The 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers

Associated Content Residual Earnings FAIL

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In this series, we personally test traditional online freelance marketplaces to share first-hand experiences and honest assessments of marketplaces and resulting jobs, as many freelance writers turn to these outlets to find writing gigs. You can read all the posts in the series here.

A couple of weeks ago I told you about an experiment I was trying with Associated Content's residual earnings plan. I got the idea for the experiment when I read an article by Jennifer Claerr about how she made $573.26 in residual earnings over the course of one month on a Halloween article she wrote and published on Associated Content.

I used her article as a guide and followed her steps, which were:

  1. Find highly searched keywords.
  2. Make sure there aren't a lot of competing articles with those keywords already on AC.
  3. Write your articles with the keywords.
  4. Earn money.

Her method is not a new idea--this is how people make money on niche websites all the time. I decided to do this with AC instead of on a niche domain because I was under the incorrect assumption that page rank mattered in search results and that AC would get me more hits because it already has a good page rank. Of course I now know that this is incorrect--but either way, I wrote the articles and published them on AC.

This Is Where I Sum It Up

When I wrote the articles, I wrote them extremely fast. Like, craptastically fast. They each took me about 10 or 15 minutes to write. One was about partying cheap on St. Patrick's Day and one was about celebrating a cheap Easter. I am going to link to them here but please note--this is not quality work. This was all part of the experiment and in no way resembles anything I would give to my clients. I spend more time editing my grocery lists than I did these articles.

I didn't keyword stuff them--each keyword phrase makes up about 1.5% of the article. But maybe this is where I went wrong. Maybe I should have crammed those keywords in like I cram cookie dough down my gullet during PMS because I made next to nothing on those two articles. On the St. Patrick's Day article I earned the most, raking in an astounding $0.20 and on the Easter article I failed even more spectacularly earning only $0.05.

This Is Where I Theorize


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As I looked at my dollar results, I started wondering why so many people mess with this crap. I mean, c'mon--how much time do I have to spend in the trenches before I realize that they are nothing but trenches? They are what they are--that's it. I can't make them into something else.

But then the wheels of my brain started turning and I started to think of a million different ways I could try this experiment to possibly get a different result. And then something scary happened--I started to get excited about the prospect. It's as though Associated Content threw down a gauntlet and I, the mad freelancer, want to keep picking it up time and time again. I cannot accept failure, refuse to recognize defeat and want to try over and over to create that elusive $500 article that takes me 10 minutes to write.

And that's how AC gets so much content, gets rich and keeps writers addicted.

The end.

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Yo Prinzel
Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express, Covestor.com, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

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The 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers

Yo Prinzel

40 Comments

  1. Heiddi April 2, 2010 Reply

    Hi Yo,

    I agree with you. I don’t even waste my time with AC or CC or any other of those. I don’t think there is any credibility to gain from them, just a few cents. I pass. lol

  2. theBarefoot April 10, 2010 Reply

    Maybe writing them “craptastically fast,” helped your experiment to it’s fateful conclusion?

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      Probably. Then again, anyone devoting serious research, planning, writing, and editing time to AC clearly lacks business sense or the marketing ability to do better for themselves. And that’s a part of the point. It comes down to the hourly and / or per piece return. If you don’t write ridiculously fast, you cannot claim you’re earning a reasonable income there for the time (even on some of the higher end examples I’ve seen people talk about). It’s fascinating how little they’re really earning when they stop bragging about totals and actually crunch the numbers.

  3. Juniper Russo Tarascio April 10, 2010 Reply

    You’ve missed the point entirely. There are plenty of serious writers on AC who earn “real” money. It takes time, effort and skill, but it pays off if you know what you’re doing. I didn’t make any substantial income from AC during my first year on the site, but now– almost two years into it– my residual income from AC pays half my rent. No complaints here.

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      No one missed the point. The point is that under absolutely no circumstances should a professional freelancer have to wait years to see a significant return on the work they do. We aren’t talking about hobby writers here. We’re talking about freelance professionals — people who work to pay their bills now, and not to pay their bills years from now. Is residual income a good thing? Absolutely. In fact we’ve spent a lot of time on this site teaching writers how to earn much more residual income than they’d get with sites on AC. We also have a team of writers who are experienced with just about every mill and residual earnings site out there (in both writer and editorial capacities). We don’t approach these topics lightly, and we don’t approach them ignorant of the facts. It is nothing short of foolish for anyone to rest their hopes on earnings years down the road from a third party. Anyone in the game for a reasonable amount of time has seen just how quickly these seemingly permanent sites can go under or completely change their revenue sharing models. People who want long term residual earnings to support or even eventually replace a freelance career writing for others have much better ways to do it. And that indeed makes AC a major freelance fail.

