If you’re writing for content mills or bidding against thousands of other writers for gigs, you’re stuck in a low-pay trap.
Mills don’t give raises. And pay is rarely great when it’s a race to the bottom and clients only care about price.
You need a way out.
But the big problem with mill writing or your typical quickie work off Elance and the like is this stuff doesn’t really train you up on how to get better-paying assignments.
You don’t learn how to develop story ideas — the mill dashboard hands those all to you.
You don’t learn how to write query letters and pitch editors.
You don’t learn how to find experts and conduct interviews.
And you don’t learn how to take that pile of notes and quotes and statistics and turn it into a compelling article editors will love and readers will devour.
You don’t know what writing mistakes could get you and your dream publication sued, either.
In the case of some mills, you don’t even end up with your byline on articles you could use in a portfolio.
All it really helps you do is — you guessed it — write more mill articles.
3 Ways to earn more
Despite all this, it is possible to leave content mills behind and move on to better-paying clients. I know because I regularly hear from writers who’ve used my tips to do just that.
There are just a few basic ways to move up and leave this writing underworld behind.
- You could start marketing your writing to better clients and bootstrap your way to better gigs. That’s what I did when I got started. You can flounder around, make a lotta mistakes, pitch publications, get a lot of rejections, learn on the job, gradually improve your writing, and slowly, slowly figure it all out over the course of many years.
- You could go to journalism school. I hear the connections you get combined with the training can give your career quite a boost. But it’s competitive to get in, and J-school takes a year or two and costs five figures. You probably don’t have the time or cash.
- You could take a short crash course where in just a few weeks, experienced pros give you all the journalism basics you need to move up and then critique your sample article.
Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer and I have created something in that #3 category — 4 Week Journalism School.
We ran it earlier this year as a course with 4 hours of instruction, a class limit of 24, support in Freelance Writers Den for homework, and a $297 price tag.
But here’s the thing — people writing for mills don’t have a lot of extra cash.
We also discovered writers need a lot of support and have a load of questions when they make this transition.
Plus, judging from the emails I get, lots more than 24 writers need this help.
Our new & improved career booster
We’re revamped 4-Week J-School to make it even better, with a lot more Q&A time, plus the flexibility to view the training modules whenever you have time.
And we’re doing another one of my little price experiments (mwuah ha ha…) and offering this session for radically less. We may never do this again…but we want to see if we can bring this class to a lot more writers this fall, to set you up to earn more in 2013.
You can check out all the details here:
Class starts Nov. 15, and we’ve got a ton of early-registration goodies for you if you sign up before Nov. 8, including a training on how to write query letters.
If you have writer friends who need to escape from content mills, feel free to share that link.
Got questions about breaking into better-paid article writing? Leave them here in the comments.