Blog Archives

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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How a $5 Article Writer Landed a $900 Article

happy business man holding a umbrella and catching money

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:

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Writing for Content Mills: Did You Pick the Wrong One?

Many choices in content mills

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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How I Became a Productive Freelance Writer — After Failing in Year One

By Kim Jansen When I graduated from college, I knew a 9-to-5 position was not for me. I had dreams of becoming a happy, productive freelance writer — working at my own pace, toting my laptop to my favorite coffee

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Your 7 Favorite Posts About Freelance Writing — So Far

Hey, writers! Looking for a little summertime inspiration to get your freelance writing in gear? Well, I noticed that my January roundup of the most popular posts of 2013 was the most popular post I’ve done here on the blog

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