Many freelancers get their start on the content mill or freelancer marketplace circuit.
While there are people who’ve found some success with this business model, it’s also one that can result in a lot of stress and not a lot of pay.
Why Content Mills and Bid Sites Can be Crippling for Your Career
Content mills are agencies that hire freelancers to do a huge volume of work and usually for pennies. Freelancer marketplaces are sites where you sign up and compete with other freelancers to pitch clients for work.
In both situations, clients hold all of the power and it creates a race to the bottom.
There are so many people vying for work that clients are able to pay less for it. While this may be ideal when you’re in the client’s shoes, it’s a lot less ideal when you’re the freelancer trying to make a living.
Another negative of content mills and freelance marketplace sites is the payment system is often not in your control. You don’t have as much freedom to set your own invoicing and contract terms either. Instead, you have to adhere to the rules of the site.
Here’s how to break free from content mills and bidding sites:
1. Don’t Be Scared to Go Back to the Drawing Board
Working for content mills and freelancer marketplaces can feel like you’re stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. You get paid very little for a lot of stress, and then the story repeats itself.
Trust me; it’s hard to break free to find better clients because you’re overworked and have little time to source new business.
If this type of work is your main source of income, consider getting a part-time job until you can reorganize. A part-time job will put less financial stress on you so you can dump bad clients and find new ones without becoming destitute.
2. Perfect Your Cold Pitch
Cold pitching and keeping an eye out for opportunities on Twitter is how I was able to grow a profitable business.
Look to local businesses that may need services you offer. Pick up the phone and make some calls. Finding your own clients pays better and eventually these clients will give you referrals.
3. Get Over Your Ego and Ask for Help
One of my biggest regrets in business is waiting too long to hire a coach. I spent too much time toiling away before hiring someone who helped me take my business to the next level.
Part of me didn’t want to hire a coach because I felt it would be an admission that I wasn’t good enough to do it on my own. Essentially, my ego got the best of me. I found out this is the absolute worst mindset to have because you should find help whenever you’re struggling.
I like hiring people who work in a similar industry and have achieved results I want. This way I’m confident that the person knows what they’re talking about.
I don’t want to recommend going into extreme debt to hire a coach. But if you’re stuck, gaining a new perspective from a coach can increase your income.
Know You Have Options
The worst part about working for content mills and bidding sites is that it can feel like you’re drowning in work and there’s no way to come up for air.
Don’t continue going through the motions just because that’s what you’ve been doing for the past few months or even years.
Take a break and reevaluate so you can start making money on your terms.