      • Brandon Connell October 22, 2010 Reply

        You truly DID miss the point. Here’s why. Consider the fact that there are many ways to actually make immediate income as a writer. You can sell articles on Constant Content for a more desirable fee per article. You can take freelance writing projects. You can submit to magazines… etc. The whole point of AC is that you are building a residual income in the same exact way you would with a blog or multiple niche sites. The difference is that you have potential on Associated Content to get recognized and featured to get added exposure and more hits to your article(s).

        If you want to focus on earning immediate money, then continue writing for the rest of your life. If you want residual income so you don’t have to write for life, then write for AC or write regularly on your own blog and monetize it. You build residual income through hard work over time with patience. It is NOT an easy task and either that person was very lucky with that single article, or they were already an established writer with Associated Content and had the subscriber count which contributed to the $500+ payoff. Be realistic, and don’t look for the easy button.

        • Jennifer Mattern October 22, 2010 Reply

          Brandon, you’re still missing the point. We are talking about professional freelancers here — not people looking to stop writing (which was already mentioned in my previous comment). Freelancers freelance, and they do so to earn income now — not far down the road. There is nothing wrong with taking on residual projects in addition to that or as an alternative to freelancing, but this post was about freelancing. And as I said before, there is absolutely no reason any professional freelancer should have to wait years for adequate payment on an article.

          You won’t get any argument here about the benefits of residual earning models (although I wouldn’t suggest relying on third parties nearly as much as learning how to successfully monetize your own sites and products). In fact there are quite a lot of articles on this site teaching people how to do precisely that all without hoping yet another mill-style site doesn’t up and change their revenue model one day.

          Also, not sure who was looking for the “easy button.” Yo’s experiment was to shed light on the reality that it’s not fast and easy money as some others would have newbies believe with their “exception to the rules” stories. We make it a point to regularly put focus on the hard work it takes to be truly successful as a freelance writer here, and to never expect to be that exception or expect to have anything handed to you without that hard work.

          • Brandon Connell October 22, 2010

            My statement about the easy button was toward the comment about spending 15 minutes on a crappy article in order to try and get $500 on that article. That’s all. But that isn’t really a new fact to even shed light on with an experiment because it has been tried and tested before by many. Not new information.

            One thing we agree on is to monetize your own sites. I have followed that model and it has worked brilliantly for me. But the point of using residual publishing sites like AC is that you do not want to put your eggs in one basket. In addition, you want to benefit from the traffic that sites like AC can bring your personal sites. In that regard, why would you guest post on a related blog for free? Because it brings you more exposure, establishes your brand with a new audience, and helps rake in the traffic and increase your alexa traffic rank.

            If one were to rely only upon Associated Content or any other site similar to theirs, then they are making a horrible mistake. But if they use AC and other article sites as a tool, and collect the additional upfronts while building residuals, then that residual will pay off in due time.

          • Jennifer Mattern October 24, 2010

            I’m not sure I’d compare AC to guest blogging. There’s a difference solely in the targeting. AC is not a targeted outlet — they’re a “try to be everything to everyone” outlet. And a bigger overall audience doesn’t mean much when there are thousands of other writers (and their content) all competing for the same eyes. Much better to post on a lower-traffic niche-targeted site where you post actually does get more exposure. And you have to keep in mind that many clients actually won’t hire writers who use AC, EzineArticles, Demand Studios, and related “publication” sources in their portfolios. So for the freelance writing audience, there really isn’t much competition.

            There are a lot of ways to diversify without relying on any low-pay sites or ones that pay out largely over time. I’ve seen too many of these sites either shut down, change ownership, or suddenly decide to change the revenue model to consider them a worthwhile endeavor compared to managing your own site, releasing your own e-books, or creating other income streams you have more control over. If it were guaranteed that writers were going to be paid a fair amount over time for every single article they write, and they couldn’t earn just as much by collecting up front in other ways or earning residually with their own sites, then I’d be all for it. But when compared to other options, and given my experience with these types of sites and their lack of stability in payment models, I just can’t consider them a great option for the vast majority of freelance writers.
            But as for them paying off in due time,

  4. Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben April 10, 2010 Reply

    So you wrote crappy articles ‘craptastically’ fast and you wonder why you made no money on AC. Here’s the problem. You assume that other writers are doing it just as you are. Wrong. I write craptastically fast, but not crappy articles. So do those of us who succeed. A few words of advice from someone who does make the money you long to make: your articles, keywords, SEO, titles were lame. There is a ‘fail’ involved, but it ain’t with AC.

