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Do You Really Want to Write for a Content Mill?

Updated on October 17, 2014

From the Frying Pan into the Fire

Never let it be said that I avoided a topic because it was too controversial.

No, this isn’t about abortion, or religion, or gun control.

This is about a real hot topic…writing for content mills.

Let me get my opinion out of the way immediately: I hate content mills and I think they hurt the writing industry.

Was that clear enough for you?

Allow me to explain.

My father was a staunch union supporter, a member of the Teamsters during the 50s and 60s, when the Teamsters meant something and carried some weight in the economic landscape of this country. He had a natural distrust for corporations, and he believed that the average working stiff didn’t have a chance at fair wages and treatment without the power and weight of the unions. My dad had no desire to be rich from working in a gravel pit; he just wanted to be paid what he was worth, and what his hard labor was worth.

He came from a generation that believed if you work hard, you should be paid enough so you can raise a family and live comfortably. He believed if you were lazy and did not work hard, you didn’t deserve a job. He saw management and the labor force in a partnership, and if both held up their end of the contractual agreement, everyone in our society would benefit.

I have a real hard time finding anything wrong with his thinking.

And that leads us to content mills.

I dictate prices from this desk and bypass content mills
I dictate prices from this desk and bypass content mills | Source

First, a Definition

I’m going to borrow from Wikipedia for the definition of a content mill, or content farm as they are also called:

Definition: 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.

There are literally thousands of content mills currently doing business around the world, and some of them are hugely successful. Demand Media publishes over one million articles each month, and is worth in excess of $100 million.

How does it work? In a typical scenario, a company contracts with a content mill like Demand Media to increase their search engine visibility through articles laced with keywords. Demand Media then pays writers to write those SEO articles for the customer. If Demand Media is any good at what they do, the customer will see his/her online visibility increase, and supposedly, then, their overall business will increase. Meanwhile, Demand Media is raking in the money paid for those articles.

But what about the writers who actually write the articles?

Now we’re getting into a topic my father would have loved to weigh in on.

What about those writers and their pay?

Is this what you want to work for?
Is this what you want to work for? | Source

So, What’s the Problem?

Imagine, if you will, writing a 500 word article. You research the information, write the article, and format it for publication. You invest an hour of your time doing so, and for that hour you are paid $3.50. In other words, if you work a ten hour day, you will have a grand total of $33.50 in your bank account at the end of that day. How does that sound to you?

My dad is rolling over in his grave at this moment, screaming at me, “Bill, don’t you dare work for that little amount!”

Don’t worry, Dad, I have no intention of doing so.

But I did at one time, when I was first starting out, because hey, I had bills, and I was eager to make anything writing, so I worked for a content mill and made five bucks per article….and then I woke up from my nightmare and slapped myself.

Let’s stop for a moment and take a deep breath, because I can hear some of you screaming that you make much more working for a content mill, and I know you speak the truth. Remember, I said there are thousands of these mills out there, and some pay “decently” for articles. I know writers who are getting paid twenty and thirty dollars per article, and although you will never get rich doing so, you will at least be able to pay your bills. Those writers are doing it correctly. On sites like Elance, they only take jobs that pay them well, and I’m all for that.

But the majority of content mills get away with paying five bucks per article, and they will continue to get away with it as long as there are writers out there willing to write for pauper’s wages.

This Is Not a New Concept, Folks

Take most major corporations, and you will find the same economic thinking applies. When you have a working force that is desperate to make money, then that working force will lower their standards and work cheap because hey, if they don’t, there is always someone who will. Ask any clerk at a convenience store why they are working for minimum wage, and they will tell you the same thing: they need to work and they need to pay the bills. They have no chance of getting ahead by doing so, and there is practically zero chance they will receive a raise in pay, but those bills have to be paid, so they do it.

And the corporations are planning on that desperation!

I Have One Other Problem with Content Mills

Actually, I have a lot of problems with them, but let’s focus on the fact that accepting low pay drives the pay scale down for everyone. Again, as long as there are writers willing to work for that ridiculous pay, then the market will not be forced to raise its standards.

