Don’t be a starving writer. Steer clear of the mills

It’s easy to get complacent. Especially when you’re surrounded by folks who share your opinions.

Take content mills for example. You’ll be hard pushed to find a ProCopywriters member who sings their praises.

But step out of the bubble, and you find the alternative opinions. The folks who say that earning pennies from Upwork isn’t an insult. That a few quid from Freelancer is a key part of freelance life. That you can make a living from the mills.

Are we wrong? Are they right? Can a freelance copywriter make a living writing for content mills?

I did the sums to find out.

Infographic that shows how much copywriters need to write to earn a living from content mills.

So there you have it. You can make a living (well, an entry level wage) writing for the mills. But in order to do so, you’ll need to cram two decades’ output from Tolkien, Tolstoy, Vonnegut, Dostoevsky and Huxley into any given 12-month period.

If that’s how you see your career going, best of luck to you.

You’ll need it.

Infographic written and created by Andrew Nattan, 603 Copywriting:


27th September 2017

Tobias Pettigrew

Upwork isn’t a ‘mill’, it’s just a platform. There are jobs that pay peanuts and jobs that pay $0.50-$1 per word. I find the jobs that pay the latter. If you’re a savvy freelancer and a good writer, you can, too.

2nd October 2017

Andy Nattan

Why are you working on a by-the-word model anyway Tobias? It’s a fool’s game and it discourages brevity and proper research.

21st January 2019

Michael Keenan

I disagree Andy. Per-word assignments are not always a fool’s game. It depends on context.

Sure, business writers benefit from retainers and project fees. But for editorial writers (both digital and print), publications can pay between $1 – $2 per word.

Many writers who go this route are equally as profitable even after a round or two of edits.

It depends on the writer and their objectives. No single method works for everyone.

What do you think?

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