How to Make Textbroker Work For You (If You Must)

Using content mills in order to generate income is pretty controversial in the world of freelance writing. Some people will tell you to never use them no matter what, and I can see where they’re coming from. They pay ridiculously insulting rates, you can’t ever get a raise, and the clients on there are usually pretty bad. They want articles stuffed with keywords because they don’t understand how SEO has evolved, and most of the time what you earn for the article isn’t even worth your time.

Unless you know how to work the system a bit. 

I only have experience with Textbroker. I tried Demand Studios, but they want you to have crazy credentials and degrees for $15 articles and I wasn’t “accepted” because of that. Even though I have a Bachelor’s Degree, they wanted 5 years of work experience in areas I had a lot of writing experience in, and I wasn’t going to jump through their hoops when I had income from other clients that were, you know, real people. So I’m just going to do a quick tutorial on Textbroker. By tutorial I don’t mean teach you how to use it. I mean teach you how to benefit from it. 

So here are the things you want to keep in mind when you (if you) use Textbroker. 

Write What You Know

In almost every other area of writing, I never follow this rule. If you only write what you know, you never grow as a writer, you never learn new things, and you’ll get bored pretty quick. Your opportunity to earn is also diminished if you stick to only what you know right now. But when it comes to Textbroker, I only write what I know. If you can’t explain it in your sleep, don’t take the article. You’ll waste too much time researching and the pay won’t be worth it. 

Never Do Long Revisions

If you missed a comma or something and a client asks for a short revision, fine. But if a client comes back and essentially wants you to rewrite all or a good portion of the article, click cancel process and move on. I know, I know “But Courtney, I spent time writing that article, I’m going to lose money!” Wrong. If you’re being asked to rewrite an article, your pay gets cut in half. So you essentially wrote 2 articles for $5 instead of one. Or whatever the price is. If I ever find out you wrote 1,000 words for $5 I’ll come find you and steal your coffee and glare at you. I’ll do it. Don’t make me. Okay I won’t, but now you’ll think of it if you’re ever tempted. 

Long revisions waste your time. In the half hour it takes you to rewrite it, you could be writing another article. It might feel like throwing money away, but trust me, it’s saving you money in the long run. Need proof? 

Once upon a time I did a Textbroker article. The client came back and asked for a revision. I did it. The client came back again and asked for yet another revision. SEVEN revisions later – seven, folks – I was finally done. For $7. In the amount of time it took me to do their continual revisions, I could have earned at least $30-$40 working on other articles. 

Another reason you don’t want to waste time with revisions is that if your client is already being picky, they can reject your article if they don’t like your revisions. You won’t get dinged in Textbroker’s book for cancelling process on an order, but you will if it’s rejected. I have a 0 percent rejection rate, and I plan to keep it that way. 

Check the Revision Rate

Speaking of revisions, you can check the revision rate of every client. When you open an order and you’re looking at it, just right click and “open in new tap” the client’s identification number. That will take you to their profile. If you’re looking at a revision rate higher than 6%, don’t take it. I can’t explain why 6% is the magic number, but it just is. Most reasonable clients that won’t give you trouble have revision rates of about 2% or less. So 6% is being really generous. 

That guy that had me revise his article 7 times? 146% revision rate. Clearly I hadn’t realized you could check revision rates when I took it. But he’s on my blacklist now. That means that he has multiple revisions for every single order. 

Image
Seriously, nobody does.

Moving on.

Get Direct Orders

You can’t demand too much for direct orders – this is Textbroker, after all – but set your direct order price to at least 2-2.5 cents per word. You get a portion of that, but it actually makes a big difference in the price you get for an article. Any time someone rates your work with an Excellent rating, click on their client number, send them a message, and say something like “I wanted to thank you for the ‘Excellent’ rating you awarded me on (article name). I really enjoyed working on this article, and would be happy to fill any direct orders you might have.” That’s what I do, and it got me a couple of repeat clients that send me about $40 worth of work per week. It’s not much, but it’s better than $0, and they’re easy because I know the client and what they want. Still low paying, but in my genre wheelhouse, so it doesn’t take much research. Direct orders are worth it if you just need some quick cash, and it’s better than wasting time looking through the available articles. 

