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Today is our third weekly update with Stacey Abler -- the freelance writer I've been coaching in an effort to help her move away from content mills completely in favor of a more lucrative freelance writing career. And I have some good news to share today. As I put it on Twitter:

content mills suck

And even though the numbers didn't work out quite as well as I'd hoped, they're still pretty impressive, and I'm very proud of Stacey's progress so far. So I totally stand by that comment.

As you might remember, a week ago today I referred a gig to Stacey. A client of mine needed two 1000 word articles on military topics -- not my area, but Stacey happens to run Army-related sites. She was a natural fit. He hired her ($350 for the two blog posts). While it's not quite her target rate yet, it's a hell of a lot better than her $15 Demand Studios articles.

Of course we always get the glum folks who come in saying the low pay is better because the articles are quick to write (to which I always respond that they're essentially full of shit to assume decent pay means days or even weeks per article and that they're making out better hourly).

Private Client vs Content Mill: The Numbers

Stacey did spend more time on these articles -- they were about 2.5 times the length of most of her Demand articles, and she needed to find some photos for each (which took up more time than the writing -- but which from experience I know gets quicker as you become more familiar with your image sources). She spent 4 hours total on those two posts. That equals an hourly rate of $87.50.

"But that's only two articles," I can hear some of you mumbling. Yes, it was. But those two articles paid Stacey in less than a few hours' worth of work what she was averaging with Demand (having to write slightly over 23 articles per month to reach the same payout).

Of course, I'm sure you want a comparison. So how long does Stacey spend on that Demand content? She told me about 20 minutes per article (around 400 words) in a best case scenario where she can write about topics that require no research of her. She estimates around 30 minutes per article for ones requiring quick research. That doesn't include any edit requests (she said about 1 in 10 get them in her experience). It also doesn't include the articles with such ridiculous edit requests that Stacey pulls them from Demand altogether, therefore putting in the time but not getting that direct payout. For example, one editor asked if military insurance was Army sponsored or government sponsored. I'll let you ponder the sheer stupidity of that waste of Stacey's time for a moment.


Yeah. I've heard of some pretty absurd editor requests with Demand, but that one literally made me snort with laughter (and that's not easy). But hey... at least content mills are good for amusement.

So let's go back and assume a worst case scenario where Stacey might write those 23 articles at 30 minutes each (not even accounting for any edit requests or articles she'd rather lose pay on than subject herself to the aforementioned brand of ignorance). That would involve Stacey writing 11.5 hours to earn that same $350 (actually slightly less since that average really comes to 23.33 articles per month, but we'll leave it in their favor -- they need it).

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Four hours writing versus 11.5 hours writing for the same pay. Hmmm.

But okay. Let's be even nicer to the mill and say she can whip them out at 20 minutes per article with no edit requests. That's still 7 hours and 40 minutes of writing for the same pay as those four hours where Stacey didn't have to bounce around mentally from one topic to another. The winner here is clear.

Personally I was hoping her articles would be a bit closer to the one hour mark (around where mine usually fall for this same client). But even though they weren't, I have no doubt she'll be able to gain speed if and when she does future work for this client. And oh yeah.... She was already assigned another post by them.

Time to Diversify

That new blog post assignment already puts her at a 50% increase in income over her averages with Demand. On top of that, another prospect contacted me and the gig was referred on as I'm not taking on new clients. With a little bit of luck, Stacey might land it. If not, that's okay too. She's well ahead of the game.

We're not going to stop there just because she's replacing her content mill income. I'll be standing by working with Stacey until she's increased that income much more, reached her target rates, and is consistently pulling in decent-paying freelance writing jobs without having to resort to content mills. And that takes us to Stacey's coaching progress since last week....

What's Stacey Been up To?

This week Stacey primarily worked on some plans for the future marketing of her site and services. For example, I had her brainstorm some ideas for projects like e-books, article marketing, and post ideas for her new business writing blog. Without having the list in front of me, I believe she's working on her first two blog posts and outlining the e-book right now. I'll let Stacey fill you in with more details if she wants to, or you can also follow her personal updates at YieldToHappiness.com.  Better yet, why not read her personal farewell to content mills?

What's Next?

We'll be working Stacey ragged this coming week. She'll be kicking off her new blog. She'll be finishing the outline for her e-book (the following week her primary project will be putting that together -- a short one to give away as a marketing tool). We'll be working on bulking up her website copy. We'll be making sure she's on the right path SEO-wise. She'll be spending more time networking with others -- both from her target market and her base of colleagues. She'll be a busy lady to say the least. But once we finish up her website and have the basics of her blog established, we'll be moving to more directly pursue some additional regular gigs for her.


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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, NakedPR.com, and BizAmmo.com.

Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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