Freelance writers, especially ones more seasoned tend to frown upon many of the content writing sites referring to them as “content mills.” True, they are low-paying, and a good growing writer will eventually move on. But there are a few of them that may be good starting places for a newbie.
After some exploring, I found a few content sites that writers could apply to write for. Work comes from various clients who need content. These sites act as a sort of broker, taking a percentage of the pay that the clients are charged per article.
Assignments may be blog posts, press releases, product reviews, travel reviews or copy for businesses, hotels, etc. Occasionally, a client may request a rewrite of something. These clients publish your work under their pseudonym.
You are basically a ghost writer. You give up all rights to your work. This is the big difference from writing for revenue share sites. You will be selling an article of say, 500 words for a few dollars, and it will no longer be your baby.
Yes, the pay is low, but with no formal training or experience as a writer, I found it a good way to get started. I knew I had potential, but I had to start out “low man on a totem pole”.
The key is to have another source of income while you transition into full-time freelance writing. Start out your freelance career as a hobby. Don’t depend on freelance writing to be your main source of income. Do it for a nice paying pastime and let it grow from there.
I applied to write for Textbroker and Writer Access. I tried to apply to one called Content Authority, but after painstakingly completing the writing sample (150 words on a given prompt), a message appeared stating that “they were not hiring at the time.”
Author applications on the sites vary, but all require a writing sample. All are more likely than not to give a test. The tests are multiple choice and involve selecting sentences that are grammatically and mechanically correct. Some may ask for resumes. If you have a particular industry such as healthcare or law, this could be beneficial later.
I found the tests for both Textbroker and Writer Access to be challenging, and I probably would not have made it without good writing samples. Some of the questions can get quite tricky and technical. These tests proved to me that I really needed to brush up on the writing craft. But the fact that my writing samples did so well was encouraging. I felt I had the hardest part licked. I made sure to get a desktop help guide like The A+ Guide to Grammar by Vicki Tyler.
Both Writer Access and Textbroker assign you a level upon entry. Based on tests and writing samples, the levels start at level 2 and go to level 5. The pennies paid per word increase with each level. Most, it is said, enter at level 3, which is exactly where I entered.
Textbroker verses Writer Access Pay
The good news is, Writer Access pays better than Textbroker. The bad news? Textbroker has a lot more work available to more people and in many more categories.
Textbroker pays as follows, with the USD amount shown for 500 words and the writing quality
.07 cents per word for 2-star writers, 3.50 USD (legible)
1 cent per word for a 3-star writer, 5.00 USD (good)
1.4 cents per word for a 4-star writer, 7.00 USD (excellent)
5 cents per word for a 5-star writer, 25.00 USD (professional
Writer Access pay is very different, although they also pay in quality of writing levels 2-5. Their clients are charged from a little over 2 cents per word to up to $1.00 per word depending on the level of service the clients select with Crowd being the cheapest. Clients also choose the level of the writer they want. The client can upgrade to Standard or Premium. Then the client is charged according to what Writer Access terms “quality, visibility and complexity”. Not writing from a client’s point of view, this is as well as I can explain Writer Access pay.
Both pay only through PayPal. Writer Access pays monthly around the 7th to 9th day of the month. There must be at least 50 USD in your account for a pay-off. Texbroker pays weekly and the minimum payoff amount is $10.00. This is the one feature I like most about Texbroker. It is always nice to have a little jingle in your pocket.
Textbroker Verses Writer Access for Getting assignments
There is a major difference in getting assignments between Textbroker and Writer Access. With Textbroker, you have all jobs available to anyone at YOUR level only. For example, if you are a level 3 writer, the number of jobs available in each category will be hi-lighted in orange for your level and for level 2. Level 4 and 5 jobs are grayed out and not available to you.
After logging onto your Textbroker account, you can select the show assignments tab to see what is available.There are usually around 35 categories listed from art and automobiles to travel reviews and travel.On any given day, the greatest number of jobs are in the level 4 category.
There is a downside to all these assignments. Some of them, well many of them just don’t make sense. Some are practically impossible. I don’t think it’s just me because I will continuously see some of these loopy assignments remain unclaimed.
Textbroker has a cute little assignment rating rubric that uses emoticons. It gives the writer a chance to communicate to the client when instructions are not clear. I’m not sure how effective it is as you can’t say WHY the assignment makes no sense.
Yes, Textbroker is a sort of library where you can “check out” assignments. If you start working on it and find it impossible, there appears to be no penalty other than only being able to claim that order only once more.
Not so with Writer Access. They frown heavily on dropped orders. If you check out an order (remember the library analogy here) you have one hour to decide if it is doable for you. It’s a chance to do a little pre-research. With Textbroker, check outs are 10 minutes.
After that, this baby is yours to write until the deadline is met. If you don’t meet the deadline and the order expires, Writer Access will not let you claim jobs for 72 hours. I know because it happened to me once. But in all fairness, they will forgive you if you message the client if a situation arises in which you can’t meet the deadline.
Writer Access notifies their writers by email when new jobs are posted. The email always hits at exactly at 5 o’clock in the morning. The major difference between grabbing assignments from Textbroker is that WA claims to send assignments to those who seem best fitted for the job according to the writer’s profile. I find this a bit hard to believe though. I have been emailed some assignments that don’t fit my profile at all. An example? Writing about fire hose clamps!
Writer Access Verses Textbroker’s Word Processors
Both Writer Access and Textbroker have their own keyboarding interface, or you can cut and paste from another program like Word. Writer Access has a fancier one similar to word press. Textbroker’s keyboarding is much simpler. You can bold, Italics, underline, link and create a bullet list and that is about it.
Writer Access has a media link for images for clients who them, which is not often. Some merely want a source URL. With Textbroker, images must be inserted with an embedded link, which again is not often required.
One thing that I appreciate about Textbroker is that your work automatically saves every 10 seconds. I learned the hard way to click save often with Writer Access, which is sort of a hassle. Several times I have lost my work due to a lost internet connection. Very frustrating. I wish they would add an auto-save feature.
Textbroker or Writer Access
In summary, which do I like the best? The old six to a half-dozen saying says it. I like one as much as the other. Textbroker is stricter on grammar, mechanics and correct usage, and they will check and rate your work after a while. They show you your errors and explain. This can help you to increase your level which is one way to increase your pay writing on content sites.
The pay? At one time I made more on Textbroker than Writer Access. That has changed due to some repeat work from clients that have placed me on their love list. After a few months, I was ‘promoted’ to level 4 on both Textbroker and Writer Access. I have been working for them both for about a year now. It is easy for me to bring in between $400 and $500 a month between the two of them. Not a lot I know, but this is without quitting the part-time day job.
Writer Access provides no feedback on your writing. They depend on some sort of algorithm that includes a rating from the client with the rubric met my expectations, exceeded my expectations or did not meet my expectations.
Both Textbroker and Writer Access require clients to give each author at least one chance to revise an article before it is rejected. The systems keep up with the number of published articles, monies earned and the number of rejections.
I suppose you “get canned” after so many rejections, I’m not sure. Luckily, so far I have had no rejections. I have had a few revisions. No big deal for most. You can refuse the revision and move on if you like with no penalty. Fair enough.