Category Archives: content mills

This Ain’t a Date — Pay Me!


Do I have you attention?

Good. šŸ™‚

So, I got an email from one of my clients, one of the few content mills I still write for occasionally. They are revamping their site, and part of the overhaul includes writers updating their profiles. Okay, I can understand needing me to re-size a picture and explain my writing background. So, last week, I did that.

Today I get a followup email. They want me to “flesh out” my profile “so they can better match me to clients.” Oh, and they want sample articles for each area in which I write.

Um…I have three major areas of expertise, andĀ  countless other areas where I can write with some level of authority (I think I counted 20 or so areas on their site). And you want me to complete a mini-profile for each other them.

Guys…it’s so Not Happening.

I’m not sure when this happened, but suddenly, sites want to know everything about you. I’m not willing to do that. This ain’t a dating site. I’m not trying to woo you, and I don’t want you to woo me, past giving me gigs and paying me. That’s really the extent of our relationship.

Want to know what you need to know about me? Here ya go:

My Name

My Resume

A couple of writing samples.

My PayPal email address so you can pay me.

This is what I need to know about you:

Do you pay?

How do you pay?

Do you pay on time?

Do you have work?

That’s it. This could be one of the least-complicated relationships either of us has ever had, and you want to go and ruin it by getting to know me. I’m afraid that if you insist on taking our relationship to the next level, I might have to rethink it.

I know you’re disappointed. But, it’s not you, it’s me.

Okay, it really is you.

 

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It Might Be a Cliche…


but as a freelancer, you should always have more than one egg in your basket.

You should have more than one basket.

Hell, if you can swing it, you should have more than one chicken farm. Or duck farm, or ostrich…

Whichever egg you prefer, have more than one farm. And more than one bird.

This makes sense to some of you, while others are thinking, “What is she talking about? Why is she going on about chicken, ducks and eggs?”

Remember in yesterday’s post I linked to a post I wrote a while back? Well the subject of that post has done a disservice to its writers yet again, and as bad as the situation already was, it just got worse.There are a lot of scared writers over there right now.

I vacillate between wanting to scream “I told you so!” and feeling sorry for them. Even when you’ve warned people repeatedly that they are on a road with nothing but a big brick wall at the end of it, you still can’t help but feel your heart sink to your stomach when they smack into it head-on. That’s how I feel tonight.

But what gets me — there are still people over there that are adamant that this too, shall pass. They aren’t looking for other work because they like working there too much.

Uh huh.

And you have the ones who insist on being optimistic. This is just a period of adjustment. All companies have to change their models from time to time. It can’t stay this bad forever.

And they’re right. It can still get worse.

Now, admittedly, I didn’t burn that bridge completely, because I want to see the famous final scene. Meaning, I want to know what kind of company they eventually evolve (or devolve) into. But I’ve long ago given up any hope (hope?) that they would be part of my income. But judging from what I read earlier, for some that place is their only income.

Still.

C’mon peeps — it’s time to get real. If you’re gonna make it as a freelancer, you can’t depend on just one client. You need many (MANY) different clients to freelance well. That is the first rule you should learn when you decide to freelance, because if you break it, it will end your freelancing career. And many people are realizing that tonight, as they start to look for B & M jobs.

So, to those who were caught off guard by the happenings of today, I’m truly sorry, and I hope this served as a wake up call for you. Get some chicken, ducks and other birds who lay eggs and cultivate as many as you can. Gets lots of pretty baskets. For now, sadly, it seems like you have all the time in the world to do it.

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Pros and Cons of Writing for Content Sites


Yesterday I gave a brief lesson on how to write for content sites. Today, I’m going to explain the good points and bad points to working for content sites.

Pro: Content sites are a good way to get started in the writing industry. You have to apply to sites, and you have to provide a writing sample. This can give you an inkling as to whether you have the skills to start a writing career.

Con: It’s not a realistic representation of an actual writing career. Content sites are the very first rung of the ladder that leads to a writing career. There is way more to a writing career than content sites. But that’s a discussion for another blog post.

Pro: They pay quickly. Most content sites pay frequently — many pay weekly, some pay twice a month, but usually, the longest you’ll have to wait for payment is a month.

Con: The pay is low. Freelance writers who write for private clients or magazines make WAY more. Again content sites are a legitimate way to break into the industry, but they are also at the low end of the payment totem pole. You CAN make good money working for content sites, but it takes a lot of work and juggling.

Pro: You’ll get clips that you can use for your portfolio.

Con: The clips might not be impressive to editors in other arenas. Every article you write is not going to be clip worthy — honestly, most articles aren’t clip worthy. Even with all the clips I have from content sites, I only use maybe a dozen or so in my portfolio. Not that the other articles are bad — the ones I use are the most in-depth, researched and well-written. And depending on where the articles are used, editors might be less impressed, even if theĀ article is stellar.

Pro: It’s easy work.

Con: It’s easy work…when you can get it. Lately content sites have taken a hit, thanks to the Panda. There are still plenty of content sites available, and most are still hiring writers, but the competition is increasing and it’s harder to get good titles to write. Not impossible, but harder. Much harder.

Pro: Content sites are reliable pay.

Con: Content sites make you lazy. There, I said it. Writing for content sites — with the quick payments and easy work lull you into a false sense of security. But ask anyone who wrote primarily for Demand or Bright Hub how secure they feel now. Or SEED or Break Studios or, well, you get the point.

So, there they are, the top 5 pros and cons to writing for content sites. As I’ve said previously, I’m not a fan, but I do believe they have their place. However, if you want to make it as a freelance writer, their place in your career should diminish over time. Next week, I’ll explain how you can make that happen.

Thanks for reading! As always, comments and email are welcome!

 

 

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Freelancing — a Primer


It was brought to my attention yesterday that not everyone knows what a Content Site (or Content Mill) is, so I’m going to take the time to explain what a content site is, and the general process of working with one.

A content site is a company that hires freelance writers to write content for them. The content might be used on their personal site(s), or sold to another site or private customer. For example, Demand Media hires freelance writers to write content for sites they own (eHow, Cracked.com, etc.) and for partner sites such as Local.com.

Content site pay varies, but most sites pay between $8 and $20 for an article. Most articles are in the 400-500 word range. You can find a variety of things to write about, from medical conditions to legal articles. Some sites also pay on a revenue sharing platform — for every visit to the website your article generates, you get a share of the profits.

Now, for why some in the writing community refer to these sites as “content mills”. There are two reasons: first the pay is lower for a content mill than it would be if you sold articles in the traditional manner (something I’ll go into in another post). Second, the quality of the articles are not always as high as they could be. Part of this is because of the ease of being accepted to write for the site.

Which leads to my next point — to write for a content site, you apply directly to the site. Each site has a different method they use to approve writers, but most require a potential writer to fill out an application and submit a writing sample. There may be a grammar test involved as well. If your writing sample is acceptable, you’re approved to write for the site, and can select articles that interest you. Once you’ve written the article, you submit it to the site for approval. Some sites use editors who review your work, other sites send work directly to the client and they either approve the article, send the article back for revisions, or reject it. This is another area I will go into in a later post.

If your article is accepted, you get paid. Most sites pay via Paypal, though there are a few who direct deposit pay into your bank account.

And there you have it — a brief explanation into content sites. In my next post, I’ll examine the pros and cons of working for content sites. As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

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