It’s a bit like coal mining. Everyone with half a brain knows that coal mining is bad for the environment and horrible for the health of the miners, but there are still people willing to work in those mines. As long as there are those who are willing, coal mining will continue to be dangerous, harmful, and, for some, profitable.

You Have Other Options

I’m for the writers in this economic battle. Consider me your union leader.

I say cut out the middleman, and in this situation, the content mill is the middleman.

Instead of having the content mill drum up work for you, why don’t you go out and drum up the same type of work for yourself, and charge the customer what the content mill charges?

This is what I do and I pay my bills, on time, monthly by doing so. I contacted local business and gave them my sales pitch. I then charged them what a content mill would charge them, and I shared none of that with a middleman.

If you don’t see the economic advantage of doing this, then there is no hope for you.

I currently have two major customers I have been working with for three years. They pay me $30 per 400-word article. I can do three of those articles in an hour. In other words, I make $90 per hour, and now we’re talking about serious money.

Which sounds better to you, $3.50 per hour or $90 per hour?

But There Are Many More Options

Write for online magazines. Write for online newspapers. My goodness, my best-selling article has been sold to five different publications for a total of $650 to date. One article! It took me two hours to write that article, and probably a total of two more hours to sell it five times. Four hours of work for $650, or $162.50 per hour of work.

What sounds better to you, $3.50 per hour or $162.50 per hour?

Be your own middleman and share with no one
Be your own middleman and share with no one | Source

I Understand, I Really Do

Times are tough. I get it. I understand why people write for content mills. We need money, and we’ll do just about anything we can to make that money so our kids can eat and have clothes. Yes, I understand.

What I don’t understand is continuing to work for that little when there are viable options that will pay you better.

If any of this makes sense to you, then I invite you to join my union. It’s called the Fair Pay for Writer’s Union, or FPWU for short.

Seriously, what do you have to lose?

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I've never considered HP a content mill, but I understand why people think that. I guess it's all about perspective and definition. Whatever we define HP as, I'm glad you are here.

      Thank you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      This was interesting to me in that I'm not super familiar with content mills. They don't sound like something I'd be interested in writing for, especially for the pay. A few of the comments here group HP in to that title, but I don't because here I write what I want and when I want, knowing that it may or may not make any money for me, but hoping it will.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      i believe that's true, Deb. We can determine our own pay if we all stick together and demand more.....think of it as a writer's union. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      We certainly deserve to be paid well if we write well, no question about that. Thanks for helping us to drum up better work and be paid what we are worth.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I've never tried Texbroker, but thanks for the warning. Now I don't have to bother.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rtburroughs, thank you for sharing your experience with textbroker, and good luck with Nevada Magazine.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 2 years ago from USA

      Textbroker went to the dogs. You get great ratings by clients, yet are kept at the bottom of the pile by editors.

    • rtburroughs2 profile image

      Robert Burroughs 2 years ago

      I have some experience with Textbroker, and I hate it. I have written a few $5.00 articles and some as high as $9, but I am worth so much more than that. I am taking your advise and am searching for bigger and brighter things. I currently have another tab opened with the writing guidelines for Nevada Magazine. The first rule of writing is to write about something you love, and I love Nevada. ( I even looked up the words to "Home means Nevada") Bill keep writing articles like this and being an inspiration to the rest of us.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I have heard similar stories about rewrites, and to me that's almost like losing money, because in the time it takes to do those rewrites, I can be making money from another source.

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for sharing that, breakfastpop....I've done it too, until the day came when I realized I was worth more. ;)

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 2 years ago from USA

      Now that I think about it, I did write for a content mill. It helped pay my bills. However, the problem was clients that did not know what they wanted, continued to change their minds and want rewrites, claim writer did not follow their instructions. The clients could not write an intelligible sentence. I had other things going on in my life, and after a bit, I went back to find out that my account had been shut down without one email or even a phone call. The supervising staff did not normally behave like this. I never bothered to go back and reapply. It just got to the point where it wasn't worth the headaches and the time involved.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I don't like the idea of receiving a measly 4 bucks for my writing, but sometimes, if I am in the mood, I crank out a few articles. I haven't done it in quite some time, and I have to admit, I don't miss it! Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, thank you! We are worth more than pennies, and the sooner all writers realize that, the better for all of us.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      You make great points Bill, and we write at HP cause of folks like you who are the friendliest people in whole wild world. Wild is right. I wrote for a few sites that I liked at the time but later wasn't real happy with them. I love your article and feisty attitude for those who get pennies for hard work. Sharing. Blessings. Audrey.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Time, boy oh boy, did you ever hit the nail on the head. That is as clear an explanation as I have read for the problems at HP, and the staff just doesn't seem to understand. Sigh...I hate it too, but I sure do love my friends. Thank you!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

