Why Writing for Content Mills is a Bad Idea

Many fledgling writers are desperate to gain experience and exposure. If you’re like them, you figure a few low paying, SEO friendly 1500 word articles should be a breeze plus you’ll have something for your portfolio.

You may be writing for a mill now or could be considering it in the near future. Trust me it’s a bad idea, let me explain why. The truth of the matter is, these websites churn out tons of articles that are targeted at Google algorithms. More precisely, when you write for a content mill you’re not writing for people, you’re writing for search engines. Well, maybe that doesn’t seem that bad on the surface. But there are several reasons why you should look elsewhere, let me share a few with you:

Low Pay

Let’s start with the short of it, the pay. Most Content mills start with pay as low as a penny per word. This means for a 500-word article you will make only $5.00. Time is money and money is time, and if you’re a new writer you’ll need at least two to three hours to complete a 500-word article. Meaning your pay will be below $2.00 per hour. Naturally, You’ll come across people who say they actually make a living writing for content mills earning $700-$800 a week.

Bold face lies! You do the math, how many articles would you have to crank out a day to get even close to $700 a week? You’d have to write 100 articles just to make $500. Most writers have dreamed of making a decent income solely from writing but trust me, with such low pay content mills won’t get you anywhere near your goal.

Quantity over Quality

Especially if you’re just starting out as a writer, your focus should be on quality. But content mills couldn’t care less. Because as we discussed earlier, mill writers are writing for Search engines. The focus will be about keywords, with no space for individual creativity. Writing for content mills could also skew your approach to writing, damaging the future of your writing career. You might start thinking that you’re an SEO expert and that’s more important than being a good writer, it’s not. You are a writer and creatively expressing your views should be your focus.

Ever Changing Guidelines

Each Content mill has their set of guidelines. To add to that every client has their own guidelines too. So you need to adhere to overwhelming guidelines instead of focusing of good writing. No, I am not saying following guidelines is wrong. But when you write for content mills you deal with a lot of them. An article can be accepted by one editor but another with similar guidelines may reject it. It’s weird, but it’s a fact. On top of all of that, the guidelines of these sites are ever-changing. Eventually, you end up spending a considerable amount of time just trying to keep up with them instead of writing something with substance.

Bias Towards Writers

You would think that after putting in all of your time and efforts you’d have an equal say on the approval of the final article. No such luck. Clients have all the power to approve or reject an article. They can reject your article for no apparent reason and you can’t do a thing about it. Worst of all, you won’t even get paid. A lot of the time clients themselves aren’t even clear about their requirements. If you write for them be ready to get rejected for no clear reason.

content mills

You Don’t Build A Reputation

Wasn’t building a reputation the whole point of you writing for a content mill? Well, most of the clients looking for content for content mills are in need of ghostwriters. So you write, get paid but aren’t credited for your work. So, if you are hoping to build a portfolio content mills are a major waste of time. When it comes to getting future work you will have to have proof of a successful track record. You won’t writing for mills. Remember it’s most important to get credit for your work, even if it’s for less money.

You Won’t Find That High Paying Editor

Some writers believe if they write for content mills they can land a job writing for a high paying editor. Editors of high-paying markets are not dredging through content mills to find that one fabulous writer, the diamond in the rough. Instead, they are approached by writers with ideas, pitches, and portfolios. Rather than writing for content mills it’s a much better idea to spend your time pitching to those same editors. Sure, it’s hard work; you’ll need to come out of your comfort zone. But no one has ever achieved anything great by staying comfortable.

Uncertain Future

Imagine this scenario. You’re writing for a content mill making a decent sum by churning out 6-8 articles a day. One day, you type the website URL and find out the website has folded. You don’t have any work and probably won’t be paid for the work you just submitted. Even if things don’t go this bad, a content mill can terminate your account at any time for no apparent reason. I can name at least half a dozen content mills that are notoriously known for shutting down their writer accounts at the drop of a dime.  As a professional writer, you need more security than this.



There are countless other reasons as to why you shouldn’t waste your time writing for a content mill. But these mills are in business and someone is writing for them. Here are a few reason’s you may want to bite the bullet but it’s still not recommended:

If Money Makes A Difference

The money that is offered by these content mills is way below the minimum wage in most countries. But there are places where you can buy a weeks grocery for $ 25. If money is tight and you have to take it how you can get it,  it won’t kill you to write for a mill to make ends meet. However, don’t get comfortable and remember there is something better out there.

If You Have Never Written Professionally

If you are writing for the first time professionally a content mill may be a good way to get some practice in. It’ll give you some real world experience. You will come across several writing styles, guidelines etc that will help you grow as a professional writer. You will also learn how to follow instructions to the T, and will become more adept at internet research. As long as you keep in mind you’re doing it for the experience you can take what you learn with you for real higher paying work.

Just for fun and extra money

If you are looking to kill time and make some extra cash then you probably won’t care much about writing for a mill. Students, retired professionals or those looking to make a little extra over the weekend could capitalize on content mills for what they’re worth. Hey, why not?

If you’re looking to advance your career content mills aren’t the way to go. There are better ways to build your brand, portfolio, and improve your writing than by writing for them. They’ll take up your time, time that could have been used more productively. Besides, there are several other avenues that can help you earn a good income as a writer. But we’ll discuss that in a future post.

Image Sources: pcworld.com, riannonw.ca, curtisfitch.com
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