How to Dig Out of the Content Mill Hole and Land a Client — Fast

Carol Tice

How to Dig Out of the Content Mill Hole and Land a Client -- Fast. Makealivingwriting.comBy Elaine Yue

“You’re an idiot.”

That’s what I told myself after I spent three hours writing a 500-word article for a content mill.

What did it pay?

A whopping $5.

When I had decided I would do some freelance writing to “make some extra cash,” I had no idea that writing a 500-word article would take hours.

There was no way I would make money like this.

I start to dig

By luck, I came across the Make a Living Writing blog. My entire perception changed.

I could actually make money writing!

I joined the Freelance Writer’s Den and read everything. I was sure these tips would bring me a high-paying gig immediately.

Information overload

But I quickly realized I had a problem.

I had no idea where to begin.

All of these tips were great, but they were coming from veteran writers who already had a marketing plan in place. They already had prestigious clips and connections. One tweet and the gigs would roll in.

I had no clips.

I had no connections.

How was a newbie writer supposed to start?

Mind-mapping a marketing plan

I decided to mind-map a specific plan:

1. I answered:

  • Who am I serving?
  • What do they want?
  • What fears keep them up at night?
  • What problems can I solve for them?
  • Where can I find them?

My mind map helped me organize my thoughts so I had a cohesive plan. Otherwise, I was left thinking, “I’ll try this technique” or “I should try that technique.” This process gave me a more concrete road map to follow.

2.  I built a prospect list using Manta, Linkedin, Jigsaw, and Google. Using Manta’s data, I identified health supplement companies with $1 million-$5 million in annual revenue — my target audience.

3.  I created a website with a blog to use as samples.

4.  Using tips from the Den and Ed Gandia’s Warm Email Prospecting class (yes, I did find it through this blog, and that is Carol’s affiliate link), and working with the answers to my questions about customers’ needs (getting more customers, educating shoppers about health concerns), I created this email:


Congrats on becoming an Authorized Distributor of [Vendor] → trigger event


I read a press release that [Company] has become an Authorized Distributor of [Vendor] – congrats! → trigger event

I’m contacting you because I help nutritional supplement companies write newsletters, blogs, and marketing material that help convey their messages clearly and effectively to customers. And I have some ideas on how you can convey your message to your very specific and special target audience. → value statement

Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further. No sales pitch — just seeing if we might have a good fit. → call to action

Finally, a client!

When a client called me, I realized how great timing and an effective pitch were instrumental in landing me the gig.

He had been thinking about creating better content for his customers and increasing his Google ranking.

So when I said that I was a health writer who could write effective content, it was a no-brainer.

The gig: four blog posts and two landing pages for $1,000. Every month.

Tweaking my plan

I am by no means on easy street — yet. My marketing plan is still a work in progress. But for us newbies trying to escape the content mill trap, any plan is better than no plan.

So take all of the tips from the Den and other sources, create a plan, and I guarantee you will get your first client.

Elaine Yue is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in the health supplement and insurance industries. 

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  1. Tiffany

    Very effective approach. I like the “warm email” idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. chigo

    Thanks for this post. I mean, there is no way I would write a 500 word article, give you the full rights for $3. I know my worth and quality of my content. Does it mean there are no better alternatives to Iwriter, Demandstudios and textbroker.

    • Carol Tice

      No, there are plenty of alternatives, Chigo!

      Just proactively go out and find real clients who sell a real product or service in the real world. Real magazines with real readers, who have real incomes.

      Stop reading ads and hanging around mill dashboards, proactively market your business, and presto! Totally different pay scale.

  3. Jun Mallorca

    Some of these content mills are taking advantage of newbie writers. There are even writing jobs paying $1 per 500 words article. I agree that making a plan will help you land better and higher paying jobs. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. April Schroader

    Thank you for bringing up the point about knowing what your target market it. That has been the hardest part for me – finding amongst the millions of potential places the few that I fit.

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