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The Other Side of the Writing Coin

Flip SideI finally got around to putting my specs together in order to hire a few Textbroker writers to write some content for me. It was an interesting experience. The one thing I did learn about this experience is that I am a freelance writer. As a freelance writer I find it difficult to hire other writers to write what I want to say.

Dealing with Textbroker

I have a new appreciation for Textbroker. I believe they are a top-notch operation. I believe they’re trying to do things in a fair and honest way. When I signed into my Client account and uploaded money for the articles I needed, I was contacted by Textbroker. They wanted to make sure that it was actually me that uploaded the money and not someone who had gotten a hold of my credit card.

During the confirmation process I got a chance to chat with Christina Zila. She was very pleasant and helpful. I was a bit humbled to find out that she was familiar with the NJFM blog and reads it every so often.

Placing My Request

Here’s where I think I messed things up a bit. I needed 5 articles on one topic. Each article was to explain a different aspect of the topic. So, for example I had article “A” which was an overview of the topic. Then I had article A1, A2, A3 and A4 all which took a different part of the overview to explain it in more detail. Well…that’s what I wanted.

What I wanted and what I got were two different things. The overview went just fine and article A3 was fine (with a few modifications). My Textbrokerproblem was article A1, A2 and A4. What I got was three different versions of my overview “A.” They were all fluff (one was a well-written piece of fluff, but fluff nonetheless).

It took quite a bit of time going back explaining what I wanted, how I wanted it, what I wanted the reader to walk away knowing when they finished reading the article. By the time I received the revisions on all of the articles, I dreaded opening my emails from Textbroker because I knew I would have to spend time correcting and re-explaining what I wanted.

I thought about it for a bit. Of the 5 articles written, I believe 2 of the writers put their best foot forward, one tried hard and the other two…well, let’s just say that I stopped requesting rewrites and figured it would be less stressful if I were to write the articles myself.

How Could I have Made the Experience Better?

Maybe I needed to spend more time on my original specs explaining what I wanted and how to approach the articles. Maybe I should have requested level 4 or 5 writers instead of level 3 writers (although the articles were not difficult to do at all). Maybe I should have written them myself. After all, I’ve had to rewrite three of them.

Lessons Learned:

  • Textbroker is still a top notch operation.
  • I see why some writers get direct orders and others do not
  • I’m a writer who earns money from her own writing. Don’t fix what aint broken.
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Resa May 3, 2011, 1:32 pm

    I write a bit over at Constant Content and a lot of the public requests are really baffling. Either they’re incredibly vague, ala, “I need a 500 word article about cars”.

    Or the request is so confusing as to be completely opaque, ala “I need a 500 word article about bath scubbies. Be sure to use the keywords bath scrubby and scrubbies and loofah and sugar body wash at least 25 times, with a keyword density rate of 47.5%. This article should focus on Brand Name body wash!”

    Writing to ask for clarification is usually futile. We need an article on how to write requests for articles, really. And some explanation about how much comprehensible content will fit into 500 words, especially when they also want keyword stuffing. 🙂

  • Crystal May 3, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Your experience mirrors my own. While I would so love to hire out some of the writing, it’s hard to get what you want when you are a writer. I actually had better luck with level 3s, however, so I’m not sure posting at level 4 would have made much difference for you. Definitely consider trying the direct order route if you got some stuff you could use as-is.

  • Deanna May 3, 2011, 4:07 pm

    I laughed at your 3rd “lesson learned”. It’s hard to pay someone else to write for you when you are a writer. I find myself silently editing almost everything I read and I put it down to the fact that no two people would write the exact same sentence on the exact same topic. I’m sure you’d probably be happier writing the articles yourself, even if the topic isn’t that interesting to you. 🙂 It is interesting, however, to hear your experiences as a buyer at Textbroker as opposed to being a writer there.

  • kidgas May 3, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I think as a writer that it would be very hard to hire out that portion although I can understand why you might want to do so. I would prefer to hire out backlinking and some of the other more mundane tasks. I am not quite to that point yet.

  • Sakura May 4, 2011, 3:30 am

    For a skilled writer just starting to outsource projects, handing over articles to other writers will probably make you feel the way men do about not holding the remote while watching TV, lol. You will probably be happier writing them yourself.

