Freelance Writing Site Info: Interact Media Review

Freelance Writer Guide Asks: Is Interact Media legit or is Interact Media a scam?

UPDATE 5/25/16: This site is no longer a legitimate or trustworthy work option for new freelancers, in the opinion of the Freelance Writer Guide. Read our explanation here.

What is Interact Media?

Interact Media, also known as Zerys, is a content mill site, in the realm of Textbroker and Media Piston.  The site uses a job board to present writers with projects. An initial star rating system, based on a writer’s sample, is used to determine what tasks are available to a given writer.

How do I get started at Interact Media?

The application process is long and somewhat convoluted. I actually got some of the way through and ended up leaving off because I had work at my already-accepted sites that was more lucrative than slogging further along. I eventually finished my application when a pleading email came from IM citing 400+ jobs had flooded in and they needed fresh writers to work at them. Here’s the hoops you need to jump through:

(deep breath)

Once you’ve confronted the checklist, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

Here’s where things start getting complicated. Your next step is to pick “expert” categories to denote what subjects you will write about. Simple premise and not wholly unexpected, but there are four levels of each category, and a host of sub-categories in levels 2, 3, and 4. These sub-categories are extremely arbitrary, with paths for things like family > family crafts > craft terminology, and the inability to leave off if there’s further availability in the “path” – in that example, you couldn’t stop at “family crafts,” for instance. You must choose ten permutations and you must restrict yourself to no more than 5 level one categories. Sorry, renaissance people – you only get to be so talented.

Once you manage to get through the odd system of category-picking (you can choose up to 100 paths, by the way, if you have hours to kill) you move to the inevitable sample page. I will give IM credit in that they allow you to choose whether you want to submit an already-written sample or create a new one, but the fact they expect the new one for free kind of cancels that credit out. Cue skepticism re: every place that’s ever fished for free writing, citing “valuable exposure”.

Gee, it's not like they -emphasize- one over the other or anything..

Gee, it’s not like they -emphasize- one over the other or anything..

Assuming you decide to continue from there, you can expect an email a few days later with a congratulation message for making it inside, along with your editor-issued star rating. (From here on out, your rating will be entirely dependent on client ratings of your work.) What they’ve neglected to tell you until now – and what you’ll quickly discover – is that while there are 2 and 3 cent/word jobs that show up on the boards, they’re few and far between, vastly outweighed by the appalling .007/word work. No, that’s not a typo of 7 cents, readers – that seven tenths of ONE PENNY per word. I’ve never in my career seen a legitimate American site paying such horrible rates, and I was very, very disappointed to find that a fairly well-known site is responsible for perpetuating that it’s perfectly fine to pay skilled, native writers in fractions of a penny.

The numbers don't lie.

The numbers don’t lie.

How do I get paid at Interact Media?

Hopefully, twice a month via the paypal address you supplied in the application process. I say “hopefully” because the site has, easily, the longest review times I’ve ever seen. According to an email I received in response to my query, “editors” – who don’t work for IM, by the by, and are agents of the clients who post the jobs – have 14 business days to look over your article, with the potential of 14 more business days after that if they request a revision on the tail end of the countdown clock. Direct clients, those that don’t use an editor, have a far more reasonable 5-7 business days to approve or reject the article. (EDIT TO ADD: More insight into this timeline can be found in the comments below. )

Screenshot of an actual email.

How is the overall experience at Interact Media?

For me, it was terrible. After waiting for the better part of two weeks to get a measly $5 article approved, a $12 piece I had labored over (an article subject instructed to be tied in with a business that had nothing to do with it, along with links) was unceremoniously rejected – literally the first time in 8+ years of writing on content sites that I’ve ever had that happen. No recourse, no appeal, no revision attempt or opportunity allowed. Just a dismissive digital hand wave and my hard work left me with nothing but a highly-branded piece on a very odd subject that I had no hope of reselling.

Helpful Hints for Interact Media?

If you decide to try it out, do yourself a favor and check out a client’s profile prior to accepting a project. There will likely be telltale comments from previous writers if he or she is difficult to deal with, or exceptionally demanding. Don’t rely on this site for fast money, as the review times are absurdly long and they only pay twice a month.

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17 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Site Info: Interact Media Review

  1. This is Beth Hrusch, Senior Editor at Interact Media/Zerys. First, let me say that I am sorry that your experience with us was a negative one. I hope I can explain and clarify a few things.

    The application process includes steps that are necessary for writers to not only get set up in the system, but to succeed later on. The areas of expertise are limited to 5 main categories to ensure that writers are concentrating only on their true areas of expertise. This becomes important when clients want to filter writers by these criteria. Many niche industries require that writers have specific knowledge of the topic.