      Bill: Unfortunately, Google does see HP as a content mill, and I can understand why. Until this site rids itself of substandard work that does not meet even the most basic guidelines of professional writing, it will be what it is. When I came here the song was "write from your heart", etc and "You don't have to be a pro to write here"...but that has changed. However, those who came as amateurs and did not learn to be pros while here are ruining all of us because Google will not respect this site. I hate it, but it is what it is.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you...you, and others like you, are why I am here and I will remain as long as all of you do.

      Happy Thursday my friend

      bill

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      A day does not go by where I receive an invitation to join one of these content mills you describe in this hub. I did not really know they had a name: content mills until after reading your hub. Thank you for outlining how all of this works. Fortunately, I am happy just sharing on HP where I do not make any money, but friendships that are priceless.

      Wishing you a wonderful day.

      Kim

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jama, it has been interesting to see, over the years, not only the decline of unions, but public favor going against unions. Yes, there was corruption, but there was also a protection for the rights of the worker, something that is sorely missing today....and talk about corruption....look to the top of any corporate structure to find all the corruption you care to see.

      Thank you my friend...great thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Genna! Someone else made that analogy to sweatshops too, and it is quite accurate.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Wow, Bill! I'll have to send flowers to the friend who brought me to Hubpages to thank her for warning me off content mills from Day One! A pity more budding writers don't find HP before wasting their time (and dignity) on them. But then I suspect they found the "mills" by Goggling "make money writing". The irony being the intro blurb was probably written by an underpaid "miller".

      Your dad had the right idea about work and unions. To venture off-topic, I'm ever puzzled why a certain political party is bent on destroying unions, when in fact corporations are nothing more than white collar unions. At least unions in your dad's day understood that if the "little guy" was paid a decent wage plus a few bucks to splurge on, not only did the company get its money's worth and prosper, the local economy prospered, too - that money flows OUT and UP, not down as the aforementioned political party wants us to believe.

      Enuff of that! Upped and shared! ;D

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      After all these comments. what is a Content Mill?

      Here's Wikipedia version: In the context of the World Wide Web, a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views.

      After what happened this last week with Google I would consider HubPages a Content Mill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marisa, very true..the same is true for anyone in the Arts, and it is sad. I don't see it ending, either, as long as money is in short supply and instant gratification is the name of the game. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Time, oddly, I don't consider HP a content mill, but I can see why you and others interpret it to be so....the main difference is that there are no "business customers" here at HP, but then there are the advertisers, so it is really splitting a fine hair either way.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 2 years ago from Sydney

      What you say is so true. Unfortunately there are so many "writers" out there desperate to have their 15 minutes of fame, even if they get paid nothing for it. Plus legions of people in developing countries, for whom $1 is a lot of money.

      I feel sorry for the REAL journalists and writers, because the host of amateurs willing to work for peanuts is driving down their salaries. Same for photographers and many other artists.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Your father’s work ethic and philosophy were admiral, Bill. We were raised with the same perspective. Sadly, I see too little of this today. Content mills sound like the infamous sweat shops. You have provided invaluable advice on other options. Thank you! Sign me up for your Union. :-)

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

      And here we all are writing for HP and doing just what you talked about...and having Google destroy what little we make! What's a mother to do!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, you can be the shop foreman and whip these writers into shape with some common sense. We have to value what we do, or nobody else will.

