There is a lot of information that says content mills are bad for writers. Well, I’m going to say the exact opposite. There is still a place for them in the world, but they’re definitely not for everyone.
When used properly, they can help you become a better writer and boost your confidence in the future. They can be a good way to learn more about writing if you’re completely new to it. If it wasn’t for content mills, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
But I do say that you need to think before you sign up to any type of content mill. There are so many and some of them will work you to the ground. You also need to set a time frame to get yourself out of these mills.
I suggest to only work within a content mill for 6-12 months. It depends on the level of writing you’re starting at and what your financial situation is like.
Here’s why content mills could be just right for you.
They help new writers get started
Let’s not lie that getting started in freelance writing takes time. You need to research niches, market yourself to clients, get social proof, and then build your client list. All this is while you’re earning nothing at all.
At least with content mills you start making money. There’s no need to market yourself. You quickly get a few samples out of the way and you’re in.
With some of the sites, you don’t even have to do a sample. You just start from the bottom and work your way up.
The money is bad, but at least it’s not nothing. Exposure and social proof don’t pay the bills, right?
If you’re just starting out and looking to find somewhere to quickly pick up a little extra money, content mills can be useful. But don’t stick with them for too long. While there, make sure you build some samples up and market yourself to prospective clients.
Content mills help boost your confidence
When you just start out writing, you may not have the confidence. I know I didn’t. I had no idea where to start and I didn’t think I was going to be good enough. After all, I didn’t have a writing degree and had really just wanted something to stop me feeling lazy.
In came the content mills. They gave me somewhere to start writing and build my confidence in my abilities. The rate was low, but the experience was invaluable.
I learned so much about SEO and online writing through content mills. Some of these mills are no defunct and the newer ones don’t seem as good, but there are one or two that offer some experience in SEO.
The content mills also get you used to working to deadlines. In the majority of cases, you have 8 hours to write something once you pick it up. You get used to sticking to these deadlines or you lose your position on the sites. There’s no pay for your work and picking up the project was just a waste of your and the site’s time.
As you build confidence in your abilities as a writer, you’re more likely to branch out into hiring private clients.
There are forums to support your writing
Some of the content mills still have forums. This is one of the only reasons I’m sticking with one content mill in particular at the moment—there is limited work on the board but I’m not abandoning my account just yet.
Forums are the reason that I was able to expand in my writing business. I found out more about becoming a writer and what it takes to build blogs, experience, and a client base. Some of the tips I gained are invaluable, and I wouldn’t have picked them up as quickly (or maybe at all) had I followed the advice of ignoring the content mills!
You do need to go through the forum posts. There will be threads that are years old but still relevant. At the same time there will be threads that are a waste of time reading. Many of the sites that people will talk about will have either shut down or merged with others. But it’s still interesting to find out how writers used to do it to pick up some marketing tips.
You get to find your favorite niches with content mills
Specializing into a niche is beneficial. I don’t just mean for your own blog but also for writing. It can help you hone your skills and increase your rate, as you become an authority and expert within the one area.
Content mills can help you find your favorite niches. You may even find you have a knack for writing something that you never thought possible when you started.
When I first started writing, I thought I wanted to do tech writing. In the end I branched out into dental writing and wedding blogging. Both were fascinating worlds with so much to learn and write about, and I definitely don’t regret the content mills for making me branch into these worlds.
Don’t completely rule out content mills. They’re not a complete waste of time as a writer. But you do need to watch how you use them. They’re temporary stop-gaps or there for when you need that little income boost and not to make a full time living out of!
Sign up for my email newsletter to get more help starting out as a freelance writer.