    The option to submit a unique sample offers you the opportunity to showcase your writing to potential clients. We feel it’s important that they have the ability to look at your work before hiring you. Most writers do not have a problem providing a short sample one time, for the purpose of getting future work.

    Also, we appreciate your concern about low rates for writers. We try to help buyers find the best writer that meets their needs. For some individuals, they can find what they are looking for at a lower rate. Others are going to search our pool of 5-star writers because they are in search of the best quality. Zerys has a marketplace with over 20,000 writers of all different experience levels. We are a marketplace, which means that we do not set the rates, the buyers do. Buyers can offer what their budget allows and writers are free to accept those rates or not. We do not intervene.

    With any marketplace, rates usually settle where they should be. Buyers often find that offering higher bids attracts better writing talent. It’s like the old saying “You get what you pay for.” Writers are always able to negotiate rates, as well. So, if a buyer likes a writer, then the buyer and writer can work out an arrangement that both are happy with and feel is fair. If the rate is too low, the writer can always walk away or choose not to be notified of jobs that are posted at rates that do not meet their desired pay range.

    Regarding review times: We have two types of clients in Zerys—direct clients (site owners) and agencies (representing site owners). For direct clients there is a 7-day review deadline. This is the absolute maximum time for review, and most clients take less time than that. For agency clients there is a longer review period because they have clients who also need to review and approve.

    We do try to balance the needs of agencies and writers, and this means that review times will sometimes be longer than writers would like. But, our agency partners provide thousands of writing jobs each month, and most make an effort to review in a timely manner.

    No system is perfect. However, we are constantly adding features and improvements in an effort to make Zerys the best content platform for both writers and buyers. We do have many writers who are very happy with Zerys and are finding success here, but feedback like yours is very valuable to us. We are constantly striving to enhance our system to try and create the most seamless approach for everyone. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • Beth – I appreciate your reaching out! Of the reviews/mentions that I’ve done so far, you’re the only one that’s bothered to address the concerns and cautions that I offer to the writing community. It shows that you have an active interest in connecting with writers, and that’s a very positive step in my book. Let me respond to your answers in kind:

      1.) The application process is clunky, and while I agree that some parts of it are necessary, I will stress that you need to explain, outline, and organize the category selection with far more consideration. Yours is not my first rodeo and there were several points that left me confused in regards to category selection. The breakdown of sub-cats should be a little more intuitive, they feel like they’re organized by order of writer creation which gives them a very scattered feel.

      2.) I wrote a piece for my “YoExpert Profile” to be rated on Interact, and as far as I can tell it’s floating in the nether. I was unable to locate it on the YoExpert site, there’s no links on my profiles on either YoExpert or Interact/Zerys that indicate where it can be found, and a direct search on Google using lines from the piece turns up nothing. In terms of the claims that this piece would be used to gain me private clients or notoriety, I find its seeming lack of “live” existence a little troubling. If you can shed light as to where my piece went, I’d certainly love to know.

      3.) I do not and can not agree with your site’s decision to offer clients and writers the option of .007/word. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a freelance writer yourself (I imagine you might have been), but low rates are the disease that’s killing the ability to write freelance as a career. Foreign clients already harbor a belief they can get blood from a stone, and an established site reinforcing that belief is, as I mentioned, abhorrent. In my very strong opinion, if you cared about fair pay for your erstwhile contractors you’d make .01/word the bare minimum available to both sides of the fence.

      4.) I appreciate the clarification and apologize for misunderstanding the division of review times, I will correct the numbers in my review of your site accordingly. I still think that 14 days, no matter who it’s given to, is far too long for an approval. The longest stretch of maximum non-revised review time I’ve ever seen on other sites is a week of real time. It is the agency’s job to complete their interaction with the client in a timely fashion, and the end writer shouldn’t have to suffer without pay for product already delivered because the agency is dragging their feet. It seems incredibly unbalanced that we’re given 2-3 days to actually create a piece from scratch while they’re given almost six times that just to read over it and decide if it’s acceptable or not.

      You guys have a solid model, but more attention ought to be paid to fair pay and reasonable turnaround times if you’re looking to woo more quality writers.

  2. I would like to point out that while to low PPW is there, I have seen a huge number of 2 and 3 PPW articles. Which is a great change from some of the other writing sites. I do like the fact that you can rate the clients, I just figured that out and boy do I wish I had before I took this job I am currently working on.

