How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need (nay, require) better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I’m a writer! I cannot! Even!

How to create better blog post images with Canva

Create better blog post images with Canva

And a few years ago I would have commiserated with you. Because there was a learning curve if you weren’t a professional photographer—you have to learn design and of course then you had to figure out Photoshop (and pay for it).

If you gave up on taking photos yourself then you entered the world of stock photography and, a few years ago, the cost was high and the competition was low.

But the story is tres different today. There are so many tools available to non-designers and non-photographers it’s time to accept your need for better blog post images and hop on the bus.

Elements of a Brand Worksheet

By the way, good graphics start with a solid brand

I’ve created a worksheet to outlining the elements of a great brand, available for download. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Then once you’re in the library, navigate to the blogging section and look for the worksheet called “Brand Elements.”

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For creating better blog post images I recommend Canva to anyone who asks. It’s a free design tool for non-designers—and it’s so easy to use. It’s in the cloud so you don’t have to download anything and you can use it from anywhere, including your mobile.

You can design your own graphics if you’re inclined, or you can take suggestion from their huge template library.

The first thing you should do is figure out a few image templates you’ll use over and over in your blogs. This cuts down on decision fatigue and helps keep your blog brand consistent.

Don’t freak out! This is all a part of creating better blog images. Templates are your friend. And remember what I said earlier? Canva has a massive template library! You’re going to be fine!

When building your templates you may get tripped up on fonts, images and colours. Since we’re not design trained I suggest we don’t trust our instincts.

At least, that’s what I suggest to myself. Here’s what I do instead.

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Create better blog post images with canva

Fonts

First, you need to choose a font, which is no easy feat. There are bajillions of fonts to choose from.

In the link I dropped I’ve offered a few ways to narrow it down but here are the main points: choose something readable and stick with it.

Now, when you’re creating images you may want to use a couple different fonts—risky stuff! If you want to spice things up font-wise, use Canva’s free font combinations thingy. Select your main font and let Canva show you what will pair well with it. Done.

Images

While you can create graphics without photos there is still a decision to make here—will you be an exclusive image-only blog? Or just graphics? Or a mix of both? Figure out how you want your site to look and go from there.

If you’re going with photos, Canva has a large stock photo library—some of which are free to use. There are many, many options online for stock photography these days so you have options if you want to use photos but can’t/don’t want to use your own.

Even if you’re not planning on using many photos I still recommend finding a photo style you resonate with (be it nature, lifestyle, flat lay, etc.) as it will help you in your ongoing branding and in colour selection.

Extra credit: If you’re looking for unique, free stock photos, allow me to recommend Sage Media & Marketing.

How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

Colours

If you’ve chosen your website or blog branding colours then this isn’t a decision you have to make—stick with your branding.

However, if you haven’t done this yet it’s time to pick a palette. And, since we’re not designers, how does one know what colours go together?

I use Canva’s colour palette generator every time I need one. And I don’t just use it for my blog images—it’s how I chose my living room colours and how I decide the palettes for my knitting projects!

When you find your inspiration image, one that you feel represents the essence of your blog and/or brand, upload it to the colour palette generator and watch it do its magic. Because it’s magical.

As a writer, the subject of website images can be overwhelming. The goal of today’s post is to help simplify it—yes you should have images on your blog and yes, I think you can create better blog post images.

Here are the highlights.

  • Use a program like Canva
  • Remember, templates are your friend
  • Build a visual brand using fonts, images and colours
  • Stay on brand!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!

Best Gifts for Writers | Gift Guide

There are so many great gifts for writers out there! If you have suggestions or items on your wish list please send them over and I’ll add them to the guide.

Best Gifts for Writers | Gift Guide

What do you get the writer who has everything?

Or, perhaps this is more accurate: Oh no! You drew THE WRITER for your secret Santa gift exchange and you have no clue what would make a good gift! Help!

What are the best gifts for writers anyway? Is there a GIFT GUIDE?

Yes, yes there is.

Best gifts for writers

With a bunch of sections to go through, I thought a table of contents would be handy.

Click on the links below to jump to the gift category you’re most interested in.


