The Latest (Bad) News on Zerys

I know that some of my readers may wonder why I’m devoting so many blog posts to a site that banned and blocked me for my opinion. I would point to my unusually high number of new blog followers, comments and likes on my Zerys posts as proof that there’s clearly a large audience that wants to talk about their frustrations there, but can’t due to forum censorship.

As I mentioned on a previous blog post about Zerys practices, I have an ex that I’m still friendly with that keeps me updated on some of the craziness going on over there. He was researching approval times recently and came across this admin forum post from last month:

zerys_post

“We understand the desire to know where you stand with every job off the New Clients Job Board. Writers have a right to know one way or the other whether a buyer will add him/her to their writing team, and also whether they have chosen to purchase the initial piece or not.

For all other regular assignments to Favorite Writers, if the client doesn’t review the piece in time, we can auto-approve the piece because the client has already added that writer to their team, and there is some likelihood that the client would approve the content anyways since its from one of their favorite writers.

For initial New Client jobs, however, there is a unique challenge when it comes to auto-approval. We cannot force the client to like a writer, and we cannot force them to purchase a piece that was primarily designed to review a writer’s ability. The reason clients don’t have a review deadline on New Client Jobs is because these are not final, publishable pieces of content, but rather, these are jobs designed to help them identify writers they like, and want to add to their team.

All this being said, the great majority of New Client Jobs are reviewed within the 7-day window, so we are not finding this to be a major issue at thie point. We will, however, continue to watch it closely.”

There are several problems here – notably that “great majority” isn’t qualified – and even then, numbers don’t always work favorably in Zerys’ PR history, as we learned after the announcement that 60% of Zerys clients are not paying for their “samples.” Secondly, and admittedly this is anecdotal, but several writers I know have admitted that their samples sit for weeks, with some still languishing in queue from back during the initial shift to writing for free – excuse me, providing “custom” writing samples –  on the platform, months ago.

So, to recap, in order to get jobs from any new client on Zerys, you’ll need to:

1.) Write a 250 word article for free, knowing that 60% of these samples, by Zerys own admission, will never earn a penny.

2.) Wait for an indeterminate period of time, which is entirely up to the client, in the hopes that you’re one of the “lucky” 40% that actually gets paid for your work.

3.) Keep your work in limbo indefinitely, unable to repackage or sell it, because you’ve essentially created Schrodinger’s Article, which the client can buy at any point in time and lock down a copyright for.

This is what #FreelanceIsntFree is pushing for, my writing readers. These expectations and edicts are a slippery slope that devalues our hard-earned craft and makes new writers feel as if they’re not legitimate until they work for free.

You are worth more than that. Never forget that your work is worth paying for!

 

Debunking a Craigslist Writing Scam

Red warning triangle with the word scam in red on the left sloped side, and the word Alert! in black on the right sloped side. In the center of the triangle is a red police-like bubble light with the word scam in black beneath it.

WritingLeads.Info is a Craigslist Scammer!

When you’re trying to become or living as a full time freelancer, hustling is always on your to-do list. Hunting for new work, marketing yourself and following up on leads is as important as writing itself, if you want to keep a steady flow of work coming in. Craigslist, a popular nationwide classified ads-style website, has job listings for those brave enough to look. Their typical 9-to-5 job listings are often scams for non-existent postions, designed to pull in resumes to cull for nefarious purposes like identity theft. But, you may be asking, are Craigslist writing ads a scam too?

Mostly, yes. There are a few exceptions, such as local ad agencies listing a position with a local number, but by and large they’re out to get your money or your info. Here’s an example, including my extremely thorough debunking of the supposed writing site, a writingleads.info scam:


From Tom Wilson ( WritingLeads@gmail.com ):

Good morning Delany! This is a great opportunity. How this works is you sign up and complete the application process, look over what types of writings that different companies want, write them, submit them and get paid. It’s a great way to make some extra cash.  You get what you put into it. If you are a decent writer there is really good money to be made. You probably won’t become rich but if you like to write, you might like this!  Good luck! (link)
Tom


My Response:

Tom;

Ten years in the business means I know a thing or two about legitimacy. No real job makes you pay – either now or later – for the privilege of working for them, and that’s precisely why a “7 day trial” is a massive red flag. I actually own and operate a popular how-to-freelance blog that tells people where to go to earn money writing, and I do it for the good of the community because I don’t charge a dime.
Let me guess, you probably set a bot to scrape writing listings off of free, public-facing sites and stick it in your haphazard framework, right? With no filter for which jobs will take beginners and which require actual experience in the industry? No floor to how little the listings are charging, and no filter to keep the scam jobs that are even worse than yours off the site? No methodology to find and remove jobs that have been filled?

