As a freelance writer, I like to write about a lot of things. I enjoy the act of researching; it’s like being paid to go to school, every day.
The latter has a very specific purpose, though, and–surprise, surprise–it isn’t to make money.
According to Google, 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. [The website] collects money from the client and, once the client approves submitted work, pays a portion of it to the writer.“
There are a number of things you should know about Textbroker.
- It doesn’t pay much.
- The rules are stricter than you might think.
- You’ll learn more than you might think from it about being a writer.
Expectations vs Lessons
I spent every day last week going onto Textbroker and finding something to write about. Like this reviewer, I rank at the 4-star level and have been invited to join the coveted 5-star group (though I have yet to go through the longer-than-desired process of being formally accepted into that circle).
I hadn’t Textbroker’d in a while, so I thought it time to visit the site and do something productive while making a little extra cash.
And, by “little”, I mean little.
I wrote one article per day and, at the end of the week, had a balance of $37.97 to deposit into my Paypal account.
It’s pocket change, really, and, although some people claim a decent wage can be made from working the site exclusively, I don’t write for Textbroker for the money.
I joined Textbroker with the hope of it becoming a lucrative freelancing option. The outcome has been disappointing. However, while I dove into Textbroker with dollar signs in my eyes, I’ve stuck with it because of it’s learning potential.
“One learns by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” -Sophocles, Greek author, Oedipus the King
What you can learn
If you’re a writer traversing the beginnings of your voice and method, go to Textbroker and sign up. NOW. Why?
Because you’ll be put through the wringer.
You’ll be tested on grammar, spelling, and style. You’ll be given unabashed “red marks” on all things that are currently wrong with your craft. The Textbroker editors won’t be nice; in fact, they can be straight up cold. But, tough up, because that’s what all writers need: Someone to tell us directly what’s wrong with our writing so we can fix it.
Next, you’ll be graded on a 5-star scale. This star rating will tell you what articles you can write and which are out of your league. Sure, be insulted at first because, well, your writing is perfect, right? WRONG.
My feelings were initially hurt because of the remarks I got from the editors. How could they think my articles were vague, my research incomplete, my use of commas wrong?
But then I moved on. “Okay,” I thought, “I can fix this.” And I did. And I learned something.
Lesson #1: Be flexible.
I was trying too hard to adhere to what I thought writing should be. I wasn’t taking into consideration what other people prefer in writing (Oxford comma, anyone?); I wasn’t adapting my style to fit the voices of other people.
Even if you’re not out to be a ghostwriter, this skill is important. Why?
Because, when writing from a character’s perspective, especially in fiction, you need to be able to speak the voice of the character, not of yourself, which is very similar to how, in Textbroker, you need to learn to speak the voice of the client and not of yourself.
After I learned to get (a little) more flexible, I had to face another difficult challenge.
Writing for Textbroker, you basically get paid cents on the word. Two cents per word is pretty good for me. So, the less time I take to write a 600 word article, the more per hour I get paid. Still not a lot of cash in my pocket, but it serves up a good lesson:
Lesson #2: Don’t dally.
My first article(s) I wrote on the T’Broker, I took a good couple hours to write each. That was NOT money well made or time well spent. That, combined with my poor form and resulting article revisions, meant I got paid fractions of a cent per article.
Not very lucrative at all.
But, the more articles I wrote, the faster I got.
I’ve learned to research faster; develop a mental outline as I write, resulting in fewer stops and edits and re-reads; and I’ve learned, most importantly, not to overthink the content.
Overthinking is my worst enemy. It makes me second guess my writing instinct, interrupt my writer’s flow and train of thought, and ultimately WASTE TIME.
Again, the more I practiced and wrote for Textbroker, the faster I got, the BETTER I got.
I can now write an article in the fraction of the time it used to take me. I’m actually making money now. Again, not much, but at least more.
Plus, I’m doing one other thing while writing all these little articles and honing my craft and making a few cents per word to boot. And that’s the final lesson:
Lesson #3: Grow your knowledge.
No, this isn’t some “gain knowledge for knowledge’s sake” mantra. It’s actually really applicable to the writer’s everyday creative existence.
Want to write a novel involving a character with a social disorder? Well, guess what: You wrote that article in Textbroker where you researched the “10 Signs You May Have Social Anxiety Disorder” and now you know how to develop your character more thoroughly.
Or you learned a little about interior design and you can more accurately describe the setting in an important scene. Or you learned something about immigrants from Africa and now you can speak on that, too.
Plus, now all you know makes for great conversation in public settings, which means you can more easily connect and network. It’s my belief that a good writer should to be able to speak with authority to a multitude of people types, on a multitude of interests, etc.
Writers need to have an understanding of their world before they can accurately write on it.
What do you think? Do you think joining Textbroker or another content mill is worth more than the cash payout itself?