Clickbait and Content Mills

We’ve all seen them on Facebook. Those headlines designed to make you click on the article. You know the ones. “They bought this house with a shocking secret!”  “She used this shampoo and you’ll never guess what happened!” Yeah, those articles. Clickbait at its finest. The first time I ever encountered clickbait, my first thought was MARKETING GENIUS! My second thought was to wonder why they photoshopped flower seed pods onto a woman’s neck. I knew what clickbait was, I just didn’t know why it was. Years back, when I first started freelancing, clickbait wasn’t a thing. My, how the internet has evolved.  Let me de-mystify the clickbait phenomenon for you.

Clickbait articles are written by people that get paid per click on the article. Usually there is also a monetized aspect with the ads that always appear along with it. The downside is they only get paid pennies per click. The upside is that they get thousands of clicks every time the article circulates on social media. That’s where the catchy headlines and weird photoshopped images come in. That’s how they lure people into clicking on the article, sharing the article and even commenting on the article. After my first few experiences with clickbait, I realized that no matter how eye-grabbing the headline is, the article itself was pretty bland. Mundane. Banal. Take your pick. I also discovered that for many of these writers, English was not their first language. In some instances, it wasn’t even their second language. So you figure 5000 clicks nets them about 10 bucks. I can’t live on $10 articles, but I suppose if you are living in a 3rd world country, $10 isn’t so bad. Especially when you consider there is little to no research done on these articles, grammar isn’t important, and creepy photos guarantee clicks. I may be starting again, and having to rebuild my portfolio, but one thing I won’t do is churn out clickbait. Just say NO!

I am however doing a 1 week test on content mills, just out of morbid curiosity. So far, I have registered with 6 different mills…err…companies. With all the content mill articles floating around today, you’d think there would be plenty to go around. One shows me around 20 gigs, and says I’m not qualified to write any of them. One has shown zero gigs, no matter what I try to search for. One has me taking all of their assessments to see what I qualify for. One wants a sample article of 500 words, but their online editor locks up around word 256. One keeps wanting me to share ads on my Facebook and Twitter accounts and the last one is still reviewing my application and writing sample. Sheesh. Not exactly an auspicious start, is it? I’ll let you know how it all works out.  I admit I am not hopeful. In the meantime, I will continue scouring for gigs that are legitimate, actually pay, allow a byline (portfolio building, dontcha know) and don’t require faked photos for exposure.


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