By Angie Mansfield
We all know how Carol feels about freelance writing content mills, and I absolutely agree with her.
They’re not a way to make a good living.
But can you ever make a mill job work for you? I did.
Find the “right” mill
I worked for Demand Studios years ago, but I escaped and never looked back.
Earlier this year, though, someone in the Freelance Writers Den asked a question about a mill called Media Shower. I’d never heard of it, so I decided to go through the application process, just to report back to the Den.
I found out that MS uses a guest blogging model to get its clients’ links all over the web. Writers get a bio with a link to their Google Plus profiles in order to establish Google Authorship. Pay is $25 per 500-word post.
I got accepted, then didn’t do anything with them for awhile because I didn’t want to get sucked into another mill. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder: Could I make that bio work for me?
Use it as a marketing platform
Specifically, I wondered if I could turn my posts into a marketing tool for my freelancing business. By writing high-quality posts and including my G+ link, I’d give potential clients a showcase of my skills and a way to track me down. I made sure to link to my regular website from my Google profile, and then I waited.
It took a couple of months, but then the emails started trickling in. One day, I even got three emails, all from different clients who’d read my MS posts on websites they visited.
Those posts turned out to be a decent marketing tool. They landed me two ongoing gigs (both for blog ghostwriting), along with a special request to write an article for the digital edition of Business Review Australia.
Not a bad return for my experiment. And I got paid for marketing my services!
Learn from it
I should make a disclaimer here: I still do not recommend writing for content mills. At all. $25/post works out to about $25 an hour (you don’t get to pick your topics at MS, so you’ll have to do some research). As Carol has mentioned, that’s not a livable wage for a freelancer.
But if you’re going to write for a mill anyway, here are a few lessons I’ve learned:
- Pick a mill that gives you a byline, and try to stick with mills that give readers a way to find you directly.
- Always do high-quality work. You never know who’s reading those quick, piecemeal posts.
- Keep marketing to real clients. Your goal should be to move up and not have to use the mill anymore.
Content mills aren’t a viable long-term option for freelancers. But with a little strategy, I managed to turn a mill gig into a decent marketing tool.
Angie Mansfield is a freelance copywriter, moderator-in-chief of the Freelance Writers Den, and “mom” to a chatty bird, a bratty cat, and a bouncing baby goldendoodle.