Esty finds

OK, there is SO much amazing handmade or vintage gifts for writers on Etsy. It’s overwhelming really. The last time I checked there were 18,254 results.

But don’t worry, I’ve dug up a few of my personal favourites to cut your shopping down from eons to mere minutes. You’re welcome.

Best Gifts for Writers | Etsy Finds
  • Typewriter Bangle—a personalized typewriter charm? Um…yes. Please
  • Writer’s Block…Block—I have no words, this is gift perfection
  • Handmade Wood Pen—I can just imagine holding this wooden, ballpoint twist pen in my hand and allowing the creative thoughts to flow freely!
  • Quotation Mark Earrings—aren’t these adorable? Punctuation as jewelry is always a good gift, in my humble opinion. The only thing better would be an interrobang‽
  • This is What a Badass Journalist Looks Like—you can get this phrase printed on a ceramic mug, on a T-shirt or on a coaster
  • The Writing Manifesto Print—this isn’t pictured but imagine a busy (yet calming!) inspirational poster with phrases like “You are a writer,” “caffeine and headphones,” “embrase the muse,” etc.
  • Luxury Notebook—WOW. The black faux leather is embossed with a bronze feather and “Creative Ideas.” It would make a most excellent gift for a writer

Writer-themed coffee mugs

Writing mugs need no introduction. They’re silly, they’re funny (to writers), and they hold coffee. AKA the perfect gift.

1. I Am A Writer That Means I Live In a Crazy Fantasy World With Unrealistic Expectations Thank You For Understanding Ceramic Mug

It’s accurate, it’s pretty, it’s practical. It’s perfect.

2. There Their They’re Coffee Cup

Don’t worry, your writer will get it.

3. Please Do Not Annoy The Writer Mug

I think the multiple fonts takes the edge off the murdery stuff.

4. Novel In Progress Keep Writing Mug

Short and to the point. It gives a real “leave me alone, I’m writing” vibe.

5. Stay Up Late Writers Mug

I love the typewriter. And the meta writing about writing.

6. Writer’s Block is a Figment of Your…Uh… Mug

I can’t think of anything to say about this mug.

Best gifts for writers. Writing mugs need no introduction. They're silly, they're funny (to writers), and they hold coffee. AKA the perfect gift.

Writer-themed pendants

Writers aren’t all about writing. They appreciate writing-themed jewelry too!

1. Outlander Sassenach Pendant Necklace

A couple years ago I attended a writing conference and it was all Outlander all the time. So I know this one’s a winner.

2. Keep Calm and Write On Pendant Necklace

A cliche, a mantra, a push to keep going.

3. Why is a raven like a writing desk? Alice in Wonderland Necklace, Lewis Carroll Quote Pendant, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Jewelry

I’m watching Through the Looking Glass as I write this…there may have been some influence.

4. Library Book Necklace, Book Pendant

So many books, so little time.

Gifts for writers. Writers don't just love craft-related items, they love writing-related jewelry too! What do you get the writer who has everything? Or, perhaps this is more accurate: Oh no! You drew THE WRITER for your secret Santa gift exchange and you have no clue what would make a good gift! Help! What are the best gifts for writers anyway? Is there a GIFT GUIDE? Why yes, yes there is.

Writing notebooks | Gifts for writers

Yes, this is super practical. But I’ve pulled some of the cooler writing notebooks from the Internet.

Although everyone uses computers, many writers prefer pen and paper for staying organized. I even know writers who write their novels by hand!

1. Field Notes Kraft Ruled 3-Pack

These 48-page mini logs are masterpieces.

2. Passion Planner

I have several friends who swear by this planner.

3. Refillable Travel Journal

It’s pretty, it’s refillable, and it’s perfect for writing in.

4. Productivity Planner

Get focused, beat procrastination, write things in a pretty notebook. Win win win.


E-readers

Writers love real life books but they’re also realists. Where do they put all those books they read? Which is why you should get the writer on your list an e-reader.

Here are a few options!

1. Kindle Paperwhite

2. Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa

3. Nook HD

4. Kobo Forma

Gifts for writers. Writers love real life books but they're also realists. Where do they put all those books they read? Which is why you should get the writer on your list an e-reader. Here are a few options!