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      If you want to criticize her SEO work, please feel free to share your SEO credentials and exactly what you think was so off about them. Also, it doesn’t mean much to say you write fast w/o churning out crap unless you tell people exactly how long you spend on each article, share some examples, and tell us what you actually make (including the total number of articles it takes you to earn that much). Not saying you don’t do okay with it, only that your point is pretty pointless with generic claims and nothing to back them up.

      On a side note, there’s absolutely no case for AC being a better earning platform than private clients for anyone serious enough to know how to run their own business. So I’d consider it an equal “fail” for anyone to make it a major player in their career. Just another hobbyist’s tool and good for little more than article marketing for others.

  5. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel April 10, 2010 Reply

    It’s possible–I’m no SEO expert and I did disclose that my keyword phrases made up only 1.5% of the articles. As far as crappy writing, since my goal was to attract traffic through Google and since my crappy writing is still better than much of what I see on AC, I don’t think it had much of an adverse affect on my Google traffic.

    As far as attacking me for failing, if you read the article without taking it personally (which at least one of you seems to have done) you’ll see that writing them fast was part of the experiment. I have clients and a business, I cannot spend an hour crafting an article on AC just to “wait and see” if I get paid. You can also see that I started thinking of things that I could have done differently in order to get better results–which means I did not lay the blame at AC’s foot. I do, however, still think you are better of getting real clients or buying your own domains to make money with than writing your totally awesome, craptastically fast articles with AC.

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      For the record (coming from someone who’s not only been very successful in SEO writing for herself and clients, but who’s also learned directly from major online publications and SEO firms seeing amazing results), 1.5% is indeed fine. You do not have to keyword stuff for successful SEO. In fact, that would be an incredibly old school approach, and it would probably not lead to long-term sustainable results (which come from naturally high-ranking high quality content attracting relevant quality links on its own). If you put content in a position where you have to constantly adapt the on-site material to cope with algorithmic changes (like being caught keyword stuffing), that would be lousy SEO.

  6. Sylvia April 10, 2010 Reply

    “I spend more time editing my grocery lists than I did these articles.” “As I looked at my dollar results, I started wondering why so many people mess with this crap.”
    Quite obviously they don’t and the AC business model stands vindicated. If you want to see residuals, you need to write something that folks want to read. What the Barefoot said…

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      Let me just say…. I took the opportunity to look at some articles from a commenter here, and all I can say is that A) they have some serious balls to call out anyone else’s writing quality and B) I’m amazed that Yo has had the decency not to throw it directly in their faces. People in glass houses and all….

      I also find it just a wee bit interesting to see so much sudden (and belated) response to this post. Whenever that happens comments seem a little bit suspect quite frankly. If you’re the type of writer who makes AC work for you, more power to you. No one’s said they’re an awful site in every way, shape, or form — only that they’re an awful option for the specific target audience of this blog. When anyone can prove that they’re even remotely comparable to a serious effort with private freelance clients, by all means that’s a story the audience here would love to hear (including me).

  7. Jaipi April 10, 2010 Reply

    There are plenty of high quality articles on AC by people who don’t churn out crap in a half hours time and then complain about the results. I say, you give crap, you get crap back. I don’t think you would submit the crap you submitted to AC in another venue and expect to be rewarded, and you won’t be rewarded for poorly written crap on AC either.

    Yes, internet writing is very different from print writing in that there are certain rules you must follow in order for the internet ‘spiders’ to pick up your article in a search. That does not mean you can write any old thing as long as you use the right keywords. Someone has to be searching for the information you are offering and your article has to be well written enough to hold the readers attention.

    Why do we bother with AC? We bother with it because for someone who is willing to do things the right way, it’s well worth the effort. Plus the AC writing community is full of caring individuals, who support each other in every possible way. Unlike the dog eat dog world you apparently hail from where you demean things you have no real experience with.

