got my first writing job via Freelancer. The client paid me $1,200 per month to write 10 to 12 articles for their website. They were Singaporeans like me, so we concluded the negotiations over a phone call and put me on their local payroll.

    (Funnily enough, this was way before I followed this blog and I asked for $500 at first. Lucky for me, my clients put me on a better rate!)

    I think I have better luck these days getting paid a monthly fee by pitching directly to companies instead of charging per article. Less stressful that way too without having to keep hustling for work. That said, Freelancer is my “move up mill” – but I don’t think I can replicate the same success now via that platform.

    • Carol Tice

      Retainer gigs definitely rock, Sheha — nice job focusing on that. I know writers who ONLY take retainer clients. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Jenn

        Carol, question regarding “retainer” clients: so that would be where we charge $X per month for 4 blog posts of up to 300 words each; $X per month for 8 Facebook posts; etc? Basically – a set fee for a set amount of work, which the client can bundle together (or we can create Packages)? Thanks for clarifying!

        • Carol Tice

          That’s correct, Jenn. I used to charge $500-$600 for what you just described for 500-word posts. 300-word posts are dead and gone, and you won’t find any rates like mentioned in this piece for posts that short. Everyone wants 750-2000 words these days, who’s paying well.

  5. Ann Walker

    With the help of Carol’s Escape the Content Mills course, I’m trying to go up in the world a bit from the People Per Hour mill but am a relative beginner. My blog website is very new and hasn’t much content yet.

    Although I’ve had some commissions and all my pieces have been accepted with no revision requests and 100 percent feedback, none have been published yet. Some are things like academic literature reviews which won’t be published in a way useful for a portfolio anyway (no, not course work for students – I haven’t sunk that low yet!!). I think all of the decent move-up mills ask for at least three links to published work before you can even register with them, so how do I get to ‘move up’, please?

    • Carol Tice

      Like Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part, hm? Hopefully your clips will be up soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And People Per Hour…just no. Let’s get you off there!

      If it were me, I’d be looking for a small business to do a pro bono website revamp for, or a small local paper to write a quick story for…at this phase, it’s anything for a clip.

      • Ann Walker

        I’m cheering – a bit anyway – as I’ve just seen my first commissioned, published piece out on the Big WWW!

        Only cheering a bit though as it’s a blog post and doesn’t have my byline on it, which somewhat took the shine off it. However, I suppose I can still add it to places like Skyword, even if I can’t prove it’s mine, can I Carol? Or won’t it carry any weight at all?

        • Carol Tice

          Don’t know — depends on your contract with that client. If you signed a nondisclosure, no, otherwise should be fine.

      • Ann Walker

        I like the idea of helping out a small business with a free re-write – it gets two things achieved with the same input.

        In fact, I saw a site yesterday on LinkedIn, which has to rate as the worst laid-out and written that I’ve ever seen. I thought then that I’d love to get my hands on it. The business is reasonably local to me too.

        Thing is, finding a tactful way to say that the site is…ahem…less than wonderful, without offending the owner who has obviously done it herself! Also, I don’t want to get into the back-end stuff if I don’t absolutely have to, but won’t the owner expect that too if I offer a revamp? There’s not much point having great content if it still looks a mess on the page.

        • Carol Tice

          Not necessarily — I don’t code, I just write. Design is usually out of our control.

          I believe I have a script in the Step by Step Guide ebook about how to approach people without saying, “Your site sucks, do you need help?”

          • Ann Walker

            Wonderful! Thank you so much! I can code, but I don’t much enjoy it compared to writing content.

          • Ann Walker

            A quick update after taking your advice, Carol.

            I liked the idea of offering a pro bono rewrite a site for someone’s site but I thought it would be so much better to offer the whole deal.

            So I put a shout out on PPH and found a guy in the States who is in the same boat as me – returning to freelance web design work and needing a portfolio. We’ve got together and are collaborating on our first site – he to design the site and I to write the content. We thought we’d do a couple of freebies, see how it goes and then hopefully keep the link going into paid work.

            Thank you for the suggestion!!

          • Carol Tice

            Teaming up with designers can be a great referral engine — nice job, Ann!

  6. Jenette Clay

    Stunned and amazed that you wrote this and glad to hear that some content mills are respecting their writers more. Still, I’m glad that you pointed out that excellence and experience factor into all of this. Those are attributes I’m working on. Forward!

