A few years ago, I was planning to transition to full-time freelance writing. At the time, I was working a monotonous day job in real estate content marketing and freelance writing on weeknights and weekends.
My quest for anchor clients
My main strategy was to secure a handful of key customers – or “companies or individuals with whom you have an ongoing relationship and a constant flow of projects and income, “according to Fund for writers – to help cover basic living expenses: food, rent, utilities, etc.
Freelance writers also use the terms “anchor gigs” and “bread and butter gigs” to refer to anchor clients.
This strategy is how I ended up writing for a content mill – and completely failing to do so.
I won’t say what site it was, but it’s kind of like the Huffington Post (because they don’t pay their writers) and primarily aimed at students.
Although this was a publication and not UpWorkI always call it a content factory because of its extremely low salaries, which are all too common with content factory jobs.
My nightmare of writing a story for the content factories
I came across a listing in a writer’s Facebook group for a review opportunity.
After sending in my CV and a few writing samples, I quickly received an enthusiastic response to talk about my professional experience over the phone. I was thrilled, not only because of the ability to secure an anchor client, but finally get some revision experience under my belt.
Plus, it was happening in an exclusive writers’ circle, so it seemed like a great opportunity to get on board.
When I asked about payment in my initial phone interview, the interviewer said editors earn $ 1 for every article they submit. To earn a “fair” wage of $ 10 an hour, we had to complete at least 10 articles per hour. The shifts were generally between two and four hours long, and we had several shifts a week.
I had a terrible feeling in my stomach: $ 1 per item? Crazy, isn’t it?
However, I was in a difficult position. I desperately wanted to quit my office job at the time, and needed anchor gigs that I could count on for a basic income – even if that meant writing for content factories. After all, I was looking for an experience to take with me when I applied for higher paying concerts.
Also, I already had a good conversation with this person, especially since she was excited about my job and didn’t know the average rates for editing as a novice.
Instead of listening to my instincts, I continued with the hiring process.
I attended a one hour tutorial, but was not paid for my time. In addition to a low salary, the system was difficult to grasp: lots of paperwork to fill out, web pages to browse and articles to read. Despite the anxiety I started to feel, I went with the flow and tested it.
Soon my first shift arrived. My anxieties were validated when I struggled to finish writing three articles in an hour. I have become incredibly frustrated with myself.
Why did I let myself go so far to ruin everything? Looking back, my anger was directed badly at myself and should have been at the company for thinking I could actually copy 10 articles (accurately) in an hour.
Forget UpWork or Fiverr, I was thinking, I’m already fucked up.
Another writer’s experience writing for content factories
Not everyone has the same experience with content factories as I do.
In fact, some writers have successfully launched their careers with them and believe they can be a good place to start for those who want to become a freelance writer.
For example, full-time freelance writer Ana Gotter describes his experience with UpWork as “[having] has always had more bad experiences than goodBut highly recommend a similar site called Clear voice. She has also heard of positive experiences with Ebyline other freelance writers.
“I took out my first ghost writing contract and even integrated it into Upwork’s Top Talent and Pro programs, but I left the site after increasing the rates that freelancers have to pay,” explains she does. “It’s also common for copywriters to work extremely low pay for great reviews early on, but it can end up hurting them.”
If you’re launching your freelance writing career, pursuing a job in a content factory might not be a bad idea, but there are a few major caveats.
First of all, you need to know which sites you are investing your time on.
Gotter explains that Clearvoice and Ebyline have better success rates compared to UpWork.
Don’t spend hours building a full profile with recommendations and pursuing projects if the rates are way too low for your income goals. Especially if you’re trying to build deep customer relationships, don’t dismiss content factories before trying one for yourself, but know when to leave once the prices are low.
Second, you need to make sure that you don’t put all of your eggs in the content mill basket. The mills should simply be a means to an end.
You should always be working on building your own key customer base outside of factories – customers who pay more, don’t expect you to produce dozens of items every day and will help you earn what you do. really deserve.
Writing for content factories can be a decent way to jumpstart your freelance career, especially if you are looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners.
However, it’s easy to overload yourself in an environment that typically underlies your employees. Too often writers find themselves stuck in the rut of writing for pennies in factories, and they never take the time to build their own customer base who pay quality rates.
Needless to say, the freelance consensus offers two approaches: run away or proceed with caution if you are considering content mill jobs.
If you’re feeling stuck writing for content factories, our friends at the Freelance Writers Den are running a bootcamp called Escape the content mills. This is a 4 week course that offers a detailed blueprint for getting out of the factories, marketing your business to your ideal clients, and building a thriving independent business without relying on sites like Textbroker, Writer Access, or other factories. .
Have you had a success, a nightmare, or somewhere in between a writing experience for content factories?
This is an updated version of a story that was posted previously. We update our articles as often as possible to make sure they are useful to our readers.