Escape Content Mills: 12 Practical Posts for Moving Up

Carol Tice

Escape content mills with these resources from Carol Tice.Are you trying to escape content mills?

You’re not alone. How to quit content mills and earn more than their rock-bottom rates is probably the single question I get asked the most.

It can be so easy to get sucked into content mill work, but it takes so much time and effort to write enough articles — and deal with the often contradictory edits — that it sucks up all your time, and you never can market yourself to find better paying work.

I’m doing a survey about content mill writing right now, and the pay rates writers report are appalling. We’re still collecting results, but with 300 in the can, I can report nearly half say they earn $5 an hour or less writing for mills, or for mill-type quickie-article gigs on the bid sites.

Man, that makes me mad to hear.

I’ve done quite a few posts on how to escape content mills, so I thought it was time to pull them together into one useful guide to help you move out of content mills and into better paying freelance writing gigs.


  1. Are You Addicted to the Heroin of Freelancing? Low-paid writing work tends to leave you no options but…more low-paid writing work. Here’s how to break the cycle.
  2. How to Dig Out of the Content Mill Hole and Land a Client — Fast: Guest poster Elaine Yue gives an easy step-by-step plan to get you better gigs.
  3. How a Writer Can Move Up From Content Mills: Your questions and my answers about the process of leaving content mills behind for good.
  4. How I Got Good-Paying Article Assignments — With NO Clips: Can’t break away from mills because you think you have no clips for pitching better markets? David LaMartina tells how you can make the leap, even without a portfolio.
  5. How to Stop Feeling Desperate and Taking the Crappy Writing Gigs: Practical help with creating financial breathing room so you have time to market your services and find better clients.
  6. 5 Reasons Demand Studios Only Pays Writers Peanuts — and Won’t Change: Understand the failing business model mills operate under, and why this will never be a place writers get paid well.
  7. The Reality of Writing for Content Mills — 14 Writers’ True Stories: With 190+ comments and counting, this post inspired one of the hottest discussions I’ve ever had on the blog.
  8. 6 Vital Writing Skills From Content Mills–Plus 1 You’ll Need: There *are* a few useful things you can learn writing for mills — Lisa Baker outlines the key skills you’re acquiring, plus one you won’t get from a mill dashboard.
  9. How I Scored Great Clients Off My Low Paid Content Mill Gig: Yes, you can use these clips to find clients — Angie Mansfield tells you how.
  10. The 4 Worst Places for Freelance Writers to Start: Sort of self-explanatory here. Guess what one of those places is?
  11. Writing for Content Mills: Did You Pick the Wrong One? Do you keep switching mills in hopes of finding a better one? Then this is a must-read.
  12. How a $5 Article Writer Landed a $900 Article: Think you can’t use those dirt-cheap mill posts to get better gigs? This guest post from Thomas Hill shows you how it’s done.

This collection should give you the tools you need to escape content mills — or at least prevent you from spending too much of your time there — so you can get the better-paying writing gigs that make a career as a freelance writer so rewarding.

Do you write for content mills? Tell us your experience in the comments. Or… take my quick survey, and I’ll send you a useful free e-book, 13 Ways to Get the Writing Done Faster.


  1. Mamie

    I have to agree with ‘Anon’. However, I believe I had it even worse. For four weeks (two included weekends), I wrote up to 5000 words per day, over 3 or 4 articles, never receiving more than $2.50 (usually less) per article. I had a maximum of 24 hours to research, write and proofread all of the articles for that day. My husband had to ask me to stop, for the good of my health.
    Over the course of those 4 weeks, I earned a grand total of $62. Half of that had to pay for two sessions with a masseuse, to relieve the knots in my shoulders.
    As a newbie to freelance writing, I felt it was my only option. I’m glad it’s not.

    • Carol Tice

      Ugh, what a horror story! Glad you’re learning more about how to earn real money as a writer, Mamie.

  2. Anon, due to sensitive topics.

    Thank you for this. I mean it. I cannot express my gratitude enough. I listened to the seminar and signed up for the course right away.

    I recently made the decision to quit writing for mills after being driven to an extremely low point. How low? I’d become so exhausted and depressed that I’d considered taking my own life. That low.

    At one time, my to-do list totalled around 31,000 words with a 6 day deadline. How much was I getting paid? $310.

    No typos there. 31,000 words. 6 days. $310.

    This was on Fiverr, where buyers are free to purchase as many multiples of a ‘gig’ as they please without prior warning. If I were to cancel I’d have risked negative feedback, which at the time I was terrified of.

    During that week, I thought my body was going to give up. I can’t even begin to describe the exhaustion and pain I was experiencing. Even now, as I fight to finish up my last orders before leaving the site, it’s 5:09am and I haven’t slept.

    You’ve given me the confidence to leave that behind. This sounds so cheesy and I’m sleep deprived but it’s true! Thank you so much, Carol.

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t usually allow anonymous comments, but I want to leave this on because so many writers tell me they want to write for mills to ‘gain confidence.’ I find more often mills have the effect they had on you — they’re a confidence KILLER, not a confidence builder.

      Living in fear of getting a negative review on some big site, and dooming your chances of getting gigs there, so you have to work literally around the clock…that’s no way to live. Glad to hear you’re leaving it behind!

  3. Susan B Bentley

    Thanks so much for this round-up Carol. I’m giving a careers talk to university students soon about freelance writing and I’ll be adding this post’s URL to my list of useful resources. Time and again I hear from new writers that these sites are the ones they go for because they don’t think they can get anything better with their lack of experience 🙁

    • Carol Tice

      Glad I could help, Susan! I hear from many writers who don’t seem to think anything beyond these type of sites exists as far as freelance writing markets.

      Where I think of mills as the Underworld of freelance writing…a pit of writer exploitation that’s only recently sprung up. Meanwhile, the real world of legit writing gigs continues aboveground…but you have to know how to climb up and get there.

  4. Kimsea Sok

    Carol, thanks for sharing…!

    Honestly, I don’t experience with content mill because I never offer any writing job, and even got any client.

    However, this month I just launched my new blog and I start my freelance writing project. I believe that your posts are really useful to me.

    I have bookmarked this url and I’ll read one by one carefully

    Thanks for share..

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