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t think these are ‘content mills,’ really, which is why I’ve coined a new term for them. Yes, they’re developing a lot of content, but they don’t have the bidding-war model of the bad old content mills. In general, their clients are way better caliber than the old mills, too.

      I think it’s a potentially exciting development in the freelance marketplace that I’ve been meaning to write on, and I’m still planning a more comprehensive roundup comparing all of these types of emerging platforms and their rates. But wanted to get this out there for now, to get some info out and get the conversation started.

  7. Chelsea Baldwin

    I’ve worked via Skyword on multiple project and have had nothing but great experiences.

    The rates are great, there’s minimal editing required (I’m sure thanks to the hand-selection process), and the editors are just lovely.

    I can’t say that you should get into a platform and rely on it for regular, steady work though. A big part of why I got selected for such great projects within Skyword was because of my work published elsewhere.

    But this model, when it works well, is quite refreshing in comparison to the typical hustle-marketing model a lot of freelancers use.

  8. Sue Campbell

    Hi Carol. This is great to know! Hopefully models are shifting. Can you talk about the 25% service fee ClearVoice? Do they tack that on and the client pays? Or does that come out of the price they say you’re getting for your project?

    • Ann Walker

      I’ve just read ClearVoice’s T&C’s and they take 25% of the whole fee and the ‘User’ gets 75%. That’s higher than People Per Hour where I’m currently working (they take 15% plus VAT), but by the time exchange rate costs and Paypal fees come out, it’s not so much different.

      • Sue Campbell

        Right! I lived chatted with them this morning and got this clarification: “The 25% is taken from freelancers on each assignment. You’ll only see your take home pay when reviewing opportunities. ”

        That kind of fee is good reminder when you’re pricing things independently! You could be getting 25% more — I’m glad Carol reminds us to diversify.

        • Carol Tice

          The tradeoff is that you’re getting access to an Intuit or a 24 Hour Fitness — the sort of marquee brands that really spruce up your portfolio.

      • Carol Tice

        You got it Ann — I actually made them increase my fee so that the NET I was getting was what I expected, once I saw that cut.

        Obviously, it’s hefty, and that’s not ideal…but rates are a LOT higher, which helps make it make sense. I believe the rate they state to you IS what you get paid – their 25% is coming off the top of that. Or that was my experience, anyway.

        Net $350 is still completely different from what you’d get on People Per Hour, I’m sure.

        • Ann Walker

          Absolutely Carol. I did mean to add to my reply that the pro-rata rates are way better than PPH. Personally, I would have been over the moon to get half that fee at the minute!

  9. Lynn Robbins

    I believe that you and some of your colleagues deserve credit for the existence of move up content mills. As we writers have been following your advice to not accept low-paying gigs, I think that some outlets have been noticing and realizing their pay rates need reflect the quality of the writer’s work.

    • Carol Tice

      I’m flattered, but I think it’s simply marketplace forces at work, Lynn.

      As Google started penalizing junk content, the world of $10 SEO posts began fading away. Looking for what Google would reward, companies discovered longer, better-quality content. And what do you know, you need pro writers for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Holly Bowne

        I dunno, I think Lynn may be onto something. Or at least it’s a combination of the marketplace and voices such as yours, Carol. I was contacted by Skyword for a project over a year ago. I thanked them for reaching out, but told them their rate was too low for the time it would take me to write the piece. (Confidence to say this partially gleaned from being a member of the Freelance Writer’s Den!) Fast forward several months and they ended up contacting me again. Same project but 50% higher pay! ;o) And they really are lovely to work with!

        • Carol Tice

          LOVE hearing that story, Holly. And I think that’s not a fluke — as quality, longform content comes to rule Google, there is more and more call for it, and more money in blogging for good brands. After 8 years slogging away at encouraging writers to find the top end of the market, I’m thrilled to see this happening!

          But it only makes sense. More money is being made online…and that means the money for copywriting is moving online.

  10. Lynn Robbins

    Maybe we need a new name for these companies(?)since the aren’t “mills” in the traditional sense.

    • Carol Tice

      I agree — I’m open to suggestions!

