Content Marketing

What Are Content Farms Paying Writers In 2011?

While there’s no doubt that it’s hard to rope in a decent, steady, and secure salary as a writer, it’s also a fact that these days, writers can find ways to get paid that just did not exist 10 years ago.

Editor’s Note: Contently is outspokenly against the content farm model of exploiting search engine loopholes and paying writers inhumane wages. The biggest problem with content farm rates is, in our minds, that they incentivize even professional journalists to write extremely quickly, meaning proper reporting and solid writing often gets sacrificed.

In this post, we break down the rates we found for the top content farms (or “mills” as writers call them). In future posts, we’ll cover popular blog rates versus online newspapers and magazines.

image via fresheventure

Yes, print media is changing and those old-fashioned mid-five-figure gigs at the The New York Times and other major dailies are not falling out of the sky for just J-school grads. They’re even tough to find for seasoned professionals looking to replace a lost job.

Still, writers are making money online. But some of the rates are pretty insane.

How It’s Happening

Writers are making anywhere from a few cents to $2–$5 per word. Most writers for the online content market make about $10-$25 for a short article.

It is possible to work out a decent $40k or so per year if you’re dedicated, professional, and know how to maximize your efforts, but the content is often pretty simplistic and unedited. And for many writers, it’s the opposite of fun or fulfilling work.

Here’s a breakdown of what some of the lower quality online markets are paying and what that means for the writers who are getting a piece of the action.

The Breakdown

Associated Content:

This marketplace pays 2–3 cents per word, according to one writer, and participants are typically looking at 250-word blog-post assignments. After posting, every 1,000 page views earn the writer another $1.50.

Demand Media: 

Entry level writers make from $3–$15 per article. Writers for certain clients, such as Cracked.com, start at $50 per article and then graduate up to $150 once they’ve successfully placed five pieces. Note, however, that these higher paying stories on Cracked are often 2,000 words, meaning the pay often falls between 2.5 and 7.5 cents per word.

Helium: 

About $10 every 250 words, in one example of its online gig postings. The key, one writer advises, is to get into Helium Content Source, which connects writers who’ve graduated from the company’s low-pay How-To and Marketplace modules to somewhat more sophisticated subject matter and better pricing. Some projects, at the upper levels, can bring in $100–$200 per piece.

Media Piston: 

Generally pays 1­–2 cents per word, with a modest bonus per article if it’s graded well in its two-tier review system. An editor from the site recently explained that dynamic in this forum posting. Articles tend to range from 50 to 850 words.

Textbroker: 

Articles are assigned a “level,” from 2–5. Writers earn from 0.7–5 cents per word along that range. Further along in an author’s relationship with the company, publishers can offer them work directly, but the site takes a 30% commission off whatever price is negotiated.

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