What are Content Mills?
In layman’s terms, content mills or content farms are websites that hire freelancers to generate large amounts of textual content. In most cases, a freelance writer has to bid the lowest to get hired. Because of this, many writers as well as employers don’t find the services rendered from these sites credible. Questions to explore are, “How qualified is this writer I’m hiring?” or “How reliable is this person if I know nothing of their writing background?”
Read on to get my take on content mills and you decide whether or not it can benefit you as a freelance writer.
If you’re a newbie writer, and have no experience in the writing field, or maybe you have personal experience but no portfolio to show for it, content mills can be a start for you. Although the money will seem like a disadvantage to your and you talent on most days, here’s what you can learn by using content mills.
As a writer who is just starting out, trust me when I say you have a lot to learn in the world of writing. Writing is an ever flowing kind of job. Your knowledge should be an expanding work in progress at all times. There is no “know how” or “know enough” in writing. Be mindful at this point you don’t necessarily know what kind of writer you are. You may choose a niche or topic and feel you can handle it but you won’t really know until you put yourself to the test. Signing a job through content mills can help you gain that experience. Many experienced and established writers advise against using content mills and tell newbie writers to just plunge head on into pitching for jobs.
Consider the scenario of you landing your first client and not being able to deliver because you don’t know how to assemble yourself and your skills as a writer. I will go in depth into what it takes to get into writing in another post. What I will say here, no writer knows everything. There’s a lot of research, rewrites and dealing with unsatisfied clients. This is something that you’ll want to be eased into before attempting larger jobs with a higher commitment.
When you browse through job posting, you’re bound to see several potential clients asking for samples of your published work. Crafting an awesome pitch is key but with a portfolio in your pocket, you’re about to ace that proposal. Clients want visible proof of what you’re capable of doing for their company as well as your writing style and voice. Again, as a beginner you have none of these. Using content mills for a few months to a year can seem tedious and daunting, like your writing career will never kick off. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and at the end of that year, you just might have a full portfolio to show when approaching the kind of jobs you want to be doing.
Finding Your Voice
Another question I’ve seen on forums is, “I want to be a writer but how do I find my voice?” Here’s how you do it…try different things. Writing is art, creativity, it’s not meant to be a straight line. Maybe you’ll fare better as a business writer or medical writer, or fiction writer. But you won’t really know until you explore your true potential. Picking up small scale writing jobs in content mills can help you find your own voice. By the time you’re really ready to put yourself out there, you have a full understanding of the kind of writer you are.
Potential to Meet Ongoing Clients
Content mills have lots of ongoing jobs and once you build a relationship with a client, who’s to say you won’t be doing business with that company for a long time outside of a content farm?
When you’re just starting out, the only things on your mind are landing jobs and making a buck. Pretty soon it can get overwhelming. You have the opportunity to learn how to manage your time in a day in order to get the amount of work you need to get done. You also get to learn your own work process, how long it takes you to write an article and how many articles you can research and write in a day. All these are things to be mindful of when deciding to become a freelance writer.
How to Approach and Converse with Clients
Another way to prepare yourself in dealing with future clients, is actually dealing with clients. Taking up short term jobs can help you with long terms jobs in the future. In freelancing writing, a lot of your meetings are done via messaging and sometimes Skype. It’s few and far you may have an actual sit down meeting. You need to develop your people skills, how to approach clients, the language you need to use professionally. Getting your point across and also understanding the client’s vision is crucial in delivering a satisfying article.
I may be in the minority but I believe there are a lot of things you can learn from content mills to shape yourself as a confident writer. Money shouldn’t be your driving force at beginner level. You have to be prepared and accepting of your mistakes, clients’ negative feedback and how to fix the problem with a level head. As with every talent and skill, writing should be nurtured. Starting off with content mills is a way of getting your foot through the door without a wide gap in not writing at all.
Hope you enjoyed this piece. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think and what’s your approach as a freelance writer or if you’re considering dipping your toes into the writing pool.
(c) 2007 Kat Degnich. All rights reserved.