      Thanks my friend and Happy Tuesday to you.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      I have officially voted you in as my union steward! :) Since many of my clients are unions and I live with a union hubby, I totally get this. I have never written for a content mill and don't intend to. BTW, I've created my own local of the WGGP (Writers Gotsta Get Paid) union. *snickers*

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Besarien, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you enjoy HP as much as I have. There are some wonderful people here. If I can ever be of any help to you, feel free to ask questions and I'll do what I can.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      I am a hobbyist writer. I "worked" at IWriter before trying my luck here where I have just finished my second hub. To me it has been a thrill to get paid anything at all for doing what I have always done strictly for fun. I did learn a lot there, since I never would have chosen to write on many of the topics that were requested. While there, I wrote about 100 articles of various lengths and earned about 150 dollars. I think the experience gave me the confidence to come here. Thank you for your point of view as a professional writer. You make an excellent case for avoiding content mills like the plague. I agree that if you have experience and can make more elsewhere, that you should.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jeannie, you and me both. I don't mind working for my loyal customers, but overall, this is not my gig and never will be.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      ArtDiva, you hit it on the head...it is all part of the game, and we either learn to play it or fall by the wayside. Thank you!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks for sharing this information, Bill. I like having the rights to my own articles and writing what I like, so I don't care too much for those annoying articles for others. I've done it here and there, but prefer not to do it.

    • profile image

      ArtDiva 2 years ago

      Yup, my strategy, also. Coming in under my competitors for many projects. Kept me employed for many years, and with a very loyal client base until someone beat my price. It's all part of the game.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true ArtDiva.....use me, I'm cheap! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Billie, by definition, a content mill sells articles to a business....so I'm thinking no, HP is not one...but I can see why people think it might be.

    • profile image

      ArtDiva 2 years ago

      Both artists and writers are exploited. It's how you use it.

    • Billie Kelpin profile image

      Billie Kelpin 2 years ago from Newport Beach

      Bill, Reading this over again, I realized that I thought you were writing about hubpages. Isn't hubpages, in essence, a content mill?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shorebirdie. Great suggestion and I appreciate you sharing it.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 2 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I strongly suggest that if anyone wants to write for mills, or any other site, that they network with other writers. You will find most mills will have forums where writers will often post which other mills/clients are great, and which aren't. It also helps to find friends who write full-time who know all the clients and mills out there. Some mills, I feel, take total advantage of their writers, while others are more than fair.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you stuff4kids...it really is not that hard to do....but it might require writers to actually do some marketing on their own. :)

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 2 years ago

      Yup. The proverbial nail has been squarely hit on the head with this one, Bill.

      Content Mills are pretty dark and satanic, really. Nothing to add to this except to applaud you for saying it. And of course, many of these sites also accept very poor work created by people struggling for existence in some of the world's poorest countries. Utterly corrupt.

      But the best thing about this piece is you hand out the solution for free. Just cut out the middleman. And you've proven that it can be done.

      :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pawpaw!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Dianna...demanding for very little reward. Thanks for summing it up perfectly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you social thoughts...glad you enjoyed it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, vkwok, and I thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, you just made a statement I have made on several occasions. I think our writing suffers when on those sites....and I won't allow anything to let that happen to me. Thanks for a great comment.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Well said.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I've had offers to write for content mills but found them too demanding for the pay. Your wisdom is appreciated.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      I love this! It's so cool. :) Thank you for your advice, and honesty about everything.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carrie, you work two jobs AND write? Bravo for your dedication to writing. I am appropriately impressed my friend.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for showing us the way as always, Bill!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Sign me up for the FPWU immediately. As a Union worker who makes a decent living (though not too decent in pricey California) I understand the necessity of Unions for working people and I lament their decline. Fortunately, my decent paying job means that I do not have to rely on the shameless tactics of content mills, as some writers do. But I think the biggest danger of content mills and other writing sites such as Bubblews is that a serious writer can become bogged down in them and not take the necessary steps to advance his or her ambitions. Great hub as usual!

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 2 years ago from Northeast United States

      Billybuc: Thank you so much for the education :) I have never heard of content mills before. Rest assure I would never bow down to these cheap proposals, I would take a third job if I had to at a grocery store which pays more :) Most useful and awesome hub. I liked your direct and genuine approach :) Maybe one day I will be successful writing for a living but for now I work two jobs. Thanks again! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kindred, I'm not sure what happened to your comment, but it showed up late and then was marked as spam. Sorry about not commenting, but I just noticed it.