We both know what your site is. Shame on you for wasting people’s time with a scam. You’ve been flagged and your site is being added to my scam page on the FreelanceWriterGuide. Go find some legitimate work and stop trying to make a living charging people for free information.


From Tom Wilson ( WritingLeads@gmail.com ):

Hi Delany, I do online marketing for them. I have had people who signed up and tell me they really like it. I don’t work for them. I realize it’s not for everyone, but some people do like it. It saves a ton of time for looking for the paying gigs. Thanks for flagging it, appreciate it, especially when you have no idea what it is. A true hero to the people looking for paying gigs.
Good for you.
Tom


My Response:
Okay, Tom. Let’s chat about your super legitimate site, shall we? I know exactly “what it is” – and the fact that you fall back so readily on sarcasm tells me that I’m definitely not the first professional to call you out on the carpet.

What are the odds that all of the “writers” featured in your success stories would ALL join the same shady-looking fat loss program?

It’s interesting that literally the only. place. these. “writers“. use their professional headshots. is in your network of websites. Oh, wait…I’m sorry, I spoke too soon! Apparently, “Mabel Curtis of Australia” is incognito as Jennifer Bergman, American Wedding Photographer – I guess she didn’t want people to know about her salacious life writing articles for money. Oh, and this isn’t Anton Diaz – this is the husband of actual food blogger Susan Thye – this is the Anton Diaz your site likely trying to impersonate and commit fraud with. Oops, I mean “quote.” Don’t worry, I’ve taken the liberty of contacting both of them to let them know about this little mixup.

Apparently I’m not the only one to see through the obnoxious auto-play marketing audio and landing pages full of unsubstantiated fluff – this guy looked into it, as did this one, among others. “Glen Anderson” doesn’t exist anywhere that he should, including LinkedIn, for purportedly running a company that boasts I could pull a $14,000 A MONTH payday if I only fork over $47. Eight million alleged dollars in payouts to freelancers and yet no one’s ever heard of him? His signature is a font, for gods’ sakes. The Freelancers Union has no idea who he is, what your company is, and actively cautions freelancers not to ever pay money for access to jobs.

And actually, I am a hero to people looking for paying gigs. People have told me that, verbatim, because I have integrity and don’t need to trick people into auto-pay scams to keep my lights on.

Do what you want to do with your life man, but at least be honest with yourself about what you’re doing.


From Tom Wilson ( WritingLeads@gmail.com ):

Sorry, but this is news to me. I should look more carefully into the companies I do online marketing for.
Tom


Now, dear readers, it’s anyone’s guess if “Tom” was being sincere in his last message, but you can see how easily I picked apart his scam website with a little “search Google for this image” magic.
Was I snarkier than I needed to be here? Sure, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m just sick and tired of people like this giving my industry – and my peers – a bad name to make a few bucks on a scam. Rest assured I will continue to call out this garbage everywhere I see it, but you need to do your part too: make sure you report or turn in everyone attempting to usher people to a site like this. This came from an innocent-looking Craigslist ad that claimed the poster just needed a writer for a few articles. If your response gets an auto-reply or a scammy ad push like mine did, flag that post without a second thought!

Is This the Beginning of the End for Zerys?

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.20.37 AM

UPDATE, 6/17/16, 12:17 PM EST: I’ve been removed and banned from both the writer worksite, which I’ve belonged to for more than three years with more than a hundred satisfied clients, as well as the forums, ostensibly in response to this less-than-complimentary (though entirely truthful) blog. No notification, no emails, nothing. My credentials were simply yanked without a word. Apparently it’s easier to censor dissenters than actually admit that you’re sinking your own ship. Adios, Zerys, and good riddance!


UPDATE, 5/25/16, 9:00 PM EST: One of my sources just showed me an email that was sent to his boss, the owner of a very large industry blog, cold-soliciting a partnership with Zerys. The email header and body both lead with an offer to provide “several customized writing samples” for the recipient to choose from. Every letter of the language in the email avoids any mention whatsoever of buying, purchasing or favorite-listing, the supposed “benefits” that Zerys writers were told to be grateful for under the new, improved work-for-free-if-you-want-any-work system. They’ve effectively turned unpaid spec labor into a shiny new selling point for the B2B side of the platform, all at the expense of their writers.


