I just read, with interest, Yolander Prinzel’s post at All Freelance Writing entitled “Why Low Paying Gigs Are and Are Not Your Problem.” I’m inclined to comment, except my comment is so long that I decided to just post it here.
Warning: Reactionary blog post ahead:
In her post Yo discusses why you needn’t worry about content site writers as your competition, but offers an enlightening look at some of the things you should concern yourself with. I’m not arguing with most of her points because they’re fair.
For the most part, I agree with Yo in that content mill rates won’t affect you if that’s not what you’re in to. Twenty years ago, freelance writers complained about the local newspapers and magazines charging anywhere from nothing to $10 per article. The folks who aspired to do better, did.
Ten years ago, folks complained about content sites such as Suite 101 and Write for Cash, but they didn’t drive down the rates either. My big gripe was with bidding sites, but I was wrong, because they didn’t drive down the rates for anyone but bidding sites writers. So I’m not going to really pick apart the logic that content mill writers aren’t your problem because there are a world of opportunities out there. No one is lowering anyone’s rates.
So I’m not in disagreement there.
I did want to explore this a bit, however. In her post Yo said:
These low paying gigs keep the hobbyists and uncommitted busy which means they aren’t competing with you. I’m not saying that content mill writers aren’t real writers or that they don’t have a burning desire to create–I’m saying that they are not business people. Many of them don’t know how or where to market themselves, but if you are going to run a successful business you have to either figure out how to do this or hire someone who can do it for you.
Now, I’ve read enough of your blog posts to know that many of you think that “cheap” writers are bad writers and are, therefore, not competition. This is incorrect. They are not competition because many of them don’t know just how much they could be making or how to get there–not because they suck. That’s why blogs like this one are so important–there are good writers out there who need to stop being coddled and instead need a life preserver. We are that life preserver.
As a former content mill writer, I don’t believe this to be true. In fact, the author of the above referenced article is also a former content mill writer. Though we rarely agree, or even get along for that matter, I will go as far as to say we have a few things in common. We both know how to market ourselves, we both love to write and we’re both business people. I don’t think either of us are lazy or naive when it comes to business sense. So why are we the exception?
Because we’re not.
Plenty of content mill writers have higher aspirations but all our circumstances are different. I’m not saying the unmotivated and hobbyists don’t exist, but I don’t believe it’s fair to lump all content writers in the same category. Knowing how many of us (freelance writing bloggers ) are former content site writers who used those careers as stepping stones to better opportunities, I’m not sure the above is true. I don’t think folks who write for content sites are any less business savvy or lazy than we were back in the day. I wrote for several content sites, but at the same time I was finding higher paying opportunities. So are many of the people who write for Demand Studios, Suite 101 and others.
I don’t feel freelance writing bloggers hold their hands as much as we respect their choices while encouraging them to seek more lucrative gigs.
I’ve met people who write for content mills on many occasions, mostly at conferences and meetups. I haven’t met a single content site writer who feels this type of writing is a hobby or long term career choice, nor have I met a single content site writer who isn’t trying to land a more lucrative contract. Most content site writers are doing so to get a foot in the door or supplement their income. Yes, there are some who view content mills as a “Work at Home!!!!” job, but they’re not necessarily the norm. Most want to learn how to market themselves, or already do. They’re happy to write for these places because
- A. They get to write
- B. They get to earn money in between gigs.
I don’t think it’s fair to suggest most content site writers need hand holding, because that wasn’t/isn’t the case with us.
I think Yolander’s series on writing for content sites is an excellent resource in weighing the pros and cons of these types of sites. However, I’m not sure I agree with her assessment of the types of people who write for content sites.
After all, we were there ourselves.
P.S. In all fairness, Yolander did say “most” content site writers and not “all” content site writers. I still disagree.
Did you ever, or do you now write for content sites? If so, is it your intention to land better opportunities. Tell us about your experience - did you feel it was a good stepping stone, or did you feel it made you lazy?
(For transparency sake, it’s important to note that Demand Studios is a sponsor and pays to advertise on this blog. However, they didn’t pay me to write this (or any post) and I don’t need their permission. )