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      “Unlike the dog eat dog world you apparently hail from where you demean things you have no real experience with.”

      Congratulations on what might just be the most ignorant comment on this blog! I suggest you know what you’re talking about before opening your mouth — assuming people here have no real experience when you’re dead wrong for example. I hope better research goes into your AC articles than your defense of them.

      And as was said before, best of luck if that’s how you want to make money writing. We really don’t give a damn what kind of writing you choose to do. You’re clearly not a part of the target audience here. We do not write for all writers out there fiddling around with the Web, hobbyists, people who don’t need to make serious money on a regular and consistent basis, people using those sites for clips, etc. We focus on helping people build serious and sustainable careers here, whether or not that means making everyone happy all the time. And for the record, we’re pretty damn good at it. You’ll find the entire community is incredibly helpful when it comes to helping those who are willing to help themselves rather than support mills and residual sites as though they’re even close to being on par with more serious earnings. These are the ruts we regularly help writers dig their way out of in pursuit of something better. Our information and our style might not be right for you. And that’s okay. There are a lot of other blogs out there, and you’re welcome to frequent them. I hope you find something more in line with your style and goals.

  8. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel April 10, 2010 Reply

    The AC model is in no way vindicated, sorry kids. I’m glad you have all spent the time to get lucky with a few articles, and I’m glad the model suits your needs. But if you are trying to support a family, “wait and see” is not a good plan.

    As far as “quality writing” goes, I’ve read some of your articles. There were spelling errors, grammatical errors, duplicate words, and boring, stiff writing. If I were you, I wouldn’t go around attacking anyone else’s articles–especially someone who can at least admit that she hurried through them. I did notice that some of you spring boarded on timely news events, which is probably more the source of your success than your writing skills.

    I’ve seen the AC people launch attacks like this on others. I’m not sure why if AC is so great but whatever, have at it.

  9. Rodney Southern April 10, 2010 Reply

    I have read through this and have a couple of thoughts.

    First, I have to say that the article came across as being shortsighted and a bit offensive. I am a full time writer that has seen success in many venues, some of which came from reading this very blog. I am also a writer for Associated Content and proud to be. I was a bit offended by the blog post simply because it insinuates that we are idiots for doing so.

    I quote, “As I looked at my dollar results, I started wondering why so many people mess with this crap. I mean, c’mon–how much time do I have to spend in the trenches before I realize that they are nothing but trenches?”

    To have that strong of an opinion, you need to have some serious research to back up your claim in my opinion. I mean no ill will here. Just calling it like I see it. Two articles, admittedly not your best effort, is far from enough to make such an assumption.

    Consider this… When we write we are building a library of work. We get upfronts (and not everyone gets the 2-3 bucks you read about) We then earn as much as a couple of bucks per thousand views for the life of the site or until the model changes. For some, that money is very significant. There are certain categories and topics that guarantee you residuals. Partying on St. Patricks day is not one of them. I say that only to make the point that you have to know how to work the model. (Just as a niche blog done incorrectly will not yield results)

    I enjoy this site and the vast majority of my work comes from private clients and my own sites. I am your target audience, and even I was a bit put off by the seeming arrogance. I hope you will be open minded about this as it is in no way meant badly.

    Stepping back, can you not see the error of this line of thinking? It was short sighted. That is all.

    I still love the site and hope to continue doing so, but I am not an idiot and felt that was being implied both by the article and the comments following by Jennifer in your defense. When you say that it is okay but not for your target audience, you are mistaken. I am one of them.

    For example, did you know you can post reprints for residual income there as well? As long as you post display only, you can earn on those also. Grouping people with blanket statements offends people. That is what happened here whether it was intended or not. (I do not think it was as I have read you for some time.)

    Peace, Love and Happiness

    Rodney

    • Jennifer Mattern April 10, 2010 Reply

      Rodney — Being open-minded means taking the time to test and experience various methods and giving them a fair shake. That was done with AC and many other sites newer writers in our audience have a tendency to test out. Ones that had any real merit when it comes to earning money in the beginning of your career were shown in exactly that light.

