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.
When I was eight, I frequently wore a single, sequined glove and I took break dancing lessons. I was in love with Michael Jackson, wore my hair in a side pony tail and used to make my neighbor hold up a flashlight and point it at me while I danced in the street on my own, imaginary episode of American Bandstand.
Why am I telling you this? Because I’m getting old, that’s why. And old people like me enjoy telling the same boring stories about their youth over and over and… well, you get the drift. The thing is, if the following content mill blog post sounds the same as all the others, it is not because I’m getting old, it is because, so far, a content mill is a content mill is a content mill... sort of.
This week I worked with the relatively new content mill, Break Studios. I was actually excited to write for this mill because this is what they are looking for:
“Highly trafficked Break Studios is looking for freelance writers for our community of highly popular and humorous websites, including Break.com, MadeMan, Holy Taco, Cage Potato, Screen Junkies, and Chickipedia.”
So, alright, they need a little personality, eh? A little ho-ho-ho on their ha-ha-ha? Great, I’m in.
Applying to Break Studios is easy. You send a resume and some samples, they approve you, and you fill your queue with 10 titles. They have How To articles, 10 Best articles, and Strategy articles. Some of the titles are misogynistic and others racy and some require an advanced familiarity with porn—but hey, at least they are trying a new content mill model.
You write your articles, editors review them, they get approved then you get paid. Right now there is no steady pay date, you simply get paid one random day each month.
The pay is where it falls apart for every content mill, and Break Studios is no exception. In fact, the pay for this content mill is low enough that they might want to change their name to Break Neck Studios because writers will need to work at a break neck speed in order to make any serious dough—and with as slow as their editors are (we’re talking at least 5 days for article approval) your queue is unable to accept more titles for many a day after you finish writing the ones you’ve got.
Oh, right, the pay. $8. $8 for a 250-700 word article. It's... well... yeah... it's not very much.
What I Made
I wrote five 300-word articles in an hour. So I made $40 in an hour. Once again, I used my SlimTimer to time myself and that time does include the time it took me to select the titles.
I don’t have to tell you that I am not a fan of content mill for full time freelancers. And while I'm sure many folks will say, "But $40 an hour is awesome" it really isn't. $40 an hour is a tough full time income to live on once you factor in taxes, social security, retirement savings, business expenses (yes, even freelancers have those), sick and vacation time.
But you know what? If you needed a part time gig or a little extra shopping money, spending 2 hours writing with Break Studios is not such a terrible thing.
There is a very specific reason that I am saying this. Break Studios wants personality. They do not want you rehashing a Wiki article and then citing it in the references—they want you---your experience, your knowledge, your voice. The editors do not have a Napoleon complex, and they don’t have ridiculous editorial guidelines and thought police. And, most importantly, I actually had fun writing the articles I selected (and no, they were not about porn) which is a lot more than I can say for some of the other content mills.
*Important note: You must use some variation of your real name when writing for Break Studios. That means, if you choose to write about their racier topics, it could have a negative impact on those Google searches potential employers and editors do. Just sayin'.
UPDATE: Break Studios contacted me to let me know that they have always allowed authors to use pen names--so either I hallucinated that information or I misread it. Also, they now pay biweekly.