Just for the heck of it I Googled on $1 per article. It was obvious that the dollar sign confused things because in addition to people offering freelance writers a buck per article, there were listings for all sorts of goods priced at a dollar.
Next I tried bulk article writing. The results were more like I expected – lots of advertisers offering freelancers a dollar an article or even less.
At first glance the number of entries might discourage anyone considering or working at a career in freelance writing. The truth is, however, those content mills can’t hurt you. In fact, if you’re smart you can use them to your advantage without ever writing for them.
First of all, most of the $1 an article ads are by people or organizations who sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The goal here is not to inform or entertain; the purpose of SEO writing is primarily to increase the search engine ranking of a page or of a whole website. It’s an internet marketing strategy based on key words.
Key words for this site, for example are: freelance writing, freelance writers, freelancers, freelance writing jobs, etc. When I write an article the idea is to use the key words often enough so the page will rank well when you do a search on that word or phrase. But not too often. Over time the search engines have been programmed to spot keyword stuffing and other questionable practices. If you dig deeply you’ll find examples of optimized articles and discover that, in many cases, the writing is less than stellar.
The truth is, and has been for years, that quality content is the best kind of search engine optimization a website can have. Which is why you don’t need to worry about the content mills – either ignore them or use them to demonstrate why you’re a better writer.
Why Content Mills Can’t Hurt You
There are two reasons content mills can’t hurt you:
- The need for good freelance writers continues to expand. The writing market doesn’t look like it did a decade or two ago. There aren’t nearly as many newspapers today and the bigger consumer trade magazine have reduced staff which means they aren’t as likely to work with unknowns as they may have been ‘back in the day.’ Trade book publishing has also changed, making it, perhaps, more difficult for a newcomer to break in.
That said, there are more trade magazines than ever, and they all hire writers. There is more corporate writing to be done, from copy writing through technical writing. You can make money writing for your own website or blog – something that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago.
For the most part you won’t find these gigs listed on craigslist or here, although I’d guess at least 25% of the jobs posted here pay decently. You do have to find new ways to market yourself and your writing, but that’s always been true. Writing and publishing has always evolved.
- You get to decide if you want to write for $1 or for $1,000. As long as you’re freelancing it’s your choice who you work for. The fact that someone is paying only a buck an article doesn’t mean you have to work for them. It’s your choice. That’s part of what freelancing is about. No content mill is going to hold a gun to your head and force you to write for them.
It’s worth remembering that until recently content mills didn’t exist. As search engine programming continues to improve the tricks to get a high ranking will change and my hunch is they will require better and better writers in the process.
If you don’t want to write for content mills, my suggestion is that you ignore them or use them only to pick up a few extra bucks as you get your writing career up and running, or if you’re only looking for small part time income.
Finding and landing gigs and clients is an absolute requirement if you’re to be a sucessful freelance writer. The article How To Land A Writing Job may help. In fact, there’s a whole category about getting jobs that may have just the information you need.
Get busy and market yourself – you’ll soon see that the low paying gigs need have no influence on you at all.
Sign up for a series about finding Freelance Writing Jobs – it’s FREE; all you need to do to get it is sign up.
Write well and often,
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