Thursday, January 17, 2013

on content mills

The other day I was perusing my bookmarked blogs and came across this article by Carol Tice: In Which I Confront Content Mill Owners About Their Rates...In Person. Pretty interesting stuff.

The title caught my eye because the subject of content mills comes up often in writer's discussion forums. For anyone unfamiliar with content mills, the gist is this: they're (online) companies who hire large numbers of writers to churn out articles on an assortment of topics, from business tactics to parenting issues to how to build car engines. The catch is that writers are paid very little while the articles often gain quite a bit of visibility.

There are many arguments against content mills. Many freelancers loathe them because they denounce the freelance profession, driving down rates and producing (sometimes) shoddy content. Others manage to eek out a meager living writing for mills...apparently these folks can research and write uber quickly and don't mind making $3/hour for their efforts.

My personal thoughts are mixed. I have written for mills in the past. I used the experience as a bridge when I didn't have time to market to clients, soon after my second child was born and I was overwhelmed with kidstuff, but I knew I needed to continue writing to keep my skills up. The thought of earning some money was also enticing, even though I knew the compensation was peanuts when compared to working with "real" clients.

I got the hang of the game quickly and chose titles that were similar so I could cross-research to save time. I never felt as if I skimped on quality, writing-wise, but after the editorial review process (this particular mill does employ editors; some do not) there were times my articles seemed to actually lose quality. Since I maintain high standards for my writing, his didn't make me too happy.

After reviewing my end o' the year earnings, I realized I had worked really hard but hadn't made that much money. So I discontinued my relationship with the mill.

And so I see both sides of the argument.Which brings me back to my interest in this article. Check it out. Let me know what you think. Even better, comment on Carol's blog. I'm sure she'd love to continue this discussion!

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