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Did You See a Job Post to Write for a Content Farm? Just Say No.

This is a guest post by Kalen Smith.

If you are a new writer, you may not always know who to take on for clients. In the beginning, you may be tempted to take any who will pay a salary. In several of his previous articles, Onibalusi mentioned that it can be better to have no clients than a poor client. I’m definitely inclined to agree with him on that point and go into the issue in a little more depth.

The truth is that there are plenty of sites that allow writers to get paid creating low quality articles. Some of the sites that come to mind are ehow, Suite101 and Brighthub.

Now I need to make a few points and make sure I don’t offend anyone. First of all, I have written for each of these sites. I am betting there are other great writers here who have as well. Quality writers have produced good work for these sites.

When I said that they allow writers to get paid writing low quality articles, I meant that the standards are fairly low. You can create high quality work. You just won’t get much more out of it.

These sites all seem like an easy way to get into writing. If your writing is great, you will have no problems getting accepted. However, you can probably do much better somewhere else. Writers who have not perfected their craft yet can still have a shot at getting in. They usually don’t have a limit on the number of writers they will take, which is appealing to many who are struggling to find the best way to pitch themselves and compete against the more experienced in their profession.

Although it can be tempting to work for a site that will take you on without asking any questions, you want to make sure that you can find a way to build your reputation and get paid what you deserve. When you write for content farms, you will do neither.

When you write for a content farm, you will either get paid for each article or get paid on the benefit the article creates for the site (usually through revenue sharing or traffic). Let me discuss each of them and why they won’t help you.

Payment per article

There are a variety of sites that will pay you a fee for each article you write. This fee may range from $2 to $25. Whatever the case, you probably won’t be satisfied with the level of work you have to put in or the work that is available for you.

Here are some examples of sites that pay you for an article:

  • Brighthub
  • Demand Studios (which took over ehow)
  • Break Studios
  • Textbroker

As a former Demand Studios writer, I can tell you how disinterested I was in the posts. I would get paid $15 or $25 for each post I wrote. I tried to finish the posts in half an hour. Anything beyond that wasn’t worth my time. Every writer who ever complained about the site on forums such as Demand Studios Sucks said the same thing. They also gave the following advice:

  • Choose a topic that you understand or is easy to write.
  • Write the article as quickly as possible.
  • Hope you get an editor that doesn’t suck.
  • If you are told to do too many edits, then abandon the article. The penalty for rejections can be bad, but more importantly is just not worth the time.

As you can see, most writers at these sites take no pride in their work. They may be awesome writers, but they probably can’t do their best work for a site they don’t enjoy. Frankly, it was hard to enjoy writing for a site that asked me to write on topics I wasn’t interested in such as “Government Grants for Horses with Learning Disabilities.”

Incentive-based sites:

  • The old eHow (since Demand Studios took over ehow some articles still offer revenue sharing)
  • Suite101
  • Brighthub (articles offer revenue sharing on top of the $15 per post fee)
  • Infobarrel
  • Examiner
  • Hubpages
  • Squidoo

Some of these sites give you more discretion on what you write about and may motivate writers to do higher quality work. However, they are not going to pay for a couple of reasons. First of all, the Google Panda Update has basically ruined the chances writers have to make money from these sites. One writer said she used to rely on getting at least $20 a day from articles she’d already written. After Panda, her rates fell to about $2 a day.

Branding problems

Another issue you will face with any content farm is the image you give yourself. When you write for a content farm, potential clients may judge you. I turned to Demand Studios for a two month period when a couple of my guest blogging jobs tapered out. I was still writing for a few high quality sites like Money Crashers and Investopedia.

I had published guest posts in high profile sites, but was struggling to market myself. I needed money and turned to Demand Studios. At first, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find my Demand Studios articles on Google. The only articles that showed up were articles written by other authors who cited me as a source through one of my Money Crashers posts.

However, I later realized that was a blessing in disguise. The truth is that potential clients may look for you on Google. They may overlook the great articles you’ve written and judge you if you’ve been published on a content farm. That may not seem fair, but it’s the truth. When you write, you need to think about your brand image from day one.

I know how hard it is when you get started writing. I was there myself once. You need to learn how to create quality work, work hard at building a portfolio and use solid marketing practices. You already have the talent, but you are going to have to work hard to nurture it. Once you do, you will end up with much better clients.

Never choose the easy path to success. It may buy you a pizza or two, but it will only undermine your efforts in the long run.

Kalen Smith was inspired to join the Internet marketing movement when he was in high school. Now, he inspires new entrepreneurs to learn internet marketing with his new blog, Onlinerookies.com. He loves networking and hearing from other bloggers. He has shared entrepreneurial advice in popular online and print media outlets including Forbes, Dragon Blogger, Young Entrepreneur, Investopedia and the Grass Hopper Group.

Category: freelance writing

25 Comments on "Did You See a Job Post to Write for a Content Farm? Just Say No."

  1. Michael @Blast4TrafficNow says:

    I agree with you Kalen. I blatantly refused to write for the above named sites while getting into freelance writing. I stuck to my guest posting and marketing. Today, I’ve attracted 3 clients that pay my bills. Content farms won’t get writer anywhere so why waste time with them?

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Michael. They may be a short-term solution if you need cash, but you always need to think long-term. Your hard work definitely seems to be paying off for you! Good luck!

  2. AIDY says:

    Completely agree. Also, it gets completely tiresome to write for these content farms, especially if you are the type of writer that always want to put your “best post” forward. It does take time to build your writing profile online. It’s just that you have to “learn” where and where not to spend your time. Fantastic article!

    • Kalen says:

      Thanks for reading Aidy. Writing is like anything else. It is all about getting out what you put in. If you invest your time on sites that aren’t worth much, don’t expect a whole lot back.

  3. I once wrote for a couple of content farms. They were different from the ones you mentioned, but I spent ages perfecting my articles. I saw other very badly written articles on the ‘hot content’ list of those sites and this really got me down. In the end it was the people who had more friends to comment on and share their articles that got paid more. I’ve stopped doing this. I’d rather make pennies on my own blogs rather than make a dollar on a content farm. Nowadays I put all of my effort into writing for my own blogs.

    • In the end your own blogs are going to make a lot more for you. You may not like getting pennies now, but I have no doubt you will be making much off of your own blog if you continue to invest in it. In the meantime, I use other methods to find other freelance clients to pay the bills and build credibility as a writer. If you ever want to consider going the freelance route again, I would suggest using the Problogger job board or similar sites instead of those content farms.

  4. The best freelance writing career includes a large stable of writing possibilities, and writing for content mills can be part of the stable if you choose carefully. I don’t write for them under my own name to avoid the Google problem, but I can make a full-time income from content mills on weeks when there are no other clients available to me.

    It’s a lot of work to write for content mills, write my own content and also look for new private clients, but it’s possible.

    Gip

    • Hey Gip, the idea of writing under a pseudoname is a better way of doing it. I still don’t feel you can get as much out of them in the long-run though. Those businesses don’t provide much of value and are on their way out. Just for kicks, I have been logging into my old Demand Studios account and found that 95% they have no assignments. Otherwise they have 1 to claim. Suite101 is basically dead right now. After Panda and people’s need for better quality information, I honestly think these content mills are on their way down the tube. They will probably still be around for a while, but I don’t think they will be a reliable stream of revenue for freelancers.

  5. Sandy says:

    Wow this post came just in time! I use to write for one of the content farm you mentioned in the article. I spent a hell lot of time in writing quality articles for this site. But things changed after the panda update. It drastically hit my monthly income. But now I’m not going to repeat the same mistake. I will go the “Oni-way”: guest posting and marketing to find well paying clients! Thanks a lot this post!

    • Thank you Sandy! I had to make the transition as well and am so glad I did. You are totally right, Oni’s advice works!

  6. Mark Aylward says:

    It’s a learning curve any way you slice it right? You almost have to fail over and over to discover what works. Panda is simply Google catching up with the times. Quality should always win out over quantity, but you have to put in the quantity to get noticed
    Mark

    • So true Mark. I always got so irritated with those stupid article spinners that just helped create a bunch of garbage. Articles on the web were no longer about creative, informative or original content 80% of the time. I think Panda is helping make that happen again.

