5 Reasons Content Mills Are Awful

Slave wages at content mills
Slave wages at content mills | Source

Content Mills That Pay Upfront Are For The Birds

I, and many others like me, have taken to the internet for work. Whatever your reason may be, I understand the allure. What's better than writing from the comfort of your own home for guaranteed upfront pay? You can set your own hours and churn our article after article and watch the money pile up, right?

Not really. There's a lot more to it than that, and a lot of things you're probably not factoring in when you first start writing for content mills. I'm going to talk about 5 of them here.

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An annoyed lion | Source

1.) Dealing With Annoying Editors

I understand the editors at content mills have a job to do, and their job is to make sure quality articles are delivered to the people paying for them. However, they can get really irritating.

After having worked at these content holes a few years, I started to pick up on things.

  • Editors usually come across as cold and uncaring. They tell you what you did wrong, but offer no real feedback or what to do with a re-write.
  • They are often wrong! Yes, the editors get it wrong sometimes--too often, actually.
  • They don't actually edit. Professional editors correct mistakes and give you feedback on how to improve your craft. Content mill editors, well, they do not.
  • Communicating with them is almost impossible.
  • Great writers are treated like "the help" by crummy, unprofessional editors who probably couldn't hold a candle to the writer's ability.

Do I sound bitter here? I am. For myself and the thousands of others who have dealt with these idiots.

2.) Ridiculous Clients, Get Off My Lawn

When you go to write on a content mill, there are usually instructions as to how the person wants their article to be written.

Either they want a lot of keywords stuffed into it, a press release, a blog post with or without keywords, 2nd or 3rd person etc., etc. The problem here is that the instructions are usually too vague, or too demanding.

Listen, if you want to pay .007 cents per word, then write clear instructions that don't ask too much. Why in the world should anyone spend an hour writing a 500 word piece that only pays them $3.50 USD? That is disgusting.

I won't even get into the rejections or revision requests. Very rarely are they justified at these content holes. I've met out-of-work Ph.D's on these sites who have gotten rejections based on the silliest imaginable nonsense.

3.) All The Subjects Are Boring

Yes, that's right. The subjects are the epitome of mind-numbingly boring. (shoot me for the adverb, why don't you?)

There are a lot of topics to choose from: travel, education, technology, health and fitness, etc. Sounds interesting on the surface, right? Wrong. Once you drill down on each of these topics, you'll see how boring it actually is.

For example, you choose travel and drill down. The topics are gems such as: airport taxi service, private car rentals, and charter bus services. Yep, I'm just jumping for goddamn joy at the thought of writing about charter bus services.

It's adorable how content mills try to frame these banal subjects as exciting. They tell you that these subjects are "exciting for some people" and you have to come up with a creative angle to write about them. Fine. That doesn't make them any less boring for us writers. We'd rather watch grass grow.

Content Writing 101: The Burst Method

4.) Low Pay Is An Absolute Disgrace

When it comes to content mills, you will rarely find one that pays a decent wage. Most of these jokes pay around 1 cent per word. That's 5 dollars for a 500-word article. Please, don't try to justify this in any way. It's a goddamn disgrace, and even the lowliest of writers deserve to make more than this no matter what country they're living in. Writing is not easy.

Once in a while, you'll come across a mill that pays higher than this. The best I've seen is $20 per 400 words. But in that case, you have to spend at least a half hour on research and write an absolutely perfect piece--a piece that a professional would probably make $100 on. It can take upwards of 2 hours to write each of these articles. That's $10 per hour and still a monumental disgrace.

Make Money Writing From Home

5.) There Is Always Instability

Content mills never give you a feeling of stability and financial security.

  • The work dries up constantly.
  • They shut down all the time. Especially after Google updates, such as Panda.
  • You can't really work your way up.
  • There's always a risk of rejection and termination.
  • You don't feel like you're worth anything.

Aside from this, you burn out really quickly. After writing 2,000 words about rental cars, dental implants, and car tires you are ready to call it a day (which you should be able to do). The problem with that is you've only made $21 dollars and have to keep dragging your ass through boring article after boring article.

