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I am an SEO content writer. I’ve been writing articles for websites since early 2012. So far I’ve written around 800 articles for clients at content mills, with most of those being completed in the last 12 months.
A lot of freelance writers out there can’t understand why I write for content mills. I’ve even had writing “friends” unfollow me when I didn’t take their advice and go get higher-paying clients on my own.
So I made a YouTube video as a response to this question, but I’ll also touch on it here in this blog post.
Here’s the reason: sites like Textbroker, Zerys, HireWriters, iWriter and ContentRunner make it easy for writers like me to make a living writing website content.
They do all the networking and round-up all the clients so I don’t have to. They handle all the invoicing and accounting so I don’t have to. They do all the promotion and outreach and administrative stuff and website maintenance so I don’t have to.
All. I. Do. Is. Write.
I don’t have to look for new potential clients. I don’t have to come up with story ideas. I don’t have to pitch to editors. I don’t have to interview anyone on Skype or check in with clients on the phone.
I don’t have to build my personal brand and schmooze with potential clients on social media. And I don’t have to check my blog stats every hour, hoping to see something different.
Most of those things above give me a panic attack just thinking about it.
All I have to do is write.
On my most productive days, I will typically write 8,000+ words of content for clients, and that will earn me well over $100 per day. It’s a lot of work, and as a ghostwriter, none of that work will bear my name.
But I’m okay with that, because this gig allows me to have a lot of flexibility and live a pretty chill lifestyle.
I don’t have to punch a clock. I don’t need permission to take a day off to do stuff with my family. I get holidays off. I actually get any day off that I want, and I don’t need permission to take a week off and go on a family vacation.
As long as I get the work done and hit my deadlines, then it doesn’t impact my income.
I can kick back on the couch and work in my living room.
I can work while sitting in a lounge chair by the pool.
I can work at a cafe near my home.
Or I can work in a hotel in Hawaii.
Over the past six years, I have literally written in all of these places I just mentioned. With my laptop and an internet connection, my office is anywhere I want it to be.
I know that sounds like the perfect laptop lifestyle, but I have to be honest: sometimes I really wish I had my own office to work in to get away from the hassles and distractions — but that’s a topic for another day.
Anyway, this freelance writing gig is a pretty good deal for a guy with no college degree and no professional experience who never made more than $10/hour at the 20-30 jobs he’s had throughout his life.
So yeah. It’s pretty cool making money online like this.
I assume that most of you reading this are already part-time writers or are considering getting into freelance writing, and you want to know what it’s like to be a full-time content mill writer.
So here’s a look at a typical day in my life as a writer.
I usually wake up at about 7:00 in the morning.
I’m the driver in the family, so my schedule tends to revolve around my wife’s work schedule. On her days off, I might work at home or take my tablet and go work at a cafe near my home.
On the days that she has work, I’ll get up, eat breakfast and head out to drop her off. We try to leave around 8:00 in the morning and get to her job at around 8:30 or 8:45.
Next I’ll stop at a park and go for a walk — maybe like 30-45 minutes. Then I’ll do some stretches and calisthenics and drink my Powerade.
After that I’ll sit in my truck and do some reading on my phone or maybe watch some Youtube videos to get me into a good mindset for writing.
Then, I head off to the library and try to be there right when they open at 10am.
(In the summertime, though, I might just head straight to a cafe and start at 9am instead of sitting around waiting for the library to open — just get out of the heat.)
Public libraries are great for writers because they have tons of electrical outlets, ice-cold air conditioning and free wifi. The ones out here in Vegas even have private study rooms that you can use for a couple of hours.
It’s like having your own little office — and it’s totally free!
I do my writing on a cheap RCA Viking Pro 10” tablet. It’s got a detachable keyboard with pretty good action. It’s a little laggy if I have multiple apps running at once or try to stream HD videos, but for writing articles it gets the job done. So as long as I have a strong wifi connection, I’m good to go.
I’ll usually start out by writing 3-4 articles for clients on Textbroker. I’ve used other content mills, but Textbroker has the most work available and doesn’t throw their writers under the bus for missing a deadline, so it’s my go-to freelance writing site.
With a standard word count of around 500-1,000 words each, this will take me about two hours, as I average about 1,200 words per hour doing this type of work (including breaks, if any).
These are short SEO articles that I can bang out with very little research, if any at all. There are some clients who expect you to do a ton of work for just $7 or $10 per article, but I avoid those clients and stick with the more reasonable assignments that don’t have a laundry list of complicated instructions and time-consuming add-ons.
I might write one article for a plumber’s website, and then the next article might be for a car insurance blog. Then the next couple articles might be blog posts for a freelance website designer or a small digital marketing agency.
I’ve written about tons of different topics over the years and consider myself a generalist. Basically, I know a little bit about a lot of things, so this allows me to keep busy writing on a variety of subjects and not have to be too picky about which assignment to take next.
I just keep my fingers flying across my keyboard and keep those dollars rolling in. Michael has mentioned that he stretches himself to write about lots of different topics, and it’s a great strategy for content writers to maximize their earning potential.
