How Can I Spot Content Mill Ads?

Hi Angela,

There are so many sites with ads that seem desperate to hire writers. I think most of them are content mills. How can I easily spot one?


There are several characteristics that appear in ads for content mills. Here are a few:

1. They run the same ad multiple times on the same website, or on several websites at the same time.
(Most professional firms that pay writers reputable rates have a pile of queries to go through, and a stable of very happy writers, and don’t need to run more than one ad to attract more.)

2. They offer pay “up to $20 per hour” or some other tricky, obscure figure.
(Anytime you see “up to” in a payment rate for a contract, that can mean anything less, including ZERO.)

3. They require you reach a specific dollar threshold in order to get paid and, if you never reach that threshold, you NEVER get paid.
(Many content mills don’t openly state this in their contract. You only find out if you stop working for them, and later notice your check never arrives.)

4. They brag about how great they are and how much “exposure” their writers get.
(Any company that has to brag to writers about how many “millions” of readers they have, or how they are the “leader” in their field, but that also offers pittance for pay, is very likely a content mill.)

5. Their ad has verbiage that makes you feel like you’re going to be part of some elite club or organization. (This type of marketing ploy caters to the desire-to-be-accepted individual residing in most of us.)

6. They offer compensation based on “performance” or “clicks” or “referrals” or “per content” or payment is a “performance bonus.”
(Payment needs to be quoted in cold, hard cash – either per word or per piece. Avoid any ad that offers anything else.)

Basically, before applying for any job online, you should thoroughly investigate any site that brags about how successful they are, yet offers vague promises of payment amounts (indicating they can’t afford to pay writers respectable fees). You should also avoid firms that make writers feel like they’re joining a childish club to gain popularity.


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