    However, imo if you want anything worthwhile from Textbroker making your projects a level 4 will be a must. Writers who are skilled enough to be class 4 and 5 are the ones who will be able to write the kind of content you are looking for. They will cost a little more than a level 3, but the quality goes up in exchange for the higher rates.

    Also, if you consistently got what was essentially fluffy rewrites of the source material your instructions were probably a little vague. Many of the level 3 orders are for simple rewrites so it’s easy to see how the authors may have been confused.

    If you decide to give TB a try again I suggest increasing the level of your articles to 4 star; no point in going for 5 star since you’re a good writer with a strong voice who will end up proofing even the best of work. Improve your communication and remember: You can’t be TOO clear. Clarity is good! As an author I look for articles with clear instruction so I can get it right the first time.

    I hope you don’t let this first experience scare you away from the site for good. TextBroker has some seriously talented writers who would love to complete orders for you in the future.

    • Felicia May 4, 2011, 6:27 am

      Advice well given and well taken Sakura.

  • Tashana May 4, 2011, 10:06 am

    Okay, I must be the most unmotivated writer there is lol…I’m signed up with all of these sites and have yet to actually accept any assignments because every time I do, I get cold feet. I never think anything is good enough.

    To that end, I am also signed up with Textbroker but I have yet to complete the sample assignment in order to start accepting jobs. So, what is Textbroker looking for? Are they like Suite101 with the third POV or are they looking for a more informal yet informative writing style? This is where I just clam up. Hey maybe I can start a blog about writers like me who can never get to writing because they don’t feel like their writing is good enough …Well, it was a thought.

    Thanks Felicia.

    • Felicia May 4, 2011, 1:15 pm

      Tashana, receiving the worst criticism in the world can’t be worse than not submitting anything. At least with criticism you can learn and improve (I know because that’s how I improved and continue to improve). By not writing, you are stagnating.

      As far as what Textbroker is looking for, the only way you’ll know is if you try it. Every client has different needs. You won’t find the answer here on NJFM.

      We can provide all of the information and advice that you can stand to read, but it won’t do you any good if you’re not willing to take the first step in submitting something. You have nothing to lose and much to gain. After all, no editor is going to rip your work apart more than you’re ripping your own work apart already.

      The next time you post a comment here at NJFM, I hope it’s to say, “Hey Felicia. I did it! I submitted something!”

      Now that you have your marching orders, go and submit something. Once you get over the initial hurdle, it gets easier.

  • Ken May 4, 2011, 11:34 am

    Writers simply have a hard time hiring other writers. First, just as you discovered, there are too many who simply don’t write and we begin to see what others gripe about. Secondly, nobody ever seems to live up to our personal quality standards. I have been taking a break from The Freelancer to concentrate on a new business venture and attempted to hire a couple of writers. I ended up going through oDesk and Craigslist. After too many applications, and hiring a handful of writers for a week I found ONE that will pan out.

    That says two things though that I think is positive for us. First, there is not much competition when it comes to QUALITY writers which means the market is wide open for a freelancer who wants to make a business of web content writing. Secondly, the money is out there for writers who can write quality content.

    Hiring a VA was much easier. LOL

    • Felicia May 4, 2011, 1:21 pm

      That’s interesting to hear, Ken. I think for the time being I’ll be working with my voice recognition software and writing my own content. Maybe I’ll explore hiring a writer later on down the line, but for now, I’ll take it slow and easy and write my own stuff.

  • Tashana May 6, 2011, 1:21 am

    Okay Felicia, I just had to tell you this before I went to bed. It’s 1:19 am EST and I just “ta da” submitted my first article to Textbroker. Am I completely enamored with my work, ABSOLUTELY NOT ; I’m a wreck. But, I did it. My hopes are that I’m my worse critic and the client accepts. And if not, I wont give up and I will get better. Thanks again for your encouragement.

    • Felicia May 6, 2011, 8:40 am

      Congrats, Tashana! I’m glad you’re pushing through that self-imposed barrier. It’s tough at first, but a few months from now you’ll look back and say, “What was I afraid of?”

      Keep at it.

