A content mill is essentially a website that pays writers for articles they choose to write. Each of them works slightly differently, so you need to get used to the requirements, pay schedule and process of each of them individually. For example, some mills include Demand Studios, Textbroker, Crowdsource and Scripted.
I won’t lie; working for content mills is kind of shit. However, when you are first starting out and hoping to earn more than the pennies you get from revenue share (like on Yahoo! Contributor Network), you might need them. I started out with content mills and I got really lucky. A few years ago, they were everywhere, paid decently, and there was tons of work. Since then, Google has gone through several new algorithms, changing how search results are created, killing a lot of these sites.
You can still find some content mills that pay rather quickly and on time, and have some articles available in the pool. But for now, let’s talk about the pros and cons of writing for content mills.
PROS of Writing for Content Mills
They pay on time. I should mention they pay on time most of the time. When you freelance, you get used to things happening on occasion. For the most part, I haven’t had a problem getting paid when I am meant to.
You get upfront payment. When writing articles for content mills, you either get upfront payment or revenue share. Revenue share means you get paid per 1,000 views, while upfront payment is a set amount for the article you chose. Most content mills have upfront payment.
You can choose the topic. This also varies based on the site, but many of them simply have a pool of articles you choose from. It lets you pick and choose what topics you feel most comfortable with. Warning: There will be moments when all they have is technical automotive bullshit. You take what you can get.
It gives you experience. If your long-term goal is to be a freelance writer with private clients, you need experience. Since most content mills don’t require a lot of experience aside from showing you are proficient in grammar and proper sentence structure, it’s a great way to do that.
CONS of Writing for Content Mills
The pay is on the low side. This of course depends all on your perspective, how much you want to make, and how long it takes you to write articles. Some content mills pay a cent a word ($5.00 for 500 words) while others pay $15 or more for the same amount of work.
The work is inconsistent. As I mentioned in the pros, you can choose from available articles, but the ones available aren’t always what you want to write. One day, a content mill can have 2,000 articles in your topic, the next day they have 5 really terrible titles that are impossible to write.
Editors can be brutal. There is an unspoken distaste between writers and editors who work for content mills. A lot of it is miscommunication and inconsistency with what the clients or admins are going for. Expect some of your work to be slashed, some to be rejected, and others to demand so many edits you practically re-write the entire thing.
Everything is unpredictable. The same can be said for content mills, clients, and freelancing in general. Don’t ever assume the work you have is going to last forever. Freelancing isn’t about finding a great project and having it forever. You need to constantly grow and change and find new opportunities.
I don’t mean to be overly negative about content mills, but to give you my honest opinion so you can decide if this is something you want to pursue. The ones I have worked for have paid my bills, my rent, fed me, clothed me, and given me enough experience to get stable clients. It’s not all bad, but you need to look at it from an honest perspective and understand the good and the bad.