My inglorious beginning as a low-paid content mill writer
When I first started writing online, I was ecstatic when one of my clients paid me 5 cents/word to generate e-commerce content that kept me up until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. I’d turn in my 1,000 word article and beam at the $50 I’d made for literally 2 straight days of work. Then, I’d “punch in” a few hours at Associated Content (now Yahoo! Content Network) and eek out another $20 for expert content that would take me 3-4 hours to write.
Back then, I had no idea that my e-commerce content would’ve easily fetched 10 times the amount I was earning had I started marketing my expertise and querying companies. I didn’t even know what the words “content mill” meant, although I was writing for at least three of them on a weekly basis. Over the years, this ignorance cost me an untold number of dollars. Even worse, the hours upon hours I spent generating low-paid content prevented me from learning how to find better paying “real world” clients, networking, or simply enjoying myself with my friends.
My Introduction to Make A Living Writing
Luckily, while surfing the Web one day I came across a freelance writing blog called Make A Living Writing. The blog’s owner, Carol Tice, stated in many of her posts how writers get sucked into low paying or otherwise disadvantageous work situations with their clients. Perhaps what struck me the most about why writers need to stop writing for low paying clients was Carol’s following statement:
“If that’s all I’m going to make, I’d rather go out on the lawn and play Frisbee with my kids.”
Time is an asset and, unlike money, you can’t make more of it. Thus, at least in my mind, time is more valuable than money. And if a writer is going to spend his time writing for someone else, that someone else should pay a living wage.
Because time is not replaceable, it’s imperative that aspiring writers do what they can now to obtain the training and resources needed to succeed in this business. Sure, if a writer stays in the business for 10 years, eventually she’ll figure out that content mill writing is a dead end. Or that negotiating for better rates is not only normal, it’s expected. Or that a query letter should include a call-to-action. But is it wise waiting those 10 years and losing out on high paying clients, notoriety and career advancement?
To help writers achieve their writing ambitions and grow their income quickly, Carol Tice started The Freelance Writers Den. In this den, writers can take e-courses like Break Into Business Writing and How to be a Well Paid Blogger. They can post questions on the den’s forum and have them answered by a team of established freelance writers, including Carol Tice herself. They can scour writing gigs on the den’s junk-free job board. They can also participate in weekly live trainings that feature bloggers, journalists, book authors, copywriters, etc.
My interview with Carol Tice, owner of Make A Living Writing
Recently, I interviewed Carol Tice about what writers can do to make more money writing. Carol explained how she got her own start in writing and how much she made as a full-time freelance writer (spoiler alert: it’s a six figure amount). For I’ve Tried That readers, Carol and I discussed the following topics that are critical in the success or failure of any would-be writer who wishes to make an actual living from his writing:
- Why content mills don’t pay well- and why they never will.
- Why content mills don’t lead to better paying work.
- Four places where you can easily gain clips to show to editors, bloggers, publishers, etc.
- How you can use your own blog to win clients.
- Which industries/topics pay writers well- and which ones don’t.
Carol also talked about some of the major psychological stumbling blocks of many writers- and how to get over these hurdles:
- Not being “good enough”
- Not being an “expert”
- Query letter rejection
Carol’s interview is posted below as a video file that she was kind enough to generate for me during our recorded Skype call. Carol’s voice comes through crisp and clear; my own voice, unfortunately, is too loud for the call. I apologize for that technical boo-boo. Fortunately, I edited most of my yelling out of the file, so you’ll hear Carol the majority of the time.
For those of you who would prefer reading the interview, I’ve posted the transcript of my interview with Carol Tice here.
A critical question that many I’ve Tried That readers might have is, can I be a freelance writer and work from home? Absolutely. In her interview, Carol Tice mentions how she currently has no in-town clients and does all her work online with the help of her phone, email and Skype. So yes, it is possible.
If any of you would like to learn more about The Freelance Writers Den or even sign up for it, you can go to it directly by clicking here. Please note that, at this time, you will need to get on a waiting list in order to eventually join the den. Den openings occur roughly every few weeks.