Know the Signs of a Horrible Order

After being on Textbroker for awhile, I’ve started to realize what makes a good order, and what makes a bad one. I’m going to break down the basics for you, but avoiding the bad ones is way more important than seeking out the good ones, if that makes sense. A mediocre client won’t kill your day, but a bad client will suck your time and make you crazy. Especially on Textbroker.

Signs of a Good Order

  • Short descriptions
  • 1-3 keywords required per 500 words (so a 1,000 word article could have 4 or 5 and be fine)
  • Friendly demeanor used in the description text
  • No crazy deadlines other than the one built into the order – usually 1-2 days.

Signs of a Really Bad Order

  • Long, several paragraph descriptions that take you a lunch break to read.
  • A huge list of keywords (I’ve seen as many as 20) – these people just want crap articles that stuff keywords and will probably ask for revisions and usually don’t know what they’re even asking for, since SEO doesn’t work that way anymore.
  • Rude or haughty tone. (Look for things like threats to put you on a blacklist, threats to reject articles that aren’t ‘perfect’, text in all caps, and overall text that talks to you like you’re five.)
  • People who ask for their article in an hour or less or have other deadlines other than the 1 day minimum you would normally get.

I can usually tell within 3 seconds if an article is something I want to take, but it took practice and experience with bad clients and orders to spot the patterns. The best articles I’ve ever done have had a short paragraph for a description, provided a title, had a good idea of what they wanted, asked for no more than 2 keywords, and said “Thank you” at the end of the description.

 Check for Orders Frequently 

I’m not suggesting you sit all day hitting the fresh button, but check a few times a day for orders in your field of interest or orders that you think are worth doing. I try not to do orders that are over 500 words, because they usually end up taking longer than they’re worth. But once I did a 12,000 word piece. I don’t know that I would do it again, but hey. You live and learn. Orders come and go all day long, so keep checking. 

If Textbroker is All You Have

I understand there are situations in which a freelancer is pretty much forced to work for content mills until they can get “real clients”. If this is you, I’ve been where you are, and every once in awhile when things are slow I turn to Textbroker again for work. I don’t recommend you spending years only writing for Textbroker. But if it’s really all you have right now, you can still make it work and it can be a great experience. But some of the above tips don’t really apply if you’re depending on Textbroker for a living. Most of them do, except for write what you know and don’t do articles over 500 words. Here’s what I do when I’m relying on Textbroker for more than 25% of my income. 

  • Sort by price. If you click the check boxes on the “Show All Orders” page so it only shows your level (like Level 4), you’ll see a list of all the available orders. Click on the orange title above Price twice – once will categorize it least paying to highest, twice will do the opposite. Work on orders (unless they look like horrible orders) from highest paying to lowest paying. Yes it usually means you’re working on longer projects, but you have fewer to do per day in order to make ends meet, and you spend less time doing research. 
  • Get Textbroker out of the way early. It’s draining. So do it while you’re drinking your first cup (or few cups) of coffee. Sometimes I literally work straight through until I hit my income goal for the day. Then I take a nice long break, and then I market, blog, and do other things that will bring in higher paying work. That way, I know my bills are covered and I won’t be begging on the street corner, and I can market, write e-books, etc. in peace. 
  • Pay attention to the subjects being asked for on Textbroker. A lot of clients go to more than one place to find their work, and I’ve noticed that I’ll see requests for the same types of orders on several sites. How to capitalize on this? Easy. Write similar articles, or articles on similar subjects, for places like Constant Content and Yahoo! Voices. Chances are this is what people are searching for,and you’ll get more sales and hits, respectively, by following the trends. 
  • Take care of business, then move on. In other words, only use Textbroker for what you really need in terms of money. Pay your bills with it, and then move on to other things. You can do this two ways. One is to work all week on Textbroker until you hit your weekly income goal, and then market, write ebooks, send query letters, etc. the rest of the week. OR, you can work on Textbroker during the day until you hit your daily income goal, and then work on other things. The former option will keep you safe, the latter option will keep you sane. *shrug* 

I see Textbroker like a prescription. Use it when you are financially struggling or need to get ahead quickly with reliable money you can cash in on weekly. It will cure the problem quickly, you can spend time focusing on marketing and other things, and it shouldn’t be used for long periods of time because it can be addictive. And by addictive I mean it can take over your life. 