      Maybe they’re an online digital agency or something? But I feel like there are digital agencies that do more broad-spectrum things. Maybe a specialized digital agency?

      • Jenette Clay

        How about content curators? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Carol Tice

          Not sure what you mean…? What ABOUT content curators?

          • Jenette Clay

            Rather than calling them content mills. Lynn said we needed a new name, you said you were open to suggestions. So I suggested Content Curators.

          • Carol Tice

            Aha — well, content curation means something else — it’s when people do things like these sort of roundups, and you organize existing content for readers, creating convenience:


            I don’t know how we would apply it to the creation of new content…think we need to keep looking for another phrase.

          • Jenette Clay

            Thanks for writing this post and for the work you put into your blog. Every post I’ve read has been helpful to me.

  11. Sharon Brodin

    Very interesting, indeed! Thanks for this article, Carol.

  12. Eliana Osborn

    I’ve used Skyword and Contently, as well as Ebyline. Payment is the best part since it is so smooth. I’ve had positive and negative experiences but find it worthwhile.

  13. Michelle

    I currently work through eByline with one of my clients, we use it as a general submission and payment system. I love that site, it’s so streamlined and just an overall ease to use.

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m always looking for ways to get some passive referrals in, so I may have to look into these systems, maybe starting with maximizing my eByline presence.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve heard good things about eByline, and if you’re on there, definitely maximize what you’re doing!

  14. Todd

    I saw a couple familiar faces at ClearVoice. Looks pretty cool and worth a try.

  15. Evan Jensen

    I don’t actively pursue clients on Upwork anymore. But I’ve got a profile set up with my rate set at $50/hr. And it brings me legit inbound leads from time to time. Yesterday, a guy from Quartet Health called me to talk about writing an email series to grow their referral network of doctors to improve behavioral health treatment for patients. This start-up received $40 million in funding in April. And the guy I talked to said he found me on Upwork, then went to my website, sent me an email, and gave me a call. Not sure if I’ll land the gig, but a nice lead that didn’t require much work on my part.

    • Carol Tice

      Love it, Evan — I call that strategy “lurk, don’t work.”

      Sometimes, having a profile on one of the mass platforms can simply be a way to get found, especially if you’ve set pro rates and made it clear you’re not a bottom-feeder. You don’t have to spend hours trolling the ‘opportunities’ on there — just wait for the right prospects to reach out. It becomes one more point of contact where they can learn about you.

      • Brian Driscoll

        Hello Carol, thanks for this blog. I primarily work on Upwork right now and get paid 50-60 an hour (for copywriting though, not so much articles), but have been looking for ways to diversify lead generation.

        Plus the “Job Success Score” is making me anxious (it is 100%, now I know what it feels like to be at risk to lose something).

        I have seen people make 100,000+ on Upwork, but I don’t like be pigeon holed into it.

        Been reading your blogs, I am about to try these sites, begin sending query letters out, and focus my website on providing a long-form article, SEO writing service.

        Thanks for everything you writr!

        • Carol Tice

          You definitely don’t want all your eggs in the Upwork basket, though I’m glad to hear you’re at least getting professional rates and not peanuts.

          Relying on a platform to supply you with leads is passive. Successful business is active, and diversified. And as you note, one screwup on these places, and they tank your rating or ban you and poof! Income gone.

  16. Audrey

    I’ve learned so much from reading all these comments and of course the article. Thanks everyone!

  17. Patricia Moomaw

    Hi Carol, this post made me jump out of bed this morning! Having written for a “content mill” in the past, I find the news about “move-up mills” to be very encouraging. Thanks so much!

  18. Karen Lange

    This is great news. Appreciate you sharing your experience. Will keep an eye on this one.

  19. Tom Bentley

    Great that they approached you Carol. I’ve written for Contently, Skyword and Ebyline, and have had good experiences with all, and the pay has been good, translating from the fixed prices to usually between $75-$100 an hour (though I’ve had a couple of clunkers as well).

    And some of them, like Contently, give you a home for decently designed linked online profile (w/images and article overviews) that you can share with potential clients if you don’t want to put one up on your site. I’m going to check out ClearVoiceโ€”thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      Nice to hear the other move-up mills have done well for you, Tom! I feel like at one point I met with one of these — think it was Skyword? — at a conference, and wasn’t impressed by their rates, but I think they’ve been rising, yay!