      Just for the record, I do know how to “work the model.” My experience with mills and residual sites is far from a secret. It’s more extensive and has more breadth than most. I made it work much better than most. And still I know for a fact that there are better ways, and I have no tolerance for half-assed information being spread just because people choose to take general comments about a site personally. This is why I have writers running to me begging for help every month because they have no real clips and have no idea how to get out of the cheap content and residual earning site models which are not sustainable business models for the vast majority of freelancers looking to build professional careers. They were given this incredibly bad or incomplete information, they trusted it, and it condemned them to a career of mediocrity when they want much more because churning out one article after another to make ends meet with these sites leaves them no time to work on growth.

      AC has its benefits. I’ve already noted one. It’s fine and dandy for article marketing (and yes, I know about reprints on AC for residuals, and that the article marketing approach is an ideal way to make use of those) — when it takes from marketing time to build exposure and happens to earn some residuals, but it doesn’t detract from billable hours used towards projects paying now. That’s especially true for those just starting out who are working for money right now…. not down the road, and not after writing 1400 articles (as some of the commenters here have had to do, although they often conveniently leave that information out). If you review the introduction to this series you’ll find out what the purpose is (something the mob mentality naysayers should have taken the time to do). This is precisely the kind of bullshit we very actively fight against here — people spreading misinformation about sources being great for writers without revealing the full facts so people can get a glimpse of the overall reality before jumping in and digging themselves into ruts.

      I also don’t care for hypocrites (not you). If someone wants to come in here and violate the comment policy by personally insulting one of my writers rather than simply presenting their contradictory experiences for a broader picture then one of two things will happen. Their comments will not be approved if they can’t abide by the policy, or I’ll let them through (as in this case), but hypocrites will have their asses handed to them. If you could see everything I’ve seen in relation to not only the comments but also the stats on those commenters (the fact that one’s most recent AC piece can’t even get through 3 sentences without major errors, or the fact that they have to write over a thousand articles in order to build that revenue), you would have a better picture of the reality here.

      Those types of commenters should count their blessings that they haven’t been raked through the coals with play-by-play examples and quit while they’re ahead. As for those with valid points and the ability to convey them without jumping to conclusions or violating the comment policies here, they’re always welcome and we always value their additional viewpoints. You perfectly demonstrate the latter group. Thank you.

  10. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel April 11, 2010 Reply

    Ahh Rodney–a breath of fresh air :) I definitely see your point and, if you haven’t read the rest of this series, I can see where you would read this article as arrogant. I would urge you to look back at the series including the very first post where I explain that I actually got my start as a freelance writer 2 years ago writing for AC. That is where the trenches remark comes from. I keep trying to turn it into something worthwhile when it simply isn’t.

    As far as your serious research is concerned, I don’t know what you would consider serious research. If I know that I can sell a blog post to a client for $100 today, why would I choose to spend that time trying to make the AC model potentially work? If I had that much spare time and nothing else to do I might, but sheesh–you can see from the comments in your own forums that it is a very small percentage of people who actually see substantial residuals from the model.

    I know you guys aren’t going to like this next statement, and I’m not even saying that it is a valid point of view, but it is the truth; I know many editors and they would laugh me out of the water if I presented AC articles as clips–so it’s not even any good there.

    It just doesn’t make sense for a full-time business owner. If it works for you, I’m glad, but I just don’t see the point. I have to support my family with my writing. There is no other income or back up income–just me going typey typey. AC “wait and see” is not good enough.

  11. Derrick April 25, 2010 Reply

    “This is precisely the kind of bullshit we very actively fight against here — people spreading misinformation about sources being great for writers without revealing the full facts so people can get a glimpse of the overall reality before jumping in and digging themselves into ruts. ”

    True,the internet is full of bullshit and its never wise to listen to flowery words that do not have back-up. People talk about residual earnings being great but they dont provide the proof,figures and statistics.Some people will tell half-truths and exaggerate their claims and most of the times their maths is not right. For example, some folks will claim that they make $300 per month from residual earnings. Actually, these folks have made $300 in one month and zero dollars in the other 11 months of the year.So,they are actually earning ($300/12) = $25 per month.You can earn more than $25 per day or week with upfront paying clients or companies.