Zerys, aka Interact Media, is a content mill writing site designed for freelance work. In terms of ease-of-use hierarchy, I’d put it below Textbroker in terms of user interface, but slightly above TB in terms of earning potential. For many freelance writers, it was a backup income stream to hit up when the other “eggs” in our basket didn’t look terribly promising. In short, not fantastic, but not the worst either.

That may have changed.

In a timeless trend championed by eBay for many-a-year, they’ve made so-called improvements to the platform which are at best puzzling and at worst a reason to call it quits at Zerys. In a nutshell, Zerys now expects writers to pen – on spec – a 250 article for new customers, who are in turn encouraged to place duplicate orders in order to find the one they like. On spec, or “on speculation” means that there’s a chance you might be paid for it, but in this case, it’s actually far more likely you will not. Zerys has had a long and difficult history of disgruntled writers who found their work rejected because the client simply no longer needed it, or didn’t want it anymore, not because there was a writing or grammar issue, which should be the only legitimate reasons to reject an order that was written to instructions.

Imagine ordering a hamburger for dinner, looking over it once it arrived, and instructing the waiter to take it back at no charge because you’re no longer hungry, or you realize you really wanted lasagna, or a burger from a rival restaurant. It would be ludicrous, so why is it okay here?

Allow me to present some of the more troubling passages from their lengthy official forum post (Bold emphasis mine):


“IMPORTANT! As stated before, if the buyer likes your work, they may choose to add you to their Favorite Writers List, but may at the same time choose to not purchase the article from you. Of course, it would be better if they did purchase it so you got paid, we encourage you to realize that the most important goal as a Zerys writer is to get added to as many Favorites Lists as possible. In the long run, this is what will maximize your income, not getting paid for one short article under 250 words. Again, that being said, we have included nice hints* to the buyers that make it clear that the writer will great appreciate getting paid for these initial short custom pieces.”

and later on in this horrible, ill-conceived “explanation”

“Secondly, if you think about yourself as owning your own writing business (which you do), then ultimately, writing a few custom paragraphs for a client should be considered part of your marketing costs of doing business – of course, in this case, it may not be a cost at all since the client can choose to pay you for it! Its like giving an initial consultation to a potential new client. In many professions, a free consultation is offered to new potential clients and there is never the chance for payment. In this case, at least you have a good chance of payment. Every company spends a certain amount of money on marketing in order to gain long-term clients. Zerys has spent millions of dollars to build a marketplace and attract content buyers to you**, but ultimately it’s up to you to “close the deal” by proving your ability to them.

*Yes, they actually said “nice hints.” That is 100% actual quote right there. I’d love to try and pay my rent and utilities with “nice hints,” wouldn’t you?

**I call BS on this one. Their UI is one of the worst experiences in the entire freelance sphere. If they paid millions of dollars for that, they’ve been making seriously bad decisions for a lot longer than we all thought.

As if sentiments like these weren’t troubling enough, Zerys quickly went into spin mode when the writers became very understandably upset about the sudden changes, deleting forum threads and blocking or banning huge swaths of not only the writers that spoke up on the Zerys boards, but writers – myself included – that only spoke up on private forums elsewhere. Apparently, their business model is so deeply in jeopardy that they’ve relied on reports from “double agents” that have access to rival sites’ internal message boards to shut down potential future dissenters on their own boards. It plays out like a campy spy movie, but this is really happening, folks!

Their pay dates have been getting later and later, writer support has been virtually nonexistent for years, and this is the final nail in the coffin as far as many freelancers are concerned. Nearly all of my writing colleagues have sworn off the site for good after this latest fiasco, and I can’t blame them. Perhaps if Zerys had spent some of those theoretical “millions of dollars” on their workforce instead of listing jobs at 7/10ths of a cent per word, they wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

The Freelance Writer Guide is officially REMOVING Zerys / Interact Media from our list of recommended freelancing sites. We cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone, especially our new freelancers, work for a site that clearly has no regard for the freelancers that have supported and sustained its business model for years.

 

 

 

Followup Review: Authorr.com

Typically I space out my followup reviews a bit more, but a lot has happened with Authorr.com since my Authorr.com review went live about a month ago, none of it good. Here’s what I’ve experienced after just walking through the steps to get my screenshots for the review – bear in mind that I never even submitted my (extremely specific, free) sample.

