Content Mills. How convenient. If you are looking for blog posts, articles for your website or even reviews, page copy or any other form of the written word you may have come across a content mill without even realizing it.
These so-called companies offer you a discount price for articles and content; the more you order, the more you save! It sounds like a really great deal. But how can you be sure? Let me walk you through some of the processes. Then, you can tell me if the effort, frustration and quality of the products you receive are worth the discount.
How Do You Find A Content Mill?
Here’s the thing, content mills don’t like the term “content mill.” It is a derogatory term which means exactly what it sounds like. It is a process of churning out articles and blog posts at a high rate for a lower cost.
Example: If you were to hire me, you would probably pay between $200 and $400 (or more) for a single 1500 – 2500 word article. You can get the same article ordered and written through a content mill for way less, in some instances for as little as $50.
Sounds like one hell of a deal, doesn’t it?
To find a content mill, you simply need to do an internet search for keywords such as:
- Content Farm
- Content Mill
- Outsource Article Writing
- Hire Writers
- Blog post/Article Agency
Odds are unless you end up at a specific writer’s website (like the one you are on now), you are at a content mill. They will have a pretty website with ten thousand one reasons you need to hire them to write your words for you. They are easy to find, though you may not know you are actually dealing with a content mill.
You can usually tell because they will force you to contact them for any and all services without giving you details or price ranges.
Content mills will also try to use their own content to assure you that they are the number one source of content and have a bevy of expert writers (in your native language, though usually American English writers are key) just chomping at the bit to get to work on your specific article.
How Much Are You Paying?
The overall costs will be determined by the type of content you are after and how quickly you need the services. Most mills will assume you are using WordPress and will charge you extra to format for WP posting.
Some will even offer (for a fee) to post it directly to your blog or website for you. A great deal! As long as you don’t mind giving away your admin login information. Some don’t mind.
Let’s assume you need a 1500 word review article about the best type of sunscreen. You find your content mill and express what you want. You will be quoted with something similar to the following:
- Word Count: $0.08 – $0.10 per word ($120 – $150 for the article).
- WordPress formatting: $10 flat fee
- WordPress posting: $10 – $40 flat fee
- Rewrites: Up to $50 depending on the amount of work requested.
It is highly unlikely that you will get a premium piece of content that is ready to go and able to bring you new clients, tons of page views and conversion rates that will make you dizzy.
Instead, you will most likely end up with a lackluster, robotic written, piece of shit that will make you question your investment. It’s normal, just be prepared.
So, your next step is to respond to the offered piece and request some changes.
You will receive a second piece marginally better than the first. It will be accompanied by an email stating that due to the complexity of your request, or the overloaded work the company has, any further rewrites will cost you more money.
You stop here. You have a mediocre article that is basically a rewrite of a random Wikipedia entry, with a few links thrown in and a shit run through the horrible Grammarly service (more on that later.).
Then, you decide more revision (and the associated cost) isn’t worth it, you go with the given article, see near zero results, and are out of pocket $200 to $250 bucks.
As a comparison, you could hire a ghostwriter like me. That same article would cost you about $300, with unlimited revisions, and way less frustrating. Continue on, though; there is a lot more you need to know about content mills.
Be Prepared to do Most of the Work
After you agree to pay their fees (don’t worry they will make you feel like it is a great deal), they will send you a list of requirements that you, not them, must provide so that they can write the “perfect” article for you.
What does this mean? You must supply an outline. It must be well written and extremely clear. You will need to include title information, meta description information, as well as a basic to formal outline, including headlines, subheadings, and let’s not forget the keywords.
Do you know how to research keywords? Do you know how to format an article for SEO rankings properly? You will have to learn, or you won’t receive these things in your article.
If you have no idea what keywords to use, you won’t get any help with this either. “We are not the experts in your field, sir. We can only write what you tell us to write.”
So, be prepared to spend a few days (yeah, you read that right) figuring out how to do keyword research, outline and properly format an article, provide titles, meta tag information and the outline.
In other words, your entire article minus the actual words in the paragraphs will be written by you.
You get to do all the work and they will only charge you $250! What a great fucking deal!
What Goes on Behind the Scenes in Content Mills?
So after you have done all the required steps and paid your money, you are expecting a 10-cent per word article, right? How about a 2-cent per word article instead?
That’s what you are going to get. Here’s why:
Once your order is received by the content mill’s case manager, or owner (usually this is the same person), it is sent out via email to some writer that company has hired to write for them. They will pass along your guideline, outline and information, as well as a deadline for the writer to submit the work.
You have never met this writer, you do not know their qualifications, but fear not: neither has the content mill.
Where Do Content Mills Find Such Talented Writers?
When they hired this writer, they sent out an ad on some freelance writing board and got 100s of generic responses. They replied to all of them (yes, all of them) sending these potential writers to a form to fill out. Usually, it will be the generic information that is required: name, email address, time as a writer? Etc. etc.
There is also a “test” of sorts. The potential writer will have to write a 200-word example showing they can form sentences and write in American English. If successful, congrats! The content mill has a new writer on board.
Here’s the kicker. The writer assigned to your article has no idea about sunscreen. Moreover, they don’t care. They have their outline and their keywords along with total word count and off they go.
The research, if any, is minimal. The writer will most likely find a similar article and use most of the same content (careful not to plagiarize!) and send it in.
But why should they care? The writer is going to be a work-from-home type looking to make an extra $100 bucks a week. Between their chores, watching the kids, walking the dogs, and of course the three-hour lunch break to watch the block of Family Feud coming on.
They don’t care about your website. They don’t even know what website it is going on. On top of all that, the content mill is only going to pay them one to two cents per word for the article.
But, You Get All Your Words, Right?
Here is something else that is interesting. You remember the word count? 1500 words in the article. Except you forgot you added a title. Those eight words count towards that total. So does the meta description and headings.
The content mill also only pays for the total word count. So when the writer turns in a 1450 word article, they are paid for 1500. Likewise, when they turn in a 1700 word article, they are paid for 1500. Where is the incentive to go above and beyond?
Why should this college kid or stay at home parent, give two shits about your site, ranking, or content? Hint: They don’t. As soon as your article is complete, they have another one waiting. They don’t care about you. And you shelled out $250, of which that writer will only see $15 to $30.
They don’t get paid to care; they get paid to churn out words.
In the End
If there were a way to reach out to that writer and offer them $75 to write the article for you, you would get a much better article. It would make them care. You would also be in direct contact with the person actually writing your words.
But hey, you only spent $250. You did all the work, you got the headaches, the runaround and in the end, you come out with a $30 article.
If content mills are something you prefer, then more power to you. On the other hand, you can pay $200 to $400 for an article, do very minimal work (answer a few questions about your requirements, perhaps?) and end up with a $200 – $400 article.
The choice, of course, is yours.