Craft books

Books on the craft of writing are great gifts for writers! These are a few of my favourites.

1. Writer’s Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. This is the standard gift for writers!

2. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This book is incredible. The advice and writing tips took my writing to the next level. It also banished adverbs. Yay.

3. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, 28th edition: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over

This is similar to the Writer’s Market but can there be too much of a good thing? When it comes to writing books, I say no!

4. The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 Hours and Sell Your Book

I spent the past year writing my book proposal and pitching it so you can see where my head’s at. Book! Book! Write your book! (Actually, PLAN your non-fiction book!)


Writing T-shirts | Gifts for writers

Every writer needs a writing T-shirt. And these ones are funny. Trust me on this.

1. To Quote Hamlet

This is quite silly, but I like it! (And I think your writer will too.)

2. I Put The Lit In Literature T-Shirt

I’m not 100 per cent sure what “lit” means in today’s slang but my gut says it’s pretty cool. So this saying is probably cool too.

3. This is My Writing Shirt

A bit on the nose but accurate nonetheless.

4. Grammar Police T-Shirt

This is for those special writers or editors in your life who are proud of their grammar grasp and want the world to know they’re paying attention to misplaced modifiers and pronoun usage.


Writing prompts

Looking for writing prompts and writing journals? This is your official one-stop shop!

1. 1200 Creative Writing Prompts (Adventures in Writing)

If you’re looking for writing ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

2. 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts

Prompt sections include beginners writing prompts, constrained writing, flash fiction, ripper prompts, and general writing prompts.

3. A Year of Creative Writing Prompts (Write On!)

Kick your imagination into gear with this collection of hand-picked, hand-crafted, explosively creative writing prompts!

4. 365 Journal Writing Ideas: A year of daily journal writing prompts, questions & actions to fill your journal with memories, self-reflection, creativity & direction

Follow the undated daily journal writing prompts and weekly actions to fill your journal to the point of bursting.

Looking for writing prompts and writing journals? This is your official one-stop shop! What do you get the writer who has everything? Or, perhaps this is more accurate: Oh no! You drew THE WRITER for your secret Santa gift exchange and you have no clue what would make a good gift! Help! What are the best gifts for writers anyway? Is there a GIFT GUIDE? Yes, yes there is.

Gifts for writers, Pin it for later!

Oh no! You drew THE WRITER for your gift exchange and you have no clue what to get. Help! What are the best gifts for writers anyway? Is there a GIFT GUIDE?

Stay tuned, more to come. I’ve got ideas for writing prompts, writing-themed jewelry, writing BOOKS, writing inspiration, and writing clothing (obviously) in the queue. And whatever else I can dig up!

Other Fun THings For Writers

Gifts for writers are fairly straightforward. Literary-themed beverage containers and office wear as well as the obvious notebooks should keep them happy.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Feedback vs Criticism: 8 Ways to Deal with Negativity

We all need input from others to help us improve but when dealing with negative comments it’s important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism.

Feedback vs Criticism Dealing With Negative Comments

And no, you don’t have to take every piece of advice you receive. But maybe you should take some of it.

Feedback vs criticism: dealing with negative comments

When deciding if something is feedback vs criticism it all comes down to motivation. This isn’t always easy to discern but once you know the difference it will be easier to identify.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Feedback vs criticism (defined)

Feedback is a response or reaction to an activity. It can be negative but its intention is to correct and/or inspire positive change. Feedback is specific and precise.

Criticism speaks in general terms relying on statements like “always” and “never.” It assumes motives for behaviour and applies sweeping blame and judgment.

Another difference between feedback vs criticism is feedback focuses on behaviour/problems and is most often given in private whereas criticism focuses on the personal and is often given in a public setting.

The best way to tell if you’re receiving feedback vs criticism is to determine what the intention of the negative comment is.

  • If it’s intended to shame you or is a personal attack this is criticism
  • If it’s intended to solve a problem and help you improve then it’s feedback

You still don’t have to take the feedback but at least you know it’s coming from a good place.

Your Writer's Statement Free Fillable Worksheet

By the way, no matter the reason, you should know why you write.