  20. Karen

    What a treasure trove of info! I like to keep the rights for everything I write. do these sites allow, or does it depend on individual client? thanks much!

    • Carol Tice

      Karen, that’ll really limit your earning opportunities in business writing. Most of what I write is work for hire. Brands want unique content, not something you’ll recycle elsewhere — that’s why the pay pro rates. Much of this type of work is also ghostwriting, as I gather my Intuit post was.

      I think there used to be more opportunity in retaining rights, so you could bundle and sell PLR packages, but those days are really gone. Nobody wants to buy cheap recycled content, because Google penalizes it.

  21. Jenette Clay

    I was on UpWork but got off because all of the long-term clients who wanted to work with me, also wanted to move off of UpwWork’s platform as soon as they found the writer they wanted. I was frustrated by that because I want to do my work honestly and the agreement signed does not allow that. UpWork wants it’s cut for being the platform which brings clients and freelancers together.

    I decided to jump off of it and go it on my own, seeking out my own clients.

    So do these other sites have clauses that require you not to work with clients outside of their platform for over two years or pay an exorbitant fee? I guess that’s my big question.

    • Carol Tice

      You know, I didn’t look too deep into that, as I wouldn’t cut them out if it’s a rule, personally. But I’m sure plenty of clients seek to do it.

      In any case, you’re smart to get off UpWork — in general a source of mostly very low-paid gigs.

  22. Bethany Johnson

    Hi Carol, long-time listener, first-time caller here, and I have to agree with @Jenette that I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your change of heart. Then I realized, YOU didn’t change your stance at all, but rather the MARKET is changing, and your response (this post) is to applaud the move. You mentioned in this discussion that you plan to do more research and in-depth reporting on the change. I for one am looking forward to what you come up with! As for my work, Skyword’s team has been good to me in more than just gigs. They’ve worked with me and turned me into a confident, valuable resource where once I was a bumbling wannabe. Skyword invested in me by giving me work over and over until I “moved up” as you call it. What started as $40 posts has turned into more than 5x that and I’m so grateful for the friendships (God bless editors) I’ve made along the way.

    • Carol Tice

      Welcome to the comments, Bethany! And thrilled to hear Skyword’s rates are rising.

      You’re exactly right — the freelance marketplace continues to evolve. So we all need to keep an open mind…and follow the money. I’m so pleased to see rates rising at these emerging marketplaces.

  23. audrey

    I jumped in with both feet! Created freelance accounts with Clearvoice, Skyword, Contently, Ebyline and Upwork. Wish me luck.

    • Carol Tice

      I do! So did they approve you at ClearVoice? And also, is there a vetting process on those other platforms, or do they take all comers?

      And…UpWork isn’t a move-up mill, it’s a mass bidding platform that’s known for a lot of rock-bottom rate offers…so proceed with caution on there.

      • audrey

        A few of the ones that I applied you had to show that you had experience or a history of writing. ( proof/show your work) I can’t recall which ones. I created a profile and went from there. of course, I do so that was an easy task. I think anyone can join up , free of course. It was super easy. I see what your saying about UpWork. I’ve been searching over some of the bids in my area of writing since my profile has been created and some of their bids in my related field which is hypothyroidism are certainly low balling rates . I did manage to see one offer/bid that was old and paid well but it was for a doctor who wrote several books on hypothyroidism. I couldn’t do that because I have written 4 books on hypothyroidism and working on my 5th. So, that would certainly be a conflict of interests.. lol ( so to speak)

        • Carol Tice

          I don’t see that as conflict of interest at all, Audrey. Published titles in your niche can totally help you get gigs ghostwriting on similar topics for others! That’s the main way you qualify for those gigs.

  24. Sola

    Best of luck, Audrey.

    Carol, thanks for this post.

    It’s an eye opener and i’ve learnt a lot.


  25. Kim Jarrett

    I love Ebyline and I have received a lot of work there at good rates.

    I have kept my Upwork profile but it has not been a bad thing for me. I did one low paying gig which was my fault for not realizing the scope of the project when I bid. My other work has not been at an ideal rate but much better than what I was seeing on the site. I am only bidding on projects I am attracted to and not just bidding blindly.

