- Books, Literature, and Writing
Textbroker ~ Things You Need To Know Before Writing For Them
A Bit Of Caution Will Help You To Be More Successful At Textbroker ~
I began writing for Textbroker in November of 2011 and I'm still writing there, making it over three years now that I've been plugging away writing SEO and other types of web content. Textbroker is a service that is exactly what its name implies. They are a broker, or a go-between for companies and website managers who need content written and freelance writers who will write content for clients, for a price.
The concept is simple. My experiences are all going to be from an author's perspective, since I've never ordered any articles from Textbroker. To become an author, simply go to their website, textbroker.com and click where it says "For Authors ~ Make money writing. Sign up today".
There you will enter your email address and create a password. Textbroker will ask you to write a short piece for them, a sample of your writing that will be evaluated by their editors. Shortly after that, you will receive a reply letting you know what level you will begin writing under. The levels are based on how good your writing is at the time. If you're anything like me, you will get better over time. It just takes some patience.
I began at Level 3, (also known as 3 stars), which is considered to be a "Good" writer.
Level 2 is "Legible," Level 3 is "Good" and Level 4 is "Excellent." I didn't expect to begin at Level 4, simply because I knew that my writing skills were a bit ... UN-perfected... I guess that's a good word. I was out of practice and it had been years since I was in school. I knew the writing basics, but things like punctuation threw me for a loop.
In fact, I have heard that punctuation is one of the biggest problems that writers have when they write for Textbroker. They tend to overuse or under-use things like commas. If you do that, it will affect your author rating and the way your articles are rated. Another thing I read somewhere is that most authors begin at level 3 on Textbroker. So, it was nice to find out that I was in that average range to begin with.
I found myself actually choosing a combination of level 3 work and level 2 work when I was just beginning to look for articles to write. Level 2 seemed to be easier to write, although the work paid less at that level. I have been a level 4 now for quite a while. Writers should be aware that their work will be evaluated by editors on a periodic basis. Depending on the level number your articles are given, you will either stay at your current level or move up or down. Moving down stinks. You become used to making a certain amount of money for each article you've written and if you are dropped down a level, your earnings will go down.
Fortunately, this hasn't happened to me very often. It did happen once and I stayed at Level 3 for about 3 weeks or longer before I was moved back up to Level 4. Your choices of work to do go WAY down the lower your level is. There can be 2,000 articles to choose from at Level 4 and 20 to choose from at Level 3. I've seen that happen.
Sometimes Taking A Break Is Just What You Need ~
Clients ~ Love 'Em... Or NOT... They Supply Your Work ~
One of the most difficult things to learn when writing for Textbroker is how to deal with clients. It's best to always take a professional approach. A little politeness and kindness go a long way. Clients will be as different as people all over the world are... you will have some who will be incredibly easy to work with, pleasant and seem to genuinely be thankful for your talent and time.
You will have others who you will not be able to talk about in a complimentary way. That sure sounded politically correct, didn't it? It's better than my original thought. You will have some who will be incredibly difficult to work with, vague in their instructions and in explaining what they want from you and some who will just be nasty. I've heard some author's refer to some clients as Diva's... I guess that's one way of categorizing certain types.
Anyone who has written for Textbroker knows exactly what "Diva" means when referring to a client. The instructions they give will be pages and pages long. They will either be written in a micromanaging kind of way, or in an insulting way. I've read orders from clients who begin every sentence with "you will get reject if..." First of all " you will get reject" is not grammatically correct. That's just me being picky I guess.
You will find other clients who expect you to write work for them that is on the level of a master's degree or PhD dissertation and who are only willing to pay a whopping $4.90 for that service. They expect hours of research and hours of your time and if you choose to write for them, you will end up making about $1 an hour, or less. The best advice is to skip those types of clients.
Eventually, after some practice and trial and error, you will learn how to choose assignments from clients who turn out to be wonderful to work for. I have some tips for choosing good clients that I'll share.
What Makes A Client Good To Write For On Textbroker?
I've found that if a client is respectful of you as an author, they are great to work for. I've had clients send something back for a revision saying things like "overall, this is very good. Can you please revise..." and then they ask for the revision they want. I find that I'm very willing to revise something and send it back to them, without too much concern about them possibly rejecting the article, if it is approached in a polite and respectful way.
