Comes a time… so goes a song from the album of the same name Neil Young came up with a few decades ago. Still a great song, but its context for quite a number of writers could be that the harsh writing times demand some serious compromises, and that could be joining one of the ever-growing numbers of writer farms.
Actually, they used to call them content farms and more often these days content mills. Allena Tapia wrote on www.thebalancesmb.com, that “A content mill or writers mill is a slang term used by freelance writers and given to a company, website, or organization designed to provide cheap website content, usually at a significant profit to themselves, and usually by paying very low rates to writers.”
The farm connotation was changed I guess, since it reminded of peaceful cows grazing some (relatively cheap) grass as a reward for their writing, while the mill connotation has probably more to do with those heavy stones that grind the flower, or every ounce of writing strength. The rewards are still the same as on the farm.
So, if you can swallow Allena’s definition, you’re in need, you may want to dip your writing (hands and feet) into content mill waters. It may sound like a simple proposition — you check out the organizations and find the ones that pay better, you apply, sign in, start writing, get paid for your writing. Well, not so fast.
Most of this writing is business -oriented, and in this day and age, it means it has to abide by the rules of being as visible as possible online, which means you have to be quite a bit informing with ever-present or search engine optimization, better known as SEO. Often you have to pass a test, sometimes more than one, and most often that science fiction trilogy you got rave reviews a few years back won’t do you much good here.
If you do get through, you have to get acquainted with usually a strict set of rules that look like a cross-country hurdle race, since everything has to be more or less uniform. But then, wasn’t the hurdles and uniformity the reason you got into writing in the first place?
Of course, that’s not all. When you get done with your article(s) you get to encounter the editors — the mill’s or the customer’s, it could depend, but possible surprises will at least keep you on your toes if by chance you encounter an editor that is not exactly keen on what you have done.
Oh, and you get graded. Usually, you start somewhere in the middle and often go down before you start getting up. As you might suspect, going down on the list, means getting paid less for your work. If you get it, that is…
At some point, you get financially rewarded (more or less, depends), you get a byline or (more often) you don’t, but then Neil Young is always there to remind you that … comes a time…
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