By the end of this morning writing session, I should have about 2,000 to 3,000 words under my belt.
At noon, I take a break for lunch.
I’ll usually go out for lunch at a cafe or fast food joint nearby. I’ll take a full hour to just relax, stretch my legs a bit and eat whatever I’m in the mood to eat.
I used to go super cheap and agonize over every dollar. No, scratch that. I’d agonize over every quarter or fifty cents. I had the hardest time deciding where to go.
I’d want a place with wifi and electrical outlets, but then I’d also want to eat something besides crappy junk food. And gotta have free refills.
And also this other thing.
Ugh…there were some days when I would use up all my mental energy just deciding where to go.
Yes…I had issues.
Okay…I HAVE issues.
But I finally figured out that I’m a lot more productive when I just eat where I want to eat, even if it costs a few bucks more.
That’s the weird thing about writing, at least for me. My mental and emotional state is everything.
If I’m stressed out about my finances or some other issue in my life, then I can’t write to save my life. I’ve wasted entire days, just sitting at my computer for 6-8 hours with nothing to show for it at the end of the day.
I’ve even experienced major burnout where this would last for several days at a time.
I’m also an emotional eater — have been all my life.
So after a lot of trial and error, I finally accepted that I should just do whatever I need to do to be productive.
If that means going out for a fancy hazelnut coffee instead of staying at home and drinking Folgers, then that’s cool.
If it means spending an extra five or ten bucks on lunch in order to eat food that I like and that puts me into a good mood, then that’s cool too.
If spending an extra $5 makes me more productive and helps me earn an extra $50, then that’s an investment worth making.
It used to kill me to spend a couple extra bucks to get food I actually enjoy eating, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Big picture, right?
After lunch, I either stay and write at the place where I had lunch, or I just pack up from there and head back to the library.
So I’ll spend the next 3-4 hours grinding away on more Textbroker articles. I’ll typically write about 4-8 articles here, adding another 3,000 to 5,000 words to my daily total.
I don’t really take breaks, other than like one minute to refill my drink or five minutes to use the restroom.
Okay, well…sometimes I just stare out into space and rethink my whole life. But mostly I try to keep busy writing.
I’ve experimented with taking scheduled breaks of 15-20 minutes or so in the past, but that never went as planned. I usually ended up going way beyond my 15 minutes, even when I set a timer.
Occasionally I’ll try the Pomodoro technique and get good results, but it doesn’t always work for me. Instead, I use that method only when I’m burned out and struggling to focus.
But most of the time I find it best to just get into the writing zone and stay there for as long as possible — typically 2-4 hours for me.
My end time here varies because my wife doesn’t always finish work at the exact same time. So I just keep writing until she texts me that she’s done for the day — usually between 4pm and 5pm, but occasionally earlier or later.
I’ll pick her up and maybe stop to pick up dinner or groceries on the way home.
I’m usually home by about 6:00 in the evening.
I’ve probably written over 8,000 words by now and have hit that magic $100 mark in earnings. That’s my main goal for most days, so I might call it a day at this point and spend the rest of the evening relaxing around the house with my family.
After dinner I’ll probably wash some dishes or throw in a load of laundry and then settle into my big, comfy executive desk chair and play some video games on my phone, read online or make a video for one of my YouTube channels.
But if I’ve got a big bill coming up — like maybe the car registration or a home repair — or if I didn’t quite hit $100, then I might head back out to a cafe or a McDonald’s to crank out a few more articles.
And that’s it. I try to wind things down around 10:00pm (unless I make the mistake of taking a “quick peek” at my Instagram, in which case I might not sleep at all).
So that is a typical day in the life of a content writer. It’s nothing glamorous. It’s harder than it sounds, as it can be so mentally draining on some days. It sometimes leaves me feeling burned out and in need of a seriously long weekend.
And occasionally, when the words just aren’t flowing, I’ll accept defeat, go buy a 40 and get a little buzz going. If you’ve never written blog posts while slightly intoxicated, I highly recommend giving [hiccup] giving it a try. 😉
Content mill writing isn’t for everyone, but then, neither is pitching editors or cold-calling local businesses to get private clients.
It takes a pretty insane work ethic to make a decent income writing for content mills, and honestly I have some months where I come up short. But when you break it down, I usually earn $10 to $30 an hour doing this stuff.
That’s more than I ever made at any of my full-time jobs in the past. And I have more freedom and less stress than I did when I worked at a regular job, so I’m happy with this lifestyle.
It works for me and my family, so I just keep leaning into it and keep trying to boost my income wherever I can.
If you want to know more about making money writing for content mills, then spend some more time browsing this site. Michael has written a ton of useful tips on here for beginning freelance writers, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty of helpful information.
And if you want to connect with me, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. I hope to relaunch my blog again soon, but for now I’m just on social, so I hope to see you on one of those channels.
This is a guest post by Chris Desatoff.
Chris Desatoff is a freelance writer and cartoonist in Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter.