Please welcome Chad Maccarelli as a guest poster for Beyond Your Blog. Chad is the technical brains behind Beyond Your Blog (and all of Susan’s blogging adventures). Chad also edits all of the Beyond Your Blog podcasts, and keeps Susan from crashing her area of the blogosphere on a daily basis. Content Mills are something I have been asked about several times, and I had never heard of them. Chad did some research and put together the following information to help answer that question for us.
During Episode 10 of our podcast, we talked about a few options for writers looking to use their writing skills to earn some extra income. One of the options we discussed was a content mill. A content mill is a company that acts as a middleman, to connect writers with those looking for content. Search the web for “content mill” and you’re bound to find articles, posts, and comments about how, as a writer, you should avoid them. Common complaints cite low pay, sparse opportunities, and not getting your name in the byline, to name a few. That being said, there are some compelling reasons that some bloggers may find content mills a good fit for their writing strategy.
#1 Increase Your Writing Speed and Frequency – Many of us are procrastinators when it comes to getting things done, and that includes writing. One of the most difficult and most important things about maintaining a blog, is keeping the content going. You don’t have a “boss” giving you deadlines and telling you how to spend your time, so you have to self pace. This can be tricky if you have not done it before. Writing for a content mill can help you develop a writing cadence. The various assignments that you take on will have specific due dates and will require you to write even if you’re not in the mood. This can be a challenging but positive step allowing you to stretch your writing muscles.
#2 Write for Someone Other Than Yourself or Your Tribe – Most bloggers are writing in one or two specific niches for a like-minded group of readers. Content mill writing is more focused on writing to satisfy a particular set of requirements for a job, and over time will challenge you to write about varying topics for a wide variety of readers. This will help you grow as a writer, as well as give you experience writing on topics that you may have avoided or missed if you were concentrating solely on your niche and audience.
#3 Adapt to Client Needs – Depending on your goals as a writer, this might be the best reason to try content mills. If you’re looking to eventually freelance, this can be a relatively low-risk way to get your feet wet. As a mill writer, you’re agreeing to deliver a piece to a client. That client will in turn give you feedback, and may ask for changes upon review. This is something you won’t experience writing only for your own blog, and most of the time editors at magazine sites can’t spend a lot of time providing feedback or requesting changes to your work either. Content mills allow you to develop valuable collaboration and client skills.
#4 Topical Inspiration – There may be times when you struggle to come up with a topic to write about on your blog, although you know you need to write in order to improve. Challenging yourself by writing on topics decided by others gives you a chance to hone your craft, and could be an opportunity to learn about an unfamiliar topic that you may wish to write more about in the future.
#5 Earn Enough to Support Smaller Costs of Running Your Blog/Website – The biggest knock on Content Mills is that the pay is generally not worth the amount of work required. While it probably is not the best way to make a living writing, they do offer money in exchange for your words. Depending on the mill and your rating, you can earn up to $20 an article. Writing one or two articles per month can help pay for your hosting, mail service and other internet tool costs that you’re incurring running your blog. This could be a strategy you employ on an ongoing basis, or perhaps just until your other monetizing strategies pick up.
Read this guest post to learn how one blogger has increased her earnings writing for content mills over time: A Veteran Content Writer Shares The Pros and Cons of Content Mills
Don’t expect to make a living writing for these types of sites, but if exchanging an article or two a month to foot your MailChimp bill seems like a good idea, this may be a strategy to consider for some bloggers who may also benefit from stretching their writing muscles and working with a client.