October 10th Email

Happy Friday, Authors!

Just when you thought we wouldn’t make any more changes, we did.

This week we updated our system to remove the bidding process.

That’s right, we no longer ask for a bid or take bids into account when we calculate your overall score.  

From here on out, the focus is on quality.

So go forth, Authors, and make us proud!

Thanks for all of your hard work,

– The Team at Authorr

 

Okay…so…no more bids. A step in the right direction? I guess?

 

October 16th Email

Hello Authors!

Hopefully you remember us.  At some point in time, you submitted a sample for our value article writing type but for some reason, it cancelled and you weren’t able to complete it.
I’m here with really good news.
We recently made a bunch of changes in Authorr and would like for you to drop in and give that sample submission a second shot.
Before you submit your second sample assignment, we encourage you to watch our webinar and review our guidelines.  If you weren’t sure what our expectations were before, you will definitely know now.
Both were created in the last couple of weeks, so there’s plenty of fresh tips and tricks about how to be successful on Authorr.
  • Webinar:  [URL removed]
  • Guidelines: [URL removed]
Thanks so much and happy writing!
– The Team at Authorr
Okay, well, I never submitted in the first place, but I can understand them wanting to maybe call back some folks that wandered away. This tells me they’re hurting for quality writers though, it has a slightly-too-eager tone to it in my opinion.
(Another?) October 16th Email

Hey Authors,

As we mentioned on our webinar a few weeks ago, we are now re-opening the Premium Article assignment type.  These pay out $30 for a 500 word article and 6 cents per word after that, so $60 for a 1,000 word article.

To opt-in for the Premium Article type just log in to Authorr, and click Assignment Types under the Account tab.

If you have not yet watched our Webinar, you MUST watch the webinar before opting into Premium Article.  There is very critical information in the webinar that you’ll need to know to get your samples accepted.  The webinar is here:

View Webinar [URL removed]

Then opt in here. [URL removed]

Best,

Kevin and Bobby from Authorr

 

Alright, now they’ve crept slightly over the line of being a little too eager. Two emails in the same day, to the same person that didn’t even submit a sample, encouraging them to apply for premium level? What kind of hurried talent is that going to snag you, guys? Premium isn’t something you should be casting about for from the untested pool, this email should only go out to established writers.

(Another??) October 16th Email

Hey Delany Martinez,

This E-Mail is to let you know that we have work available for you on Authorr. There are currently 1 assignments available to you that you can work on.

Assignments on Authorr are first-come, first-served, but we do expect that if you accept an assignment that you will complete it without delay.

If you’re ready to do some writing, please sign in and accept the assignment.

To get started, just log in here:

https://app.authorr.com/ [URL Removed]

Best,
The Authorr Team

P.S. Getting too many of these emails?  You can set a maximum frequncy for them in your Settings.  Just log in and go to the Account tab and click “Change Settings.”

Know what that one assignment was? My unpaid sample piece they’re apparently VERY EAGER for me to start/finish. That’s all I have access to, that one 500 word SEO specific-theme-and-audience timed assignment that it looks like they get the rights to and I get zilch for. See where it says I can adjust “frequncy” at the bottom? Apparently the default setting is FOUR EMAILS A DAY because I’ve been getting “reminders” about that sample piece assignment every six hours for the last three days. This is now almost a month after I dabbled on their site and poked around – nearly 4 weeks since I touched anything or logged in the site, and suddenly – bam – four emails a day, every day, out of the blue.

Some of my readers here on the Freelance Writer Guide were quick to speak up on their own negative issues on the site, too – email neediness aside.

From Bianca:

I wish I had read this article before I had signed up with Authorr. I’m new to freelance writing, and also learned of it through Freedom with Writing. I’ve had issues with Authott at an alarming rate. Twice this week their timer on their site has had errors, and timed out long before the six hour deadline. That issue resulted in projects that I had put time into being lost and marked as failed. One of them errored out while I was submitting it.

I’ve reported the issues, they acknowledged that it was a bug on their end, but I highly doubt I’m ever going to get paid the $7 that I feel I am owed. After all, I did the work. I’m getting a bad feeling about the site, personally.