When you go to choose an order from the pool of Open Orders, clients who give clear instructions without actually writing the piece for you are good choices. If instructions are very short or are very vague, I stay away. When you are looking at an order trying to decide if you want to write that order, click on the client "number" (usually a seven digit number).
You will see some rates listed on the page that comes up that are important. One will be a "rejection" rate. If that number is high, there's a good chance that they will reject something you've written for them. They are not worth your time.
Another important number is the "Revision rate"... if it is in the double digits, I try to stay away. If I have written other articles for the client and they have been happy with my work, I will choose to write an article for them. If I've never written for them and they have a 40 percent revision rate, that is high and there's a good chance you'll be writing the same article twice. Stay away from clients who have high revision and rejection rates.
Choosing What To Write ~
It takes a bit of trial and error to choose the articles you want to write. There are so many things to consider. First of all, you can normally tell how much research you are going to have to do by how detailed the finished article should be. If it looks as though you'll have to do a lot of research for a very short article that doesn't pay much, I normally skip it.
One thing I have learned NOT to do, and I learned this the hard way, is to write articles about holidays. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't. I had a client recently who wanted an article written about Valentine's Day. The article was to be about My Valentine's Day In...(name of country). By the title, you can tell it is supposed to be written in first person, as if you went on a trip to that country and celebrated Valentine's Day there.
I did the best I could on the article, researching and writing. I turned it in on Valentine's Day. The client waited the four days (they have 96 hours to decide if they are going to "accept" your article the way it is, or ask you for a revision). This client waited 94 or 95 hours, then asked for a revision. I revised it to the best of my ability. The revision instructions were incredibly vague. They were something like "Correct sentences in every paragraph. Grammar is not good." I knew the grammar was fine. It was hard to find exactly what was wrong with the sentences, too. This should have been a red flag for me, but I missed it.
I totally blame myself for what happened next. The article I spent time revising was rejected. It became my second rejection, in a history of almost 850 articles successfully written. Looking back, I NEVER should have re-written it. I should have let the 24 hours lapse and let it go.
Sometimes that is the best advice when you receive an article back for revision. Release it back into the pool of authors. It's hard to do that since you put work into it, but if it seems that the client will NOT be happy with it no matter what you do, let it go.
In fact, by letting it go, you will NOT be paid for it. But on the other side, you will NOT get a rejection either. Textbroker has a rule that the client must give you ONE opportunity to re-write something before they can reject it. You have to decide whether it is even worth your time to do that revision.
What I've learned is that sometimes it IS just best to let it go. You don't get paid, but you don't get a rejection either. Textbroker will tell you to just look at a rejection as a minor setback and to keep writing for them. That's fine, but here's the dirty little secret. When a client rejects something you've written, Textbroker reviews it. They decide whether to "side" with the client or the author. If they side with the author, you do get paid and it's not rejected. Who do you think they will side with?
My experience, and this is ONLY my experience, is that 100 percent of the time, they will side with the client, and the rejection will go on your record and you will not be paid. It's happened to me twice now, and both times the editors "sided" with the client. The excuse I was given for this Valentine's Day article? The article WAS supposed to be written in first person. The first paragraph should not have been in first person, but the rest of the article should have been. I do not remember that being in the original instructions. I should have printed the original instructions but I didn't so I could look back on them. I think it was just an excuse, a way to validate the editor's taking the clients side.
I know the article I turned in was fine the way it was written. I honestly believe the REAL reason for the client's rejection was "we don't want to pay for it because it's four days after Valentine's Day." This is the reason I say don't choose to write articles about a certain day. Once that day has passed, the client could potentially have second thoughts about paying you for it. It's better to just avoid articles with a holiday topic. Maybe that was just my experience. I know that from now on, I will pass on articles about Christmas, Valentine's Day and other holidays.
Another word of advice when choosing an article to write. Do NOT choose one with a HUGE list of keywords and key phrases that they want included in the article. This was how my first rejection came about. The client had a huge list of phrases they wanted included and some of them seemed a bit repetitive. I did as they asked. I included all of them.
