When I started writing, I used content mills. While there are many who will tell you to avoid them, I still don’t believe content mills for writers aren’t really a waste of time. It is a controversial stance to take.
I’m going to share another controversial stance. Content mills can be worth the pay.
Writing for content mills does mean a small writer rate. To reach a livable wage, many writers find that they burn out quickly. They suffer injuries and have to deal with headaches. That’s usually because they’re not quite using content mills to their advantage.
Here’s why I believe sometimes they are worth the pay and worth keeping in your back pocket, but how to use them properly.
Content Mill Basics: Advice from a Professional Freelance Writer
The ones left are trusted to pay on time
When you need money, writing at content mills can be the best option. You’ll want to look into the history of the content mills. Those that made it through Google updates and are still going now, such as The Content Authority, Great Content, and Writer’s Domain are the ones that are worth your time.
While the rate is low, they do pay on time. They are there when you need a little extra for the week. Some of them even pay weekly or have a “pay me now” button to help you get the money as soon as you need it.
They teach you about SEO and keywords
I started writing for Skyword in 2011. I’ve moved on since then, but I learned a lot about keywords from them. The writing in the Skyword platforms wasn’t about stuffing the keywords in; it was about writing naturally with the audience in mind.
I’ve learned that a 1-2% density is perfect to reach people and rank well on search engines. It is just enough to catch Google’s attention without screaming you’re misusing the techniques. It’s one of the only content mills that has helped me with that.
Another one, The Content Authority, taught me about writing for a 1% density—and how that means ALL keywords and phrases need to be kept to that 1%! Writer’s Domain has since taught me about using keywords to help with the creative process for the article, but not necessarily include it in the content—I’m not too sure about that one, but never mind!
SEO is constantly changing. Search engines change their algorithms yearly and now social media networks are joining in. The aim is to make the search results better for the searchers. Content mills know that, so they have to make changes to the suggestions they make and their platforms to offer the best for their clients. Writers can learn the new techniques.
Learning to write well
Writing for content mills taught me how to write well in the early days. Yes, I already knew how to string a sentence together, but I didn’t know much about fragment sentences. The editors at The Content Authority would often bring up fragment sentences and, after some questioning, I found out how to avoid them!
I will point out that this doesn’t happen with every mill. Writing for content mills has made some of my writing worse. I focused on creating the content so much and earning enough to survive and not on the quality of the pieces. And to make it worse, this doesn’t always matter. The client just wants content to throw up and doesn’t care about grammar. That’s not the way to go now!
I’ve since found some of the pieces online and cringed at the poor quality (luckily my name isn’t on them!).
This is where you need to be careful. You need to use the content mills for learning and growing, not just to make money writing online.
I have found membership sites like The Freelance Writer’s Den is also good for learning more about perfecting your writing. This is one place that I highly recommend if you want to avoid writing for content mills from the start of your writing career.
How to Make a Living as a Writer
You value your services more writing for content mills
I soon learned my value as a writer for content mills, but also a writer overall. It is so easy to think that writing for content mills is the only way to make money writing online, but that really isn’t the case.
I started to question it—after all, writing was once a lucrative market. I soon found blogs all around offering tips to get a better rate and helped writer’s find their true value.
This has helped me move up and earn much than I did a few years ago. In fact, within the space of three months, I made the same amount as I did in the whole of 2011! Amazing, huh? Since then, I support a family of four on my income alone!
The lessons I’ve learned are those that I teach my writing students. I will help you build your own writing income without relying on the content mills. I’ll help you quickly double, triple (and more) your writing income. Get in touch today to find out how I can help with that.
More: Blog smarter, not harder
Content mills increase your knowledge
When I was writing for content mills regularly, I would pick up topics that I’d never heard of. Some of them, I soon found out that I had no interest in, but others I found really exciting and new. I could have spent hours researching!
In fact, with some of the mills, I managed to break into areas of writing that I never thought of at first, including personal financing and weight loss. And I found the niches to stay well away from!
I kept most of the research I did so I can quickly open the document and write a new piece later. I developed this strategy while writing for the mills since I would often take a few pieces on the same topic—I just had to find a different angle to write about them.
Writing for content mills can help but only if you USE THEM. They won’t change in a good way—you won’t wake up to suddenly find that mill paying 1c per word is now paying $1 per word! But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth the penny a word.
As long as you don’t expect them to change and have other higher-paying markets, you can gain some benefits from them. I’ve since left content mills behind for the most part. There are still times that I’ll look into using them and sometimes see if they’ve changed their pay rates. Most of the time they haven’t, but I do acknowledge that writing for content mills helped me start writing and gave me the blocks to build upon to be a better writer.
Do you use content mills to make money writing online? Share your tips or struggles with them in the comments.