Content Farming 101: Making Money with Content Farms

This is the second of a three-part series about so-called “content farm” websites, an alternative to blogging.  Part one provided an overview of content farms and the pros and cons of writing for these websites.  If you missed it, make sure you check it out!  In today’s installment, we are looking at the different ways you can make money with content farms.

By the time I first heard the term “content farm,” I’d already been writing at one for a few months.  The first article I read that talked about these site cast them in a very negative light, and I just couldn’t figure it out.  As far as I could see, content farms were gold; I was strapped for cash, and these websites paid me real money (even if it was just a small amount at first) to do something I loved.  Despite the negative stigma that sites like Associated Content and Hubpages can carry, they offer alternative venues to a blog for writers and creatives to share their ideas and build up passive income.

What is passive income?

Passive income is any form of income that requires little or no effort to maintain.  Some examples include income from rental properties, interest on long-term investments, and of course, writing online.  Building streams of passive income on content farm websites, even if they are just trickles at first, is the key to making money in this game.

I hate math, but we’re going to talk numbers anyway so you can see the true potential.  Let’s say that you start writing at a random website that offers residual payments on your content.  Your first month you write 4 articles, and each of those articles makes 25 cents over the course of the month.  Congratulations, you’ve made your first dollar!  It doesn’t seem like much right now, but let’s look at that over the long term.

Let’s say you keep writing at a modest rate of 4 articles per month and each of those articles earns you, on average, an equally modest quarter.   By the end of your second month you have a total of 10 articles and doubled your earnings to $2.  After six months, you’re making $6 a month.  Two years later, that figure is up to $24 a month.  If you keep it up for a decade, you’re looking at $120 a month for very minimal work.  If you’ve been a little more ambitious and you’ve managed to write a dozen articles every month, at the ten-year mark you could be pulling in over $4300 a year in extra income.

Now, these figures are, as I said, quite modest.  Most people who are writing to make money are writing more than once a week, and articles that do very well can consistently earn $1 or more per month.  I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years, starting very slowly and writing at various different sites, and I currently make between $250 and $300 in passive income each month.

How do writers earn money on content farms?

There are many different ways that content farm websites pay their writers.  Some sites even offer multiple different ways to make money.  Here is a quick overview of some different payout methods:

  • Upfront Payments – Writers are paid a flat rate for their work at the time it is published.
  • Pay Per View – Writers get paid a set rate each time they receive a page view.  For instance, a site might pay $2 for every 1,000 views of an article.
  • Revenue Sharing – The website uses an ad program, such as Google Adsense, and pays writers a percentage of any money made when readers click on the ads in the articles.
  • Affiliate Programs – Writers receive commissions whenever products are sold through links in their articles from places like Amazon and eBay.
  • Referral Programs – When current writers refer new writers, they get a bonus.  Some bonuses are flat-rate, while others offer the referrer a small percentage of the referee’s earnings.

How much can I earn?

No one can really answer this question.  Some content farm writers earn thousands of dollars a month, while others make enough to pay for a few cups of coffee.  There are so many variables involved that the only way to really find out is to dive in and see what works for you.

I can tell you from experience that, no matter where you put it, quality craft content gets noticed, so there is definitely a niche for folks like us in the world of content farms.  For example, on one site that pays per page view, I have written and shared about a dozen free crochet patterns.  I then submitted links to my patterns at several top-ranked crochet pattern databases.  That traffic alone generates about $40 a month, every month, on patterns I wrote a year and a half ago!

Are you anxious to start your own journey into content farming?  Don’t know where to begin?  Come back next week for a comparison of various content farm websites and see which sites might be lucrative for you, and which sites you should avoid completely.

Rhonda Greene is the creative and slightly warped mind behind the blog Mrs. Greene.  When she’s not armed with a glue gun, you will likely find her exploring Michigan’s backcountry with her hubby.

Photo by Flickr user Images_of_Money, creative commons

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