Freelance Writing Site Info: iWriter

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

Update, 3/9/15: A fellow writer on one of my worksites had this to say when asked “Is the iWriter Fast Track Program a Scam?”
“$150 doesn’t quite do it either. I signed up when I first joined TB (Textbroker). I thought, okay I will give this a shot. I paid, nothing happened. After a month, I started raising hell about it being a scam. I got my money back, but only after going through 8 weeks of annoyances and yelling matches. Run away as fast as possible. FYI, the check I got in the mail for the returned money came from Egypt.”

My readers know that I will typically walk through every aspect of a writing site, detailing procedures like applying to write for pay online, the experience one can expect once approved, and even pay frequency – iWriter breaks the mold because I don’t feel they deserve that treatment. iWriter was pretty low on my totem pole for review, as the site is extremely sparse on jobs and much like the scam Write.com seemed to perpetuate, drew newbies in with the promise of high pay that wouldn’t manifest until several months of pittance-pay grunt work had been plowed through.

Essentially, the idea is that you start off as a beginner at iWriter.com, and you aren’t able to move up to the higher ranks (premium and elite, respectively) until you’ve cleared at least 30 jobs. Beginners make about half a cent per word, which is ridiculously low; so low that I’d immediately dismiss it as a possibility for my fledgling writers. I checked the site just before writing this and the only job available to beginning English writers was a 500 word piece on Indian Real Estate that paid a whopping $2.63 and came from a client with a 53% rejection rate track record. Um, no thanks.

Normally I’d just shrug this off as a bad site and move on, but iWriter lined themselves up in my sights with an appalling email. Actually, the iWriter email wasn’t so bad, it was the stomach-turning iWriter.com SCAM it led to. Here’s a screenshot of the email, with my comments in red (click to enlarge):

"This breaks down to a whopping 2.02 cpw at the highest level available on their site.

“This breaks down to a whopping 2.02 cpw at the highest level available on their site.”

Okay, I’ll bite. A special iWriter test that I have to take to get a higher rank, maybe? Let’s find out by logging into the iWriter.com site (click image to enlarge) –

Wow. Just...wow.

Wow. Just…wow.

So this iWriter.com scam expects newbie writers to not only fork over $147 (!!!) to prove that they’re “serious” about writing, they also want three free pieces of SEO content to prove your “worth”. Any freelance writing site that engages in these scam practices needs to be crossed off your roster, period. No legitimate site will EVER make you PAY to work for them on ANY level – that’s not how employment or freelancing works, it’s actually the polar opposite of how it’s supposed to work.

iWriter.com is a scam, iWriter.com is a waste of time, and they should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for attempting to take advantage of new writers like this. Avoid iWriter.com.

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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.

Freelance Writing Site Info: Constant-Content.com Review

Freelance Writer Guide Asks: Is Constant-Content.com legit or is Constant-Content.com a scam?

If you freelance with any frequency, sooner or later you’re going to end up with orphaned articles – pieces of writing that, for whatever reason, haven’t moved on. Sometimes a client ends up flaking out or rejecting a piece, or maybe you were itching to write about underwater basket weaving and the words just flowed. Sure, you could keep these on your hard drive in the off chance that you’ll find a use for them, but where’s the fun in that? Getting your pieces out there can only help your credibility and wallet in the long run.
Constant-Content.com is set up to be an eBay-like sales platform for prewritten articles. You’ll need to click a button on the left (circled in the picture below) and  pass a short 5 question quiz to prove you know what you’re doing.

Take your time. Read each question carefully, Google grammar rules to double check if you have to. These aren’t easy questions for the rule-impaired.

Constant Content Quiz Answers

Once you’re in, you can start putting up your stray articles or writing fresh ones for the marketplace. All articles need to be in 12 pt Times New Roman and in a word doc, so convert if you need to. I recommend adding as many “tags” as you can possibly think of, as this will help your work pop up in search results within the site. Submitted articles can take anywhere from a single day to the better part of a week to approve and be posted, so be patient.

