Monday, July 13, 2009

4 Reasons (Some) Freelance Writers Prefer Writing for Content Mills

Recently I discovered that some freelancing web writers actually prefer writing for content mills instead of writing directly for clients. I learned this while hanging out at one of my favorite freelance writing forums over the weekend. I was pretty shocked to learn this and immediately began thinking: "Don't they know that working for private clients provides much better pay than content mills?" "Don't they know that content mills have a pattern of up and disappearing without so much as a warning?" and of course: "How many articles do you have to crank out to be able to make a part-time, let alone full-time, living?"

About a week or so ago, one site in particular stirred up quite a bit of ire by daring to speak out, advising these writers to avoid settling to become freelancers for these low-budget content mills. Some freelancers took offense stating firmly that it was their decision to forgo private clients and they knew exactly what they were doing. I must admit, I was perplexed. I sat back and continued eavesdropping on this fascinating, virtual conversation and learned a lot about why so many web writers feel this way:

"Writing for content mills is less stressful"

Several writers said that writing for the content sites was much less stressful than writing directly for clients. At first this didn't make much sense to me, but as many writers began discussing past problems of not receiving pay, late payments and the stress of dealing with difficult clients who seem to never be satisfied, I had to admit I know exactly where they were coming from. While I've never had to deal with unpaid work from a private client (knock on wood…), I have certainly had dealings with impossible to please clients requesting revision after revision after revision. The time spent on projects like these cuts into your bottom line – because your time is a commodity – and can become very stressful if you're waiting for a payment you needed yesterday.

Don't have to spend time marketing for private clients

I know lots of freelance writers dislike marketing, but I was shocked to see just how many were more than happy to avoid marketing altogether and write for content mills instead. Many find marketing their own services to be extremely stressful and time consuming. They'd much rather spend that time writing for guaranteed pay instead – even if it means missing out on higher paying private gigs.

Writers can put more focus on writing for themselves

Some writers are using their web writing skills for other objectives like building residual income on content sites or learning affiliate marketing to increase their passive income. Writing for content sites helps pad their finances in the meantime.

You can crank out several articles quickly

I must admit that when I first started freelancing, I worked for a California content mill that paid $20 an article. They would assign me and the other writers batches of articles that I could turn around rather quickly – especially if the topic was in a niche I knew well. I can completely understand this line of thinking because while you see that the writer gets paid $20 and article, depending on how quickly they can write and research the topic, it can easily turn into $40 to $60 an hour and up. Many of these writers shared their monthly earnings on the forum and are making full-time incomes.

On the flip side, some writers spend the majority of their time every day sitting in front of the computer cranking out articles to pay bills when higher paying gigs could mean making the same amount in less time. Burnout can also be an all too real consequence of writing for these sites day in and day out.

Still, what I learned is that many writers who choose this route to freelancing do seem to operate with a plan in place. They write for a variety of sites just in case one should shut down, vary their schedule and take preventive measures to avoid burnout. They have made the choice to write for content mills and proudly stand by it.

While writing exclusively for content mills may not be the freelancing path I choose to follow, I respect anyone's decision to become a freelance writer. We will certainly not always see eye-to-eye, but if you're out there making it work, who am I to criticize?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Green Business Tip of the Day: Recycle Inkjet Cartridges and Save Money

If you're like me, you practically spend a fortune each year in inkjet cartridges. I'm constantly printing information for research to take along while writing on the go (I know, I know - that's not a very green thing to do). Paying $20 and up on a couple of measly printer cartridges was getting pretty ridiculous – even if they are tax deductible.

Cheap ink is right around the corner

Imagine my surprise when a family member informed me that I could take my old cartridges to my local Walgreens' photo department and have them refilled for only $10 each! I'm too embarrassed to tell you how many empty cartridges I had lying around. Thankfully there just happens to be a Walgreens right up the street from where I live, so not only am I saving money, but I'm helping out the environment by recycling as well as spending much less time and gas in my quest for printer ink.

Searching for more ways to save money and the environment

Now the fire is lit – I'm determined to find more cost-saving, environmentally friendly ways to operate my business. Do you recommend any green business tips that significantly save you time or money?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Overcoming Summer Freelance Writing Hurdles

Reading Sharon Hurley Hall's recent post made me feel a little better about neglecting my blog this summer. Not that that's a good thing, because it certainly isn't; but truth be told I am desperately seeking balance between operating my business and family obligations this summer.

Working on the run

My three older kids are all taking classes to prepare them them for the next grade this year. This involves a whole lot of riding up and down the highway from sun up to sun down. As a freelancer this isn't such a bad thing for business since I can easily work in remote locations (e.g. the doctor's office, the car, the park, the yard, etc.) on my trusty Neo Dana; but since I'm being stretched a little further than usual for the next month and a half, something's got to give and unfortunately it's been this blog.

A freelancer is NOT an employee

I recently found myself explaining to a client who has grown used to seeing me show up as "available" on Skype during his regular office hours that yes, I am still working this summer, but no, I am not always sitting at the computer. He seemed concerned over this, despite the fact that his projects are still being turned in on time and that he can easily reach me by phone or email with no problems.

Without being rude I gently reminded him that I'm not an employee, I'm a freelancer. That means if a client gives me a project, it will most certainly get done whether I work on it from nine to five or stay up all night. Same as always.

Relief is on the way

Thankfully, City of Atlanta schools begin August 10th so my schedule will be "back to normal" before I know it - whatever that means. I'm curious to know how other freelance writing parents maintain their sanity during the summer months. Do you make any special adjustments to your working schedule?
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