  3. Thank you again for your feedback. We are looking into ways that we can address the pricing issue in the future, to encourage buyers to offer higher rates. This includes partnering with major writing organizations and also demonstrating the level of talent our current writers have. This will allow buyers who are willing to pay much higher rates to make an offer with confidence, knowing that they are getting access to an elite group of quality writers.

  4. I’ve been writing for Zerys for several months now and they made some significant changes that have greatly improved their platform. They now have an auto-accept feature in place for the clients that tend to “forget” they have work to edit, which has really sped up the process for writers to get paid if they work for such a client.

    In their defense, I have to say I make more money per article than I ever did on MP, and after Scripted, MP was my favourite writing “home”. Now that I have been favourited on Interact Media by several clients however, I’m really enjoying their platform. You now have access to two job boards once you’ve built up favourites; a Favourite Writer Board, and the Regular Job Board. The clients are using the delineations, and I’ve been writing at 3 cpw and higher.

    One more item I’d like to say in their favour is that any time I’ve had a problem, Beth is right on the ball with responding and trying to solve the issue. They do support their writers, unlike the site that swallowed MP.

  5. My review of Interact Media:

    With Interact Media, it’s essential to look at the ratings and comments that writers give a client. I do not write for new clients on the site because its design makes it extremely easy for clients to take advantage of writers. Clients can reject work or give low ratings with no explanation, no review, and no opportunity to revise whatsoever. While this has not happened to me personally, it is a possibility and is basically spelled out in the TOS. If you are new to writing, Interact Media is probably not for you.

    With Interact Media, it’s essential to look at the ratings and comments that writers give a client. I do not write for new clients on the site because its design makes it extremely easy for clients to take advantage of writers. Clients can reject work or give low ratings with no explanation, no review, and no opportunity to revise whatsoever. This is spelled out in the TOS. If you have a high rating, it can be ruined with one bad client.

    In particular, before you accept any jobs, look at the client’s rejection rate. Anything over a few percent, avoid them. Also look at the writer comments first to see if a client lets work auto-approve or if they reject work without the chance to edit.

    I agree with the OP that the specialty selection process is extremely over-thought. How many subcategories of “family crafts” do you really need? Other writing specialties are worse in this regard. You can select up to 100 sub-categories (I selected about 25 all together) , which supposedly increases your chances of getting work. There’s no way to really know unless you select all that you possibly can. I haven’t bothered to do this, as it just seems silly. You select categories by level.

    For example, business is category 1 In category 2, there are 67 categories. One of my specialties is in category 2, home-based business. In level 3, there are 19 more categories..In level 4, there are at least 5 more for most of those 19. That’s at least 80 subcategories of the subject “home-based business.” It’s fine-tuning to a fault. With so many unnecessary subcategories, there is duplication which makes it a chore to know exactly what you’ve signed up for, and you miss out on categories about which you are well suited to write.

    As for accepting the bottom-feeding clients, I agree that it’s a shame. But $ is $, and Interact Media is no different in that regard from any other content mill. The client is never wrong.

    I was able to claim some fairly decent $0.035 work and I’ve been paid for all of it. Still, good paying clients on the site are few and far between. I haven’t had to contact any Interact Media staff, so I can’t say what dealing with them is like. I got paid the proper amount and on time.

    The bottom line: I really liked that the site is set up to encourage writers and clients to negotiate, although most clients seem to have their rate and that’s that. Other writers may think differently. If you take the time to jump through the silly hoops to apply, get a few jobs, and do your best to get a 4-5 rating, you could add Interact Media for a little extra here and there, rather than a main source of income. There’s nothing wrong with another egg in the basket, as we freelancers say.

  6. I’ve been writing for Interact Media for nearly 2 years now, in September. I have greatly enjoyed writing for this company. Never have I been disappointed by them. They pay on time and are quick to answer any inquiries that arise.

    Just as you would with any writing job, you should carefully review the client on IM prior to taking a job from them. This will save you from dealing with potential issues such as having your work rejected or having to wait for an extended amount of time for approval.

    It is true that some rates are low. However, there are some high paid jobs as well. Also, if you submit quality work then clients will take notice and they will begin ordering work from you directly. When this happens you can be paid much more per article. This will also enable you to develop a work relationship with the client. This is extremely helpful in resolving issues and gathering additional information for specific jobs. Furthermore, after only a short time you learn exactly what the client is looking for in an article. This makes the writing quick, so you can receive more jobs and as a result, more pay.

    In summary, what you earn is completely up to you and 99% of the clients I’ve dealt with have been a pleasure to write for. It is a great company and I have gladly recommended it to several freelance writers and will continue to do so.