The article came back for revision and I revised it. The client rejected it. The reason? It was too repetitive. Textbroker agreed and said it was "incredibly repetitive." H~E~L~L~O... the key phrases I was given to use were repetitive. I should have passed on doing the revision but I didn't. This was only my first rejection, so I accepted that and chalked it up to a valuable learning experience. Textbroker also gives you the option to "Blacklist" certain clients. I bet you can guess two of them who are now on my "Blacklist!" This means that you do not see orders from them listed in the open orders, and you won't have to work with them again.
One other word of advice. If you choose to let an article go, you don't have to lose getting paid! Go to a website called Constant Content, and sell it there. I haven't done it yet, but I have heard that other authors have been successful doing that. You need to sign up with them and take a short five question grammar quiz to get started, then you can begin to sell your work there. This way, you do eventually get paid for what you wrote, only you are paid by someone else.
One More Surprising Lesson ~
In a new development, I was shocked to have something I had written for a "Team" that I was on get rejected recently. H~E~L~L~O... I was asked by this client to be on their team because this client liked the way I wrote. They asked for a revision of the article, so I was happy to revise it to the best of my ability, and this rejection came practically out of nowhere.
The rule is that they only have to ask ONE time for a revision, then they have the option of rejection. I just never expected that kind of behavior from a TEAM client. I guess I expected them to send me a message first maybe? That's what I do when I need to communicate with the client. You will occasionally find a client who will not even give you the respect of communicating first. So, I learned another valuable lesson... this doesn't only happen when you write "open" orders for Textbroker, it can happen even if you are on a team - that you were asked to be on!
I can pretty much guess what will happen next.... Textbroker will take the side of the person with the open wallet (the client) and not the person who is doing the actual WORK... and so it goes. I did learn that even if I ever get a revision request again, even if it IS from a team client to "let it go."
It May Seem Like Complaining ~
This might seem like I'm complaining because I am! (Yes, I am kidding!) I simply wanted to write this to help those considering doing some writing for Textbroker so they won't make some of the mistakes I've made.
After a while, you tend to become very intuitive and can easily pick out clients who will be fantastic to work with. I have several clients who regularly send me direct orders. These are great to write because you are working with a "known" client, someone who already likes your writing style and has chosen you specifically to write articles for them. I never take that lightly. I enjoy writing for direct order clients.
I have some clients, both in the open order category and direct order clients, who are amazing to work for. They are super nice people who genuinely respect what I do and who are very easy to work with. If I have a question, I can send them a message and they get back to me right away with a helpful answer. I would say about 50 percent of my work now comes from direct orders, so I don't have to choose from open orders as much any more.
When I do need to choose an open order, however, I am much more careful in my choices now. Remember the things to look for and you should be able to choose wisely, too.
- Choose clients who have given clear, helpful instructions and who have made it very clear what they want from you. Vague instructions are a reason to PASS on their order.
- Choose clients with LOW rejection and revision rates. The lower the better. Or choose clients you have worked with in the past who rated your work highly when they gave you ratings. Ratings are found on your statistics page. If there is a CL over on the far right side, they have left you a rating.
- Some of my favorite clients to write for say things like "thank you in advance for your time and hard work". Writing is not easy! This shows an appreciation for what we do.
- Do not choose articles based on a certain calendar day, like a holiday (as a general rule) Sometimes these articles might work out. I am going by the "burn me once, shame on you... burn me twice, shame on me" rule here.
- Remember that you will NEVER get a rejection and you will have NO rejection rate if you cancel an order when a client asks for a revision, or if you let the 24 hours lapse without revising it. You won't get paid, but you will not get a rejection either.
Basically, I love writing for Textbroker. I love that I can work from home, set my own hours, stay in my pajamas if I want to.. OK, so I don't do that. But, it is nice to be a freelancer, free-spirited business person. I know that writing for Textbroker is also like any other job. You will have some clients who will be a joy to work for and others who will not be. It's basically like working for any company.
Sometimes the experiences with clients will be great, sometimes they will be hurtful and you'll wonder why you even do it. For the most part, though, it is rewarding. Hopefully these tips will be helpful to anyone thinking of writing for a living. It's a great job, if you can get it!