Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My on-the-fence feelings about content mills

Ansel Adams image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
If there's anything I first came upon when I started writing for a living, it's the world of the content mill. I heard about Associated Content years ago when I was exploring the idea of freelance writing. I made an account that I didn't do anything with until this time last year. To be quite honest, when you're starting from nothing, it's hard to build. I've used Associated Content (and the getting more popular Yahoo! Contributor Network) to build my writing portfolio. Admittedly, not all of my work on there is my best. When you're being paid less than $10 for 400 words, you want to finish up your work quick; wasting an hour on about $5 worth of work isn't good for anyone.

Why do I still do it, do you ask? I want to have a place where I have a ton of work. If it takes me no time to do it and I can see even a little profit, I'll do it. I know it isn't the popular answer. Right now, I'm still in the beginnings of my writing career. When days are slow and paying work seems sporadic, it's nice to know you can turn to a place and writing something. Of course, I won't taking a feeble playing assignment that would take me more than twenty minutes; I see no reason to take forever on an article if I'm only going to make $5. I don't want to it represent my work as a whole. I understand that right now it might seem as such. In the long run, I want it to be one of the many places with which I've published my work. Taking it more seriously than that is not worth it to me. For the most part, it really is not a lot of money. Sometimes I find that my $4, $5 article turns in $20 with performance payments. That is always a nice surprise, of course. Basically, I'll take an assignment if it's something I can easily write about in five minutes. That way, I am justified in the low pay. A little money for what's essentially no work at all? Something I can finish in between higher paying work, especially when I either need a break in my writing routine or just another thing to help me fill out my workday? Sign me up!
Of course, there may come a time when I don't write for it. Hopefully, that's because I'm too immersed in more substantial work. Right now, it's merely a good place to start, earn a little money, and hone my writing prowess. Making it anything more than that might not be worth it. I hear what people have to say about it. I understand that it can only get me so far. Hopefully people can understand where I'm coming from. At the very least, where else can I rant about what won't matter six months from now and get paid for it? Perhaps it'll encourage those interested in what I do to make a go at it for themselves. At a time when jobs (and when I mean jobs, I mean both at home and away from home) can seem too far and in between, any start to high-paying work will do.

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