 

And here, from Laura:

You are completely right. We need to “vet” companies to avoid getting robbed blind. The webinar put together by the company (on the blog post) said they were looking for “premium” writers, and this would be by “invitation only”. I did not expect them to invite me, but I got an email yesterday to submit an 500-word sample. My hopes were up, ran it through PaperRater, Ginger, checked AP guide, etc. Within hours I got an email:
Unfortunately, your submission for #7218 (Independent Contractors vs Employees) on Authorr fell short of our standards.

We will not allow you to access further assignments in this type.

Feel free to resubmit a new sample assignment in a different assignment type.

So, they must have checked me out, as I have already had a fallout with editors, asking them straight whether or not they read the articles or the emails sent by the authors. Did not expect brownie points for that. Still, I would love to know “their standards” as I was given a straight, level 3 starter grade when I applied with The Content Authority, and have not had any problems with the editors so far. I get regular reviews and detailed comments from the site, something Authorr would never implement.

I think I am “ditching” the site for good, and many authors are already leaving because of the ignorance of the company.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever received chimes of “me too” quite so quickly on a site review before, which makes me even more wary of Authorr.com. Who knows, maybe they can salvage themselves in time, but right now it looks like a terribly executed site that’s up to some underhanded nonsense when it comes to free “samples” of your hard work.

Freelance Writing Site Info: Authorr.com Review

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

What is Authorr.com?

A commenter on my Crowdsource.com review asked me about Authorr.com, so I decided to check it out at length. Authorr.com is a bid-based freelance writing site that requires authors to apply and, once approved, bid on individual jobs on the site against one another by offering the lowest amount per word they’re willing to accept.

How do I start at Authorr.com?

Once you hit the “Join Now As Author” button at the bottom of the signup page, you’ll be taken to a screen where you enter your name, address and email, which also needs to be your Paypal email, for reference. After submission, you’re sent an auto-email with a link to the following page:

Authorr.com Application Page

Authorr.com Application Page

From there, you’ll need to hit the “Account” button and, via a fairly user-UNfriendly form, apparently “opt in” to receiving certain assignments to take – as I was just starting out, the only thing open to me was the “Value” articles, and take a gander at the suggested rate – .005, aka half a cent per word. As you’ll recall, I emphatically stress in the Freelance Writer Guide that not even new freelancers should not accept less than a penny a word. I have, in fact, taken other freelance writing sites to task for routinely putting out projects with terrible sub-penny rates.

Authorr.com Assignment Opt In Page

.005 a word. Nope.

The next step after putting in my bid (I went with .01/word for experimentation’s sake) requires clicking the “Assignments” button. At this point, I want to remind my readers that Authorr.com mentioned that you’d need to submit some samples to actually be accepted to work, but had not up until this point mentioned if those samples could be previously written/published, nor specified if we’d be paid for them if they had to be new.

Authorr.com Assignment Acceptance

Time to head over to the Assignments page…

Authorr.com Scam

It’s worse than my freelancer spidey-sense had envisioned. They give you the word count, topic, audience and timer and you fork over free work.

 

Okay, so 400 words is nothing to sneeze at, that’s a solid half hour of work for even advanced freelancers, and when you add in the restrictions of topic and audience, it may be even longer. I hunted through the site and also found nothing that suggested the writer retains rights to their work, which essentially means that Authorr.com likely keeps it, sells it, and keeps the profit. This is akin to the Craigslist writing scams and Freelancer.com scams that solicit fresh “samples” of work on specific topics with an open cattle call and, unsurprisingly, never seem to get back to the folks that submitted it.

Add that to the fact that the owners of Authorr.com, Velluto VIP LLC, are also behind a few SEO-work-for-hire firms such as ProReporting.com and you have a “Hmm.” moment on your hands.

 

How do I get paid with Authorr.com?

 

Authorr.com pays with Paypal, but no word on frequency. There’s also a nod that they may start paying in Bitcoins – a troubling, financially volatile concept at best for freelancers that depend on a steady income.

 

Helpful Hints for Authorr.com

 

Skip it. If their opening pitch is half a cent a word and they’re asking for a 400-word freebie out of the gate, you can bet that respect for the profession isn’t exactly prominent on their corporate horizon.

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!

Freelance Writing Site Info: Textbroker.com Review

What is Textbroker?

Textbroker.com is a content mill site for freelance writing jobs, which means that the site posts a variety of writing jobs from an array of clients that can be individually picked up by writers. Textbroker collects money from the client and, once the client approves submitted work, pays a portion of it to the writer.

