Content Mills and Writer Mills 101: A Writer’s Self-Education is Key

As we near the end of 2009, I’ve been reviewing what did—an did not—work for me this year. While revisiting my contact-tracking sheet, I realized that early in ’09, I actually applied to a content mill (also known as a writer mill). But I didn’t know it at the time.

I applied to write about a topic in which I have significant professional experience and I was attracted to the ad because it called for regular blog posts. I liked the idea of adding another ongoing gig to my line up. There was no mention of how much the company paid; it said, “tell us your rates.” So I sent my usual per-blog post rate, which is pretty average for a writer with my skills and decade-plus experience.

Of course, I was never contacted. At the time, I was disappointed. I thought I was the perfect person for that blog topic. Now, I realize I was thrown out of consideration immediately because I expected a fair price for my work.

Lesson learned: you’ve got to carefully research companies. I made the assumption that this opportunity was high quality simply because of where it advertised for writers. Since applying for the gig, I’ve learned so much about content mills. Based on my learnings, I’ve decided to avoid them—and I feel very strongly about it.

It’s every writer’s decision and one you have to make for yourself. As you’re planning your 2010 goals, I encourage you to educate yourself about writer mills and content mills so that you can make an educated decision.

Here’s a comprehensive list of articles and blog posts to get you started. In an effort to be fair, the first link is to a writer who completely disagrees with me.

A few of my blog posts. In full disclosure, I do argue against writing for content mills.

Do you have experience with content mills—good or bad? Do you know a great post on this topic that fellow readers should check out? Please share in the comments below.

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