Originally published June 1, 2017 on my old blog FreelanceWritingUnderground.com – with updates from 2017 and now here in 2020.
I’m going to do something weird.
I’m not saying it’s a good idea. In fact, it probably sucks, but I’m going to do it anyway.
You know how most freelance writers seem to hate on content mills all the time?
It seems that even Google doesn’t want you to write for content mills because when you search for something like “how to make money at content mills” or “how to succeed at content mills”, instead of getting the actual information you’re looking for, Google shows you all kinds of blog posts where people “warn” you NOT to write for content mills. Or they “confess” that they once sold their soul and wrote at content mills for a few weeks.
Well, sometimes I get pissed off at stuff like that, even though I totally get where those disgruntled freelance writers are coming from.
In fact, while I initially had positive experiences at content mills as a beginning freelance writer, I did temporarily join the haters for a short period of time last year. And then I just sort of floated around in limbo from then til now, alternating between writing feverishly for content mills and sitting in the corner, licking my wounds and shaking like a wet dog on a cold winter morning.
After three years as a noob freelancer, I still rarely make more than $50-$100 a month at content mills – except that one time I made like $200. Lately it’s been way less than $100.
Anyway, most writers here in the US and probably most of the western world think that content mills are totally ghetto and that no self-respecting writer – or just any self-respecting human being – should write for one.
But I disagree.
While I know content mills aren’t a good fit for everyone, I do believe that they have some real advantages for some writers. And I think they’re not so bad overall. I mean, some of us don’t have all the same options that other freelancers have.
(More on that some other time.)
But I still have some negative thoughts regarding content mills, and those negative thoughts are always holding me back from buckling down and just getting the work done. You know what I mean?
The Experiment Begins…
So my idea is that I’m going to do a little experiment for the next few weeks.
What I’m going to do is to only think and say positive things about content mills.
That’s not hard for me because I really do characterize my overall experience with the mills as positive.
For example, I’ve made more money from Textbroker than I have from any other site (other than my own blogs and niche sites). So I’m just going to think about the positives for a while and totally ignore any negative thoughts about them.
I wonder what kind of effect that will have on my productivity.
I wonder if I’ll shake off this constant burnt-out feeling and actually get some writing done again.
I wonder if I’ll end up making more money writing than I ever did before.
Hmm, I wonder…
So, that’s the plan.
For the next 30 days (from now until June 30, 2017), I’m only going to think and say good things about content mills. And I’m going to temporarily keep my distance from writers – even my writing buddies – who hate content mills.
I’m going to be the best friend the content mills ever had. I’m going to happily dance over to those sites and gleefully write some articles for them, and I’ll probably write some blog posts about the whole experience as I go along.
So that’s the plan.
Wish me luck.
- UPDATE: It’s now June 5, and over the past four days I’ve written 7 articles for Textbroker and earned over $50. That’s 50 bucks that I wouldn’t have in my pocket otherwise, so I’m not complaining. Besides, I barely made 50 bucks on Textbroker all last month.
- ANOTHER MINI-UPDATE: It’s now June 24, and I’ve earned $214 and change, which is the most freelance writing income I’ve ever earned in a single month, and all of this month’s earnings have been from Textbroker.
- 2 DAYS LATER: Now it’s June 26, and yesterday I wrote 8 articles (about 4,000 words total) and earned $48.20, bringing my June total to $300.82.
2 MONTHS LATER…
AUGUST 2017 UPDATE: I ended up writing 48 articles and earning a total of $379.92 at content mills in June, which is nearly double my previous highest monthly earnings and nearly 10X more than I’ve been making in recent months.
So…it looks like my Textbroker experiment did have a positive effect on my productivity and earnings in June.
But then the burnout set in again.
The following month (July) I earned less than $100, so that sucked, and now it’s August 25. I tried duplicating my June “success” here in August, but it hasn’t worked out so great. I’m doing way better than last month, but nowhere near what I was doing in June.
So…I dunno. If I turn things around over the next 7 days, I’ll do one last update. If you don’t see another update below this one, then you know I crashed and burned =)
3 YEARS LATER…
OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE: Well, I continued to boost my Textbroker earnings up to a new PR of $605.59 a couple months later (October 2017). I even had a couple days in early 2018 where I earned $100/day on Textbroker.
In the 12 months after writing this initial blog post on June 1, 2017, I actually 10X’d my Textbroker income: from about $400/year to $4,000/year. So the “experiment” definitely worked. I was on my way to being a full-time freelance writer and blogger.
But the following month after my all-time best (November 2017) our home got flooded, which started a 3-year long legal battle. That totally stressed us out and sent me sinking further down into depression and anxiety (and more debt and more obesity).
My productivity dropped hard, and my Textbroker earnings gradually bottomed out over the following months to the point where I earned less than $700 in 2019 and have earned less than $500 so far here in 2020.
I also quit drawing comics, quit my old blogs and let all my niche sites and website domains expire during that time, further diminishing my income and motivation.
Everything just sucked hard these last few years.
We finally settled the lawsuit, but we couldn’t repair our home. To avoid debt collection issues and foreclosure – and to bring our monthly expenses down – we had to use the settlement money to pay off some of our credit card debt and catch up on overdue bills.
So while the legal drama is over, our home is still a wreck, we can’t afford to fix it, we still have a ton of debt, our credit scores are trash, and we’re broke AF.
It’s depressing as hell.
I don’t know what we’re going to do.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
This past week I got an opportunity to turn it all around. I just need to magically push through this mental fog and get back to getting shit done like I did in the past.
(To be continued in the next blog post: )
“Starting Over as a Blogger and Freelance Writer in 2020“