You all know how much I hate content mills.  Today, guest blogger Sarah Li Cain explores all the reasons these clients really, truly suck…

When I started freelancing, all I wanted to do was get paid right away and never thought of much else. Unfortunately, writing for content mills was probably the worst decision I’ve ever made.  Yes, I didn’t get paid much, but that’s beside the point. Writing for content mills had an impact not only on me emotionally, but creatively too. I was setting myself up for failure in the long run!

I’m here to tell you how content mills hurt me so that it doesn’t happen to you.

Getting Burnt Out

I wrote a lot of articles in the beginning that paid pennies. All I did was stress out over how many I had to complete to make a decent living. A week and half into it I was already burnt out.  My brain literally froze at the thought of writing another article. During this time I didn’t even bother setting up a portfolio, trying to make contacts, or even coming up with a plan on how to grow my business. I was so tired all I wanted to do was park my butt in front of the TV and watch cartoons all day.  If I wasn’t so persistent I probably would have given up.

Don’t get burnt out. It’s not good for your physical or mental health.  That kind of stress can easily spill over to your personal life. You don’t want to risk jeopardizing any relationships just to make a few bucks.

No Creative Freedom

I never had a real conversation with clients of content mills.  All they did was gave me the number of words they wanted and a few keywords they wanted me to include. They didn’t care about my ideas or my style of writing as long as I could produce articles.  Many just wanted anything written quickly so there was no time to fully develop any ideas.

I found out very quickly that if I wanted to be valued for my writing I needed to find clients that want my ideas.  I needed to have creative freedom in order to pitch great ideas that can help my clients’ businesses grow. If I was not able to help them, then these clients could easily move onto another person who can.

Decreased Quality in Your Writing

I remember getting an assignment for an article that needed a certain number of keywords. I was not allowed to alter the keywords so they could fit better into the sentence.The client didn’t even allow me to change a singular noun into a plural so it would make grammatical sense!  What ended up happening was that I inserted the keywords without care and rushed through the job.  I didn’t even look it over before I submitted it.

What really drove me bonkers was that the client actually approved the article! How could that horrible piece of writing be ok to post? At the end of the day, all they wanted was for my article to pass Copyscape.

I was really ashamed of myself after this and I swore I would never do it again. I wanted clients that had high standards and I wanted real feedback on the quality of my writing. If I continued to write for content mills, then the quality of my writing would only get worse. If you don’t take the time to perfect your skill, then how could you possibly aim for more lucrative jobs? Would you rather earn a reputation as an excellent writer, or one that can just write articles quickly?

Not Learning the Value of Patience

I completely ignored the advice that good things come to those who wait. Content mills take advantage of people who want to get paid to write right away. They promise daily work immediately. I fell into that trap once, but not anymore.  Many beginners fail to recognize that it takes time to secure regular well-paying work. Some clients might ask for a trial run to decide if you’re a good fit, or they may take a little longer to get back to you because they’re interviewing so many writers.   When I was ready to give up, I landed an awesome gig after doing a trial run for two weeks. I also landed another client through weeks of email conversations. It takes time my friends. If you are persistent it will all work out in the end.

If you are seriously considering a career in freelance writing, don’t let your primary focus be money. Yes, it’s nice to get paid right away, but you need to change your perspective on how your actions will impact you in the long run. Be patient, cultivate your skills and make connections to help you in your career. Trust me, content mills are NOT the way to go.

Got any good content mill horror stories to share?  Post your experiences in the comments section below!

Sarah Li Cain is an international educator and freelance writer. She blogs to document on how she is reclaiming her fearlessness in life and wants to help others do the same.  You can also follow her on twitter @slicain