    My parents have been very ill and I am so behind in my marketing efforts but thanks to Carol I am doing better than I could have expected. I may try some of the sites mentioned.

    • Carol Tice

      I know people who’ve done well being picky on UpWork, so stick to your guns there!

  26. June

    I love this new discovery! I’m a total newbie but I’m gonna try and create accounts for all these move up mills. Many thanks, Carol!

    • Carol Tice

      I’d be curious if a site like ClearVoice will accept you as a brand-newbie, June — please report back on that!

  27. Anika

    Carol, thanks for this post. Appreciate for sharing your experience.

  28. Linda H.

    Thanks for sharing this information, Carol. I feel like a relative newbie although I’ve got multiple years of freelancing experience. Through your posts and The Freelance Writer’s Den I realized I’ve been working with a content mill, specifically one of those bidding mills that drive prices down by having competitors bid against each other. Recognizing that I’m pulling out of it. Many of the clients want someone to write a 700-1,000 word blog for $100 and I don’t even bid on those.

    I’m interested in connecting with these varied platforms, but unsure if I yet qualify. I’ve written case studies, blog posts for businesses, professional profiles, and content for websites and marketing. Yet I don’t have the clips because either the resource was proprietary or have been taken off the Internet. I do have web content links in my Portfolio and a few articles I wrote long before the Internet came up. They are dated, and not sure if that hurts me.

    Have been marketing of late. Nothing much yet, but I’m driving toward improved branding and such. Will look at building profiles on these new platforms and see where it leads. I know I’m good, I’m just rusty on writing. Also have a new niche market and tons of blog topics to start posting.

    Thanks for the valuable insight and information. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can connect with some gigs from these platforms.

  29. Ravi

    I found a course about Upwork. It was created by the author from Pakistan. According to the course, she had earned up to $2000 per every gig from Upwork. Isn’t Upwork a content-mill?

    • Carol Tice

      No, it’s a bidding site — race to the bottom on price. Lots of content-mill type, low-paid work on offer there, though.

    • Cy V

      I know the course you’re talking about. It’s a Udemy course, right? I bought it and took it. I applied what was taught in it, but it didn’t work for me.

  30. Mike Tuttle

    I set up a profile with ClearVoice yesterday. I dutifully started improving my profile as asked, linking quite a few of my articles from various sites. I knew they had a review process before sending along any offers. Today, I politely asked how long the review process typically was. The reply came:

    “Many profiles will be approved within a few weeks but we also go back from months before and add people when we have categorical gaps.”

    A few weeks? Has anyone else experienced this kind of delay with ClearVoice? My profile is on a par with several of the professional writers that I have seen on there. This does not seem to be a matter of my not “getting in,” but of a long review backlog.

    • Carol Tice

      Mike, I was recruited for a specific gig, so they approved me immediately. Thanks for reporting in that your mileage may vary on that.

      Yet another reason not to put a lot of eggs in other peoples’ platforms…they can take as long as they like to approve you.

  31. dl

    Is it practical to set up a profile (even with very limited experience) on these sites, or is there a better way to get started? I’ve written a few company newsletters articles, but nothing else professionally. I would be happy to start with content mills, but I’m not sure if this is the best way.


    • Carol Tice

      Well, this isn’t a ‘content mill’ the way we knew it in the old days, as there is no bidding or race to the bottom on price; prices are set by the client and nonnegotiable.

      But my sense is if you’re a brand-new writer, you may not snag many gigs on here — they are generally looking for experienced writers.

      • dl

        Thank you for the response! I really didn’t expect a response since this thread is kind of old and there are at least several more recent threads.

        I have very limited experience, so I would expect to start at the bottom. I’d actually prefer to start at the bottom because its not quite so intimidating. Are there recommended content mills that could be used to start a portfolio? Is it better to go to someone in person and propose some freelancing work, maybe for free to get things started? I have a couple of places in mind that might be good for that.

        I’ve just been re-reading your “100 Freelance Questions Answered” ebook and it looks like content mills might be a good place to start as long as it doesn’t become a permanent thing.


  32. Debbie

    I tend to refer to sites like these as ‘content platforms’ as they have their own platform to get/submit work but they also connect companies with content writers.

    • Carol Tice

      Agree — though I think it’s mostly work for their clients, not much directly for ClearVoice.

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