The other day, I published a post that covered the ten things I love about writing for money on Textbroker. That post only tells half the story, though, because I actually have a love/hate relationship with TB. In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of the cons of writing for Textbroker.
1. Textbroker pay stinks in the beginning.
I am not kidding. For those who start as a two-star writer, it is less than a penny a word. Actually, you have to get to the five-star level to earn anything like a living wage, but some writers manage a happy medium at the four-star level once they have some direct-order clients.
Here is the thing though, if you do not qualify as a four-star writer, you may not be ready to write for anyone who might remember your name. That is where Textbroker can help you bridge the gap until you are really ready to go professional.
As I mentioned in my original article, some people who write with the proper grammar and spelling may struggle to find the right voice for web copy. For these writers, Textbroker rates are shockingly low.
2. You can only hold one order in your queue at a time.
I understand why it is so. This prevents writers from claiming open orders they are not actually writing at the moment. This system–where you claim a case and complete it before you claim another–suits Textbroker just fine, but it prevents your very best work.
In my best work, I write an outline and a rough draft, and then I put it away before I come back and make it perfect. I just do not feel like I get enough time to make it perfect on Textbroker, because I can never work on something else before I do the final edit.
3. Sometimes an order is not clear or is downright incorrect.
When orders are not clear or they cannot be fulfilled as ordered, you can pull the order into your work queue and then write to the client, but then you will not be able to grab another case until the client answers you.
I recently had to dump an article because the order included overlapping mandatory keywords. The bare minimum keywords ended up exceeding the maximum on some of the terms. I could have written to the client and asked them to correct the order, but have I tried that before, and it was just a waste of time.
There is no incentive for the writer to provide customer service when it can easily take 24 to 48 hours to resolve something like this, and the writer cannot change the order.
4. Textbroker clients try to recruit you.
This is awkward. You want to be gracious about the offer, but in the meantime, Textbroker is watching all your correspondence to try and catch this. Textbroker’s Terms of Service clearly state that you cannot have any contact with clients outside the Textbroker site. Writers poaching clients and clients poaching writers are forbidden.
Unfortunately, because Textbroker is working so hard to prevent poaching, communication with clients can be arduous when messages get netted by Textbroker’s filters. It is foolish, in my opinion, that Textbroker makes it so hard to communicate inside their system, when that is where they want you to be.
5. Clients may take up to four days to approve your work.
This could drive you crazy on Thursday afternoon when you are looking at all the work you have done that week and considering the possibility that a lot of it may not get approved before midnight.
You see, Textbroker cuts checks every Friday based on your request for payment of all approved work before midnight on Thursday.
Need a reason to bang your head on your desk? Check your account Friday morning and find that a client approved a slew of your articles at 10 pm the night before, but because you did not sign in to Textbroker, check the statistics, and request a pay out right before midnight, you’ll be waiting another week to get paid for those assignments.
6. You may look like you are ahead when you are behind.
Those articles that did not get approved by midnight on Thursday last? Well, they are all going to hit automatic acceptance by Monday. Which means all week long you’ll be working with a hefty balance waiting to be paid, and that hefty balance may make it harder than usual for you to apply the right pressure to your performance for the rest of week.
I know, it is all about discipline. You have to have a spreadsheet where you track every day’s production, so you do not focus on payday so much as earnings per week. Except…
When you are working off a daily production sheet, you will occasionally have negatives appear. Someone may return a handful of yesterday’s assignments and suddenly it is as though you only worked half a day. You end up starting your new day in the hole.
7. Textbroker only allows you 24 hours to make corrections.
If you are a fan of weekends, you may lose some of your Friday assignments to rejections. You also might not want to take any chances with new clients the day before you are leaving on vacation.
I understand why this is important for customer service. I know when I see an article sent back for revision, I feel it is my highest priority to either fix it or release it as soon as possible. Still, I think we writers spend way too much time in front of our keyboards.
I wish we were granted time through the next business day before the article returned to the open forum, so those who choose could have their weekends.
8. Clients who want UK English do not know to order on Textbroker.co.uk.
I guess some clients have yet to learn about this new site, but I am very pleased that Textbroker has opted to split the language for writers. Personally, I am not interested in trying to write something that will sound off to a local ear. It is the height of conceit to think you just have humour folks with some Us whilst placing your Rs toward the centre of the word, and suddenly you are writing the Queen’s English.
I think trying to write in UK English would chip away at my quality rating. Besides, a client requesting UK English has a right to choose from a pool of writers that does not include me and most of my compatriots.
I have always gotten a little sad each time I read through what looks to be a promising assignment and at the very end it says, please use UK English, but I feel even sadder now that I know they have a site of their own.
9. Textbroker’s price per word model is not ideal.
Clients want a lot more than mere words these days. Some clients want you to find them a photo. Others would like social media promotion along with your article. I have even been approached for several multimedia opportunities for which it would be much more satisfactory to enter a project fee.
Of course, a lot of these offers just do not fit inside Textbroker, which is unfortunate because…
10. Textbroker does not offer a graceful way out.
As I have already pointed out, Textbroker does not allow you to have contact with a client outside their platform. They have absolutely no system in place for allowing a client and writer to evolve beyond the per-word-subcontractor arrangement. I understand that Textbroker’s writers are their assets, but I think it is a failure of imagination not to find a way to allow temporary employees to move onto permanent situations with clients.
For many people, Textbroker is a temporary arrangement. Someday, many of these writers will go on to more lucrative, permanent situations. When they do, Textbroker will get nothing beyond the satisfaction that they did everything except provide the introduction.
I think Textbroker should set a price for buying a writer out of the system. Set it high. It works for every other temp agency I have ever encountered.
Share Your Pain
These are my biggest frustrations with Textbroker. Not enough to make me quit this month, but maybe beyond your own tolerance. Overall, I have to say that Textbroker is better than many other routes you might take when you start writing for money online.
I could add one more pain point. Every time you get a new direct-order client it gets harder to go back and write for the general pool rates. That is a plus and a minus, because you are getting better pay, but you will not always have those better paying assignments.
What about you? Did I miss one of your Textbroker pet peeves?