      I happen to know...not believe, but know...that you are an excellent writer. I do not pass out praise easily or cheaply, so if I say excellent I mean it. You were meant to be published, and I want that self-confidence to soar. We need your words, with your byline, in magazines.

      Get with it my friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, you have too much talent to do that...keep doing what you are doing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, good for you. Always value your talent. I wish more writers did.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DzyMsLizzy, while you're slapping that 15-year old, slap me too. :) I started out wanting to be a journalist and took a fifty year detour. LOL I finally found my way back.

      As for HP, it really doesn't fit the definition of a content mill, but Google has their own criteria and that's fine...I'm just a writer.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      snerfu, I wish none of us needed money and there wasn't pressure to make it...I wish we could all just write from our hearts and not have to market our work. But that's not realistic....keep working my friend.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      agaglia, in your own community. Go out and talk to business owners...offer to writer for their business website.....I also found good paying jobs on craigslist believe it or not....the jobs are out there.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Billie, boy, does all that sound familiar? You just spoke for thousands of online writers, and I do understand. Those who do well with ebooks either have an incredibly unique idea or they are marketing geniuses...or both. I would first suggest reading all you can about marketing your ebooks. My guess is you are falling short in this area. I also think you need to reconsider the magazine route...this is something I have been successful at and really haven't tried hard at. It just takes perseverance. Keep sending out queries and yes, there will be rejection, but there will also be money.

      Best wishes my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks handymanbill....starting out is hard in this business...no doubt at all...but I did it and that means any other competent writer can.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Karen, I guess I could. I probably have, or at least mentioned it in other hubs, but I can do that. Look for it soon, and thanks for the article idea.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      russinserra, keep reading the words of the veterans and learn from them...ask questions...you'll learn soon enough.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I simply will never understand greed. I wasn't raised that way and I've never lived it. How much money is enough? I won't be a part of it....pay me for my work, which is valuable, or hit the road, Jack!

      Thanks Sis...Happy Sunday to you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Michelle...we do have to find value in ourselves and not prostitute ourselves for pennies.

      I am having a wonderful weekend and I hope you are as well.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Audrey. Don't you think writers and poets should value their work more? Of course you do.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you know I agree with you 100%. Writing is an art, and a good writer an artist....and artists should not work for $3.50 per hour....no way, nowhere, no how. :)

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, great comment, but then I expect that from you. I love that you came to the realization that your time is worth so much more. I can say from personal experience that your editing skills are excellent, and you are worth oodles of money for that skill...and your writing it topnotch as well. I think we do a disservice by accepting these jobs from content mills...writers need to find value in their skills and charge accordingly.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      m abdullah javed, thank you. I'm glad you find my interactive style to be enjoyable.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      I could write for a content mill hmm... kidding just kidding :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      There is absolutely no way I would write for a content mill. I value my own talent more than that.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Excellent and well-presented points, Bill. But... (gulp) I wonder what you have to say about the fact the "The Big G" apparently considers Hub Pages itself to be a "content farm," and has slapped it repeatedly and accordingly. ???

      I agree with your concepts; I just did not take my writing far enough, education-wise. I was an English major in high school, because then I was a lazy student, and it was an easy "A" for me.

      But--I did not go on to college directly, and when I did go to community college as a mid-life student, I did not pursue literature or writing courses, except for a single creative writing class (taken for fun). Likewise, my high school journalism classes were not enough of a springboard.

      My problem is being the proverbial "Jill of all trades; master of none." I'm considering an e-book or two, but I'm not working very hard at those. I have so many other personal issues on my plate these days with hubby's health, that I don't have the time or energy to devote to "proper" application to a writing career.

      If only I could travel back in time and slap my 15-year-old self upside the head.....

      Voted up +++ and shared.

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      Vivian Sudhir 2 years ago from Madurai, India

      Great news billybuc, you have made me take another look at my writing career. I am in the middle of something serious, and I need to do some serious thinking. You lead on, and I will follow. Voted up and tweeted.

