I'd like to say a few words about content farms. I have absolutely no doubts that you have already encountered these vicious little companies, urging you to sign on for a few dollars per article. The work is plentiful, and as the farm leader always says - you can make as much money as you like each day. Provided, of course, that you are actually quite talented, catch on quickly, and have nothing else to spend time on.
I myself, as a young freelance writer starting out in the game, was once caught in the jaws of a content farm. It's true! Cross my ears and whiskers. I was contracted to write many, many 500-word articles for a well-known online publisher, for a whopping $7.50 a pop. To those of you who are not overly experienced writers, I need you to know that this was not a decent price. Just, not at all decent.
So why did I stay, you ask? Like many people endlessly searching for paid freelance writing jobs to do from home, I am an introvert. Painfully so. I would rather write up hundreds of articles a week quickly enough to earn a paltry $15 per hour than face another human being in a traditional work place. *Shrug* I'm not the only one!
What Exactly is a Content Farm? Does it Offer Paid Freelance Writing Jobs?
"Content farms" are companies that market themselves as search engine optimization (SEO) marketers. They find small clients with low marketing budgets and sell them content services. "Content," in an online marketing context, refers to images or text articles that are designed to lead people to your website. In the case of the text articles, this content needs to boast SEO keywords, related to the web site and the client's industry.
Content farms do indeed offer paid freelance writing jobs, but the pay is painfully low. For this reason, two groups of writers are generally caught up in the scheme: beginner freelancers like me, and writers who speak and write English as a second language. Both types of writers are willing to work for very little pay; the first as a stepping stone to better things; and the second due to high exchange rates with their local currencies. The result? Usually poor content that never leads to better pay or better opportunities.
Don't even get me started on the terrible practises such companies use, like article spinning and keyword stuffing. Thankfully, Google Search updates have become great at catching sub-par content, and even punishing its publishers with lower page rankings.
You Could Think of it as a Paid Internship
Although writing for a content farm is never something I would suggest you commit to long-term, I suppose you could use it as practise for the next big thing that comes along. I certainly did. I became a super-star at turning out great content, and was able to use that content in my portfolio to apply for better freelance writing jobs. It was like running a marathon, untrained, as a way to get ready for a future of 100-metre sprints. Strange, but not ineffectual.
If you're struggling to find paid writing work, you just may end up with a content farm contract. There are endless listings on Odesk and other freelance network sites. Just remember that your career doesn't begin and end in the virtual pit that is a content farm. Learn your trade, get out, and make your real money - and name - elsewhere.
Much love and best wishes,
Homer the Freelance Cat
Bubblews, the Revenue Sharing Social Platform
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