Once your work is up on the site, market your heart out! I give all of my posted Constant Content works the hashtag treatment on Twitter at least once a day, more often than not. Doesn’t take long, and if I sell an article a month it’s more money than I had before. I also use my Constant Content portfolio to demonstrate to clients what I’m capable of – the image-based writing preview system closely mirrors my own and the site’s “log in to view” requirement helps scare off the scrapers and thieves.

Is selling through Constant Content going to produce a liveable income by itself? Probably not.

Is it, however, a vital part of a diversified approach to finding freelance work? You bet!

Freelance Writing Site Info: Write.com Review

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

UPDATE, AUGUST 2014: Hey dudes and dudettes, just so you’re all aware, Write.com = Crowdsource.com (which in turn “ate” CloudCrowd, a Facebook-based paid online writing platform, last year). If you’re looking for reviews on Crowdsource.com, I got ya covered. This IS a viable place to make money, but do NOT go through Write.com to apply because it’s a bit of a pain and clunky – head over to Crowdsource directly instead for a smoother experience.

*** Original Write.com Review Below ***

What is Write.com?

Write.com is a “platformer” – a writing site that piggybacks an existing site to get work from writers, rather than posting and accepting work through their own site. Cloudcrowd, for instance, is a fellow platformer that uses Facebook, whereas Textbroker is a standalone site that allows workers to log in directly. Write.com uses the Amazon Mechanical Turk site – called Mturk.com – to farm out their tasks.

How do I start at Write.com?

If you’re interested in working with Write.com, start on their homepage. Click the “Join Our Team” link and you’ll be taken to a 20-question multiple choice test that, as typical writing site exams go, isn’t exactly a piece of cake. It is, however, surprisingly static – meaning that as far as I can tell the questions do not change. You’ll also have to submit a writing sample at the end – mine was on cabinet knobs.

Test Answers to Write.com Exam

Once you’ve successfully passed the writing test, you’ll receive an email that looks something like this, directing you to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program, which hasn’t been mentioned until this point (click to enlarge):

Write.com Acceptance Letter

 How do I get paid with Write.com?

Write.com, as we discovered earlier, uses the Mturk system to send out jobs for hire. This means that unlike the vast majority of write-for-pay sites out there, Paypal will do you no good here. Mturk is an Amazon invention, which means you’ll need an Amazon Payments account. Amazon payments are a pain if you’re used to using a Paypal debit card, as the only method for payout (other than using your credit on Amazon.com, natch) is to request a transfer to your bank account, which can take a few days.

How is the overall experience at Write.com?

I opted not to go through with it, after all that rigamarole – which should tell you something. I was initially enticed by the high pay for the usual 250-500 word articles Write.com had listed on Mturk, mistakenly believing that passing their entrance exam would give me access to these decently priced jobs. Once on Mturk, however, I found that the only tasks I had access to were piddly little things like keyword research that paid less than a dime for what looked to be 5-10 minutes of work. When I wrote in to ask about it, this is the response I received (emphasis mine):

Because you are just starting off as a writer in our system, there are going to be a few tasks that are not available to you. These writing tasks are listed exclusively for our “intermediate” and “advanced” writers that have earned those qualifications over time. As you begin to write for us, you can build up a reputation within our writing “career system.”

For our writing qualifications, we grant writers “intermediate” or “advanced” based on a few areas. We are able to keep track of how long a writer has been completing work for us and the feedback that writer has received from our editors. We use this information to determine what qualification each writer should have.

Each writer that works for CrowdSource starts at beginner. On average, a beginner writer moves up to intermediate when he/she has been writing for CrowdSource for three months. Going from intermediate to advanced, however, takes about six months of writing after the intermediate qualification is given. A thorough knowledge of the style guide and standard grammar is demonstrated.”

So, in other words, if you want to make any real money, be prepared to work like a rented mule for the better part of a year just to gain access to actual writing assignments. Funny, I thought I just tested for punctuation, mechanics, style, grammatical understanding, and writing ability to, yanno, write. It feels like a classic bait-and-switch to me, and I’m more than a little ticked off that a site that purports to be about writing is actually just looking for people to do mindless click tasks for pennies an hour.

Helpful Hints for Write.com

Skip it.

