What you should know about Textbroker's new TOS

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  1. profile image0
    Casimiroposted 8 years ago

    I know many hubbers also write on TB, so I thought I'd point out to you that the new TOS, which goes into effect for all TB writers on July 1st may be of concern to you.

    In particular, you will be subject to a new *24 month* non-compete clause. This means that if they find you that you do any work for one of their clients, they can sue you, impose a $500 "administrative fee", charge you the 5-star per word rate on that work, etc.

    You may say "why do I care, I'm not going to steal their clients", but in reality, how do you know? The client-writer wall in TB is pretty solid. I really have no idea who I am working for on the other side of that wall. If I'm lucky, I have a first name, that's it.

    I, like many others, do not rely solely on the work I get from TB. I'm a free-lancer. If, inadvertently, I were to ghostwrite for a TB client outside of TB I may not even know until TB brought down the hammer. I'm on a fixed income, I make barely more than the minimum wage in most States on most of my work for TB.

    They have now created a huge risk for me that I think I'd be unwise to accept.
    Right now, I intend to leave TB before the end of the month to avoid being caught in that net. Sad, but true, because it's been relatively lucrative for me over there.

    It's unfortunate that TB has chosen to spend their limited resources paying paranoid lawyers instead of improving their clunky site for writers, but that's often what happens in the corporate world.

    Non-compete clauses such as this one are normally used for high-level managers and executives and not applied to min-wage worker bees. I am sure that 99% of TB writers will not even look at the new TOS, however.

    Best of luck,


  2. ChristinS profile image40
    ChristinSposted 8 years ago

    I don't understand why anyone who values their work writes for them.  Sorry to be blunt, but you don't have to work for peanuts if you have experience and can write reasonably well.  Market yourself and find paying clients locally, or in a niche, or whatever, but sites like TB devalue all of us.

    1. profile image0
      Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      All my work is from direct orders now, for which I set the price. It's a steady stream without any marketing on my part. It's still peanuts, but twice the open order rate and requires no extra effort on my part. Trying to market yourself on other freelancer sites consumes a lot of time. Anyway, I'll probably leave TB to avoid that clause and pursue some other writing projects I have in mind.

  3. Helena Ricketts profile image93
    Helena Rickettsposted 8 years ago

    They updated the TOS for their clients too.  I've been using them recently to fast track the writing on a new website since I don't have time to do it.  Here's what it says for clients:

    "VIII. No Luring Away of Authors
    During the term of this Agreement and for three years after the expiration or termination of this Agreement, you agree you will not directly or indirectly solicit, or assist in any way in the solicitation of, business or services from any of the authors, either for your own benefit or the benefit of any third party, or provide any business to the author other than through this Site, unless the business being provided or the services being solicited are not competitive with or the same or similar to the business of, or services or products provided by Textbroker or its affiliates as determined by Textbroker in its sole discretion. We provide a messaging system that enables customers to communicate with authors, if needed. You agree you will only communicate with customers through such messaging system. Every violation of this principle under VIII. will be deemed a violation of these Terms of Services by the customer. We reserve the right to enforce our rights and remedies under this Agreement, at law, and in equity against the customer. If you violate the terms of this Section, and an author provides services outside this Site, among other remedies, you shall pay Textbroker its 5-star OpenOrder client rate for each word written, in addition to a $500 administrative fee per article written and any of Textbroker’s costs (including legal fees) to collect such payments."

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and it kinda makes me wonder what happened that prompted that threat.  You are correct, there is no way to tell if a private client also hires out writing through a content mill site and Textbroker is NOT worth the risk for a writer.

  4. Fiction Teller profile image59
    Fiction Tellerposted 8 years ago

    I'm in the middle of reading the new TOS and I have many reservations too.

    I haven't written for them in years, but I'm on the roster.

    I have no objection to the earnings model.  I didn't find the pay to be peanuts.  When I was writing for them, I found the whole model extraordinarily flexible and low-stress, and for a writer, that's gold.

    ChristinS, the main service Textbroker offers for writers is that they do the marketing and distribution - they find the clients, they deal with them. There are writers who find those tasks relatively easy or inconsequential, or well worth the effort.  I'm not one of them. Marketing, client management, troubleshooting...all that is work I prefer not to do.  I've done my share of oDesk and suchlike and - well, dealing with clients is three quarters of the actual work.  Sure, pay and rep are better, but the cost is correspondingly high.  (Kind of like a job that pays awesome but that requires a dress code and a 1.5-hour commute each way...is the cost worth the reward? How much is earned "per hour" when you factor in the commute/prep time?)

    Textbroker has its issues, though - I agree with your points, Casimiro. I admit I'm not up on other write-for-hire venues these days.  Are there any that are hitting the right note for writers?

