Let me tell you a little secret: I didn’t choose a freelance writing career as a way to make a livelihood.
It chose me.
I previously shared about the series of events that led up to me leaving my day job. It was one of those things that just…happened. I needed it and I had no plan (which I don’t recommend), but I made it work with a variety of life-saving, work-at-home resources, including Textbroker, a content mill for freelance writers.
Why Do People Hate Content Mills So Much?
Textbroker was a godsend. Then reality struck when I saw prices dropping into the single dollar digits and the amount of work dwindling.
Uh, what? I thought I could average anywhere from $9-$20/hour, work-at-home blogs! Such a dream would never come true if I would have to write 500 words and be paid a measly $5.
Fortunately, other writers had similar complaints about the cheap nature of many content mills. I can honestly say that it’s not always easy to find a high-paying gig through Textbroker or iWriter or the many other crowd-sourcing sites out there, but they can be gold mines to a writer who knows how to dig. With a head full of intuitive marketing savvy and an inner rebel, I have made multiple sources for immediate income and new clients, both of which allowed me to earn more money in the long term.
Why I Personally Like Content Mills
Well, sort of.
On those skinny days where there are only a few pages of open work orders up for grabs, I would spend my time applying for teams, revamping my portfolio, and messaging back previous clients with ideas for new topics I could write for them. Sure, it sucked hard that I might have only made a few bucks on some days (whereas others I could make $50-$100), but I found ways to innovatively turn those problems into paying opportunities.
I learned quickly that utilizing a content mill as a source of income wouldn’t be a sustainable option, but if I were going to invest time and energy into building brands, writing blog posts, and creating product descriptions that would help my clients sell more, then I definitely was going to keep in contact with them.
Why the hell not? I mean, I had to look at their websites in order to match up my articles to reflect their branding and voice. That also means I knew how to get in contact with them.
Enter social media, namely LinkedIn, thank you very much!
Textbroker landed me a client who became a returning client and a valuable connection, who I now can reference to other clients when presenting my portfolio. I respect that content mills, such as the ones I used, are in business to make their money too, and I’m confident they’ll always make money from all the new writers born everyday. That fact still doesn’t stop me from extracting value from my past hard work.
I relish in knowing that I have completed many jobs well done and brought returning business, even if it was through a middle man. Of course, I would set my price per word a bit higher in the event of having a direct work order. I also apply for writing teams where I can be assigned more tasks; and I keep my CV and author bio squeaky clean by meticulously, quadruple-checking for errors.
Now, I think many writers loathe these low-paying gigs because they have a “one and done” mentality. They probably rush through an article with their minds already dead set on getting the next one knocked out so they can meet their quota of earnings for the day. I used to do that myself.
My current perspective on using a content mill for writing gigs is that it’s a lot like getting paid to take new leads. The gigs don’t pay as much, but they beat the aimless, non-paying search we have to do for blogs and websites that pay $50-$200 per article.
Which option sounds better? Getting paid $20-$50 extra every week from one of many crowd-sourcing sites, or getting paid $0 with the hopes of maybe earning $300-$400 in a week?
The top dollar opportunities will be there for freelance writers, but when nothing comes through there’s always a fallback on a website like Textbroker. I encourage freelance writers, new ones especially, to hang onto 1-2 content mills for this very reason.
Have you ever used a content mill or another type of crowdsourcing website to find freelance work? How did you (or did you not) like it? Has it proven beneficial to your career in any way?
Send a me a tweet on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn to share your story. I’m all ears.