    For me,there are more disadvantages for residual earnings than upfront payment:

    - You waste your time and energy writing articles that have no guaranteed payment.
    - The pay per page views or click is never guaranteed.It may go up or down depending on the income generated from advertisers.(It rarely goes up because there is often a cap on PPC price rate)
    - The payment comes after a long time (probably years)
    - Even if the payment comes,it always ridiculously low,next to peanuts
    - Even if your write 1000 articles,your increase in income is dismal and negligible.I have seen experienced writers who have stopped writing for sites like Triond after they residual earnings has dropped to a few cents per 1000 views.
    - The way the company determines residual earnings is always a mystery,very confusing,prone to discrepancies and never fully reflective of your hard work in getting page views.
    - From the previous statement,it is not a surprise that you may be scammed or robbed of your pay-per-views/click earnings due to a mysterious and complicated “model of payment”
    - Finally,nothing will prevent the company from paying you when it goes bust.

    With residual earnings,If you wait for a roast duck to fly in your mouth,you may wait forever.I do not understand why somebody would want to take all these risks.

  12. Christina November 15, 2010 Reply

    Why do i feel like a lot of these posters (jennifer) are trying to say that the people who who write for these “mills” are looked down upon. It all sounds a bit elitist to me. I think it’s about how you use your resources. If someone likes the benefits of writing for these companies then let them write for these companies. There’s no pressure from clients, there is little marketing of self and it’s easy. Jennifer, your comment about people not being hired because they write for these sites is not at all true. I know several people who have gotten writing jobs with prestigious magazines. As a matter of fact someone called me to write for their publication due to my exposure and expertise on Examiner.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010 Reply

      You calling me or anyone else elitist is no better than someone looking down on a writer just because they work for a mill. So in that sense, time to get off the high horse.

      If you actually took the time to see what we’ve said about mills here over the years, you’d know that’s not the case. So watch the accusations and know what you’re talking about before you toss them around.

      As for people not being hired because of mill work, it is very true. You can toss around exceptions to the rule all you want. But it’s bad business to expect to be one of those exceptions. One decent gig from a lousy paying one does not a successful career make. And take the time to look around and you’ll see stories not only from writers who lost potential gigs, but from editors who flat out admit they won’t hire writers who try to use content mill work as portfolio pieces. This is nothing new. Congratulations on that one gig you do mention landing because of it, prestigious or not. If you’re happy with it, do it.

      But those looking to build serious, long-term, sustainable careers don’t go looking for what’s easy. And those who assume the marketing work involved in landing higher paying clients isn’t worth it are sorely mistaken. We go out of our way here to show writers how to work smarter, not harder and earn much more than mills pay. We’ve also supported the decisions of hobbyists, part-timers, etc. who prefer the casual work of mills as opposed to the longer-term and more significant business growth of private client work. It hurts us in no way when people choose to write for mills, and as long as they do so with their eyes wide open, it makes no difference to me. But we’re here to help the many who feel exploited and who want something better for themselves. And we’ve helped quite a few do it — from directly referring writers who actually worked under me with a mill for better gigs (when I wised up and left) so they could move up to more recently offering to coach a mill writer for free to get them out of the mill rut they no longer wanted to be in (which we did in as little as two weeks — so much for the tough marketing to get better gigs).

      If you’re curious as to why so many writers want out of the mill game, search here for more background on Suite101′s past management issues, how marketplaces are potentially letting clients skirt the law when working with freelancers (Elance and Odesk both covered here, and relevant to the “easy work” argument many make), or look for the bigger piece on Demand Studios. In that one you’ll find out exactly what my own history is, why I feel the way I do about mill work, and the lies that the company tells to solicit new writers (the same ones others tell — things I was even personally expected to support back in my editor days).

      If or when you’re ready for something beyond mill work, then I do hope you’ll take a look at the resources and free tools we’ve made available here, because I’m sure they can be of help. In the meantime, you clearly aren’t in our target audience. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I hope you find other freelance communities that are a better fit and that offer you whatever kind of support you want or need in that type of writing work. Best of luck with it.

      • Christina November 15, 2010 Reply

        Was I applying for a job? That’s funny.

  13. Christina November 15, 2010 Reply

    wow, lots of anger and full of bs. I am glad ur considering getting off the high horse.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010 Reply

      Yep. BS sums it up nicely. As for anger, definitely. People who come into my virtual home insulting people because they’re too lazy to read and get the real story first piss me off. That kind of ignorance isn’t welcome here.

      • Brandon Connell November 15, 2010 Reply

        Actually, she insulted no-one. You are high strung Jennifer and it is a wonder how you manage to get readers. I am normally very accepting of blog personalities, however I am done reading yours as you are simply rude to everyone that does not share your opinion. Good luck.

        • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010 Reply

          Actually Brandon, she did. Calling people elitist because they don’t support her view is an insult. Doing so while in the same breath complaining about others looking down on her and her fellow mill writers is at best hypocritical. But ignorant insults aren’t tolerated here, and I’m sorry that my way of handling it doesn’t suit you, but it’s not going to change. The facts were publicly available here for anyone who wasn’t too lazy to look before dropping those insults. Differences of opinion based on facts and experience on the other hand are always welcome, as demonstrated by the earlier discussion.

          You’re very welcome to read whatever blogs you want, and if that includes not reading AFW, that’s fine. I don’t shove the site down anyone’s throat, and I don’t change my personality for readers. It’s either for you, or it’s not. And if it’s not that’s perfectly okay. There are plenty of other communities out there, and I hope you find one that better suits you. I know my style isn’t for everyone, and I’ve always been okay with that.

          • Brandon Connell November 15, 2010

            Elitist wasn’t really an insult. It’s more of a lifestyle. She didn’t call you a poopie-head or anything. Really?

            Jennifer, I really thought this would be a good place to stop by and read. Regardless of how comfortable you are with your personality, you really should take a closer look into it. I would be totally lying if I didn’t say that I am a complete jerk MOST of the time, however I hide that fact from those who show me appreciation for my articles by subscribing to my blog.

            I do believe that this post is not based on fact, so isn’t that comment hypocritical? The articles was based on a short term baseless experiment. The author had no luck, so their opinion was expressed rather than any facts whatsoever. I and countless others who have made money and will continue to do so in many ways including what I like to call “residual marketing” which leads to writing gigs and consulting from being published on AC. There is a FAIL here, that much I agree on. But it isn’t AC.

          • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010

            In the context is definitely came across as an insult. And it’s one quite often thrown about whenever mill writers feel personally slighted and run out of other arguments. That’s the thing with insults — it’s all in context, intent, and how it’s taken by the person being insulted.

            The difference is that Yo never pretended the post was anything but one opinion based on one experience. She openly admitted the drawbacks to how she handled it. And she shared her opinion… just like she did with all other mills she tested (and she supported some, so it wasn’t an overall anti-mill quest or anything of the sort).

            On the other hand, the comment essentially put words in my mouth and turned them into an insult based on an untrue accusation. It wasn’t an opinion. It was a statement of fact. Big difference. Do I think Yo tested this market out thoroughly? No. But that’s why we leave it open for other experiences, as long as they are accurate and not misleading new writers (like people claiming they make a shitload of money without mentioning that it took thousands of articles to get that four-figure earnings — if Yo can share her shortcomings so others can take it for what it’s worth, so can everyone else).

            As I’ve also mentioned here, we’re big supporters of residual income. We’re just bigger supporters of being realistic and fully knowing your options. If AC works for you and you earn well directly from those articles (in relation to quantities and time invested) or through the other work landed from that, congratulations. I’m genuinely happy that you found a way to make it work for you.

            I do see from your site that you do marketing and PR consulting work though. I’m curious as to how much of your billable time is spent on freelance writing work as opposed to that consulting. There’s a difference in marketing higher rate writing services with low paid work and using sites like AC as a form of article marketing to promote other types of services (which I’ve already admitted can work in the comments here). Either way, I’m happy to hear it’s working for you. ‘Grats.

      • Christina November 15, 2010 Reply

        Passing judgement on people for defending who they write for with such anger is merely you being stubborn. If you’re gonna talk the talk, honey. I’ve read your content and your co-conspirators little experiment is completely misleading.No I’m not going to search through the poorly laid out little blog to read your “opinion” on “mill” writing. I’m talking about your attacks on peoples comments on this particular subject. Again, you need to get off your high horse and not be so out of touch. Clearly you know nothing about SEO writing if you have to respond in comments with a 12 paragraph essay. I’d think as an authority on apparently everything (nice comment on the problogger book review, there’s nothing in it you didn’t already know? Please!) you’d know that. I am most definitely done with your noise and this tired blog and your crack staff.

        • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010 Reply

          And there you go again. What I actually said what that there was nothing new in the book. And that was true. It was derived from the blog. Which I pointed out saying it was a compilation of things I knew from my own years of experience, from Darren’s own blog, and from other blogs on the subject — completely true. I also continued to recommend it as a resource.

