If you’re new to freelancing, content mills can practically sound dreamy.
Pick your favorite gigs. Work when you want. Get paid like a rockstar.
Ahem…That’s not exactly what happens if you bank your freelance writing career on working for content mills.
On most platforms, you’ll find thousands, of writers scurrying around competing for writing jobs in a race to the bottom for low rates and a soul-sucking existence.
Can you earn pro rates at a content mill? It’s possible. But you’ll need to know where to look.
If you want the truth about how much content mills really pay, save yourself some time on the hamster wheel.
These 10 blog posts will give you an inside look at what it’s like to write for content mills, how they operate, and how much you can expect to earn.
Set up your profile. Big on gigs. Get paid. That’s the basic format for what it’s like to write for a content mill. When one mill doesn’t work out, it’s easy to think that jumping ship for the next mill to pop up is the answer. But it’s not.
In this post, Carol serves up “5 basic laws of writing online,” and practically sticks daggers capped with poisoned tips into all the reasons writers want to believe content mills are a good place to move up and earn more. “Trying to find a better content mill is like trying to find a spot on the Earth where there isn’t gravity,” she says. “It doesn’t exist.”
Talk to a bunch of writers who are slogging away on content mills and find out what it’s like. That’s what you’ll find in this post. There’s a lot of chatter about low pay, high hopes, and frustrating nuances of the different platforms. This post generated a ton of comments (which are no longer active), that shed more light on working for content mills.
And there’s at least one more thing this post can teach you about content mills. Most don’t survive. Half of the content mills featured in this post from a few years ago no longer exist.
Freelance writer Kaitlin Morrison took a hard-nosed journalism approach to learn more about content mills like CopyPress, Contena, NewsCred, and nDash for this post. She interviewed site staffers and talked with freelance writers. She tested out the platforms herself. And she found that not all content mills are created equal. A couple of these mills pay starting rates of $175 to $350 per article.
You might be able to find some decent paying clients through one of the featured content mills. But you’ll need to know how to operate in this environment. Check out Kaitlin’s six tips to “Find better clients to earn more.”
Contently has managed to stick around since it launched in 2011. And that’s probably because it’s not your traditional content mill model, as freelance writer Jen Roland reports in this post.
It’s more of an agency model that’s been able to attract top writing talent and clients with fat budgets like American Express, IBM, Walmart, and Facebook.
What does it take to land a gig with Contently? What’s the going rate? Do you get direct access to the companies you’re writing for? Jen talks to freelancers using this platform to answer these questions, and more.
Most content mills offer a one-way ticket to being broke, living in your parent’s basement, and feeling like a total failure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s one reason Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli created the course Escape the Content Mills.
The course was inspired by 12 posts featured on this site packed with advice to help you make the leap from writing for content mills to finding your own clients. If you’ve got issues with self-confidence, fear, or an always-broke mindset as a writer, these posts (like How to Stop Feeling Desperate and Taking Crappy Writing Gigs) will help you break the cycle.
Here’s another inside look at a popular content mill: Skyword. It’s still around, after 13 years. And that’s likely because it pays writers respectable rates ($75 to $150 per blog post/article). Jenn Roland talked to freelancers to learn the pros and cons of writing for Skyword. Be sure to read the verdict to find out what else you should be doing besides writing for content mills like Skyword.
After trash talking content mills for almost a decade, for exploiting writers, Carol eased up on this mantra—a little—when ClearVoice arrived on the scene.
“I’ve spent the past 8 years of my life helping writers move up from content mills to better pay,” says Carol. “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.”
Check out this post to find out why ClearVoice is able to pay pro rates, and what you’ll need to land a gig.
Freelance writer and reporter Allen Taylor takes a hard look at four content mills in this post, including eByline and three others. Get the details on rates, types of assignment, portfolio tools to help you stand out, and more. Are these content mills worth your time? Check out what Allen discovered, along with “5 rules for writing for the new content mills.”
Somehow this content mill is still around. Blasting News is based on a pay per view model. And that means you earn pennies per word, unless your article gets viewed millions of times, reports Jenn Roland. If you want to see the true colors of how Blasting News operates, read the comments (no longer active) at the end of this post.
This so-called content mill made a big mistake when they reached out to Carol, and asked her to hire a team of 900 writers in the name of citizen journalism. That prompted Carol to do her own digging on Guardian Liberty Voice, and what she uncovered is nothing short of illegal. Check out the red flags that make this content mill, or any others, a nightmare.
Lesson on writing for content mills
If you take the time to read all these posts, you’ll see a common theme. Most content mills suck. But it’s not all bad news. You can earn pro rates from a small number of content mills. Just keep this in mind. Proactively marketing yourself and looking for your own clients is always going to win out over waiting to find content mill work. Carol’s advice…”Be a writer, not a waiter.”
Have you had success writing for content mills? Let’s discuss on my Facebook page.
Evan Jensen is the guest blog editor at Make a Living Writing. He writes for clients in the health and fitness niche, and runs 100-mile ultramarathons.