I'll End On A Semi-Positive Note

I do still work on content mills from time to time, only now I use them as income supplementation. That can come in handy when my steady work for clients dies down a bit. These mills keep me afloat some weeks.

I have also gotten some of my higher-paying clients through content mills, and now work with them for much-higher wages on a weekly basis. For that, I'm pretty thankful.

That's where the positives end.

Hey, content mills! Pay your workers a decent wage. They are human beings trying to support their familes, not robots. We know perfectly well that you have to work hard to be a successful writer. The problem is that even when people do work their asses off, they're not being properly compensated.

There's a reason you idiots are called the McDonalds of the writing world. It's an absolute disgrace, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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Comments 6 comments

Larry Wall 2 years ago

I write on two content mills. One is just as you described. The editors only care about where the commas are placed and nothing about the content. I have gotten perfect ratings from clients and dismal feedback from the editors.

Another one passes all of the copy through CopyScape. I had a story where Copyscape said the word The had to be rewritten. Thinking it was an error I tried different ways of delivering the story, cut and paste, paste from word, use Internet Explorer, used Firefox, etc. Eventually, my account was frozen, causing me to miss two deadlines and my account has been frozen for two days with only one response to my letters that they were looking into it. I was a newspaper reporter for 16 years and did PR work for 22. I know how to attribute comments to a source. I do not use term paper footnotes, but by reading the story, you can tell where the information is coming from and what I am presenting. This particular site pays low, but other than this latest glitch, it is easier to get your stories to the client and clients can even tip you (don't hold your breath about the amount). There were some interesting topics and there were others that was so easy that even with low pay, you could knock out three or four an hour and make minimum wage. However, I may be banned for life. I will have to wait and see.


Blake83 profile image

Blake83 2 years ago from Poughkeepsie, NY Author

Thanks for commenting Larry. I'm sorry to hear you went through that nonsense.

I've yet to be banned from a mill, but I've had plenty of threats because of typos and whatnot. Gets odious after a while.


Larry Wall 2 years ago

Actually, the thing I find most irritating about content mills are the assignment that the clients come up with--I do not know where they are going to use some of these things. I suspect, I have also written a couple of term paper and the introduction of a thesis. I try to avoid those, but sometimes they word the assignment in such a way, you do not realize what you have written until it is finished. They do always give you a good rating.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Well Blake.....Other than this, do you like writing for content mills?

OK.....I'm sorry, no more smart-assed comments. Had I ever entertained the possibility of writing for content mills, you have surely saved me the trouble. Your description has convinced me that I would not be happy with any of it! Bless your heart for even hanging in there.

I seem to recall reading one other very negative review on this same topic.

I listen to helpful advice and take it seriously......now that I'm old enough to listen to the voice of experience. Larry seems to agree with you.

The opinion of 2 honest men. That's all I need.......Thanks. Up++


Blake83 profile image

Blake83 2 years ago from Poughkeepsie, NY Author

Hahaha. I guess Hubpages could be considered a content mill. Never looked at it as one as you're writing stuff you enjoy, and if you work hard enough it'll start paying off.

It's a far cry from some of the upfront pay sites that pay 1 cent per minute.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I wrote a correction comment here a while ago.....but I don't see it. I must have exited before posting, although I try not to do that!

Anyway.....what I corrected was: No, I was NOT referring to Hubpages being a content mill.....not by any stretch would I suggest that......when I said, "Other than THIS..." the "THIS" I was referring to, were your negative comments about content mills....In other words, I was being sarcastic.

I love HP...it's by far the BEST site for Freelancers anywhere on the web that I know of......I've been here a little over 3 years and I would never think of leaving. It's my 2nd home and I have far too many wonderful friends here.

I use a lot of humor.....sarcasm.....unless I'm writing about something that calls for seriousness. Maybe I should let people get to know me a little longer before I bombard them with my twisted personality......Sorry.

What I meant was something like......if a person said to me....."You're really stupid, rude and I'd like to slap you"......and I came back with, "So, other than THAT, do you like me?"......It's so awful when I have to explain my nonsense.

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