    1. ChristinS profile image40
      ChristinSposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I have an established client base now and most of my referrals are word of mouth, so after my initial start, it takes virtually no time at all. Initially yes, it takes time to develop a group of regular clients and market yourself. That wasn't my favorite part either honestly.   All things worthwhile require some hard work and participating in the parts we don't necessarily like.

      I make way more on my own and it's on my own terms.   I write for clients I enjoy, who value what I do and don't take advantage.  TOS like this are designed to bully writers into continuing to make profits for TB at their own expense.  I can't see how that is a good thing to do to those who are bringing you profit. Yes, TB needs to protect their own interests, but this is a bit much.  The reason they have to go this far? Maybe writers are getting wise to the fact they are being short changed.

      1. Fiction Teller profile image59
        Fiction Tellerposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        I agree that the opportunity is there for writers who aspire to work for grander clients, and that writing farms like Textbroker can make it easy to forget that - although correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Textbroker have avenues for ambitious writers to connect repeatedly with clients at more favorable terms? 

        I was trying (clumsily?) to point out that using Textbroker does not mean a writer is devaluing his work. It means that for whatever reason, the service Textbroker provides may actually be valuable.  Choosing not to deal with clients has nothing to do with wanting to only do easy work or work I "like" - not sure where that follows...? Every laborer is an economy of resources, and we all have to manage our economy in our own particular ways.

        Some saw Demand Media and others of its ilk as oppressive.  I saw them as providing an opportunity, a stepping stone traditional publishing was no longer offering to the masses. There's no shame in taking work as a writer, whether for peanuts or glamorous salaries, as long as it's legal and ethical - and those legal and ethical issues attack writers all along the income spectrum; they're not localized to the literary slumlords, so to speak.

        1. profile image0
          Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          Yes, TB allows you to set a direct order price, which I've gradually increased and I still have more work than is amenable to my preferred 20-hour work week. smile  It's still only about 10-15$ per hour, min. wage territory, but it's easy, I get to learn about a lot of interesting topics and have a good set of clients now. A bit hard to let that go, but I think I must.

  5. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 8 years ago

    The only sustainable way to freelance is to make relationships with clients and get steady work with them.  A service that outlaws that is essentially useless.

    1. ChristinS profile image40
      ChristinSposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      +1111 couldn't agree more.

    2. Fiction Teller profile image59
      Fiction Tellerposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Very well put. Every time I encounter what seems to be an Internet visionary company, they turn traditional corporate on me. There is a new economic model out there, and in that model, creative labor is at a premium.  But companies who should get that we're in another Golden Age are dropping the ball and falling back on conservative, restrictive practices - not to their ultimate benefit.

  6. UnnamedHarald profile image92
    UnnamedHaraldposted 8 years ago

    Thanks for the info. New TOS takes effect July 1, I believe. They say if you don't want to abide by the new TOS to close your account before then. Done.

    1. profile image0
      Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I've got about 25K words of stuff to write quick before the window closes. I don't think I can take anything that is due later than the 21st so I can hit the Thursday/Friday pay cycle and get out of Dodge.

  7. paradigm search profile image55
    paradigm searchposted 8 years ago

    Oh good, another site for me to avoid.

  8. earner profile image82
    earnerposted 8 years ago

    I would say "never work for rule changers".... but all the beggars do it!

  9. wilderness profile image93
    wildernessposted 8 years ago

    Let me see if I understand this.  You write for "Mary", on a job provided by TB.  TB refuses to tell you who "Mary" is affiliated with, and won't let "Mary" tell you either.

    You then take a job with XYZ corp and are sued because "Mary" was their employee.  Somehow I think TB would have a really difficult time making that stand up in court.

    1. profile image0
      Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Perhaps, but in the meantime I would incur a lot of expense defending myself, money I cannot afford.

      1. wilderness profile image93
        wildernessposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        Very true, and certainly ample reason to leave them in your dust.

        Still, it would be interesting to see the policy challenged.

        1. profile image0
          Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          The minimal research I've done on that is to find out that at least in California non-compete clauses are completely unenforceable.

  10. MuellerWordsmith profile image61
    MuellerWordsmithposted 8 years ago

    Yea, that's pretty harsh. I won't work with any studio that puts in a non compete clause period. Maybe for a novel publisher, but not for a short form content host.

  11. profile image0
    calculus-geometryposted 8 years ago

    As with any agreement, making up rules is one thing and enforcing them is another.

    1. profile image0
      Casimiroposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      True enough. This one seems pretty tough to detect unless someone squeals. My name never appears on my articles, so how would they know otherwise? Anyway, for the amount of money I make, this seems too big a risk. I can always come back later, if the risk equation becomes more favorable, but by then I am sure I'll be onto other things more fun and profitable.


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