Getting Started with Freelance Writing: Writing Boards Vs. Content Mills

One of the most difficult parts of freelance writing, or any writing for that matter, is getting started. If you’ve never freelanced before, you likely have no clue how to go about doing it. Where do you get clients? Where do you go to look for them?

All of these are valid questions and ones that will be answered throughout this blog post. First of all, before you can go out looking for clients, it’s important to discuss the differences between the two types of freelancing platforms available on the internet: freelance writing boards and content mills.

Writing Boards

Freelance writing boards are one of the places you can go to look for freelance writing. Similar to job boards, this is the place where clients who are looking to commission certain pieces will post an advert seeking a writer for their projects. Likewise, freelance writers looking for projects can also post adverts expressing their desire for clients.

Think of freelance writing boards as audition portals. If you see an advert for a project that you’d like to write, then you must essentially submit a sales pitch to the client. (There’s plenty of tips that you can follow to catch a potential client’s attention and strengthen your sales pitch, but that’s another blog post.) The client then chooses which writer to proceed with from all the applicants that he or she received. Obviously, the more applicants a client receives, the more competitive the job offering and the less likely that you’ll end up being the one to win the commissioned project.

On the other side of the spectrum, you can post an advert letting clients know the types of writing projects you’re interested in writing and hope that the clients come to you. However, while that alone might work in some cases, it’s important to remember that just as you have to sell yourself in the real world and actively go after a job if you want it, so do you have to do so in the virtual world. You can’t simply post your resume online, expressing what you want to write and then sit back and wait for clients to fall into your lap. (Again, while that might happen in some cases, it’s rare indeed.)

In short, if you plan on going the freelance writing board route, then be prepared to submit loads of applications and correspond with many clients. Even after do so, you may win some writing commissions and you may not. It all depends upon what the client’s looking for as well as numerous other factors.

Content Mills

If you don’t savvy the idea of putting in tons of work and not getting much return on job opportunities, then there are always content mills. While content mills have gotten a bad rep, there are plenty of advantages to them.

Dubbed content mills because of the number of articles you must churn out to achieve significant pay, they are oftentimes equated with sweatshop factories in the physical workforce. Many content mills pay next to nothing for articles, and quantity is oftentimes thought to be favored over quality. However, there’s many misconceptions about these stigmas surrounding content mills. All of them aren’t necessarily like that. True, most content mills won’t pay as much as commissioned pieces that you earn directly from clients, but they also don’t require the extensive networking and footwork that it takes to successfully win a job on a freelance writing board either.

Instead, content mills offer you a writing platform where you are expected to write articles that clients have already placed with the company providing the service. Instead of applying directly to clients and attempting to commission work from the source (which you may or may not get), with a content mill, you submit an application to the company, and once you’re accepted as a writer, then you choose from available assignments to write. The process of getting accepted as a content mill writer isn’t as arduous as that of securing work from a private client and usually consists of taking a writing test and submitting a sample of writing. However, once you’re accepted into the writing company, then you can usually choose any of the available orders listed to write.

So which type of writing platform is best for you? A freelance writing board or a content mill? While there are pros and cons to each, content mills offer you more of an immediate and guaranteed payment than freelance writing boards, and they are also a great place for people just breaking into the freelance writing profession to begin.

Learn more about one of my favorite content mills in Textbroker: The Best Content Mill.


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