As part of writing, you’ve likely heard of content mills. If you haven’t, these are places that take on a large number of writers to “churn out” content. They have changed a lot over recent years, and only a handful have survived changes in the Google algorithm.
Whatever you think of them, I’ve found that they can be good for writing. If used properly, you can gain a number of skills that can help you in your writing career. Of course, there is the risk of being exploited, but that’s why I say “if used properly.”
I still have content mills that I turn to if my income is really low. I’ve not touched them in about six months, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to completely ignore them. I’ve gained the following writing skills from content mills.
Sticking to Deadlines
This is an important skill for freelance writers to have. You need to be reliable and on time. Content mills help you develop this skill, as they put this skill at the top of their list of requirements for writers. If you don’t do a writing assignment within a certain amount of time—it differs between content mills—then the work is removed from your list of tasks and you cannot apply for it again. In some cases, you’re removed as a writer.
In real life, private clients, magazines and business will all expect you to have this writing skill. They rely on you meeting a deadline for their own tasks.
There are only a limited number of excuses that are acceptable for missing a deadline.
Developing SEO Skills
One of the most important writing skills, even today, is search engine optimization. It has changed a lot since I started writing for content mills, but the mills helped the basis of my knowledge. They taught me just how important SEO is.
Businesses and private clients want people who can write posts that work for search engines. They know that is how their posts will be found. When utilized correctly, you can charge more for your content.
This skill develops quickly, so you need to stay on top of changes.
Counting Your Hours Worked
It’s really easy to work longer on a project than it’s really worth. Working for content mills means working for small amounts. When I was writing for $10 per post, counting the hours I spent on content was essential. I needed to make sure I earned a set amount throughout the day.
Even working on bigger projects, this is still an important skill. It’s also one of the writing skills that important when writing for residual income. You don’t want time slipping you by.
I use Excel to keep track of the time I work. This also comes in use when it comes to tax time and calculating the amount of hours I’ve worked in total.
Learning Different Styles of Writing
Never put your eggs in one basket. This is something I quickly learned with content mills, but it’s not one of my writing skills I’m sharing. I’m sharing the benefit of this lesson. By writing for different mills, I learned different writing styles.
You may need to work on blog posts for some clients, but other clients want magazine pieces, white papers and sales copy. Each type of writing has a different use of language and phrasing. Some will require first and second person writing, while others require third person writing.
I quickly learned the difference between different types of writing, and found the ones that I prefer to work on.
Working Without a Muse
This is one of the writing skills that has really helped me to this day. There are days that I lose the will to write, sometimes because my muse is non-existent. Before writing for money, this wasn’t a problem. I soon found it a major issues when I start freelance writing.
The low pay from content mills didn’t require my muse to always be there. It was a case of getting articles written, and finding new angles. Now that I have private clients, I can do the same. I can come up with ideas to pitch and different stories to tell even when my muse has gone on a vacation. The only one that still struggles is my fiction writing, but that I can deal with.
Those are five writing skills content mills taught me. No, they’re not the greatest for making money writing, but I don’t believe they are all bad. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten started writing for money.
Do you write for content mills? Have you developed writing skills because of them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
I'm a full time freelance writer, Weight Watchers leader and mummy. I love writing about all things entertainment and lifestyle. Making residual income has become a passion; one that I'm working really hard at making a great reality.