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New York Times, Google, & Content Farms

writers content mill or farmThanks to Pam Houghton over at WM Freelance Writers Connection alerting me to the New York Times Opininator piece called Google’s War On Nonsense.

Although I’m not sure Virginia Heffernan totally gets the issue and some of the quotes seem much like others I’ve read, and I’m not at all sure AOL’s seemingly decent effort at truly local news called Patch qualifies as a content farm, it is interesting to me that the issue of content farms and Google’s response has reached this level of national consciousness.

If nothing else it begins to help good writers build a case for paying good writers a decent amount to be something other than more grist for content mills.


I’m serious about that. There’s nothing to prevent you from including that article on your website or in your physical portfolio as a reason why you charge $X an hour or $X an article.

It’s also worth taking a few minutes with the comments. More than one reader had been wondering why their search results were deteriorating and are delighted to find out why and that Google has taken steps to improve the quality of search there.

Yes, there are bunch of discouraged writers complaining that content farms mean they can’t make a living. Just ignore those. No one can undercut you, truly. You don’t have to write for content farms or low paying clients. The more you believe in yourself the more successful you’ll be. Not only that, there are an amazing number of different kinds of online freelance writing jobs.

 

How is your writing business going these days?

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Hey Anne –
    Funny that I wrote a post about a comment from this article the same time you wrote this post.
    http://fromthedeck.com/2011/06/why-content-farms-and-demand-media-will-never-go-away/

    One comment stuck out at me and got me to write a whole post about that single comment.

    • Anne

      I just read your post and commented… I did notice the comment you referred to and wondered….

  • It’s been a busy year in my neck of the woods. Not as good as 2006-07, but a close second.

    You’re 100% correct that no one can force you to take bad jobs or lousy comp. As I mentioned on my blog the other day in response to your comment on “The real minimum wage,” content mills thrive on desperation, blind hope, and a lack of common sense. I get the feeling that, because there’s no barrier to entry, a lot of freelancers fool themselves into thinking it’s going to be easy — “Write it, and they will pay.” Um, nope!
    Jake P recently posted..The real minimum wageMy Profile

    • You know, when I think back to my start I realize I didn’t have much contact with others trying to write… maybe back then 3/4 or something of the subscribers to Writer’s Digest thought it would be easy. No way to know, but I’m wondering if there really are more that think it’s going to be easy (or a larger percentage) or we just know more about them because of the ‘net.

  • jorgekafkazar

    I’ve occasionally stumbled across these content mills whilst searching for useful information. The level of drivel was beyond belief! The putter-together (I can’t call it a writer) of these articles danced around the topic like a fifth grader pretending to write an essay, but with longer, more intricate sentences–all signifying nothing.

    On the other hand, Google’s algorithms could become a way to suppress dissent, and need to be watched. Heffernan’s sentence is incisive: “…After months of inaction and seeming paralysis, the forces of good — or the Forces That Claim to Disdain Evil, anyway — fought back.”

    • Good point – Google’s promise to do no evil is nice to believe and hope for, but we do need to watch. The other thing I’m bothered about is search tailored to me. Reading a book about that… you’ll hear more.

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