First, I guess, we should define what a content mill is.
A content mill, or writing mill, is a slang term used by those in the freelance writing world to describe a company or website that provides very cheap website content. How much of a profit they make off of this and how low the pay is for the writers is a topic of some debate. Heated debate, at that!
Notice, I used the word "cheap" and not "affordable". Heck, I use the word affordable here in my services. Cheap, though, is cheap. No other way around it. You get what you pay for. Why should you care, though? Let's poke a little at the 3 main reasons.
Quality of Writing:Am I an expert writer? I get paid to write but I don't think that qualifies. I don't think there are any expert writers. Everyone should continuously be learning and getting better. I do however have my specialties and my training in some areas have qualified me for what I would call expert status.
Truthfully, many of the writers for content mills are from countries where English is not the native tongue. Not all-surely not the majority- but many. This is pretty easy to notice in most cases. Also, though, many of those writers (the ones at content mills, that is) are not students of web writing or SEO (search engine optimization). This is paramount when trying to get the results for your business that you want.
Personal Attention:Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather have my omelet made to order instead of pulled out of a freezer and micro-waved for a minute or two. What I mean is that if you want to be in constant contact with your writer than you should stay away from mills. It is true that some of these sites DO allow for internal messaging from client to writer and vice versa, but it is the most estranged relationship you could imagine. First, you are usually assigned a number by the website. So you contact "writer 212334" as "client 58930". You can't email, talk or skype. Nothing like that. It is forbidden by the company because a writer and client may realize they no longer need the middleman and that just isn't good for the bottom line.
Clear and Concise Instructions and Feedback:With a content mill you get to add a job, write a job description that is around 500 characters and then hope the writer understands exactly what you want. Not good. Sure, you can internally message "writer 212334" but what if that guy or gal doesn't log in anytime soon? Maybe they like to do their work offline to avoid distraction.
Freelance writers are professionals. They limit distraction and have work schedules. You get their personal email and IM. Whenever you need to ask a question or order another job from that person their little smart phone vibrates, lights up and dings. You have their attention.
*Some content mills have good to great writers working for them.
*This writer is not above a mill. He just thinks that there is something to be said for professionalism and client "red carpet" treatment.
*Content mills DO HAVE an editing system in most cases. The worst will be fixed. You deserve the best, however!