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5+ Reasons You Shouldn’t Use a Content Mill for Your Content


Content Planning

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, you probably know how important content is to your entire marketing strategy. (And if you don’t know that, it’s time to get on board, babe.) After all, content touches everything – your website, blogs, social posts, ads, products – the list is virtually endless.

More than that, though, content is super helpful for boosting your organic visibility. The more content you have out in the world, the better the chances of others finding it. And one of the best ways to do that? Blogs and articles.

We’ll be the first to admit that writing a bunch of blogs on top of everything else you do is a lot to take on. As a result, you might be tempted to outsource your work to a copywriter or two. Which is all good and fine…unless you’re considering a content mill.

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First up, what’s a content mill?

A content mill – also called a content farm – is made up of a giant network of copywriters who mass-produce content, usually in the form of blogs or articles. Companies can post their jobs, and writers can pick them up for less than cents on the dollar. Literally. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

You may have heard of a few content mills before, like:

  • Textbroker
  • iWriter
  • Content Authority
  • Constant Content
  • And tonsssss more

These “networks” are marketed as a great way for writers to get their foot in the door…and a great way for companies to receive cheap content. Which brings us to our first reason why you shouldn’t use content mills for your content.

1. They pay like crap

Quick question: Do you believe in paying your team members a living wage? If your answer is yes, please proceed. If your answer is no, GTFO.

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Most content mills pay writers per word – not per article or per hour. The so-called “high-end” mills will pay 10 to 15 cents per word, while others clock in around 2 cents per word. 

And if you’re thinking, “But Ashley, doesn’t that add up pretty quickly?” I’m here to tell you that it most certainly does not. Let’s break it down.

Say we err on the side of positivity, and the writer’s wage is 10 cents per word, and they write three 500-word articles a day. That would look something like this:

  • .10 per word x 500 words = $50/article
  • $50/article x 3/day = $150 a day
  • $150/day = $750/week
  • $750/week x 52 weeks/year = $39,000/year

Ope, let’s not forget that 20-30% of those earnings have to go to taxes. And we also need to factor in any days the writer can’t work or meet their quota due to being sick, going on vacation, handling emergencies, taking mental health days, etc. And all those days they can’t write? They don’t get paid. 

Remember: We estimated the writer’s wage on the higher end. If you want to calculate what that would look like at 2 cents a word, be our guest. Spoiler alert: It’s not even close to a liveable wage.

2. Their process isn’t sustainable

Now that you know how very little content mills pay, it’s time to understand the domino effect that happens as a result. Using the example above, it becomes really clear that the more articles these writers produce, the more they get paid. So…why don’t they just write more?

Listen, we write content for a living. And we’ll be the first to tell you that writing blogs all day, every day is a really fast and non-fun way to burn the fuck out. Not to mention, writing takes time – hours and hours of time. A blog isn’t a simple task that you can knock out quickly and easily; you’ve gotta do research, write the article, proofread the article, then edit the article when it comes back from the client. And that’s just for one blog. These writers are repeating that process dozens of times per week just to make it to their next paycheck.

Another part of this unsustainable process? In most cases, content mills make writers apply for new gigs. That usually means these writers have to submit their own proposals and writing samples every time they want more work. All of which is time spent writing without being paid. 

3. Their content sucks

Now comes the next domino to fall in this process. If you’re wanting or expecting high-quality content from a mill, we’re here to tell you that it’s not going to happen – for lots of reasons.

The first? We know that the more articles these writers finish, the more they get paid. Remember: They’re not paid hourly; they’re paid per word. So, don’t expect them to spend a ton of time on your content. Because for them, more time costs more money. As a result, the less time spent on your content also means:

  • Less tailoring to your wants and needs
  • Less customization for your target audiences
  • Less personality and unique brand voice
  • Less thorough research

It’s also important to note that a lot of writers through content mills may not have the experience you’re looking for. After all, they’re likely just trying to get their foot in the door or supplement their income. So, chances are higher that your writers won’t have a ton of experience or strong knowledge of SEO – something that’s crucial for writing blogs and articles.

Also, notice that we said writers – as in plural? That’s because most content mills will assign any writer from any background to create your content. The end result: content that’s really inconsistent.

Latasha note: To be clear, we’re not saying that content mill writers are really bad and have no skills. It’s not their fault they’re backed into a corner and forced to produce shitty content – it’s the way the systems are set up. And the fact that content mills market themselves as a great starting place for writers – while paying them pennies – is total bullshit.

4. They cost more in the long run

One of the biggest selling points for content mills is that businesses can get content for really cheap. And in this case, you truly get what you paid for. But all that money you saved up front? It’s probably gonna cost you way more in the long run. Here’s how:

  • More time spent editing and rewriting your content
  • Running the risk of publishing repetitive or plagiarized content
  • Lack of a consistent SEO strategy to boost organic visibility
  • Lost brand loyalty due to lack of authenticity and brand voice
  • Lost lead generation due to low-quality, inconsistent content

5. They value quantity over quality

If this final point hasn’t become apparent already, let’s talk it through. Because content mills are designed to produce mass amounts of content, it’s easy to deduce that they value quantity over quality. Which, if you know us, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in content marketing.

Sure, you may be able to score hundreds of blogs from a content mill to enhance your visibility. But Google doesn’t give a shit about how much content you have – it cares about how relevant, helpful, and useful it is to audiences. Every content marketing strategy should be rooted in quality content, which needs:

Bottom line: Quality content will always come from a quality source. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to outsourcing or hiring a copywriter, here are a few tips:

  • Only hire through trusted, reliable sources
  • Ask fellow business owners who they use or whether they have a referral list (you can ask for our referral list, too!)
  • Pay your writers per article or per hour, whichever makes more sense for the project
  • Don’t be afraid to give less experienced writers a chance – they’re adaptable
  • For the love of God, PAY. THEM. WELL.

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Ashley Blonquist, Uncanny Content Writer and Math Enthusiast/Bad-Ass M.C.
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