When you start out looking for ways to make money writing, it’s easy to wonder if content mills are worth having a go at. At first glance, it seems like the easy option. All you have to do is sign up, write a test article and if you’re accepted, assignments land in your lap like blossom falling from a tree. You’ll soon be well on your way to earning a decent living. Who knew it was this easy?
The problem is if it sounds too good to be true… well, you know how it goes. Ask yourself, is anything worthwhile ever that easy?
To write with some authority I tried out three content mills and wrote pieces for each. I’m not naming them because they all work in very similar ways.
My experience of content mills
So, this is my experience of content mills. The first one was basically a list of jobs to pick and choose from. I didn’t see any rates of pay I would consider worthwhile. I did, however, complete one job, an e-book of 2,500 words for which I was paid… wait for it… $12!
On the second platform, jobs came into a queue. I completed two articles of 400 words each and was paid $6 per article. Then a job came into my queue asking for an article in Spanish, even though my profile stated I wrote only in English. I couldn’t complete the task, so nothing else came into my queue. I sent an email asking for assistance but there was no response!
The third platform was the best in terms of jobs and communication. I completed ten articles of varying word length at a rate of 1p a word. The articles came through thick and fast and emails answered straight away. What rankled me was the clients were big-name industry companies. I earned just over £40 from this content mill.
My name did not appear on any of the articles or the e-book. I still put 100% into each piece of work, as I would with any writing I do. Do I think content mills are worth it? Not a chance. Take a look at the figures below.
How much will you earn?
If your fee for an article is one penny or one cent a word a 500-word article will earn you the grand total of £5 or $5.
But… don’t forget tax. You’d need to knock off 20% to allow for tax, so that leaves a grand total of £4!
To make £100 or $100 a day, you’ve got to produce 25 articles of 500 words each. That’s a total of 12,500 words. If you spend only 30 minutes on each one, you’d have to put in a 12 and a half hour day to get through them. That’s without any breaks!
But, let’s face it, who would want to do that? You certainly couldn’t do that every day. All that work and you don’t even get your name out there.
What to focus on instead
So, what to focus on instead.
There are lots of options, both well paid and relatively easy to do.
Magazine fillers are quick and easy and generally pay very well. By fillers, I mean anything from reader letters to household tips to your own real-life story. Many weekly magazines in both the UK and US rely heavily on reader contributions. Letters of 100 to 150 words could net you £25 in the UK. If your letter is chosen as the star letter you could be looking at £50.
These magazines are fairly cheap to buy. Pick up a bundle and look through to see what opportunities there are. Photos of pets and children usually go down well, again they pay around £25 per photo with a one or two line explanation. Funny stories, emotional stories and stories of achievement are also used in many magazines.
If you have a dramatic or scandalous story you could be earning £1000/$1000 or more. And you only have to tell your story, the journalist will write it up for you.
Writing blog posts for online markets is another option that will pay way more than any content mill ever would.
Check out this awesome list from Carol Tice. It lists 161 online markets that pay at least $50 per post and topics cover everything from finance to parenting, travel to technology and lots more.
Have you written for content mills? Did you stick with it or put your efforts into better-paying markets? Please do comment and share your story.