Surviving the Content Farm Crash and Layoffs! : Emotional Recovery

Thursday, October 06, 2011

By: Weston Bonnelle

After PANDA: What to do When Your Content Mill and/or Online Publisher Fails and Implement Massive Layoffs?

The Content Farm crash in many ways resemble the Dot Com Crash: poor management, unethical schemes, millions of venture funds being invested into start-ups without solid plans to generate income, rapid yet unsustainable growth, rocky economic conditions and… then a sudden crash. What’s the result when a profitable industry fails? Thousands of innocent, cynical and unsuspecting people who feel victim to a cruel system. Many freelancers currently feel as if they can’t recover and are wondering how they will survive the content farm crash. Therefore it is best to start the recovery emotionally first to help calms these disappointments and fears.

The transition from predominately earning your income through content mills such as Associated Content, Demand Studios, Populis Create, BreakStudios, Suite 101, etc may be painful, however it isn’t impossible. Do understand that content farms probably won’t disappear forever. Right now they are just readjusting their strategy and scaling back production at the expense of their freelancers. Many members of the executive staff working for content farms have millions in reserves and are economically secure in their personal lives. Therefore they don’t have too much concern for their former freelancers that are scrambling to find new jobs.  Despite their actions, you can survive the content farm crash. But we first must overcome some psychological hurdles. 

Fighting Low Morale
Overcome Getting Fired: Many content mills unfairly told freelancers that they were fired or laid off because of “poor quality” instead of just saying that they were cutting costs due to fiscal concerns. The underlying message indicates that these freelancers were a loss cause, the “lowest quality” writers, deserved their fate and a contributor to the content farm crash. Some sites even made fun of “fired” freelancers. This probably had an unconscious negative effect on many content writers. So instead of just moving on quickly, you feel as if you are not worthy of working somewhere else due to lowered self-esteem. Do not take those thoughtless words to heart. They want you to feel bad because they need to tear down the competition. Instead, look over your old articles and see how you can improve. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses. Develop your own opinions about the quality of your articles apart from the editors and online publisher. When I looked at my old articles on Demand Studios, I realized that I wrote content rich articles that were full of original ideas; however I had trouble grasping the style. My sentence structure and word choices needed help. The content farm editors did not take the time to explain or have the knowledge to recognize these simple issues. I’m working on this now which is helping me grow more confident in my ability to branch out.

Overcome Dependency: Many people who started with content mills perhaps lacked education or formal writing experience. Therefore they see a bleak future ahead. However it is not too late to acquire the skills that you need. With enough research you may be able to gain many lucrative skills for free. There also many organizations and publishers that would be happy to give you a chance.

Overcome the Fear of Economic Insecurity: The content farm crash was like a domino effect. We all saw it coming and reacted by running from one content farm from another. The effects of PANDA occurred so fast that the unprepared weren’t able to move on fast enough. Just last year people were making thousands of dollars per monthly online. This sudden lapse on financial security causes people to become too fearful of taking profitable risks. Don’t let anxiety stop you from seeking other income ventures. Some freelancers who are already in bad situations are developing depression and are starting to feel hopeless as their savings accounts quickly depletes. Remember that depression can make it seem as if your situation is hopeless and that you are not competent enough figure out what to do. However talk yourself out of these negative thought patterns. Do not let sadness influence you to make other poor decisions and/or develop destructive coping mechanisms instead let it motivate you to start something great. Even Steve Jobs had economic hardship. He said in a 2005 commencement speech to Stanford explaining his less than ideal semester at Reed College , "It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5 cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple."

Overcome the Loss of Pride: Working from home garnered a sense of pride. I remember feeling proud that I was able to turn my love of reading content online into contributing content. I also told a few friends that I was earning money online. It can especially be embarrassing to face the doubters once that income stream abruptly stops. However you can still feel proud that you are taking the steps to overcome your situation. Next time take some of the warnings to heart. Never become too overconfident about a job. 

Overcome the Lies: This content farm upheavals and massive  layoffs has taught us that business is business. Companies will say anything to get the desired reaction. Since many were so dependent on them for income, freelancers were willing to accept the lies in hopes of a better future. Now many freelancers feel betrayed. Betrayal makes it hard to open up to others and especially hard to try out new online and offline jobs. Unfortunately you cannot allow the fear of being betrayed again stop you from seeking other means of income.

Now that you are emotionally ready, you can take the steps to gain professional writing experience outside of content farms.

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Part Two: Tips on Getting Professional Experience Outside of Content Farms!