If you’ve decided to pursue freelance writing and don’t know where to start, content mills are the best bet.
These sites allow you to join a pool of thousands of writers, and you can take individual requests or respond to larger calls. They tell you what to write, or you can create your own topics and set your own rates.
While many professional freelancers insist that content mills are where good writers go to die, I’ve found that for me—and many teenagers in similar situations—content mills are much more of a blessing than a curse. Here are a few reasons why.
Content mills pay more than minimum wage.
Let’s do some quick math. I can write four low-tier articles for the content mill BlogMutt in an hour, and three of those will sell quickly. That comes out to around $24 an hour writing, versus my home state of Ohio’s minimum wage of $8.10. Granted, different mills pay differently, and some weeks have more work than others. But this is still a pretty sizeable increase!
You’ll learn about a variety of careers and niches, not just freelance writing.
I’ve gained a lot more than money as a result of my experience writing; I’ve also been exposed to so many new thoughts and ideas, potential career paths, and diverse fields of study.
When I first started out writing, I stuck with the social media and education niches because that’s where I felt most informed. But as I went on, I realized that I didn’t really enjoy those topics. Instead, I started to dig into new areas of interest–like gardening and entrepreneurship–and seek out opportunities across a variety of niches.
As a result, I’m now an expert on the clinical qualities of certain herbs, how to become a better businessman, how office furniture affects productivity, and so much more. Writing is a great idea if you’re unsure of what you want to major in, because you really can learn about everything–and get paid to do it.
Plus, learning how to write about unfamiliar topics in a short amount of time will benefit you in school. When your English teacher gives you ten minutes to analyze a text and write a response to it, you’ll know exactly how crank out an insightful, professional piece.
Your money is secure.
Let’s be honest; not all parents will be OK with you sharing financial information online.
That’s why, before I signed up for any content mills, I did a careful review of what other people were saying about them. A quick Google search about your content mill of choice will bring up a plethora of blogs, reviews, and ratings that can give (or take away!) validity from your potential employer. For further verification, you may want to log into LinkedIn and see how many writers claim to be a part of the company. If there are several thousand, you’re probably good to go.
Of course my parents were skeptical at first, but once they saw that I was working on well-known, international sites and not just for some random guy in his parents’ basement, they enthusiastically agreed to let me start working online.
No one knows your age.
My number one fear when I first started writing was that no one would take my work seriously. After all, who wants to take business advice from a 16-year-old whose biggest startup venture was a lemonade stand?
But with content mills, all that matters to customers is the quality of your work. They aren’t staking their reputation on your name, so as long as your content is still insightful and accurate, they will consider it like the work of an adult.
Even though your profiles will include a photo, it’s easy to choose a professional-looking picture that will make you look mature beyond your years. I even chose to take on my great-grandma’s maiden name as my pen name, half as a homage to her recent death and half because it makes me sound wise beyond my years.
Where to get started
I have accounts on two sites– BlogMutt and Constant Content. Here’s a brief overview of what makes them different:
With BlogMutt, you choose your topics from a huge list (thousands of companies) and write an article based on the topic you choose. They have a fun “points” system where, as you complete more tasks and satisfy more customers, you can move up the ranks and make more money. My best month on BlogMutt was June of 2017, when I made $455. It’s my personal favorite. 🙂
With Constant Content, you can write any article you dream of. After revision, it gets added to their massive catalogue of articles where any business can snatch it up. You set your own rates, but CC takes 35% of your sales. I haven’t put as much time into this site, and I’ve had mixed results. The articles I do sell earn a lot more money than those on BlogMutt–on average, I make about $40 per article. On the other hand, I have a few that no one was interested in, and I think it’s hard to generate ideas for more posts.
These aren’t the content mills that you’ve read about, the ones that pay their writers awful wages and demand massive amounts of work. On the contrary, these two sites have a friendly, personable staff and decent wages. You can control your own workload and there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
Of course, content mills aren’t for every teenager. If you can’t seem to get an A on your English papers or you don’t know which “your” to use, this probably isn’t a good route for you. And even if you are a stellar writer with professional-level abilities, you still need to seriously consider the reality of how much self-discipline and time management freelancing requires. But if you think you have what it takes, content mills are a great place to start!
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