Almost every freelance writer has started from the websites that pay pennies. Many content mill sites rely on the lack of experience and understanding of the sector to offer negligible payments for highly complex jobs.
If you go through websites and freelance forums, you will find out that most of the seasoned writers avoid content mills at all costs. They spend more time on looking for the best writing jobs online and they sooner or later discover the right type of client.
Are the content mill sites worth your time and effort? It all depends on your freelance writing goals and the amount of money you need to make each month.
Looking for the Best Content Mill Sites
Discovering the right content mill is a very difficult task. Many freelancers that have discovered sites paying more than the average try to keep this information private. They worry that too many new applicants will reduce the amount of work available for the writers that have already been accepted.
You can do online research to find content mills. Always look for payment information and terms. Websites like iwriter.com, for example, should be a last resort option. The payment is negligible and clients have the right to reject perfectly executed projects without any explanation.
Websites like Textbroker or Blogmutt have a much better reputation. The writing criteria and the conditions are very clear. There is sufficient information about the application procedure and the payment you are going to receive.
When doing research, look for the following signs of a reputable content mill:
- You get preliminary information about the pay
- The pay is two cents per word or more
- There is a writing style guide that tells you what the editors are looking for
- There is an editorial and support team that helps you right from the start
- You will usually have to pass through a relatively tough application process that involves a test and the creation of writing samples
Many content mill sites do not correspond to the criteria mentioned here. Such websites are not worth the effort. Instead of making one dollar per 500 words, use the time to do research and discover a few gigs that offer a much better payment.
Tips for Building a Career without Relying on Content Mills
Finding your own clients and writing jobs online is a much better strategy in terms of profitability and long-term development.
True, this strategy will require more work and the chance of rejection is also going to be higher. Once you land a gig that pays you five cents per word or even more, however, you will find out that it is possible to do smaller quantities of work and still earn more than what the typical content mill is willing to offer.
Dedicate some time to applying for online writing jobs directly. Many freelancers get so caught up in their everyday activities that they lack the time needed to discover new clients. One hour per day will be sufficient for communication with prospects.
Build an online portfolio. This is the first and the most important step that every freelance writer should complete. Creating your own website or blog and optimizing the content for the right keywords will bring clients to you. In addition, you should be capable of providing samples with every writing job that you apply for.
Ask former clients for testimonials and reviews. Many potential employers will trust this kind of information. A combination of excellent writing samples and positive customer feedback will facilitate the task of finding writing jobs online.
Finally, put emphasis on the provision of stellar customer service. Happy clients will come back to you and they will send you referrals. Once you build a professional network, you will find yourself getting access to more and more projects. When this happens, your reliance on content mill websites will disappear naturally.
Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Baskets
Currently, I work with private clients and I do projects for content mill sites. These are great for earning something extra when work is slow. Most freelancers experience such problems during the summer months when the volume of work goes down.
Learn to rely on several simultaneous sources of income. Content mill sites will help you make a little bit of money when you have nothing else to do. Having several loyal clients will also be essential for earning enough each month. Finally, think about adding a passive income option to the mix. I write ebooks and I have a couple of blogs that earn from advertising. Though the amounts tend to be rather small, they still contribute to the grand total.
If you are a writer that relies exclusively on content mills, have memberships in at least three such websites. Content mills are notoriously known for running out of projects every once in a while. You should have a backup plan in case your main source of income certainly stops delivering what it used to in the past.
Be strategic about your work as a freelance writer. Take your time to come up with a mix of monetization opportunities. Some of them will help you make money immediately, others will require some time to start working. Content mill sites can be a great addition to the strategy, if you choose the quality ones and if you are not overly-reliant on them.
Do you need some additional assistance? Wonder how to get started with online writing jobs? My book How to Make Money Online: The Secrets of Starting Your Own Web-Based Business can help. Here is some more information about the book and a link to Amazon, if you want to make a purchase.
Photo courtesy of: Marsmett Tallahassee