          So long “honey.” Appreciate your contribution to the “noise.” Best of luck with Examiner and the other client. Really. Might not like your comments and accusations here, but I do wish all writers well, with whatever path they ultimately choose.

  14. Christina November 15, 2010 Reply

    Brandon your my hero and I have no problem calling her a poopy head.

    • Jennifer Mattern November 15, 2010 Reply

      Ah Brandon, any questions as to intent yet?

      Well folks. It’s been fun. But time to curl up with a good book for the night. Comments will be held until I check them again in the morning.

      • Brandon Connell November 15, 2010 Reply

        Previous comment and current are two separate things Jennifer. You have to learn to roll with the punches. I have no beef with you really. As a matter of fact, I really like how you handled the response to my comment. Damn you!

        To answer your questions, yes I do a LOT of consulting. It is my bread and butter really. But I do not have an intention to get paid for lots of freelance writing gigs. I do however have lots of experience with freelance writing, and I recently got a huge package deal on multiple writing projects which pay more than any mill.

        However, please keep in mind that if no time were spent on the experiment, then it wasn’t given a fair chance. I am an in-it-to-win-it kind of person, and failure is not an option. I am truly perplexed as to how such as experiment was allowed to be published though. Can you tell me that please? You just said that it wasn’t given much time, as other projects have not either. I don’t believe that THAT is your personal business model though based on the quick Google research I have done on you. Do you see where I am failing to understand here? You don’t seem to be one to cut corners, so why was a corner cut here?

        • Jennifer Mattern November 16, 2010 Reply

          Thanks for your continued thoughts Brandon.

          1. I’d say I do roll with the punches. We just have different methods and styles. As for liking how the previous comment was addressed, no worries. I’ll try to be a more consistent bitch next time so I don’t risk disillusioning anyone. ;)

          2. I’m glad AC has helped you land consulting work. I found it a reasonable form of article marketing the last time I tested it myself in a similar way – in 2007 when I was still primarily a consultant myself. But there’s a bit of a difference when it comes to selling writing services. While it’s possible to get some better gigs from mill work (the exception; not the rule), it’s not generally a good idea to show higher paying prospects that you’re willing to sell the same services elsewhere for very little or deferred payment. They want to see that you value your writing and that you can compete in their league or market — not that you can get published somewhere with little to no barriers to entry. When promoting other services like consulting though, it’s much more common to publish even for free to build a reputation as an authority resource (people have been using trades for that purpose for decades).

          3. First of all, I didn’t cut corners. You can argue that Yo did. And I’d agree with that. But she also was up front with readers about her methodology. She also has experience with AC beyond the experiment — it was one of several mill-style sites she worked with early in her career before moving on to better things. This blog is not about journalism. We never claimed it was, and in fact have said the contrary. Yo’s series was specifically about sharing one person’s experiences and the thoughts she had on various gig-getting outlets from those experiences. And considering the allure of mills, as promoted by their evangelists, is often about quick and easy money with no wait for payment like the rest of us supposedly experience, I wouldn’t expect her to take on long-running experiments. I don’t censor our contributors as long as their posts are honest and up front. How she derived her opinions was clear. Had she acted like it was her top notch work, the post would have been nipped the second I got a look at it. But as long as she’s open and up front with readers, and in this case also linked to further background with the specific story she was attempting to replicate, there’s more than enough information for readers to make up their own minds. I encourage my contributors to share not only their successes but their mistakes and failures as well. Yo has actually done that more than most, and she didn’t try to hide the shortcomings of the experiment here. Even the “experts” go through learning experiences, and this was one of Yo’s. And that’s precisely why it was published. Readers have a right to see more than the successes and the exceptions. That’s what reality is about in this industry — not simply saying “I made a fluke $500 from one article, so it’s awesome and everyone should use it.” Even though Yo recently left the site to pursue other professional goals, I’m glad she took the time to look into these kinds of claims at all. When these mills are promoted as quick and easy money for new writers, they deserve to be tested. This one was far from a perfect test, but it did show that the quick and easy money doesn’t come just because you slap up some quick timely content — which is what she was actually testing (not long-term residuals, which is an issue we’ve covered more extensively elsewhere).

          Christina – Enough of the snippy one-liners already. No more are going to be approved. If you have something actually relevant to add about AC, feel free. Or if Examiner.com is looked at individually in the future, then you’re very welcome to share your own experiences in that more relevant discussion. As for anything else, it’s a no-go after last night.

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