What Is A Content Mill? And 5 Reasons You Might Consider Writing for One

Chad MaccarelliTips & Tricks8 Comments

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.

What is A Content Mill And 5 Reasons You Might Consider Writing For One

#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.

For those who are interested in learning more, Textbroker, Demand Media Studios, Scripted are just a few of the many content mills you may want to investigate.

Chad is a software engineer by day and the IT department for his blogger wife by night. Chad doesn’t believe in social media, so you can follow him in the car, on the street or by hiring a private investigator.

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Chad Maccarelli

8 Comments on “What Is A Content Mill? And 5 Reasons You Might Consider Writing for One”

  1. I appreciate a creative take on the content mill for writers, but as a writer I’ve avoided content mills like the plague and I recommend other writers do the same. They do very little to establish the portfolio of a professional writer (or up-and-coming writer) and for me, the twenty dollars you quote here was always a dream. Try $4.00. That’s the most I was offered at one content mill site early on. Usually less. The article was 750 words and required research so I was spending a few hours (2-4 initially) researching, writing and editing something I got no credit for (content mills typically strip authorship and copyright away from the writer). Not only that, as a writer your reputation is everything. If you write for content mills, you run the risk of not being taken seriously when asked for a portfolio and that’s all you have. To learn to write faster and more frequently, I recommend blogging. It’s far more efficient and has the potential to be taken seriously. If you’re a writer who wants to write for someone else other than your blog or your tribe, I recommend submitting your work to reputable sites with strong credibility and some prestige. You may not get paid and you may not get your work accepted right away, but you’ll learn a lot through the process including how to better your work, how to communicate with editors, how to pitch and what sites will help you build a lasting career.

    1. How does writing for a content mill rob you of your reputation? Sure, if you ONLY wrote for content mills, you wouldn’t have a portfolio, but content mills are a great way to make money WHILE building your portfolio and your brand. We all know blogging can take quite some time to be profitable. Writing for a content mill is a great way to make some money in the meantime, especially for new writers who are still working on their writing.

      I started with the content mills as a brand new writer, and I’m glad I did. Sure, the first few articles were $5 for 400 words, but I make a lot more than that now! From the same sites, too. I can see how they would seem like a waste of time at first, but just like with blogging–once you figure out what you’re doing, you can do really well! 🙂

  2. I do write for a couple of content mills and I love it. Sure, I made peanuts starting out, but now (just over a year later), it provides a very good income. Whether or not you will benefit from them definitely depends on your goals–you don’t get a byline, but it has been very profitable and worthwhile for me!

    1. I really enjoyed this article and your comments. Are there any reliable content mills that you would recommend to get started with writing articles? I am a newbie to freelance writing 🙂 My fear is that there are so many writing styles. Do you write your articles based on your own writing style or do you use several writing templates that you have developed? I was told there is no universal way of writing. I guess I am so used to following a structure or step-by-step process without the gray areas. I am starting to realize that writing is vague (in a good way). I know that I need to work on my word usage and take a refresher on English 101…lol. I am a new writer who is looking forward to receiving advise on how to enter the field.

      Best Regards,
      Eric

      1. Glad you found it helpful! I have not written for a content mill personally, however, I have a guest post coming up on the site from a woman who has been doing it for a while and answers a lot of the questions you ask. It will be published soon, so keep an eye on our site!

  3. Hi Chad,

    You point people to Google, where the largest content mill it will point them to is Demand Studios. I spent just over five years writing for Demand and three of those years as an editor there. I was canned a few months ago after the rewrite requests got a bit too ridiculous, and the amount of work for $25 just wasn’t worth it. Also, when I left, the titles were drying up and articles were harder and harder to find. I did it to earn funny money, and when you run the math on writing an average of two articles per day at $25 per pop over the course of years, that’s not bad. In my opinion, if someone wants to be a blogger just start writing. I think you’ll better serve yourself by searching for topics and inspiration by living your life, reading the news and reading things that other people write. There is nothing you can learn from a content mill that you won’t learn writing and working on your own site. You can read about my experience with Demand in a blog post I wrote called Fired from the Content Mill, or: How to Shave a Honey Badger’s Balls: http://bit.ly/1lkiIAt

  4. Pingback: A Veteran Content Writer Shares The Pros and Cons Of Content Mills | Beyond Your Blog

  5. Loved this, Susan. Lots of great information here so thank your hubs, too. Most of all, I liked this:

    Chad is a software engineer by day and the IT department for his blogger wife by night. Chad doesn’t believe in social media, so you can follow him in the car, on the street or by hiring a private investigator.

    Hahahaha, made me laugh so hard!

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