Content mills

(23 Posts)
TheNewson Sat 15-Dec-12 20:58:12

I wondered if anyone had any experience of writing for 'content mills' such as SearchSciences? These are seemingly agencies who pay writers to churn out copy for third parties.

They pay 1pence per word and typical articles are about 500 words on any given subject.

I have just completed my first article, but I find the pay too little and the articles too time consuming (because of additional research involved). I have some more articles to write, but my heart doesn't feel in it.

When I lost my job and started writing for my blog for pleasure, I enjoyed writing for me, for the first time in my life, as opposed to writing for others.

I just wondered if any of you do work for such agencies and if you can recommend others that pay more per word (I've heard some have sliding scales up to 8p per word). The rates are still a far cry from the money I was earning in my previous career (Journalism and PR) but times are tough and it is work from home.

I'd be interested to hear your views on this.


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TeeElfOnTeeShelf Sun 16-Dec-12 13:40:29

I've looked at them but I haven't found any that pay enough to make it worth the time and effort.

I have never head of any that pay as much as you say. I'd be interested too, if such places exist!

TheNewson Sun 16-Dec-12 19:41:40

Yes, I have just spent about an hour researching something then writing a short piece for £2.50..... I think I may need to knock it on the head.
I think the paid work with the scales, ranges from 1p to 8pence for the top tier writers (from what I heard). Just need to establish the sites....

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MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 13:02:05

I haven't looked into this, but if you are working for £2.50 an hour, then I cannot see how it is worth it.

Even for 8p - you'd have made £20, which is not a lot for freelance work. And that is top tier.

FloatyBeatie Mon 17-Dec-12 13:07:37

They can't possibly expect people to actually write proper words for that little money, can they? Surely they must be asking people to generate some sort of autocontent? I get paid much more than 10x that word-rate just for editing text.

MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 13:37:54

If I have learned anything in the past year, it is that writing is not valued.

FloatyBeatie Mon 17-Dec-12 14:12:49

Oh, I don't know if that is quite fair is it? It depends on the context/purpose, and on the writing: this sort of content is just for search engine optimisation and such like, I think? Plenty of writing does attract financial value.

MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 14:40:05

No, you are right. Sorry, was rushed before as someone came to the door.

I would say that writing is undervalued.

I am saddened to see that people write books, self-publish and then sell them for 50p on Amazon. If we don't value our own work, how can we expect others to value it?

At the same time, even major national newspapers and blogs pay very little for content, because they have great writers willing to write for very little. Or nothing at all in some cases.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 17-Dec-12 15:07:06

I agree writing isn't valued. I've seen rates fall over the last five years or so, and at the same time content mills have become more prevalent. There is an idea that writers should be grateful that someone wants to publish them in the first place, and anyone who expects to be paid fairly is greedy.

To answer the question - I haven't written for a content mill, mostly because I looked at them and didn't see how anyone could do the job well and still earn a living. I know some writers who have worked for them, but all say it was soul destroying and most definitely not profitable.

FloatyBeatie Mon 17-Dec-12 15:22:42

I thought their content was written for search bots not for humans? So you just need to get the right keywords in. Nothing else matters? So not something that would be paid for on the same scale as actual writing?

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 17-Dec-12 15:39:26

Not all are aimed at spamming search engines, quite a few bill themselves as kind of reference sites, or how to guides. Also, writing keyword rich content is an art. Most search engines are now sophisticated enough to tell the difference between something that is written for humans to read, and something that is just click bait.

MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 15:44:24

I read a blog post last week about the value of writing, and why we are given the feeling that if we ask for money for our work, that we are being totally unreasonable and greedy.

FloatyBeatie Mon 17-Dec-12 15:51:08

Thanks saskia, that's interesting. I suppose the next stage along -- if paying a penny a word seems too pricey -- would be to harvest blogs that people write for pleasure (i.e. for nothinh!) and build them into a crowdsourced reservoir of pages for adverts to go on. Is that the economic model for sites that host blogs, wordpress et al?

So content mills would tend to predominate in subject areas where people don't blog for fun, and unpaid blogging serves the same function as content mills for e.g. fashion retail adverts and so forth?

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 17-Dec-12 16:28:38

FloatyBeatie* I think that is happening to an extent, in a way it's what Facebook and Pinterest do. Plus, there is scraping, where dubious sites 'pull in' posts from legitimate blogs to make it look as though they're providing real content. Not only is this copyright infringement, it can also have a negative impact on the original blog because Google class it as duplicate content and downgrade their rankings. I believe Google )at least) have changed their algorithm to try to prevent this but it's still a real concern for a lot of bloggers.

MerryLindor It probably wasn't my post you read, but I've blogged about this in the past. I think the problem is too many people don't see writing as craft. There is this idea that any literate person can be a writer, and that talent, dedication and practice count for nothing.

MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 16:54:08

Do you know the website Alternet? I have recently noticed publishing content from there, and wondered if the writers are being paid anywhere along the line. It is not clear from the website.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 17-Dec-12 17:29:55

I just had a look, and no it's not clear if they're being paid. Saying that, paying markets don't always mention rates of pay, so it's possible they are. But, even if they are being paid by Alternet, I hope they're getting reprint fees too.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 17-Dec-12 17:32:20

Had a look and found this. It seems they do pay, but not sure about the 'at the discretion of the editor' bit.

MerryLindor Mon 17-Dec-12 18:39:47

Thanks, Saskia - that is helpful.

TheaJTS Mon 17-Dec-12 20:12:04

I'd always assumed that content mills source most of their writers in places like India, Pakistan, the Philippines etc. - plenty of English speakers, and £2.50 for a hour's work is pretty good...
Difficult to compete with that here in the UK sad

2under2blog Mon 17-Dec-12 20:37:52

I used to do this for a little extra cash. I got paid via PayPal after every single submission so it was a good way to build up a little extra cash. With a reputable company, it could be a good way to earn. but there are a lot of charlatans out there. And yes, 1p a word is pretty rubbish but, from what I understand, pretty standard. If you want names, get in touch and I'll see about recommending smile

BitofSparklingPerry Mon 17-Dec-12 20:43:59

I do these, mostly because earning about six euros (they seem to pay in euros for some reason) for an hours work is better than earning nothing. But then I only do it on a very casual basis. I see it like surveys and mystery shopping - a quite interesting way of earning a few extra quid in my spare time.

TheNewson Tue 18-Dec-12 13:29:39

well I lasted a few days and jacked it in, because it was indeed soul destroying and paying peanuts. At first I crafted some articles but it took too long. Then I churned some out and realisethey were also accepted - despite this drop in quality. Because I love writing, it pained me to produce sub standard work. I feel much happier now!

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2under2blog Wed 19-Dec-12 10:38:28

Yes I can relate to the feeling of having sold your soul. I got the point where I was churning out about 5 in an hour (in a bid to make a decent hourly rate) and they were appalling. Mind dumps!

It's worth putting your mind to starting a writing company. I started mine up about 18 months ago and haven't looked back. Finding work is a slog but it's totally worth it.

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