How Content Mills INHIBIT Your Writing Career – By Mohamed Saad

How Content Mills INHIBIT Your Writing Career – By Mohamed Saad

Some freelance writers find working for content mills easy access to the world of freelance writing, without the hassle of dealing with clients. However, if you are serious about making a career out of freelance writing, you should think twice before getting involved with them.

“Content Mills” are companies that act as intermediaries between writers and clients. They take orders from clients, and assign them to their pool of ghostwriters – all while taking out their share of the earnings. In this article, I will be explaining why working with content mills is not an efficient way to build a strong freelance writing career.

You Lose Out on Income
Content mills already have employees on payroll, and other administrative and marketing expenses. This business model does not leave much to pay freelance writers – usually insulting rates. To make things worse, it is not uncommon to find yourself unpaid, or even fined, if you don’t strictly abide by the mill’s rules. As for promotions, you cannot always expect your payment rate to increase over time. Most mills do not offer raises at all, while others only raise your rate if you meet certain lofty “performance goals.” So, why should you bother burning yourself out for a fraction of current market rates? You shouldn’t.

You Lose Out on Clients
When working for a content mill, you’re not working directly with their client. As with any business, if you are good at making new clients, and maintaining healthy relationships with clients, then the sky is your limit to grow your business! A satisfied client can always assign you more tasks, promote you to bigger projects, recommend you to more leads, or even land you attractive full-time contracts. Also, as you get on better terms with your clients, you can re-negotiate your rates easily. Content mills, however, never reveal the real identities of their ghostwriters, so you will not have the chance to connect with any clients. If you do figure out who the client is, and if you contact them directly, you will be violating the contract terms of the content mill.

You Lose Out on Portfolio
Another key for career growth is to have a strong writing portfolio, which is necessary to qualify for serious writing gigs, and to have an edge while negotiating rates with your clients. Unfortunately, as a content mill writer, you forego the authority of your work, and cannot claim it as part of your portfolio. This means that, as you get tired of working with content mills and decide to take your freelance writing career more seriously, you will have zero clients and zero portfolio to start with – even if you spent years writing for content mills. After all, a writer’s work speaks for itself.

You Lose Out on Personality
Some beginner writers believe content mills can help them learn the basics. This is true, but only to some extent. Most content mills offer writing guidelines for writers and a few of them share editor’s feedback to writers. However, the purpose of this guidance is to meet the specific style that matches the specific services provided – not your own personal style. In some cases, content mills provide rigid writing templates for their writers to abide by.

This leaves very little room for writers to find their own voice and style of writing; working against a writer’s personal branding. Additionally, the variety of orders that content mills fill do not always give the opportunity to writers to focus on their desired niches.

Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions where a limited and short-lived venture with content mills may not be so harmful: Beginners who want to get a glimpse of freelance writing and non-Native English speaking writers who find reasonable profits in content mill rates are two examples. But, these are normally financially struggling writers who need urgent cash.

Content mills do not offer much to help advance your freelance writing career, and can quickly burn you out. Instead, you should spend your efforts elsewhere – work with real clients, build a blog, write a book, or just get a full-time writing job. You can learn more about selling articles to clients from my previous article.


Mohamed Saad is a freelance writer from Egypt, experienced in academic writing and informative articles. Besides writing, Mohamed is an engineer and he is interested in guitars, music, social dancing, arthouse cinema and TV series.


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