“Content mills are a fantastic way to get experience writing professionally online and, far more importantly, gaining confidence in your own written word.”
Hey, Authocrats! You’re here because you’re a writer and you’re wondering how to get your foot in the door. I’ve been there – we all have.
It’s not easy, and the most difficult realisation is that being a good writer is just half the battle. It is the confidence in your written word that really matters. That is ultimately what this article is about. It is about helping you gain the confidence writing online in order to gradually increase your income.
How, you may ask? For this article we will be using Content Mills as our means to get you started on your writing journey.
There really is no better way to get started in freelance writing with little to no experience. Content mills can be an easy and possibly lucrative enterprise. But you need to know how to use them.
When I first started out freelance writing, I didn’t have much experience at all. I wrote a few articles for a University journal and did a bit of magazine editing on the side, but that was it. At that point, I just wanted to earn at least something in order to warrant the time.
But let me tell you, it’s well worth the effort to get your writing career started. Easy money, easy experience. What’s not to like there?
So, without further ado, let’s get you started writing online.
What is a Content Mill?
“A Content Mill is a company that supplies brands with content such as blogs, articles and reviews.
They operate on an order system. This means that the client pays for a specific piece of content and get sent it a few weeks later. It’s quick and easy, and it saves the brand from producing it themselves.
There will often be strict specifications including specific keywords and keyword phrases placed dynamically throughout. This is so that their search engine rankings are boosted.
Content Mills are the distributors of these pieces of content. They’re immensely popular these days, so there will not be a shortage of orders.
This is where you come in.
Most content mills hire freelancers to write for them and fulfil these orders, remotely of course. They want you to fulfil the order within the time-frame given. Once you do that, you will be paid for it. It’s that easy.
It’s worth mentioning that this is not HIGHLY paid work, especially when compared to private rates. But that is not the point. This is about getting you the portfolio and the confidence whilst writing online.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few tricks you can pull to get a decent amount of experience along the way, however. We’ll get to that soon.
Here are a few Popular Content Mills for you
Content marketing is more important today than it has ever been, and it keeps growing as an industry. So, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of Content Mills to choose from, each with different niches and pay schemes.
Here’s a few for you to explore.
Copify was my first Content Mill, and probably my favoruite out of the lot. Applying was fast and easy, which is always a plus. I was accepted in two working days.
With a month of writing for Copify in my free time, I managed to complete 100 small product description orders and earned a total of £450. Alongside a regular job, that was a nice amount to top up my monthly balance.
Textbroker works along the same lines as Copify. But there is one sizable difference. It operates under a rating system to determine your pay. Essentially, if you write excellent content, your writer grade will be increased alongside your pay rate.
However, if you write poorly, the exact opposite will happen, naturally.
After a quick test order, Textbroker will assign you your writer level, and you can pick up orders straight away.
IWriter works much the same as the others. You join a catalogue of writers, take a order and hand it in within a time slot.
I haven’t personally written for IWriter before, but from what I’ve heard, they have a reputation for being very open and friendly to their writers.
Upwork is more of a job board for freelancers than a content mill.
It’s not only for writers either. If you have a marketable skill, you can add it to your portfolio on Upwork and get hired to perform it.
Marketable is the important word here.
To qualify with Upwork you have to apply and prove that you have a marketable skill. Upwork want to make sure that all their freelancers do actually get hired and earn. That means that if the market is too saturated in your skillset, they won’t let you onto the database.
It’s best to bear in mind that this is never a reflection of your skills, it’s purely a space issue. Always go for a niche skill, if you have one.
Applying to a Content Mill is much the same as filling out a job application.
When you join a Mill, you join as a contractor. That means that:
- You are not an employee, you are a freelancer
- You are expected to act indepedantly as a business owner, not a trainee
The reality of writing online is that you should NEVER be ASKING for work. Instead you are OFFERING your SERVICES to someone else.
It’s vital that you get that dynamic into your head. You need to get out of the employee mindset and become a business owner.
Once you’ve submitted your C.V. you will be given a test order to fulfil under moderated circumstances. You’ll be given a standard deadline and expected to write to a sufficient leve.
For the Mills that use a rating system, the quality of this order will be applied to your profile, so it could affect your pay rate going forward. This isn’t that common though.
Once you’re approved, you can move onto paid work. Hurrah!
Taking your First Orders
Now you’re onto the main dashboard. This is where you will be able to pick and choose your orders and see their respective pay grades.
Once you take one, you will be given a deadline in which to fulfil and submit the copy. This can range from a few days to a few hours, depending on the length of the copy.
Here’s what happens next:
- You fulfil the order and submit the copy
- The copy gets sent to the admin team of the Mill
- Once admin approve the copy, it is sent to the client
- The client then has a time limit to approve the copy
- Once that is done, the pay appears on your dashboard
It’s an easy system once you get used to it. The trick is to not be intimidated by the approval system. Even if your copy does not get approved, you will be given multiple chances to fix the issues they raise, which can often be done in a couple of minutes.
Maximising your Income
This is the bit I imagine you have been waiting for. After all, it’s human nature to want to earn as much as possible and fast.
Content Mills look like they offer low paid work at first, but, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can get a hefty bonus.
Here’s how to maximise your Content Mill income.
1) Raise your rating
Your test piece is very important. Grammar is key. Simple, easy sentences. If your chosen Content Mills uses a rating system, you’re going to want to raise that to warrent the best pay. Either smash that test piece or churn out dozens of high quality orders (whichever one works for your Mill).
2) Get yourself some templates.
This was the most important point for me and was how I was able to meeting Living Wage in my free time.
Pick a niche, I.E. product descriptions, and once you’ve completed your first few orders, save the vague templates. Once you’ve done that, you can simply change up your semantics to suit each order.
Just switching up the nouns won’t cut it, however. You need to change more than that otherwise you will get picked up on it. But, having a structure is never frowned upon.
Save a template and you’ll be churning out dozens of orders in no time.
4) Pick the right orders
Orders take time to fulfil, both in research time on the product/ topic, and in the physical act of completing it.
I opted to take lots of low pay product descriptions which nobody else wanted. Why? Well…
With my handy templates and quick Google product wikis for reference, I could average aroun 5 orders per hour. So, if 1 product description earns £3.30, then five an hour earns £16.50.
Compare that to producing a 1,000-word blog post for 4 hours at £7.50, that’s a considerable mark-up.
In short, manage your time wisely and keep up the quality, and you’ll be able to monetise your free time!
Utilise that Experience
You don’t want to be writing for Content Mills forever. I want to stress that these are temporary measures. Once you feel confident enough to venture into the private content marketing world, then DO THAT.
Make use of this this experience and gain the confidence to get higher paid work elsewhere. You would have signed a N.D.A (non-disclosure agreement) for most mills, so unfortunately you won’t be able to use the orders themselves. However, most Content Mills make their clients fill out reviews which you can use elsewhere, so be sure to create a website to market your new and improved skillset.
Writing for a Content Mill can be dreary work, but it’s a great place to start your online writing journey. For the chance to earn money in your free time, it’s well worth the sacrifice.
Not to mention the freedom it leads onto.
Until next time, Authocrats!