The awful truth about content farms

April 23rd, 2014 by Bob Bly

Subscriber SJ asks: “Can you give us your take on the
advisability of writing for the content farms like Demand Media
Studios (Ehow)?”

A content farm is a business that hires multiple writers to
churn out articles that clients post on their web sites to
improve their search engine rankings.

In my experience, the writers who write for content farms are
for the most part minimally skilled. Often English is not their
native language, which shows in their writing.

Articles from content farms are typically produced by writers
who are not experts in the subject. They just go on Google and
cobble together an article on the topic from 5 or 6 other
articles they find online – frequently without giving credit to
these sources.

Content farms are famous for the miserable fees they pay
writers. One I saw offered $5 per article. How good are those $5
per article writers? Not very.

And I know that from experience: I stupidly hired a content farm
writer to write content for my chemistry web site at

In an article on careers in chemistry, she actually wrote
“People interested in a career in chemistry should study
chemistry.” Duh.

Unbelievably, she also wrote in the same article “Chemistry is a
good career for those who are fond of atoms.” I am not kidding.
This at least gave me a good laugh.

Writers have a long tradition of getting started in their
freelance careers by writing for low pay or no pay.

Back in the day, it was mainly for small magazines that paid
writers in contributor’s copies. Today, the articles are for web
sites, and they are written more for search engines than human
readers. The content farms seem not to care much what’s in the
article or how well it is written as long as it contains the
right key words.

Subscriber MZ, a freelance writer, notes, “An infinite supply
of low, low, insultingly low paying outlets have cropped up like
an unkillable fungus. It’s made a lot of writers very angry. Not
only do we refuse to work for these absurdly low rates, we feel
deeply offended that our work could be valued so poorly.”

“But I am a beginner,” you object, “I need to get some writing
samples to launch my business.” However, if the samples are
articles published by content farms, good clients are unlikely
to be impressed.

A better option than working for peanuts for content farms is to
get hired by real clients for smaller, noncritical assignments
until they get to know you well enough to try you on a bigger

For instance, a newsletter publisher might not hire an untested
writer to write a full-length promotion for them. But they might
hire you to write an article for their free e-newsletter, a
special report used as a subscription premium, or some banner
ads. And they will pay you a fair rate for the work.

So my advice to SJ and all other freelance writers is to avoid
content farms like the plague. They are truly the cesspool of
the freelance writing profession.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 at 11:05 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 responses about “The awful truth about content farms”

  1. Rafael said:

    So true! I own quite a number of websites and need contents on regular basis. Even I had a bitter experience from one such content farm. Terrible! But there is a site called , they take care of my content requirements now, and their write-ups are relly good. You can try them!

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  6. Scott Mickelson said:

    Content farms still exist, but they don’t hold nearly as much relevance towards SEO anymore as they used to.

    With each update Google makes to its algorithm, article directories and other sites that accept farmed material lose more and more credibility in the eyes of the search engine. Even sites notorious for taking farmed articles like are tightening up their requirements to fall in line with Google’s new algorithm, and that is a good thing.

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  8. Bob Bly said:

    Although Google has gotten wise about content farms, they still exist and get plenty of takers for the swill they produce. And the content you get is worth what you paid for it — not much.

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    You’re right on the money here, Bob.

    (And some of what you said above really cracked me up too!!! :-))

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  16. bern said:

    The problem is with a content farm is they will not want to pay more than 10c per word or a $1 per 100 if you are lucky. I have worked for a few, where I got paid for the work accepted only. While this helped improve my skills, the rejection got old, because a lot of times the clients, whose identity was secret, wouldn’t agree with the opinion of the writer.
    I am a freelance writer with a degree in finance, this is the subject I write about most of the time, and have over 4 years experience doing so. These mills get what they pay for, in my opinion, and from what I see on the internet most of it is unreadable.
    In order to write on any subject it takes time to research it before you can write intelligently about it. When they want 5 to six 500 word articles per day and put quality as a guideline, they are not getting it, which is why there is such a high turnover in the content mill industry. Now, I only work for people who are willing to pay me hourly. This allows me time to research a subject extensively before I attempt to write about it. in addition, my present clients work with me when editing is needed on certain wording or phrasing. Content Farms refuse to do this.

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