I’ve watched in utter amazement as writers I know at least from the ‘net spend a great deal of time and effort disagreeing with other writers who are defending to so-called content mills.
T.W. Anderson who wrote the guest post for me Assessing Writing Projects points out one fact that can’t be denied and that is the writing game is changing. With the development of the ‘net which makes it possible for T.W. to live in Europe and write for me who lives in San Diego has tremendous implications.
I’m old enough to remember when you truly had to have a book agent in New York. I also remember when I first started posting writing gigs I had to scramble to find four.
Research is easier; it’s also easier to information that looks like its factual and to discover it isn’t. Some folks on the net lie; most don’t.
Much to my amazement Angela Hoy asks Are Content Mills Lowering the Quality of “News” on the Internet? While she makes a case that there is lots of poor writing out there, she doesn’t make the case that there has every been ‘quality’ writing on the ‘net. In my opinion there has always been a ton of dreck of one kind or another on the net – even long before what she calls content mills existed. She also complains that fluff articles (my term, not her’s) show up in google news. That’s google’s problem, not the content mills’.
Carson Brackney also questions her in his entry called Content Mills, Angela Hoy, Search Engines and the Quality of Online Writing. His title also reminds us that a lot of what’s going on in content mills is trying to attract search engines which in turn drives traffic which in turn drives income.
Deb Ng who does a great job over at FreelanceWritingGigs.com has been almost savaged in her partnership of Demand Studios – but only by a few.
John Hewitt wrote a moderate article called Is Demand Studios the new Associated Press?
The debate continues. I think it may be important for the following reasons:
- Search engine marketing has created a whole new type of writing. Believe me, SEO (search engine optimization) is wildly different than say an article in The Atlantic. Both (many websites and most magazines) survive on advertising revenue which is justified by circulation and readership.
- The web has opened up all sorts of new markets. Hundreds, even thousands of them. Not all those new markets are content mills or sites driven by SEO, although most sites do pay some attention to the search engines. They have to.
- The ‘net has made it possible for all of us to work world ’round if we want. While before the ‘net and the web it was theoretically possible for me to do writing work in some other country, it was terribly difficult. It was difficult to find markets or for markets to find me. We had to mail or fax. It wasn’t pretty.
And it isn’t necessarily pretty today. The ‘net has opened what we in America might call a new wild west.
What I think is actually going on in these often heated discussions is all of us exploring and finding our way in this new era. Those of us, like me, who have been writing for years have been startled by the changes – back when I was with b5media I actually refused to post ads for articles that paid less than $10. What arrogance on my part.
The goal of this site is to help freelance writers, and that includes the woman who wrote me back then telling me what a huge and positive difference being able to earn $2 or $3 an article made to her and her family.
I sort of imagine a whole group of readers out there who follow these discussions because they don’t know what their options are. When the read all sides of the issue around content mills, article marketing, seo, and who knows what they go away better informed and in a much better position to decide exactly what they want to try when it comes to freelance writing.
Sure, people who begin in the content mills may choose to work at earning more per word or per article or per hour. Or they may not. With these debates they at least have the opportunity to see how the commenter’s view their own work and pay opportunities.
Wonder what the big controversy will be in a year or two or five or ten?
What do you think?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu