Freelance Writing Site Info: Crowdsource.com Review

Freelance Writer Guide Asks: Is Crowdsource.com legit or Is Crowdsource.com a scam?

What is Crowdsource.com?

Crowdsource.com is a content mill-style freelance writing and microjobs portal site, as well as the latest incarnation of Write.com, which in turn “ate” the freelance writing site platform CloudCrowd last year. What does this mean for you? Several things, and they’re all pretty positive. You’ll recall I panned Write.com in a previous Write.com review, citing a bait-and-switch style setup that lured in writers and then promptly stuck them with microjobs and little hope of advancing. Not so, anymore. The proverbial path is much clearer, there’s ample opportunity for bonuses, and there’s little to no confusion about what you’re trying out for and how to start working online for money. Crowdsource has effectively unseated Textbroker.com as my ‘go to’ place to herd fledgling freelancers looking to make a quick buck through computer work.

How do I start at Crowdsource.com?

When you apply at Crowdsource.com, you will be able to choose one of two ‘paths’ – writing for money online or doing microjobs for money online. Each path has its own assessment, but you are not restricted to one or the other – go for both, if you’d like! As with most freelance writing sites, the writing path requires you to create a new, unique piece – the microjobs path just has you answering a series of multiple choice questions, with a handful of “find this thing online” sort of searches towards the end of the test.

Neither the microjobs test or the writing test on Crowdsource.com looks to be timed, so you have the ability to consider and research a little if you need to.

Entry page for applying to Crowdsource.com

The welcome/testing page.

Crowdsource.com Microjobs testing entry page.

Microjobs testing entry page.

Crowdsource.com Writing Test Page

Writing test entry page.

Info on the Microjobs Test: It’s pretty easy and straightforward, if you’re fluent in English with a mind towards basic logic, you’ll be fine. There are 20 or so multiple choice questions, and – for me, anyway – one where you need to count the number of pieces in a bedroom set being sold on a site, another where you need to determine the toe shape of a woman’s shoe being sold on a site, three questions where you need to isolate and cut-and-paste the employee page url of a given company’s site (pay attention to the instructions on this one), and a final one where you need to find the name of a certain employee of a company. These questions are all pretty indicative of the type of microjobs you’ll be doing, if accepted.

Crowdsource.com test answers for Microjobs.

Microjobs test page.

Info on the writing test: This is a standard test for content mill sites – creation of a unique piece of writing. Crowdsource.com and other sites like it generally don’t accept content that has already been created, and if they do, they usually won’t carry the same “weight” as a fresh piece of content. The reason for this is that with pre-written pieces, you’re likely to play to your strengths – whether consciously or unconsciously – by writing about subjects you’re familiar and comfortable with. In the ‘real’ freelance world, while we do have some control over what projects we take, chances are a lot of them are going to be on subjects we’re lukewarm about. In addition, there’s really no telling if you’ve had someone write a piece for you or, worse, if you’ve lifted it from somewhere on the web without a little in-the-moment control on the part of the writing site. Crowdsource accomplishes this by giving you a list of subjects and keywords to pick from:

Writing test answers on Crowdsource.com

Writing test subject selection.

They’ve made it fairly easy for you to block out your article, and in fact they follow my guidance on how to write a freelance article, a subject we’ve previously covered on the Freelance Writer Guide.

Once you’ve completed either the microjobs or writing test, you’ll receive an auto-email that looks like this:

Test Email from Crowdsource.com.

Test Email from Crowdsource.com.

How do I get paid with Crowdsource.com?

Crowdsource.com pays through two methods, and you’ll have to select one: Paypal or Amazon Payments. I do not have an accurate idea of what is ‘normal’ for pay method selection in terms of new incoming workers on Crowdsource.com, I’m basing this on what I see when I log into my Crowdsource.com account, which was transitioned from Cloudcrowd when the company was absorbed.

Amazon Payments is the only off-Amazon payment option offered on the Mturk platform, which Crowdsource.com still works through. It requires a connection to a bank account, much like Paypal, and users can request payouts from their Amazon Payment balance into that account, a process which takes 2-3 business days.

If you are given a choice of the two, I’d suggest Paypal for the convenience and the Paypal debit card option.

How is the overall experience at Crowdsource.com?

Pretty darn smooth. I was anxious to write an “updated” Crowdsource.com review because they’ve worked on their interface quite a bit and brought some of those slick, user-friendly graphics from Write.com into the fold. When you log in as a worker, you’re presented with a grid that lists all the jobs that are available to your current positions (Writer I & Writer II, Editor I & II, etc).

Available work grid  at Crowdsource.com.

Available work grid at Crowdsource.com.

Clicking these links will pop you over to their requisite listing over on Mturk.com, unless you’ve selected Paypal as your payment method, in which case you can work straight off the Crowdsource site.

Crowdsource.com HIT on Mturk.com.

Crowdsource.com HIT on Mturk.com.

Eagle-eyed readers likely noticed that little green moneybag shown on one of the available work squares on the grid. This denotes a bonus – what used to be a confusing and frantic scramble for freelance writing pay bonuses on the former Cloudcrowd platform has been streamlined and made user-friendly. A little in-job interface keeps track of how many tasks you’ve completed towards the bonus, how many you have to go, how many are pending, and so on.

Crowdsource.com Bonus Structure.

Crowdsource.com Bonus Structure.

Crowdsource.com Bonus Tracking Header.

Crowdsource.com Bonus Tracking Header.

 

Helpful Hints for Crowdsource.com

  • Crowdsource.com editors (aka fellow freelancers) take awhile to grade/approve/reject tasks after you’ve done them. If you’re working on HITs/Microjobs or writing tasks on Mturk, expect a 7 day delay before an editor gets to them. If it happens earlier, great, but if it doesn’t this buffer will keep you from counting your chickens before they’re hatched.
  • Keep an eye on the countdown timer for bonuses. You don’t want to end up with half of your work in one week and half in another, causing you to miss the bonus despite completing the tasks. Generally, the earlier in the bonus period you hit your ‘milestones’ of 15, 45, etc tasks, the better you’ll be – that gives editors time to get at your work.
  • Some editors are…questionable at best. Get a thick skin and learn to just roll your eyes a little when they feel compelled to dissect your work for a personal grammar preference. It’s a pass/fail system of advancing into slightly higher pay grades, so don’t sweat the small stuff as long as you’re passing.
  • UPDATE 7/10/14 I would caution potential writers against the higher-paying ($5+) jobs here. My adage encouraging you to wave off work with instructions longer than the project itself holds very true on this site, which is notorious for posting page after page of must-read documents for jobs under 500 words. The editing team (other freelancers) is often not inclined to assist or support your writing growth, and I found out the hard way recently that just stating “Instructions weren’t followed” and rejecting a piece apparently passes as editing.

Thanks for reading my Crowdsource.com review, and be sure to take a look at my other freelance writing site reviews through the navigation tab above!

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Free Freelance Writing Guide – Just a Reminder!

For those of you that have just started visiting FreelanceWriterGuide.com, I’m so happy you could join us here! I started this site to help people that are curious about writing for money online with a guide to freelance writing, links to freelance writing sites, and a list of freelance writing scams to avoid to maximize their efficiency and earning potential. I wrote a little e-book about the process that I’ve posted for free: Free Freelance Writing Guide so that everyone has a fair glimpse ‘behind the scenes.’

A picture of a logo banner that reads freelance writer guide.com write your own destiny.

Here’s the lowdown, if you wanted a Cliffs Notes version:

  • What is Freelance Writing?

Articles, product descriptions, press releases, blogs, you name it. It generally will not be stories, poems and other things of an overt creative nature, although sometimes freelancers will take a creative tone at a client’s urging. The stuff I talk about on this blog is generally all done online, and generally all paid through Paypal.

  • How Do I Write For Money?

In a nutshell? Be fast, be accurate, and create something worth reading. If you can’t produce more than 300-400 decently-constructed words in an hour and don’t think you’ll ever work up to (and beyond) that number, you probably won’t be able to sustain writing as a viable income or side income.

Good Freelance Writing: Cats are beautiful creatures that have a wide array of talents that work well for survival, communication and adaption.

Bad Freelance Writing: Cats are good animals because they can do a lot of really cool stuff.

To start with, you need to find a site to write for, as just writing something and trying to sell it is really hard, and will likely cost you far more time and energy than just accepting a job from a client will. You’ll find my list of freelance writing websites in the navigation bar above – those that I’ve done in-depth reviews for are also noted and linked.

Then, you need to work, be patient, and be willing to devote time and energy into checking for new jobs and staying on top of deadlines for the job(s) you’re currently working on. Essentially, if you’ve ever bid on something you really wanted on eBay, keep in mind that down-to-the-last-minutes type of refreshing/checking and you’ve got a good idea of the attitude you’ll need to really knock it out of the park, freelancing-wise.

  • How Fast Can I Make Money Writing Online?

If you already have a Paypal account, build in at least two weeks to get accepted on almost any site. While you can turn around a good chunk of change in a hurry on the sites that pay weekly (Textbroker) or daily (Crowdsource), you’ll still need to go through the application process and get accepted before you can start getting at it. (If rent/electric/cellphone bills are due NOW, don’t worry – check out my suggestions for how to make money online right now.)

  • How Much Will I Make Freelance Writing?

My general guidelines are .01/word for new writers that are just starting out – this doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work out there that will pay you less, it means that I strongly advise against accepting it. “Cheap” clients tend to bring a lot of problems along with their cut-rate wages, and, oddly enough, are often so demanding that they’ll send newbie freelancers running for the hills. You’ll take assignments as articles or blogs, writing anywhere from 150 words (or less) to 400-500+ words at a time for a set amount. Overall, it’s better to be over the given max word count than under, unless you’re on a platform/site like Zerys that restricts overcount or the client has specifically called out that s/he needs a certain number. Don’t blow past the max by 100+ words though, try to rein it in at 50ish or you’ll be giving away a lot of work for free and giving the client the wrong idea about what to expect for their money.

Over 40,000 people have started their freelance writing journey on this site by researching my free freelance writing guide and reading my freelance writing blogs – come nudge that count even higher by discovering the earning potential waiting to be unlocked in your mind. Write your own destiny with the Freelance Writer Guide!

 

Why Hourly Rates are Not a Freelancer’s Friend

Speed is one of your greatest assets as a freelancing writer – how quickly and accurately you produce an article is essentially how you determine what you’re bringing in. In some industries – graphic design, site construction, etc – it makes sense to work by the hour, because your tasks may not be straightforward in the overall scope of a project. In writing, though? Hourly pay can put a huge dent in your earning capability, because you’re likely shortchanging yourself by either betting against your efficiency or your talent. Hourly pay benefits the client the vast majority of the time – not you.

I produce about 800 words an hour, provided the subject isn’t overly detailed. Business landing pages, a series of product descriptions, an informative article: these are my typical targets. Just this morning I wrote 800 words between 10 and 11 am and pulled in $60 for my troubles. Later, I received an unexpected message from an Odesk client, inviting me to work on their project. This is the (admittedly, a bit snarky at the close from yours truly) exchange that followed when I submitted a bid of $16/hour. Bear in mind that my profile is also set to $20/hour as a default, specifically to prevent horrible clients like this one from interrupting my work day.

A screenshot of a conversation between ThatWordChick and a potential client.

Admittedly, I could have been a little more polite about brushing her off, but how would you feel if a corporate headhunter had invited you to an interview, assessed your skills, took up your time and then told you that you were being overconfident if you didn’t lower your salary expectations by at least 80%? This is why some unscrupulous clients choose to offer only hourly pay for what should be a task-based payment expectation. Mind you, I have no problem with ‘batch’ payments or set weekly paydays, but work should be ideally priced by the word, and at most by the piece – never by the hour in our industry, at least in my opinion.

Remember: a client that’s looking for good work should have the work itself as the focus – not how you produce it, so long as you check in at the specified times and your progress is to their standards. While there may be some honest hourly-preferring clients out there, by and large hourly ends up being a raw deal on this side of the pen. Set up guidelines for work-centric payments, not time-centric, and you’ll likely be a lot happier and more profitable.