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      agaglia 2 years ago

      Thanks for an interesting article. You opened my eyes. So, where do I find the places that pay for my writing?

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      Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

      You are EXACTLY right, Bill. Sign me up. I made about $1.60 last month. I have never sold one article anywhere! I am toying with the concept of taking my articles that have a thread running through them and making an ebook of them. However, everything needs promotion. The children's book I wrote as ebook and now in paperback doesn't sell, the app I just made for a kids' Halloween game hasn't gotten any downloads at the googleplay store, my audio essays that I made into an app is offered $3.99 and not one download. So, I'm totally frustrated and feel as if no one wants what I have to offer. I never DID like writing the "how to" type of article and wanted to do short stories, etc. But I came here just to have SOMETHING in print. I know I gave up too easily on submissions to magazines, etc. (Someone once told me that you should try for 5 rejections a week. Then you know you're submitting enough.) But the internet is easy and rejection is low, but we pay a big price in self-esteem and in our bank account by allowing ourselves the comfort of publishing without adequate compensation. I also have always wondered why we couldn't promote each other's writings on our websites. I do in fact, link to writers here who have content that fits my site to help up the numbers of a writer who my visitors will appreciate. Well, back to painting the picket sign. I think I'll go burn my draft card now. Great article.

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      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      I think that we always try to find someone who pays better. I would take any advice and help that I could get. greta job again.

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      Karen Hellier 3 years ago from Georgia

      You make some valid points here. And I LOVE the picture! It's just hard for those of us just starting out to find places online that will pay more. Have you written any hubs about that, or can you?

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      Russ Inserra 3 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      This is all new to me. I have been writing for pleasure for years and am just now beginning to publish. As far as I can tell, my writing compares favorably with most on this site. I could use guidance and help from veterans out there.

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      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bill......This is a wonderful eye-opener for those writers who are basically giving their time and talents away for peanuts. My least favorite thing in the world.."Greed."....the rich get richer and the poor........Makes my blood boil.

      Thank you for helping people to see a better way! Up+++

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      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Great perspective Bill. I hold back from jumping into the mill because I do value my time and effort. If that means I must wait or find other sources of income well then I guess that is what I shall do. Hard work does pay off and I don't mean pennies. Have a good weekend Bill.

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      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Amen Bill! Amen!

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      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Bill,

      I would NEVER consider writing for a content mill, as to me, in my pea brain of a mind, that is not writing. Writing is an art. However, having stated such, I know those who write for a living, must pay the bills, but does writing for content mills, pay any bills? I do love your options you have presented here. This is all easy for me to state due to the fact that I have a great fulltime job that pays well already. Hopefully, not too far in the near future, I can indulge my passion for writing, in the manner in which I would never have to write for a content mill, but as the gift of writing and the pleasure it brings and as an added bonus to possibly impact one life for the better.

      Blessings and peace always.

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      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      In a misguided attempt to earn some extra dollars, I dipped my toes into the content mill pool with Textbroker and wrote a few articles (all of which had to be highly researched and laced with keywords) for essentially peanuts in payment. I was disgusted at the low return for time invested and, although I didn't remove my profile from the site, decided not to bid on any more assignments.

      Months later, I began receiving direct orders through Textbroker from a client who likes my writing style and wanted me to write pieces for a wellness blog. Textbroker writers are allowed to increase their rates to whatever the client will pay for direct orders (with the site owner's 35% commission added), so I did, the client agreed to my new rate, and I completed multiple assignments for him. In fact, I have four new ones to finish this weekend, but the current batch will be my last. I'm no longer willing to accept the tradeoff.

      While my payment for completed work increased, the narrowly-defined research required before I even begin writing eats up huge chunks of time, thus leaving me less time in my days to work on other projects. (I just received two novel chapters to edit for a writer friend, and they will have to wait a couple of days due to the short deadline for the Textbroker client. That makes me dissatisfied with the situation.)