If you can get clear about your why it will act as a beacon when your path isn’t clear. You know, when things like criticism, self-doubt and insecurity knock at your door. Or when success doesn’t come in the timeline you daydreamed about.

Your why will help you see past the discouragement of the day and keep moving ahead. Because you have a larger purpose! Your why is bigger than a momentary setback.

Ready to create your writer’s statement? Download the worksheet from my free resource library. This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. Pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re there, navigate to the writing section and look for “Create a Writer’s Statement Worksheet.”

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Many of us hold back from publishing or putting ourselves out there online and on social media because we’re petrified of negative feedback and critical comments.

We’re already insecure enough—and our self-talk works hard to keep us humble.

The last thing we need is rejection from Internet strangers.

Except we need to put ourselves out there. Because professionals publish their work; they put themselves out there.

Professionals make things every day and then they share them. That’s how they get better—by making things. Amateurs, on the other hand, wait for their big break and hide in the shadows until someone discovers them. Incidentally, they are the ones who are quick to criticize those making things. Which one would you rather be: the brave creator, or the cowering critic?

Jeff Goins, You Can Be a Critic or a Creator (But You Have to Choose One)
Feedback vs Criticism

But what if you are the brave creator and still receive negative comments? If it’s criticism you can ignore it but if it’s feedback here are a few strategies for dealing with it effectively.

How to respond to negative feedback

  • Recognize it’s not personal and be polite in your response
  • Respond in a way that lets the person know s/he’s heard
  • Don’t rush to reach or take the feedback at face value
  • In a day or two, embrace constructive feedback
  • Keep your response short, simple and sweet
  • If needed, apologize and sympathize in your response
  • Insert a little marketing into your response if possible
  • As soon as possible move the conversation offline

Publishing in the digital age means we can receive instant feedback and so we need to develop thick skin.

Learning to recognize the difference between feedback vs criticism and responding (when appropriate) in an effective way will not only help you improve but also help you grow your fan and follower base.

Other writing posts you may like


We all need input from others but when dealing with negative comments it's important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
We all need input from others but when dealing with negative comments it's important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism.
We all need input from others but when dealing with negative comments it's important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism.

3 Simple and Helpful Keywords and SEO Tips for Writers

At some point in your writing career you’ll face keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have.

Keywords SEO Tips

I say it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
Click the image for more information, or pop your email address in the form below

Finding Keywords for SEO

Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there’s a good chance you’re doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow.

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

Keyword Tips

1. Answer questions your audience is asking

Think about the audience you serve and the types of questions they’re asking. Then take those questions and answer them.

If you take the time to figure out what questions your target audience, customer or reader is asking, the more you increase your chance of them finding your answers. It’s amazing stuff.

2. Figure out three or four main topics for your website

If you understand editorial planning then you already know this. If not, think about the main themes or categories of the product or service you’re writing about. Then break those main ideas down into smaller topic ideas or sub-categories.

Continue breaking the ideas down into smaller and smaller ideas until you’re as focused as possible. You now have a HUGE amount of on-topic keywords to build articles and content around.

3. Look at what others in your industry/niche are writing about

Browse their websites and see what topics they’re addressing. Is there anything missing? Can you offer more information about one of those topics on your site? Can you go deeper on any of these themes? See what your competitors are doing and improve on it.

If you don’t know who your competitors are you can open up an incognito browser and Google your theme or topic. See who ranks in the top (not counting ads) and check out the articles. Ask these same questions and see how you can improve on what’s already ranking well in search.

One last tip: Tech Tools

If you’re stumped for ideas online tools like Wordstream’s Keyword Tool or Google Trends will help you brainstorm ideas. They will also give you a good indication of how many people are searching for the term so you don’t waste your time answering questions no one is asking.

A few years ago my website was quite random and unfocused. I spent a lot of time writing about whatever struck my fancy and not much time wondering what people would like to read.

One day I realized I was ranking as the number four search in Google for “DIY Chocolate Bubble Bath.” I thought that was pretty great until I realized I have no interest in the topic, offer no services or products on that topic and no one ever actually searches for that topic.

Oops.

Finding Keywords Conclusion

The closer your keywords are to the actual topics you cover and services you offer the better your SEO ranking will be. Part of your website’s value comes from how long people spend on your site.