  • Maria (WriterGig) May 6, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Felicia, I also recently hired out some article writing through Textbroker. I ordered some level 3 and some level 4 articles. I was disappointed that level 4’s also required multiple re-writes in some cases, and several had grammatical errors and misspellings. I wouldn’t expect that of a level 4 article given the information I read on their site. That being said, I will still use TB in the future, but I will be much more specific about what I’m looking for. In some of the articles, it was abundantly clear that not a bit of research was done — pure fluff.

  • Debra McDougal May 16, 2011, 8:35 pm

    Your comments about some of the writers on textbroker.com surprises me. I am a level 4 writer and textbroker editors are on me if I have a misplaced comma. They threatened to knock me down to level three because I did the same thing two articles in a row. I’ve written 296 articles for them and never had a client refuse my articles. I really thought that textbroker held its writers to higher standards.

    • Felicia May 17, 2011, 7:07 am

      Debra, I was a bit surprised by one of the articles I received too. I expressed my dissatisfaction when I rated the author. I understand that many writers have grown accustomed to writing fluff, but I had a real hard time when the article was grammatically incorrect. I’m guessing that Textbroker will read the rating and deal directly with the author.

  • Mom Blog May 20, 2011, 1:37 pm

    I’ve tried to get friends to help post useful mom articles, but it’s like pulling teeth. I had never considered a writing service like this before, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

  • shawn May 24, 2011, 4:04 am

    I am on textbroker because of this blog, hahaha… But, honestly, like some others said, if you get a topic that just gives a topic, most people keep it general or “evergreen” as they say. I have had trouble (not on textbroker, but on other sites) for being too specific. I think once I just mentioned youtube as a provider of a certain service, which everyone in the world knows. The article seemed weird without it, but I was made to remove it. It is also hard to see how separate orders relate (I just see the one I click on).
    I am sure your instructions were good, but you also know how tough it is to balance the generality and specificity of an article. Most of the articles I write for affiliates are nothing I would want to publish myself, but the clients like them that way.
    Well, just food for thought. Back to textbroker now!

  • Tom Hooper June 6, 2011, 3:57 am


    I am a level 4 writer on TB, and I understand how you feel. Debra is right about the editors at TB. They are strict on their writers, and the editors expect the author to write a quality article that matches the author’s level.

    Sometimes, level 4 writers get lazy and write a substandard article. Rest assured, even if the client accepts the article, the editors are quick to point out the errors and possibly demote the author down a level. I have been demoted to level 3 before, and I was quick to improve my writing style and grammar.

    As far as the instructions go, clients need to provide quality instructions to get an article they want. Authors can rate a client’s instructions as well. I guess it’s like the old saying goes, “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Being a writer myself, I don’t think I’d have the courage to hire someone else to write an article for me. Kudos to you! 🙂

    P.S. believe me when I say there are a lot of great writers that work for TextBroker. They spend a lot of time in the author’s forum discussing grammar topics and other tips to help improve their writing.

  • Kim Mclendon June 7, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Send me the direct orders. LOL

    Really though, direct order is the best way to get your money’s worth consistently from text broker. Take the one article you liked and remember who did it. Get him/her to do them all. I usually go to extra trouble for my direct orders, because I appreciate their business. I begin to learn more about what they like, and their usual topics so I become an expert in their genre over time.

    I have a few direct order clients who prefer the way I write. I might occasionally misplace a comma, but my clients don’t really care about that. Most of them have very copy heavy sites, and they appreciate that I am willing to go long, if the article needs more words to explain something completely. Several like my “punchy” style… no idea what they mean by that, another said he likes the way I organize an article.

    There are other clients who want the exact length and weigh you down with dozens of key words. Those kinds of people are no doubt looking for a writer who is good at that, and could care less about content that actually makes sense. I avoid doing those articles. Everyone has a set of criteria for when looking for a writer, or a client. Once you find the right one, or ones, why look further.

  • Andrea September 7, 2011, 10:22 am

    I just started writing articles on textbroker and while I love the idea of being able to earn some extra money so easily, I find the client instructions and requirements to be frustrating. Most of the article requests I’ve seen ask you to repeat a certain keyword a ridiculous amount of times. I feel like my writing could be so much better on a subject if I wrote what I actually knew and in a style I’m comfortable with. Having to repeat a certain word 15 times in a 200 word article takes all the quality out of my writing. It’s hard to come across as a creative and skilled writer when you are just throwing in the same keyword every 10 words or so. It doesn’t make me feel good about what I’m putting out there. I’m not sure I want to contribute my writing skills to internet content that feels a bit spammy.

