Friday, 23 April 2010

Content Mills - Why You Should Avoid Them

This was written by fellow PWAC member Angela West.

List of Content Mill Sites
  • Demand Media
What is a Content Mill?
A content mill is a website or collection of websites that pay writers a low upfront fee for an article or blog posting ($5-$20). They may additionally offer residuals to make writing for them sound like it pays more than it actually does. I've listed the major ones above but there are many smaller ones.

Why are Content Mills Bad for Writers?
-make you "chase your tail" for more clicks, little pay
-promised residuals disappear if you stop writing for a site
-editors will discount writers with nothing but content mills in their portfolios
-beginning writers think they are worth less, driving down industry rates

Why are They So Well-Defended? $$$
Some content mills, like Demand, are multi-million dollar corporations. At the very least, they are very well-funded. They have enough money to purchase freelance writing sites; in the US, they purchased which is a very well-respected resource on freelance writing. They also do massive internet ad buys and advertise regularly on respected job boards like Media Job Search Canada and Jeff Gaulin, which gives them a cachet of respectability.

What to Do Instead?
Look on, contact local businesses to see if they need copywriting done, contact businesses online in your expert "niche" to see if they need copywriting done. If you have no portfolio at all, it will be harder but you'll hit on one or two who will give you a shot, especially if you have an appropriate educational or career background. I did a survey of ten web design companies to see if they needed copywriting services before starting my business; one of them is still a client of mine because I contacted them for that survey. Several others expressed at least some interest; I only got two outright "no's".