Some writers love them…
Some writers think they are not worth the time…
My opinion on content mills? Well, although I may get some static for this, I agree with both statements.
Let me explain…
I used content mills early on in my career and they were valuable to me because they helped me “learn the ropes,” build confidence and improve my writing.
But, unfortunately, content mills do NOT pay writers what they are worth and they de-value our craft. So while I am not the biggest fan of content mills, I think they have their place.
Since content mills are an easy way to make some quick cash (albeit not that much!), they can be a perfect starting point for new freelance writers.
I hate to see potentially successful freelance writers give up too early when all they may have needed was one month of content mills to show them they CAN earn money for their writing, learn the industry and gain a little dose of confidence.
If a content mill is what you need to build up some confidence so you can prepare yourself to work with direct clients, then I am all for it.
Now, let’s step back a little bit before we dive into content mills.
There are FIVE basic avenues through which you can earn money online with freelance writing. These include:
- Broker Websites, also known as Content Mills
- Bidding Sites
- Revenue Sharing
- Direct Clients
Not all of these methods will help you earn money quickly.
And as I mentioned, the fastest way to start earning money as a freelance writer is to start writing for content mills.
If you are a new writer and you have been struggling with taking that first step, read on and see if content mills may be a good start for you.
What Are Content Mills?
A content mill acts as a liaison between the writer and the client. Clients post assignments, and writers choose the assignments they wish to take on. Once the client approves the work, the writer receives payment – usually via PayPal or some other online payment system.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
As mentioned before, the nice thing about content mills is they provide immediate income. Other benefits include upfront and timely payment, freedom for writers to choose their topics/assignments and invaluable experience working with editors and on real, professional content.
Content mills are also great for newbie writers, as they act as an intermediary between you and the client; you never have to deal with the client directly at all! It’s a nice way to ease into the business.
Unfortunately, there are also some serious downsides to content mills. Disadvantages include low pay, inconsistent work, a highly competitive environment and brutal editors, which can be hard on your mindset and self-esteem.
So, while content mills can be a great way to earn fast cash, you’ll want to stop using them eventually, as they can severely limit your potential to earn a solid income as a freelance writer. The real money is in direct clients, which you’ll get more comfortable finding – and working with – once you’ve been at the game a little bit longer.
The Best Content Mills
As I said, despite their disadvantages, there are still benefits to content mills. So if you’d like to use them to make some quick cash or get your feet wet in the industry, feel free. But don’t use just any old content mill.
There are three specific content mills I personally recommend. These will pay you decently and on time, and they will offer you a wide array of assignments to choose from.
Let’s start with Textbroker, which is my top choice for content mills.
Here’s how it works:
- Textbroker ranks writers according to their ability. The site rates you as a 2, 3, 4 or 5-star writer, with the 5-star writers making 5 cents per word.
- You move up in rank as you consistently produce well-written articles without grammatical or spelling errors. Most writers attain level 4 quickly but find it hard to move on to level 5. Even at level 4, however, you are making 1.4 cents per word, and when broken down into two 500-word articles per hour, you are earning $14 an hour.
Getting started on Textbroker is fairly simple. All you need to do is visit www.textbroker.com. Click “I Write Content,” and click the bright, blue bar that says “Free Author Registration.”
…and you will land on this page.
Fill out all of the information required. Once you’re registered, Textbroker will email you and ask you to submit a writing sample. They’ll need to approve you before you can start writing for their clients, so DO NOT rush this sample! Remember, you can never change a first impression.
Have you ever read this quote from Margaret Thatcher?
“I usually make up my mind about someone in 10 seconds, and I very rarely change it.”
Well, an editor who is reading your sample article feels the same way. That’s why it is important to make a good first impression. Proper grammar and word usage is critical.
Follow the instructions to the letter and pay attention to details. The moment an editor reads it, his brain makes 1,000 computations. Do I like the writing? Do I like this person? Is he/she competent and confident? The quality of your writing sample could mean the difference between working for Textbroker as a level 4 writer, and not working for them at all. It really is THAT important.
For this reason, I highly suggest writing your article, leaving it, then returning back to it later to edit it. Repeat this several times until you are happy with the final product. I know it is a lot of work, but you will thank me when you’re accepted as a writer!
Now, assuming you followed my advice, you’ve been accepted! It’s time to make some money.
After you log in to Textbroker, click the tab “Assignments” in the top bar. That will take you to this page…
This is where you will choose your assignments and start writing.
Keep in mind, Textbroker stops you at five articles to ensure you are writing at your current rating level. If they discover your articles are not worthy of a specific level, they will drop you down to a lower rating – and lower pay rate. Likewise, if they decide your writing ability exceeds the level you are currently, they will elevate you.
Feel free to take on assignments below your writer level, especially if the topics are more exciting or to your taste. Remember: The more you write, the more money you make. So while you may be making a lower rate per word, if the article is something you can write faster and more efficiently, you could stand to make more money per hour anyway.
- Content Divas
Similar to Textbroker, Content Divas hires freelance writers. The difference is that the work packages they offer have different pay rates. These rates are not revealed until you become a member of their writing team.
To work for Content Divas, English must be your first and primary language, and you must have top-notch grammar and spelling skills, be able to meet deadlines and know how to manage your time well.
One downside of this content mill is they are not always hiring. If you’re interested, go to this page on their site to find out if they are currently hiring.
I worked for Content Divas for a few months. The owners are super nice and they pay decently. And, if you do well, they will have more projects to give you.
- Demand Media
Demand Media is one of the largest and most successful content mills. In addition to writers, they also employ editors, proofreaders, content reviewers, filmmakers, photographers and many other specialists.
To work for Demand Media, you must have writing experience in at least one of their categories, professional experience in at least one of their categories, and certifications and/or a degree in at least one of their categories.
Because they pay well, their requirements are much stricter than other content mills, and their editors are equally as strict. With that said, don’t be discouraged if Demand Media isn’t as easy to get started with as the two content mills I mentioned earlier. They actually rejected one of my article submissions several times when I was just getting started in my freelance writing career, and I was so discouraged I almost gave up.
After several revisions though, they finally did accept my article and I went on to earn some decent money with them. I only worked with Demand Media for a short while, but I did know a few writers who earned money with them month after month.
It’s Your Turn!
I hope I’ve provided you with an understanding of how to use content mills to make money and gain experience. At the same time, I hope you remember not to get stuck with these types of clients.
Yes, they are a great tool for gaining some confidence and earning money fast, but the big dollars in freelance writing will come from working with direct clients.
And, if you find yourself stuck in content mills and you know you are ready to earn more but you cant figure out how to break free, read this article right now. You know who you are. It’s time to leave the nest and go and be free!
What is YOUR opinion on content mills? Have you ever tried them? What was your experience?
If you are trying to find a new freelance writing job, but running out of places to look I can help you out! Visit The Ultimate List of Freelance Writing Jobs and 100+ Paying Websites.
Check out my other posts about freelance writing jobs.