      An even bigger affront to this writer is to see my creative writing (to which I lose all rights after accepting payment from a Textbroker client) displayed on a Website--not a word changed--under another person's byline. I've decided the extra money isn't worth the hit to my self-esteem. A guest blog with credit is acceptable. Ghost-writing for an ostensible blogger is not--to me, at least.

      Fortunately, a local published writer and friend who is often requested to edit for other writers asked to refer those people to me for editorial services. (He teaches a college writing course in addition to his own writing and hasn't time to take on any fee editing gigs.) Since I enjoy editing as much as (but in a different way than) my own writing, this seems like a win-win situation. If the editorial arm of my freelance business increases, I can say, 'Adieu!' to Textbroker without a backward glance!

      Thanks for your ongoing encouragement, Bill. You unselfishly help the rest of us who write realize the importance of establishing and achieving our personal goals. Your admonitions against the sneaky pull of content mills are important toward helping freelancers keep the big picture in mind as we chart our own courses.

      Voted Up++ and shared

      Jaye

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      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Thanks for another guiding hub Bill Sir! Your interactive style make us a part of your thought process. Your father was absolutely right who directly linked hard work to a comfortable living style. I think the third generation falls far behind our elders expectations.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Esmonaco, thanks for sharing your experience, and I agree completely. When labor and management work in harmony and mutual respect, good things can happen.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, that sounds like a very nice gig. Keep looking and hopefully more like that one will pop up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Happy Weekend to you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, not worth your time at all my friend. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Elsie, and best wishes to you. I hope it gets better for you.

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      Linda Crist 3 years ago from Central Virginia

      That's what I call keeping it simple for us stupid people. Considering that I a still a newbie, I will admit that self-confidence holds me back. I'm still afraid I won't satisfy a private contract and will blow my reputation before I even have one. Around here, local means small town, good ol' boy club and word of mouth can make or break you fast. With all that said, your article certainly provides the motivation many of us need. It's hard to deny that $90 sounds better than $5 .

      You always inspire me Kindred. I'm going to work on that self-confidence thing because I could sure use a raise. Hugs on the way!

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      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Billy, Once again Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have to say your father was a smart man, I've worked both sides union and management. I'm a firm beliver in the fact that you can't have a union without a good company, on the other hand a company can have the best product, quality, engineering, and sales force, but will never make a penny without the people on the manufacturing floor. Thanks :)

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I'm with you on this one Bill. Sign me up to your union. There is a Freelance Writers group on Facebook where they advertise writing gigs but most of those offering and taking advantage of it are from India etc and the money offered very low. While there are people from lower paid countries willing to work for peanuts I don't like the chance of forcing the content mills to increase their payments. The only writing I have done for payment is text for children's picture books. My client pays me $50 per book, the first was 160 words poetry, the second 230 words prose. At present I am being given one book per month which isn't a lot but it only takes me around 15 to 20 minutes to write each one so that's around $150 t0 $200 per hour of my time. I just need more gigs like this :). I agree with you that writers need to try to cut out the middle man. I have never written for the content mill and never intend to. Hope you are having a great weekend.

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A while ago I had issues with Content Mills and right away got out of that mess. So not worth my time. You said it all here thank you.

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      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting reading. I haven't made money yet writing, but I'm a willing writer I may make it one day, but I think my time is getting a bit short now, too many knock backs with Squidoo and not doing much better here.

      Have a nice weekend, I enjoyed your article, gives you plenty of food for thought.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I love your attitude...hone your craft and keep writing. You are laying the groundwork for a successful writing career, and i have no doubt you will attain it. Thank you my friend. Happy Weekend to you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kylyssa, you said it perfectly...sweatshop pay. That's exactly what it is...the perfect analogy. Thank you!

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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great points Bill. Your father was no fool. I have never and will never writing anything for a content mill. As I have a day job so I do not need to rely on writing to pay my bills. When I get to retirement I will continue to write but never for a content mill. That's when I get serious and try to write for magazines, travel companies, etc.. Until then I need to hone my craft and keep writing and traveling. Great job. Have a great weekend.

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      Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I wrote a piece much like this a few years ago after saying similar things to good writers in an assortment of forums again and again. It almost physically hurts to see a struggling writer burning himself out writing magazine quality content for sweatshop pay.