For the most part, every Freelance Writer’s journey begins with low-end paying jobs. I don’t think mine is any different, especially since I was feeling my way around the dark the first few months of my freelance adventure. Like many others starting out, I stumbled across sites such as ELance and ODesk to get writing gigs and increase my exposure. So what was it like? Was it beneficial? I’ll attempt to answer those questions and more…
In the beginning I was totally unaware of how the freelance writer world works. All I knew was I was eager to get work and prove my writing skills to clients. I came across multiple articles that this field of work is not for the faint of heart and starts out very slow, so I didn’t mind when I came across my first few writing gigs that paid me between $5 and $10 for several hundred words. After setting up my profile on a couple of sites, I searched around and saw that other writers were setting their rates, based on their quality of writing and experience. I wasn’t near their level yet and looked at other profiles that were starting as low as $2 each article! I was ready to start low, but knew right then and there I had to limit how low I would actually start. After a few days of signing up and bidding for jobs, I was able to land a couple of ghost writing, copywriting and content jobs. This lasted for maybe three months before I was ready to throw in the towel.
Why I quit content mills
Besides the obvious low rates, I felt I wasn’t gaining the experience I needed to stand out as a freelance writer, so I didn’t want to make it something I was doing for an extended amount of time. To be honest, I get more out of blogging and contributing writer assignments that have no pay than doing work for a content mill. Others are getting credit for my work that I put a good amount of research and effort into. I don’t see that as an effective way to build my own individual brand. After a few months, I walked away from it entirely and sought other ways to make money off of writing.
Has “free work” gotten me anywhere?
Absolutely. For several reasons:
I venture out beyond content writing mills. This includes subscribing to other freelance writing job sites and improving my profile on Linked In. Not only do I flex through social media, I make sure I reach out to friends and family regarding my services. In fact, one of my first paying clients came through a referral of a friend. It was also my biggest payout I’ve made since starting out as a Freelance Writer.
I continue to work on my craft. Blogging and contributor writer gigs definitely help me develop my brand and challenge my focus. I interact effectively with other writers and bloggers who are going through the same thing as me. I get great tips and advice on how I can improve my exposure and build for future clientele. Even though there’s no pay yet, I have no regrets at this point.
I know my patience will pay off. I was warned several times that freelance writing starts out slow, especially if you’re looking to make money, so I focus on cultivating and building strong relationships that will pay off down the road. What makes it easier to deal with is that I enjoy what I write about. There are topics that I’m passionate about and love to research and share with the appropriate audience. Such things kill the time as my revenue builds up.
Everyone is different
My own journey and experience caused me to drop the whole content mill arena. It wasn’t my cup of tea and I didn’t see significant pay that I thought I should be getting, especially for the type of work I was submitting. I made a total of $70 over the few months I did content mills. My first client I got through referral from a friend was at least twice that amount for half the work. So it’s up to others as how they want to value their time as they pursue profit from writing. Take your focus, goals and self-worth into consideration when deciding whether to do content mill writing.
What about you, do you have your own experience with content mills? How was it? Would you recommend to those starting out?