Content mills get a bad press; it’s understandable. They drive down the price of copy and you can end up doing way too much work for way too little pay. For those of us who are short on time and cash, however, they can be a vital tool. They’re also handy for copywriters just starting out. For those who aren’t aware, a ‘content mill’ is a website that connects clients requiring copy to copywriters. Sounds good so far, right? The catch is they tend to pay bottom dollar, and clients still expect decent results. I can’t imagine how anyone could make minimum wage here. But when there’s bills to pay and screaming toddlers to placate, sometimes it’s the best choice.
My tips for copywriters starting at content mills:
- Hunt out the best satanic ‘content mill’. There are more and more of these mass-style freelancing websites out there, so do your homework so that you don’t waste time on one that’s wrong for you, or just plain bad.
- Don’t forget to build your portfolio outside of your chosen hellhole. Copywriters just starting out need samples, and a lot of content mills require you to sign away your copyright to what you create for their clients. Bear this in mind. I found Upwork a good way to get more interesting work, albeit not as steady for me. At sites like this you can still stake your claim over your writing, unless you’re doing ghost-writing.
- Prioritise. Trust me, you’re going to be working hard, so make sure you’re working smart too. When you select your contracts, which will usually appear in a list with briefs for you to take a gander at, think before you click. Which jobs are going to give you the most pay per hour? That 500-word legal blog for £7 might seem like a decent prospect, but unless you’re a law student, you could spend hours researching. By the same token, targeting subjects you have skills in could help you maximise your profit.
- Keep focused. I love writing on a dozen different subjects a day, but god help me, I do get distracted. Don’t be like Ruth and fall down a Wikipedia hole when you should be working. Keep your mind and mouse on the subject at hand.
- Read the brief. Seems obvious? Sure, but when you’re on your fifth post about warehouse work flow you start to lose concentration. Don’t assume you know what the client wants. Read their criteria out loud and note down the core instructions. A few minutes care here can save you time and money later on.I hope my cheeky list helps you on your copywriting journey. I’m always on the hunt for tips and tricks, so hit me up in the comments if you find anything decent.