Freelance Writing Tips: Content Mills to Avoid
"Content mills" is the term writers give to online companies that "farm out" writing assignments for typically low-pay. They usually have an abundance of work available, although there are some sites that are always hiring, but never have any assignments for writers to claim. While writing for content mills will not make one wealthy, you can survive on it, if need be. But as there are plenty of companies that treat their writers well and pay decently, there are also those that are more headache than they're worth. You do, however, have to decide what works best for you.
Here are a few to beware.
A relatively new company owned by Brad Callen, iWriter cropped up in early 2011 boasting to business owners needing the services of a writer that they could purchase "quality" articles on the cheap, a whopping 67 cents per 100 words. Well, needless to say the site put many writers off. The way iWriter works is, the writer signs up and is automatically considered a lower-tier writer who is able to make $2.43 for a 500 word article. He or she has to work his or her way up the ladder, being required to submit a minimum of 20 articles at the ridiculously low pay and then must prove themselves worthy of making the elite writer's pay - $5 for 500 words. That's 1 cent per word. Elite pay. Besides, the purchaser can reject the article and keep it for FREE? Aside from the extremely low pay, I couldn't recommend this site for the newest of writers just based on that fact alone.
Now from the article purchasers point of view that could be great right? A good way to get some free work done or at least very cheaply. But not necessarily true! Judging from some of the reviews, the article quality is very poor, as most are written by people whose native language is not English.
Update May 2014:
While iWriter has made some improvements, there are still lots of problems with requestors scamming the system. Some requestors have high rejection rates and writers frequently report that they have found their rejected articles published online, but received no compensation or assistance from the company when it was brought to their attention. Writers also say they have to write many articles to reach elite level status. All writers who sign up are accepted, no writing samples required. However, everyone must work their way up from standard level to premium then to elite. Apparently, there is never a shortage of available assignments.
The good news is that the pay rate has increased for elite writers. These days, elite writer level pay is $15 per article, and there are ways to get paid more such as receiving tips from customers and special requests. How often this happens, is uncertain however. Pay for lower level writers range from $1.62 for 300 words, $2.43 for 500 words and $4.05 for a 700 word article. Payment is handled through PayPal and you have a choice of payment schedule: weekly, every two weeks, or once a month.
Some writers say they are having no issues with writing for iWriter, but many do insist otherwise. I suppose the only way to find out is to sign up and see what happens. Always save all of your work, use or re-purpose rejected articles elsewhere, and if you see your work posted after a rejection, have a Google takedown notice posted after you report it to the company. Check approval/rejection rates of customers and do a search to see if your content is being used illegally. If you experience a lot of rejections and are pretty much a polished writer, chances are your work is being stolen and you should quit writing articles for this company. If you are new to writing, it may be a place to get your feet wet, but I think there are much better venues for a beginning writer to start out. Whatever the case, if you decide to work for iWriter, proceed with caution.
Freelancer uses the bidding system, which allows people who need the services of writers to post their projects. Writers apply by bidding for the projects. Here is an example of the project postings you're likely to encounter there:
"I need dedicated and sincere writers who can give me daily articles.
Writers should be able to write 3000 to 5000 words daily.
Writers should write only original and good content.
Writers should be able to work under strict deadlines.
All articles must pass copy scape.
Rates will be $1.5 for 500 words to begin with.
Please bid only if you are dedicated and serious about writing on any given topic"
Most of those who post the jobs are not native to the English language. I placed bids for several projects and consistently the response was something like this: "WELCOME TO MY COMPANY, you are work for GOOGLE, you are my some special worker because i like your country worker i will give you payment in freelancer you are select for this job but you pass 1 task and also work..." You get the idea. That was an actual email.
This site is unprofessional and a waste of time for freelance writers.
Everyone knows that you can find just about anything on Craigslist, even freelance writing gigs. While a few legitimate job postings do crop up there, it is a serious gamble. Frequently, someone looking for free writing services will post ads requiring several writing "samples" from everyone and then never contact anybody for a writing assignment. Also, there's people who post writing jobs on Craigslist that hire folks and then not pay them for goods delivered. That's a popular one over there.
Truth be told, most reputable companies and individuals who are serious about hiring a writer, do not post on Craigslist. Unless you've got some experience dealing with private clients and have a solid, systematic approach to how you conduct business, stay away from this one.
Another very low paying content mill for way too much work. Most of the work is rewriting/spinning the same article, not once but two times. You write one original and two rewrites of it. The pay is...(drum roll, please) :
$4.75 (total for all three articles, 300 words per article. 1 original + 2 rewrites)
$5.25 (total for all three articles, 400 words per article. 1 original + 2 rewrites)
$6.00 (total for all three articles, 500 words per article. 1 original + 2 rewrites)
This company also has regular article assignments at:
300+ words: $2.00
400+ words: $3.00
500+ words: $3.50
750+ words: $5.00
1,000+ words: $6.50
Yeah, I know you're laughing your heads off, right?
If you are a new writer, there's a couple of places to get your start that are reputable and pay timely. The writing gigs are not the best paying, but they don't require a lot of research, SEO, and the like so you can write the articles pretty quickly. Seasoned writers also find working at these companies a pleasant experience. A few places to consider:
- For more places, see: Freelance Writing Tips: Finding Work