How do I start at Textbroker?

To start at Textbroker.com, you’ll need 3 things – your filled-out W9 form , a scanned copy of your US identification (such as a Driver’s License), and a 200-word writing sample. Here’s some information obtained directly from Textbroker, exclusively for the Freelance Writer Guide:

Our internal processes are not generally made publicly available and are subject to regular changes as we update the site, but I can summarize the current one briefly for you:

  • Author registers on www.textbroker.com under the registration link on the “I Write Content” page. Authors fill out all information.
  • An automated email is sent that with a link to click to confirm the author’s email address.
  • Author must log in and submit a writing sample of about 200 words.
  • Textbroker will review the writing sample and request a US ID by email in most cases.
  • Once we receive a scanned, faxed or mailed copy of the ID, we will verify it and rate the sample.
    • Authors are rated from 2-4 stars with sound writing fundamentals (spelling, grammar, avoiding fluff content and repetition) being high priorities.
  • Textbroker sends an automated email requesting a W-9 form. The author can begin to write.
    • We require a signed faxed or mailed copy of the W-9 before the author requests their first payment, but the author can start writing right away and build up a credit.

For expedited processing, authors should start the process with their state-issued ID and W-9 form handy. Depending on registration volume, we process the US ID and rating within about one business day each. We only accept US writers over 18 as well.

 

 How do I get paid with Textbroker?

Like many content mill sites, Textbroker.com uses Paypal as a sole form of payment, so you’ll definitely need an account. Cutoff time for work (which must be accepted/approved) is Midnight Las Vegas time (PDT) each week, and the payout for those jobs will occur the following business day, though the time does vary. Payout minimum is $10, and your payout must be manually requested by clicking a button on your payout page.

How is the overall experience at Textbroker?

I have a special fondness for Textbroker.com – like a passionate affair that ended on a sour note, I still carry a lot of good memories from the site and will always be grateful to them for kickstarting my now-thriving freelance writing career. When I really began in earnest there, it was taking up a long-forgotten approval that I managed to garner when I was with my ex-fiance, who constantly told me that writing wasn’t going to amount to any real money and really discouraged my exploring freelancing.

I poked at the site listlessly and wrote $10 here, $20 here, never cracking double digits for a month because I constantly heard that negativity in my head. When my ex and I split and I took up with my now-husband, he encouraged me to pursue my writing and for a long while it was our sole source of income as I flourished. I was offered five star status to work on a very prominent client’s roster through Textbroker, and eventually I was pulling in pretty decent paydays towards late 2010/early 2011, clearing more than a grand a month. Then the other shoe dropped and myself – along with many other 5-star status holders – were informed we were in violation of offenses that had never even crossed the radar in the three years prior – split infinitives chief among them, for me. My writing style and skill hadn’t changed, and in fact more than a few clients remarked on my skill, but Textbroker continued to find strange issues more befitting a college thesis than a 300 word piece on plumbing repair in Chicago, IL.

Error after error showed up in my random reviews, until one day my status was knocked down to 4. I attempted to talk to the higher-ups there, only to be rebuffed and handed the same strangely elevated standards with the edict that three perfect reviews in a row would grant me my status again – a feat that was essentially impossible at the time, and probably still is. The 5-star list took a massive hit in those fateful months, and a very large group of formerly 5-star Textbroker writers decided to pursue options elsewhere rather than tangle with the odd new demands.  Later, when the mass of 5-star ex-pats conferred on public message boards, it was found that a too-large-for-coincidence group had the same experiences, right around the time when the previously-mentioned prominent client pulled their account. In addition, those that had passed the proofreading test (a requirement for moving up to 5-star) and moved onto the review portion of their upgrade application had all received the same entirely-subjective ‘awkward phrasing’ ding that kept them from advancing.

The takeaway? Textbroker is an excellent place for new writers to start, as they usually have a good deal of work at the lower levels and they do pay promptly every week. It’s a good place to get used to the ‘system’ behind most content mill sites, but once you’ve got your rhythm down, head off for greener pastures, because 5-star status is inexplicably difficult to obtain and even harder to keep.

Helpful Hints for Textbroker

You can only take one open order job and one ‘private’ job at a time, so choose wisely. Your rate of dropping/letting articles expire is recorded behind the scenes and it will prevent you from moving up a star level, so treat deadlines as firm.