When I first started out in freelance writing, I really had no idea how to go about it. Where do you start? Where do you find clients? And how do you convince them to hire you when you have no college degree and no published clips?
That was rough.
So I did what many other beginning freelance writers do…
I chickened out and made a beeline to the nearest content mill. 😉
That was in mid-2012, and I still rely on those types of websites for the bulk of my income today. But I’m also venturing out a bit more and trying to connect with clients individually, rather than through a middleman (freelance writing sites). But before I felt anywhere near comfortable to do that, I first paid my dues at content mills and cranked out close to 300 paid articles for clients.
Can something like that help you land new clients on your own? I believe it does make a difference. Clients like to know that you’ve done this before, that you’ve taken assignments, met deadlines, and have already had dozens or even hundreds of articles approved and paid for by your clients. That says something. Not every freelance writer out there can say that. Not everyone will stick with it long enough to accomplish that.
When you’re trying to land gigs with clients, you are not alone. Many publishers receive dozens or even hundreds of pitches from other writers, so you need to stick out from the masses somehow. If you don’t have a college degree, years of industry expertise or corporate experience, then all you can offer is writing experience. And if you don’t at least have that, then you better get some, or you’ll just get lost in the sea of applicants.
Why would they hire you?
So are content mills okay for beginning freelance writers? Personally, I think they are great for giving you real world freelancing experience, building up a track record, and even making a few bucks in the process. They can give you a foothold when you have nothing else to stand on.
Due to Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) you can’t just link to articles you’ve ghostwritten on content mills without the client’s permission. Some will give you that, though, if you just ask. But even if not, at least you can truthfully say that you’ve had clients pay you for X number of articles on topics a, b and c, you know? That’s better than nothing…a LOT better.
How long should you stay with the content mills? Only you can answer that, but I would say that most writers quit too soon. There’s a lot to be gained by sticking it out and cranking through those cheap assignments in order to set yourself up for bigger and better things to come. And if you do it right, you could even make a decent, full-time income right there at the mills, without ever having to venture out on your own. I know of several freelance writers who’ve done just that.
So which content mills do I recommend?
Sounds like a good idea for an upcoming blog post. 🙂