  7. My opinion of Zerys:

    It IS better pay-wise than Textbroker and the twice monthly payments rarely deposit beyond the payment date (Zerys informs writers that payments can take up to 3 business days past the payment date).

    An article on Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/review/interact-media-is-it-worth-a-freelancers-time) talks at length about the pros of the site. Sadly, that article doesn’t mention the cons:

    – Textbroker pays weekly. Assignments are rarely rejected. Excellent writers rarely received rewrite request. Articles are usually reviewed within 4 days. Clients rarely remove content or pay less than they originally promised.

    On the other hand, Zerys clients who make word count/payment amount arrangements can remove content from a submitted article and pay less. They can reject content without explanation. They can take weeks to review.

    – You don’t easily make “$10/hour” (as the Examiner writer stated) until you’ve build up your direct client base, or unless you complete a lot of smaller (for pennies) work orders, as you have to become a 5 star writer to get the higher rated articles.

    – Zerys does not always have a lot work available and job board Zerys clients often ask for a lot of work without providing equal pay (this includes asking writers to create titles and add links and photos for free).

    Zerys tells writers to negotiate with job board and direct clients when they request extras, but, if the negotiations fail… or something else causes a writer to cancel a work order… the writer can be penalized (see http://www.zerys.com/writers/writer-faqs/). I have yet to find a single other content company that penalizes writers for telling a job board client that he/she has decided that a job board request isn’t a good fit — especially when the job board work orders are considered “sample” content.

    – The cancellation/missed deadline penalty system also unfairly penalizes new and part-time writers. For example, one new writer last month decided to cancel a work order. She had only written two other articles prior to this cancellation. This immediately put her cancellation percentage at 33 percent. As the system penalizes at 10 percent, Zerys cut her off from the job board for 3 days.

    The biggest problem with Zerys is that it wants freelance content writers to treat its job board sample work order clients like they would clients who have solid previously negotiated contracts, which is simply not the case. Zerys has its contracts with these clients, but the reality is that the writers are given no promises at all when they select work from the board. As a result, writers with Zerys have to work initially for free and hope that it will all turn out okay.

    • I have been working on IA a bit more since my review here was written. I’m at 5-star status, but currently on a 2 WEEK suspension, which I think is a bit much.

      Last week, I was writing a piece near the end of the deadline, attempted to submit it, and found it wouldn’t “take.” I immediately contacted support to make them aware that I had the article ready to go but was having interface issues, and requested that they “open up” the job to me again so I could try submitting the article I was sitting on at that point. A few minutes after I contacted support, I noticed the job was in queue again, so I grabbed it, re-assembled my article, and submitted it.

      Unfortunately, the system read this as “missing a deadline” and put me on restrictions, barring me from the job board for…I think it was a week, at that point? Beth intervened at my request and got tech to remove the hold because I was not, in fact, over the 10% missed deadline mark.

      A few days ago, I legitimately missed a deadline (I’ll own up to this one!) but recovered the article and still submitted it to the client in a timely fashion, and my article was summarily rated a 5 star and praised. It seems that, much like TB, if you miss a deadline the article kicks back to the open order page and it can be grabbed again. I had initially thought with my first snafu that support people had kicked it back to me manually, but apparently the system does that automatically.

      Long story short, I’m now barred from the boards for TWO WEEKS, even though my track record is 21 articles completed, 2 deadlines missed and 2 pieces rejected. The “barring” punishment is supposed to be scaled, and being that Beth agreed the system glitch wasn’t on me, it’s irritating that the barring still seemed to “count” as far as escalation goes. As it stands, I have less than 10% missed deadlines and two rather lengthy pieces that the clients simply rejected with no reason given or opportunity to edit.

      While my view of the site is slightly more positive than when I wrote this review, given the “banning” troubles and rather high rejection rate, it’s still not one I’d recommend to other writers.

  8. Another update – I’m now at 31 total articles written successfully, four rejected. In the 12 articles I’ve written in the last three months, two more got rejected. One client, in response to my protests after his seemingly offhanded rejection, claimed that he was led to believe he could simply solicit work from a variety of writers and choose the one he liked. Ten writers submitted rather lengthy pieces for this client and only one received payment for their work, all because the client wasn’t properly educated on how to use the platform. This also seems to be a common issue with Zerys clients, which leads me to believe it’s a purposeful move on Zerys’ part.