  7. When I first started blogging I did the Associated Content / Helium thing and just couldn’t keep up the moment of $3 per article plus performance, I wound up making 10x as much just writing for my own blog and throwing up AdSense and doing the occasional sponsored post.

    As a part time blogger I don’t make as much as a full time freelance writer, but for a part time blogger I make enough to pay some extra bills without the pressure of having to write and meet deadlines since I only write for my own sites.

    • I find the same thing. Working as a freelance writer pays the bills in the short-term. Blogging may be a way to make more in the long-term, but you have to pull everything together. It’s not just about writing. You also have to make sure that you are going to be marketing, thinking of ways to monetize your site, building relationships and staying active on and off your blog. Few bloggers pull it off because it is so hard to cover all their bases at once. As a blogger, you are both a writer and a businessperson. If you just enjoy writing, that’s perfectly fine. However, you need to really be a solid businessperson if you want to make a living as a blogger rather than making it your hobby.

  8. I have another perspective. Until recently I was a director in a firm that employed freelance writers and editors, and we commissioned articles for hundreds of clients.

    Many were what I would call SEO articles – ie mainly aimed at the search bots, but lots were of editorial quality, needed to be engaging for real people and called for opinions.

    We paid in the ranges described but made sure that we allocated work to writers who had shown a real understanding of a sector or subject matter. The result was that we had many hundreds of writers who kept coming back and were earning hundreds of dollars a week.

    From an employers point of view we wanted writers who
    – were reliable: we have clients too and if you miss deadlines we lose contracts
    – knew their subject: we risk our reputation if writers don’t know their subject

    If you are a freelance writer I would say this:
    – pick your employer(s) carefully: if they are writing for real client websites, rather than the content farms mentioned, you are more likely to get rewarding work
    – be honest about where your expertise is: if you are too general, you’ll be given all sorts of stuff you won’t be interested in and probably can’t do well
    – stick with your employer(s) and build a relationship. If you prove yourself to be reliable (don’t ever ever miss a deadline!) you will be front of mind for the best bits of work. Newcomers usually get the high volume jobs. Also, when a client gets a good writer on their job, they will start insisting on that writer for future work.

    So, yes, its not easy but you have to see it from the employers side too.

    PS: I’m not working there now, but contact jobs@purecontent.com if you want to give my former company a go.

  9. Great post Smith, some of these i did not know about content firms, but thanks to your enlightenment, i at least know some thing or two about them. Cheers 😉

  10. Mark says:

    Yes. Content Farm company are very bad. just say no to them. Also they will not pay you good.

    • Well the pay can be decent, but usually not the best. Also, long-term if content mills collapse then the earnings potential drops. One writer was making a residual $5000 a month on Suite101 from articles she’d already written before. When Panda hit everyone’s earnings dropped considerably.

  11. Josh Sarz says:

    I’m a new writer, so where DO I go to get quality pay for my writing?

    • I think Oni has some awesome tips here, but if you want to hear my take, I would start by creating a portfolio through guest blogging. Having your own blog would be good too. After that, I would start looking for jobs on the Problogger job board (jobs.problogger.net). That is a great place to find jobs. Approaching other bloggers directly is also a good way to go. I might also go offline. If you are willing to invest in joining a BNI chapter or something you might get a lot out of that too. There are a lot of options, but you will need to invest in them to get a return.

      • Josh Sarz says:

        Thanks for the info Kalen. I already have a blog, and I’ve just started guest blogging as well. I need to grow my portfolio.

  12. I never tried working in content farms, it always looked wrong for me. But I did worked on micro jobs website (and I still do when I have free time), websites like seoclerks.com or fiverr.com. I established pretty high rates comparing with other people offering similar services but I still got clients, I even developed long term clients throw these sites.

    • I haven’t heard of your site before. Looks really cool though and I might be interested in trying it out in the future. Didn’t have much luck with Fiverr though. I actually did a few things and never got paid. Also, $5 a job wasn’t all that great. However, your SEO Clerks site looks like it might be more in line with what I was looking for.

  13. Kelli says:

    I agree – there is absolutely nothing good that comes out of producing sub-par work. When I don’t do my best, it comes back to haunt me. In the end, anything I have to sign my name to had better be awesome!

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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