Writing for Content Mills

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A content mill or writers mill is a slang term used by freelance writers and given to a company, website, or organization designed to provide cheap website content, usually at a significant profit to themselves, and usually by paying very low rates to writers.

Writing for Content Mills

Freelance writers often start out writing for content mills when they are just beginning their careers because these opportunities are among the easiest jobs to get in online writing.

This is because the mills (i.e., the companies) are often in short supply of writers, most notably because they pay below the going rate and experienced writers (especially those with a large portfolio) command higher rates. There is usually a lot of turnover at content mills, in part because of the low rates; but also because these writers need to work at a breakneck pace in order to churn out enough work to accrue enough billable hours to make the job worthwhile.  

What Is the Purpose of Content Writing?

Content generation work is often very shallow writing that is used to get the attention of Google (and other search engines, as well as social media platforms). More often than not, it does not explore topics in depth. However, content marketing, which is the act of marketing products through different kinds of online content, has evolved and markedly moved out of the realm of content mills.

Content marketing is a buzz-word being tossed around the Internet. Simply put, it is a plan that focuses on creating interesting and engaging content to attract prospective buyers to a product, especially in regards to new product launches.

This particular kind of content generation (that is, content marketing) would be a good fit for writers who have a passion for, or skill in, marketing writing and who like to engage with products or audiences.

Should Freelance Writers Write for Content Mills?

It depends. Beginning freelancers may want to cut their teeth on content mills, just to get a taste of writing for the web, and in order to beef up their writing resume. In addition, you may decide to spend some extra time (off the clock) writing a particularly well-written, well-documented article that can then serve as a writing clip, and then move on to better-paying gigs.

Also on the plus side, content writing is an excellent job to snag if you're straight out of school and you're up against stiff competition. Plus, you're producing content for an on-trend industry (the net) and most likely you can create your own hours—whether it's evening hours or weekend hours.

Another positive is that content mills often have decent online systems set up for their writers with interfaces that are easy to learn and use. In a way, you're being given the opportunity to learn another skill set. And, although the pay leaves a lot to be desired, it is often regular work and timely pay. You won't be waiting 90 days (the general rule of thumb) for your payment to arrive. Many of the net's content mills use payment management systems that have a reputation for paying on time.

However, despite all the positives, it's always best to continue to actively seek better paying, higher quality work, maybe within a niche topic that you're skilled in. There is a multitude of freelance writing genres out there. Be sure to explore them all.