Should I Write For Content Mills? The Pros and Cons

With any career it is very difficult to start at the very bottom and work your way up.  It requires steadfast determination and utmost patience.  Launching a successful writing career is no different.  If you are a novice, good freelance writing jobs can be quite difficult to find.  Firms and companies will tend to hire those who have already established themselves and have a solid portfolio to back themselves up.  It is for this reason that many beginning writers will join companies who pay a pool of writers to generate content for their many customers.  In the world of freelance writing these are traditionally referred to as content mills.  Often the very first question that many “newbie” writers have to ask themselves is “should I write for content mills?”  There are undoubtedly various opinions and answers to this question.  As you will see below, there are numerous pros and cons which need to be considered before deciding if writing for content mills is a viable strategy for your freelance writing career.

The Pros Of Writing For Content Mills:

Flexible work schedule is part of content mills

Work flexibility is a very good reason someone should write for content mills.

1.  Flexibility:  

A dream for many freelance writers is to be their own boss and thus live on their own terms.  Essentially, this includes picking and choosing what to do and when to do it.  Instead of being forced to respond to the whimsical demands of others, freelancers become their own boss and control their own schedule.  Writing for content mills can provide this flexibility and independence.  Writers will have the ability to pick the jobs they want to fulfill.  If the time limits or nature of the job is unattractive, they can simply take a pass.  While it is true that the jobs can be scarce at times, there will always be something available in the future.  The writer has the ability to search for a different assignment which is more to their liking.  This will provide a great deal of flexibility and a good reason why someone may respond with an affirmative answer when asked “should I write for a content mill?”

Busy work area with people networking and making connections.

Building networks and connections is an advantage to consider when deciding if you should write for content mills.

2.  Networking and Connections:

The process of building a network in any field is challenging…yet very critical.  It provides connections for much needed support, contact and leads.  Content mills provide excellent opportunities to network and communicate with other writers.  This is particularly vital for new writers who have not had the chance to create these networks.  Most content mills have sophisticated email systems and chat rooms which enable editors and writers to connect with one another.  This is absolutely invaluable as they bounce ideas off of one another, learn new tricks, and discover potential opportunities for future work.  Networking and connections with others is another good reason why you should write for a content mills.

business diversification.

Content mills provide an opportunity to diversify your writing work.

3.  Diversification:

Any sound financial planner will tell you that you need to diversify your investment portfolio.  If you don’t you are risking it all if one particular sector decides to tank!  The same is very true for freelance writing.  While the pay of content mills can obviously be considered as substandard, they are only one part of a diversified network.  This can be used to compliment your other services and sources of income such as selling books, articles, revenue sharing, blogging and passive sources of income such as ebooks.  Also, if jobs are scarce, the content mills are always there to turn to as part of a diversified writer’s portfolio.  Diversification is a great reason to write for content mills.

A book and pen for research.

Building research skills is a key advantage when considering if you should write for content mills.

4.  Building Research Skills:

If there is one thing about content mills that virtually everyone will agree upon, is that they really push a reader to do their research.  The topics to write about are numerous and varied and require a significant amount of research in order to complete properly.  For instance, if asked to compose an article outlining the advantages of using concrete as opposed to ashphalt in a construction project, most writers would look at such a topic with a blank stare.  How can they possibly write about something which they know nothing about?  That is where research skills come into play.  Writers will discover the best places to find information and then be able to analyze and summarize the main points in their own words.  Critical thinking and problem solving become part of the job and not only make the individual a better and more efficient writer, but build much needed confidence as well.

Man sitting fixed looking at mountain.

When considering if you should write for content mills, it helps to know that the topics are fixed.

5.  Fixed Topics:

One of the most common complaints which is heard in various writing communities, is how difficult it is to come up with topics to write about.  It requires a lot of thought, analysis and luck to find a topic which is enjoyable to explore and clicks with the audience at the same time.  With content mills this problem is essentially taken right out of the equation as topics are already predetermined.  As such, valuable time is spent researching and writing as opposed to wracking one’s brain trying to come up with a popular topic.

The Cons Of Writing For Content Mills:

A piggy bank showing that low pay is a key reason why people choose not to write for content mills.

Low pay is a key reason people choose not to write for content mills.

1.  Low Pay:

There can be little doubt that the compensation given by most content mills is quite paltry.  Although the pay grade will increase as the writer gains experience, and has a solid body of work behind them, it is still quite poor.  More significantly, as a beginning writer, any jobs that are completed are compensated at the lowest pay grade.  For instance, at one popular content mill a standard offer for a new writer is $2.43 for a 500 word article.  That works out to approximately half a cent per word!  As they gain experience, writers can typically expect to earn between $3 per 500 word article with that amount growing to $25 for those with the most experience and credibility.  Even when considering the “high” side, this is certainly not a pathway to riches!  Most certainly, low pay is a top reason why people choose not to write for content mills.

A frustrated woman considering if she should write for content mills.

Lack of quality assignments offered by content mills can be frustrating.

2.  Lack Of Quality Assignments:

Writers typically desire what all individuals do…a fulfilling career.  When solely writing for content mills, this can be quite difficult to achieve due to the scarcity of quality assignments.  Writers will often have to sign up with a variety of companies in order to receive a decent amount of assignments.  However, even then the jobs all tend to be SEO and keyword driven.  If someone wanted to write an SEO optimized article about how to reduce breast size…they will probably be fine!  The lack of good, quality assignments can be discouraging for any writer.

Content mills have notoriously unreasonable time deadlines to submit work.

Content mills have notoriously unreasonable time deadlines to submit work.

3.  Unreasonable Time Deadlines:

Creating the best content can be quite difficult when a writer is given a ridiculously short amount of time in which to compose it.  When writing for content mills this is exactly what occurs.  The very nature of the business is to churn out as much content as possible.  Instead of spending time working on a quality piece, the writer is forced to battle against the clock and pump out articles.  Quality will frequently be sacrificed in favor of quantity in this virtual race.  This becomes a key factor when considering whether or not to write for content mills.

Burnt out man drowning. Burnout is a danger when considering if you should write for content mills.

Burnout is a danger when considering if you should write for content mills.

4.  Burnout:

Writing is a difficult job.  The words you are searching for do not just magically appear on the paper.  It takes a lot of thought, research and hard work to achieve results.  Nevertheless, it is the love and passion for the work which feeds many writers.  They love what they do and will marvel at the results with pride.  It is a form of art.  Therefore, when the writer is working in an intense environment where they are forced to quickly produce articles which they do not have any passion for, or interest in, they become at great risk for burnout.  This can essentially destroy a promising writing career before it really even begins.

Contrary to what one may think, competition between writers in content mills can be fierce.

Contrary to what one may think, competition between writers in content mills can be fierce.

5.  Competitive:

Writer forums are full of writers complaining vehemently about content mills, often using the preceding points to justify their arguments.  In such an environment you would not expect that content mills would have anyone willing to work for them.  That is simply not the case however.  In truth, there is considerable competition.  Writing jobs which appear in the available feeds of content mills are snapped up almost immediately.  When you couple this overwhelming competition with the lack of quality assignments, it can be a very difficult business to infiltrate.


Undoubtedly, writing for content mills has many advantages and disadvantages.  Most writers tend to have very strong opinions about the subject.  They either love content mills or completely and utterly despise them.  There are very few neutral opinions.  Please feel free to comment below and let everyone know your thoughts about whether people should write for a content mill.


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