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.
When I started out as a freelance writer, I knew nothing about finding clients that pay well.
I started with bidding sites and general job boards, because I thought it was easy money. But I quickly discovered you can’t build a successful career as an article writer if you’re only earning $5 per article.
It was clear I needed to make more money for each article.
So I stopped hanging out on the bidding sites and targeted higher-paying writing jobs. In one year’s time, I went from earning $5 dollars an article on bidding sites to earning $900 for a feature article.
How? Here are the steps I took:
Many new writers looking to find that first place they can break in and start earning money from their craft end up signing up for a content mill.
Either that, or they end up discovering a revenue-share site like Examiner or Guardian Liberty Voice, or bidding for gigs on Elance.
Soon after, many of these writers send me emails like this one:
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