If you show up in search and people click on your link only for them to leave a second later, this tells Google the search result wasn’t relevant to the user and over time your ranking will go down until it disappears altogether.

There is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out keywords and SEO but if you keep it simple and think about what your audience is searching for online, you’re on your way to optimizing your writing.

Pin for Later

Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there's a good chance you're doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. 

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there's a good chance you're doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. 

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.
At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). Understanding SEO makes you more valuable.
At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

A Five-Step Plan for Breaking Free from Content Mills

If you’re new to freelance writing you may have heard other writers warn you about content mills.

A Five-Step Plan for Breaking Free from Content Mills

But do you know how to spot them in order to steer clear? And what if you took a gig and found out later it was one of those content mills? How do you break free?

So, you want to be a freelance writer

For many new writers, the idea of making a living writing is an elusive dream.

They aren’t veterans with established credibility, they don’t have strong clippings from reputable sources, and they don’t have a network of colleagues to get advice from. They’re desperate for information but they hear conflicting advice and don’t know who to believe.

So they bid on jobs and take five dollars per article, all the while cold pitching blog after blog and freelance marketplace posting after freelance marketplace posting. Nothing is working.

They feel like frauds and wonder if it isn’t better to give up altogether.

Content mills AKA writers mills AKA content farms are all slang terms freelancers give to companies or websites that pump out cheap content intended to drive page views or profits and pay their writers next-to-nothing rates.

When you’re just starting out it’s easy to wind up in these content mills because they’re easy gigs to get and many new freelancers don’t know what a good rate is.

They’re so flattered and excited to get a job they take it without much consideration.

But wait. Doesn’t everyone start somewhere? And what if you’re already writing for content mills don’t even know it? Or what if you’re writing for content mills and you’re ready to make the break…what’s next?

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Five tips for breaking free from content mills

Get a website

If you’re hungry for work you need a website promoting your writing. It doesn’t have to be fancy but you do need to let prospective clients know what kind of writing you do, what kind of writing you have done, and how to get in touch.

Here are seven essential writer website elements if you’re wondering what you should put on your website.

Write a blog

Yes this is a lot of work but it’s also a great example of your writing style and voice. This fills in the gaps if you don’t have many good-quality clippings and demonstrates your dedication to the craft.

On the fence about blogging? Here are four reasons why I think freelancers should have a blog.

Create a marketing plan

Keep it simple at the beginning, but have a plan. Answer these questions: what type of writing do you want to do, what is your rate, what problems can you solve for your clients, and where are your ideal clients? Then make a plan to get your ideal client’s attention.

Here are some tips for marketing yourself as a writer without feeling sleazy or braggy.

Ask for help

This is hard. But in your circle there has got to be at least one person who is willing and able to help you by offering mentorship, advice, or introductions. But you do need to be vulnerable and reach out. If you don’t know where to start you can ask me.

Joining a writing group is an awesome way to find people who can help you escape content mills. Here are my best tips for finding good writing groups.

Practice pitching

There’s a whole psychology to pitching and it starts with mindset. If you believe you’re a fraud or you don’t deserve more than five dollars an article then your pitching will reflect that. Practice pitching and work on your confidence. Ask other writers what pitches have worked for them and make adjustments to your approach as necessary.

Wondering where to start with pitching? Learn how to write a query letter.

By following these five steps you will be on your way to creating a platform and landing clients. And with the support of fellow writers, you’ll pick up even more ways to reach your freelance writing goals.

If you're new to freelance writing you may have heard other writers warn you about content mills. But do you know how to spot them in order to steer clear?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. There’s a writing section and a freelancing section I think you’ll get a lot out of.

I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
If you're new to freelance writing you may have heard other writers warn you about content mills. But do you know how to spot them in order to steer clear?
Content mills aka writers mills aka content farms are all slang terms freelancers give to companies or websites that pump out cheap content intended to drive page views or profits and pay their writers next-to-nothing rates. When you're just starting out freelance writing it's easy to wind up in these content mills because they're easy gigs to get and many new freelancers don't know what a good rate is. Want to break free? Here's your five-step plan for breaking free from content mills.