Freelance Writing Site Info: CloudCrowd Review

Freelance Writer Guide Asks: Is CloudCrowd legit or Is CloudCrowd a scam?
UPDATE: 7/21/2015: Crowdsource is now where all applicants should head to (Cloudcrowd no longer exists as a standalone company). You can apply at this link: https://work.crowdsource.com/signup

UPDATE. 6/9/14: Applications and work for BOTH the former Cloudcrowd site and Write.com now go through Crowdsource.com, which in turn will kick you to Mturk (if you have Amazon payments as your preferred payment method) to work on tasks after achieving qualifications, or leave you to work on the site itself (if you select Paypal as your payment option). 

What is CloudCrowd?
Aside from a tongue twister, CloudCrowd is a combination of a “mill” type writing site with many articles available for writing and a microjobs site, where small individual tasks can be completed for a few cents each.

How do I start at CloudCrowd?

CC has an unusual Facebook-based system, not a traditional .com site to work through. You’ll need a Facebook account, which are free to set up, and then you’ll need to click this link to start at CloudCrowd. From there, click the credibility tab, the writing section, and the English Credibility Test from there (see image below):

Getting Started at CloudCrowd

How to get started at Cloudcrowd

The test is timed, but you get about 40 minutes for the same amount of questions. English Comprehension Credential Test answers for CloudCrowd are fairly self-evident to native or fluent English speakers, and you can expect something like this:

CloudCrowd English Comprehension Test

The test results and credential award for this test should come back immediately, but don’t expect such a fast turnaround for the peer-reviewed writing or editing tests, which take a few days in most cases.

  • For the writing test, you’re called on to write a 150-200 word piece on a keyword (I’ve seen “green shoes” and “funeral home” on two separate occasions).
  • The marketing test will send you to an Amazon or Overstock product and require you to rewrite the product description.
  • The editing test directs you to a poorly-translated Asian site with the order to essentially rewrite the homepage text – which seems more “rewrite” than “edit” to me, but that’s my opinion.

All tests aside from comprehension and all writing tasks completed require you to submit your work as a Word Document – there are no text entry boxes on the site at all. The completed tests will not pay money.

 How do I get paid with Cloudcrowd?

You’ll need a paypal account to get payment from CC, there are no other options available. Payment is made every day – yes, you read that correctly – into your given paypal account. For instance, if you complete $3 of work on Monday and it’s approved by Monday evening, you’ll have $3 in your account by Tuesday evening. This makes CC an excellent platform as far as money desperation is concerned. If something’s about to be shut off and your other writing site paydays fall too far in the future, you can make the extra you need with CC. The payment times vary, but are generally in the 7pm-8pm EST range for yours truly. The site does NOT take a percentage off for themselves, so what you see is what you get – I imagine they’ve done all of their fee-trimming prior to posting the jobs.

How is the overall experience at CloudCrowd?

It’s a little tough. It’s easy to feel like no one’s listening, and you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with a lot of ESL types, which can make peer review – which the site runs on, by the way – a little bit difficult. Be ready to file appeals for wrongful rejections, but make sure you’re in the right by reading both the site styleguide and the individual task styleguide(s) before beginning – there’s a lot of reading to cover, in some cases. The writing portion often has exhaustive instructions, but they do pay .03/word, which is generous in comparison to a lot of other mills at an average rating level.  Lurk the forums for a bit and you’ll see what the common complaints are, which may help you avoid pitfalls of your own.

Helpful Hints for CloudCrowd

You’ll notice your “credibility” rating once you start at CC – this is an important little number. In general, you’ll get a single point boost for every microjob you complete, such as filling in product spec information for Amazon. (You don’t have to do these microjobs, as writing looks to be a fairly separate animal, but you will need higher credibility for editing tasks). Use the “skip” button judiciously – if you don’t know the answer for sure, just pass it by.  Skipping doesn’t affect your credibility and it may save you from hitting a “check task” – a task with a predetermined answer that, if answered incorrectly, will tank your credibility to as low as it goes and lock you out of CC for a full day.

Each task keeps you on the screen with a timer ticking down in the lower right corner – if you exit the page or the timer runs out, the task is gone. Don’t get through a 400 word piece and hit the back button by mistake – I did, and I was left with a lengthy piece that had no application anywhere else.