    • Felicia September 7, 2011, 2:51 pm

      Andrea, that’s precisely why I created my own sites in the first place. I got to write what I wanted when I wanted. Unfortunately, they weren’t earning enough initially so I had to find other income sources (i.e. content sites).

      Try Constant Content. You can sell your work there without having to saturate your work with keywords.

  • Roni November 13, 2011, 11:41 am

    Where are all the Textbroker jobs? A few months ago, the selection was huge, like 2K assignments. Now, the count is like 200. Did I miss a big news flash?

  • Grandma November 15, 2011, 6:15 am

    There has been an absolutely huge amount of new writers accepted over there, on top of the tens of thousands of writers already accepted. The entire process of approvals and ratings by TB has slowed significantly. Some ratings by TB take up to, or more than, 3 months now.

    I believe they are on a very aggressive pattern of obtaining new clients worldwide. Personally, I have upped my client blacklist to around 200 or more, mostly UK clients. I always seem to pick up computer viruses on those UK websites so I just don’t want to venture there.

    Yes, there are few that I see right now. It is a seasonal flux, but it will pick up again after the first of the year, if history repeats itself.

    The newer writers take on everything fast, even if they do not know what to do, according to their forum questions. Many are students; TB is a good source of cash for them.

    All in all, it is not at all (IMO) like it used to be, but TB remains an excellent place to pick up a few bucks or more and now they pay weekly. That is another reason new writers have flocked there over the past few months.

  • April November 22, 2011, 8:38 am

    Hi Felicia! I haven’t gone through and read all of these, but I can certainly relate to the frustration! I have outsourced some things on Textbroker (though nothing I do FOR them…those I only trust myself to write!). As a level 5 who worked up from an initial 3 (though that was raised to a 4 immediately…where I stayed for a year), I have been very frustrated with some of what I have received…especially from 3s, but even from 4s. I have been rather surprised at some of the mistakes in even the level 4s. I found the best thing is to find one or two writers you like and stick with them. It seems the majority of 3s are primarily out to make a quick buck, and some of the 4s as well. It is hard to find writers who are serious about writing and not just doing it as a quick source of cash. But, as a writer, I am likely pickier than many marketers and bloggers who place orders. As you said, it is often easier to just do it yourself. I always spend time editing what I buy, and in some cases, I spend more time editing than what it would have taken to research and write it myself! That being said, there are some very good writers on there, and I have a couple of regulars that I turn to now when I have more work than I can handle.

    I agree with Grandma about the forums…lots of newbies coming in, and many of them really only seem to be out for some quick cash. I used to participate frequently in the forums, but I got sick of reading some of the nonsense in there, so rarely even open the forums anymore.

  • Robert June 22, 2012, 1:36 pm

    For what Textbroker pays, it’s amazing any professional writer would write for them longer than the time it takes to realize the only people getting rich off TB are the owners themselves. They’re making a fortune off their writers yet still paying them peanuts.

    I wrote a few articles for them way back. Then realized I could make more money writing for my own sites, and for other sites that paid page views as well as per article rates. Needless to say, I make 4-5 times per article what I would make on TB, and as I get paid by page views or Google AdSense on my own sites I keep making money.

    Plus you have to laugh at their obsession with commas and their AP style that seems to fit to what AP did 5 years ago.

    I would never hire a TB writer for my sites, as I’ve seen too much of the garbage many of them spew out.

  • Steve July 23, 2013, 6:51 am

    Enjoyed reading your experiences as both a writer and a client …

    Through my own such site, we see many similar ‘vague’ instructions for writers, not really giving them much to go on at all.

    Of course, clients who get the best outcome are those that have stipulated in more detail what they’re looking for, rather than leaving it to chance.

    However, even with the vaguest instructions, the better quality writers can still turn out a great piece of writing (and often end up with direct orders as a result) – it’s really down to the quality of the writer, and their level of commitment.

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