    Like a Rubik’s cube with the bottom half superglued in place, I keep returning to the futile puzzle of Zerys / Interact Media and leaving with nothing but frustration. This is not a friendly or useful platform, especially for new writers. Yes, some do find success with it, but it’s more a matter of luck than any skill or lack thereof.

  9. First off, WordChick, you’re the one who introduced me to the world of freelance writing. I remember you because you said nobody would remember your name but everyone would remember That Word Chick! But anyway-
    I have no idea what you guys are even talking about with this concept of 14 days. It’s 20 days. But, if the editor reviews the article and doesn’t make a decision, that time frame starts over. Or, when the editor turns it over to the actual client, the client has an additional 20 days to review it. It doesn’t usually take that long, but the potential is there.
    I’ve had a couple of experiences where an article took three or more weeks to be… Either accepted- or- rejected for reasons that would be illegal in any situation other than internet anonymity. Reasons similar to- (try this sometime and let me know how it works, but it’s a metaphor for what clients are allowed to do) Hire a painter to paint both of your guest rooms, then explain you only have one guest at a time so you’re only going to pay for one of the rooms painted… I’d provide more specifics but Beth Hrusch is on your board and has made it clear that speaking badly of IM/Zerys will be considered unprofessional and result in termination, so I can’t say anything specific that might identify myself. (what’s that tell you, when I’m scared to give a fully open and honest review)
    IM has some great clients that are very enjoyable to work with, but with the bad ones, IM will NOT support their workers and will ALWAYS side with the clients. CAVEAT- One thing I can’t say bad about IM, once your work is approved, they pay for it on the next payday, every 1st and 15th just like they say.
    I can say that sometimes those silly little 1.4c, 150-200 word blog posts take three weeks to approve, then fall on the day after payday so 2 more weeks to get paid. Yes, a 5 week wait to get paid a measly $2.50. So when Beth tries to say that it only takes 14 days to approve an article and since you get paid every two weeks… She’s being only partly truthful and has to be aware that she implies a very different reality than what actually happens.

  10. I am totally lost. I look at the board every day and even though I have diligently filled out the requests, I see nothing I am qualified to write for. When I first started I did a piece on Ford Trucks and got a 5 star rating and paid a wee bit of money, yahoo…color me happy. Since then I have been told I have been late, rejected, and can not find a thing I am qualified to write for. I was so happy to be able to write, I was not even really concerned about money, either how much or when. I just want to write and get paid for it. The amount is insignificant . But, when I am told I am late (when I wasn’t) or asked to rewrite, and rewrite and then have the work rejected, it becomes just a wee bit frustrating, disillusioning, and scary. I have worked for hours on those projects doing research because I knew little or nothing about the article, but was so desperate for the exposure, for $2.50 and then received a rejection. What can I do to be able to write what I know about and get it published please?

    • Hi Lyn;

      I’m sorry you’re having so much frustration getting into freelancing through IA/Zerys. The site is a ‘strange animal’ even to those of us that are acclimated, it almost seems like the user interface is deliberately designed to be hard to use. As far as timers go – you have to be very, very careful on your checkout timers, no matter what site you may be on. IA, if you have it set correctly, will send you an auto-email an hour before something’s due, but I find the best safeguard is to set a phone alarm or an audible reminder on your phone’s calendar for every job you pick up. At IA in particular, blowing a deadline can absolutely devastate your account/rank/ability to work.

      There is NO help for rejected articles at IA. No wiggle room, no secret email to write, no number to call. It’s just…poof…nope. I know that’s crazy, but it’s absolutely true in this case. Cut and paste every piece before you submit it into a draft in gmail or a word document…your work is your work until someone pays for it, period. You might try applying to constant-content.com and reselling the rejected articles there, if you get accepted. It’s like eBay for articles…you post them up and sometimes clients buy them. Not a sure thing, but it gives you another option for recycling rejected content.

      Don’t ever take projects you aren’t at least passingly familiar with, ESPECIALLY for $2.50. If you check your writing speed – say you can write 400 words an hour – don’t write for less than the hourly pay you’re willing to accept. It’s easy to convince ourselves that an article will “just take” x amount of time, only to discover we’ve wasted a whole day for the price of a pack of gum. Be reasonable with your writing time estimations, and never take less than .01/word. New writers have a bad habit of overthinking things when it comes to research…these aren’t, or shouldn’t be, thesis-level pieces. If you’re writing about a plumbing service for a constantly-running toilet, you don’t need the average water volume of a toilet tank. Concentrate on what laypeople are frustrated with…the sound of the toilet keeping you up, the waste of water, etc. We write in broad, emotional strokes unless we’re instructed otherwise.

      Hope this helps 🙂

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