Blog Archives

From a Content Mill to Writing a TV Commercial in 2 Months

From content mills to writing a TV commercial in 2 months.

Fresh out of college, with no real world experience and no real job prospects, I dove into Textbroker in 2013, lured by the appeal of easy money.

Big mistake.

Over the next three years, I slaved for 1.4 cents per word. Even though I was done with school, I was still living the life of a starving college student. Did you know it takes 7,143 words at that rate to make $100?

That’s hard to swallow now that I know it’s possible to make a lot more money from freelancing. If you’ve been writing for traditional-low-pay-race-to-the-bottom content mills, it’s time to rethink your approach to building a freelance business.

I couldn’t maintain such a grueling writing pace for bare bones rations. I wanted satisfying work. I wanted better clients. And I wanted to get paid well. I finally woke up and realized that low-pay work for content mills will never yield pro rates.

Now what?

I put five key strategies in place to transform my freelancing business. The result: Bye-bye, content mills. Hello, better pay and better clients — including a major TV network within two months. Here’s how I did it:

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An Open Letter to ESL Writers

ATTN: ESL Writers.

This is a hard letter to write. But I get letters from you every day, ESL writer, and I feel you deserve an answer.

You email me or hit me on Facebook, from Pakistan, or Kenya, or other points around the globe.

You’re not the rare ESL writer who’s impressively fluent, and whom I only learn from in-depth conversation wasn’t born speaking English.

No, you’re a writer who seems to think you’re fluent in English, but you aren’t. Not even close.

Despite your shaky grasp of English, you’ve fixed on the idea that freelance writing for English-speaking clients is the career for you. And you’re writing me because you want me to help you get paid writing gigs.

I’ve been working to spread hope to writers about the opportunities to earn from their craft for 8 years now. But I’m afraid today, I’m the bearer of bad news.

You probably don’t have the skills to earn a living writing in English. And I want you to encourage you to stop banging your head against this brick wall before you starve.

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Writing for a Content Mill for $400 a Post: This is Happening

The Rise of 'Move-Up' Content Mills.

I’ve spent the past 8 years of my life helping writers move up from content mills to better pay.

So what I have to say now may shock you.

I’m no longer advising writers to avoid all online platforms that sign up loads of writers.

What the what?

See, I recently had a chance to peek behind the curtain at one emerging platform that recruited me to write for them — and I liked what I saw.

Here’s why I’ve changed my tune on online writer sites…

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Get Paid for Traffic: The Scoop on Writing for Blasting News

How Bloggers Can Get Paid for Traffic.

It seems like there are always new sites coming into the market, offering to give freelance writers a little pay. But few sites pay based on traffic anymore (which makes sense, since traffic does not equal dollars).

Blasting News is one opportunity that is new to the U.S. and does pay based on the number of visitors you attract. They contacted Carol about referring writers to the site — and she asked me to take a look and learn about the pay and requirements.

Is Blasting News a good way for writers to earn a living? There are highly mixed reviews on Glassdoor and on Indeed (in several languages).

We decided to find out more, and talked to several writers around the world with experience on this platform. Here’s our report:

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Escape the Content Mills: 12 Practical Posts for Moving Up

content_mills_ICONAre you trying to break free from writing for content mills?

You’re not alone. How to quit content mills and earn more than their rock-bottom rates is probably the single question I get asked the most.

It can be so easy to get sucked into content mill work, but it takes so much time and effort to write enough articles — and deal with the often contradictory edits — that it sucks up all your time, and you never can market yourself to find better paying work.

I’m doing a survey about content mill writing right now, and the pay rates writers report are appalling. We’re still collecting results, but with 300 in the can, I can report nearly half say they earn $5 an hour or less writing for mills, or for mill-type quickie-article gigs on the bid sites.

Man, that makes me mad to hear.

I’ve done quite a few posts on how to escape content mills, so I thought it was time to pull them together into one useful guide to help you move out of content mills and into better paying freelance writing gigs.

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Content Mill Update: What Demand Studios’ Implosion Means for Writers

Businessman With Sales Chart

Remember what it was like to write online content in 2006? Back then, there was a ton of opportunity for writers willing to crank out boatloads of hastily written, low-paid content for content mills.

These sites got a ton of traffic off the key words in their posts. Visitors would click the ads they put on those pages, and the sites could make a fortune.

One of the most successful pioneers of this mass-content model was Demand Studios. When its parent company, Demand Media, went public in 2011, there was a brief moment when Demand was worth more than the New York Times.

Those days are long gone. Google soon got hip to the lack of value to online readers of most content-mill writing. It started changing its algorithm to exclude such sites from its search results.

The company’s founder and CEO quit in October 2013, having pocketed his millions from the stock offering.

If you’ve been wondering what’s happened since, let me give you a content mill update here.

The short version: Mass SEO-focused content sites are in a death spiral. If you earn much of your money writing for mills or big revenue-share sites, you need a new game plan.

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