This is why some people will tell you never to use content mills: you spend so much time writing for so few dollars that you almost have to do it continuously in order to meet your income goals, and then you have no time to market, and then you end up doing content mill articles forever and ever, world without end, amen. 

That’s why I wanted to talk about how to use Textbroker effectively. If you use it effectively, you can escape the black hole of dependence on it, stay financially ahead, and grow your business. I think to swear off Textbroker can be a mistake. It’s not a permanent solution, but it is a solution when you haven’t started seeing the harvest (work) from your seeds (marketing) yet. 

That’s my two cents on it. Hopefully that helps you out. 🙂 

Until next time (which will be later today, because I have a post on finding clients I want to write), happy writing!

 

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. storydivamg says:

    Courtney,
    I started taking orders at Textbroker two years ago after a series of job losses had left my new spouse and me destitute. I agree it isn’t the best income-earning opportunity in the world, but I’ve found the recent emphasis on teams to be profitable for me. Also, there are a few regular clients there that require enough spins to keep me busy, earning around $20 an hour when orders are available.

    The biggest problem I have found is a glut of authors eating up orders too quickly.

    I like your points about what types of orders to take and what orders to reject. I’ve followed these guidelines personally with quite a bit of success.

    Although content mills tend to take advantage of writers, paying far lower than they should for our work, I have found that Textbroker has better policies than most content mills. With team orders, I managed to average $300 to $350 a week at TB by the end of 2013. The new year always causes a disruption in the force field as clients wait to learn about SEO changes that will be implemented by major players such as Google.

    Anywho, those are my thoughts. I’m glad to find you here.

    Cheers!
    Marie Gail

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi Marie!

      Thanks for the comment; I totally agree. I’m not one to turn away a source of income, so I think if you can make Textbroker work for you, it’s a great opportunity. Like you said, they tend to have better policies for protecting writers than other mills, for sure. I am on a couple of teams but they never have orders, so my direct orders keep me busy. Good for you for making it work for you and I’m so glad that you’re following the blog! 🙂
      Courtney

      1. storydivamg says:

        If you ever need some tips for how to get teams working for you there, let me know. 😉 It’s taken a few calls to HQ, but I’ve gotten to a point where I have built up a decent pipeline.

        I’ve had a few DO clients but don’t seem to be able to keep a steady stream of them. I guess it’s all in what works best for each individual author.

        MG

  2. Tommie says:

    ‘ After graduating from college, Einstein did not look for a job in connection with his field, physics.
    Formative assessment – Formative assessment is usually
    accomplished after a course or project. * Involving in the
    growth process and changes that is endless and self-initiated.

  3. Cindy Burke says:

    Great tips and still on target in 2015!

  4. Alexa says:

    Hi! I’m just starting out as a freelance writer and I’ve been using textbroker for the past couple weeks. How do I go about transitioning away from writing for a content mill and into being more professional?

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi! Spend more time writing for places like Constant Content. Then spend time querying magazines and businesses and blogs. Where you spend your time is what grows….spend all your time on Textbroker, and that’s where you’ll be stuck. But start investing time in more profitable places and that’s what will grow. You must think long term to be successful. Otherwise you’ll always be chasing pennies. Ask me how I know. 😉 I wish I had learned sooner in my career to pursue long term, higher paying work, even if I had to wait a bit to get the pipeline going. It’s so worth it. 🙂

  5. Leah Schurman says:

    Morning!

    I stumbled across your article when researching if textbroker was legit or not! Ha! I am waiting on my sample review and score and can’t wait to put all your suggestions to good use! I have always loved writing while in college… but somehow ended up with a degree in psychology instead! I think this might be a great stepping stool to get into writing again and pay some bills off while doing it!

    I am hoping this can help me get comfortable writing again and that I can branch out at that point! This may be a really dumb question, but what else can you do to make money writing? I would love to write a book someday, but am definitely not at that point right now. I saw above that you mentioned magazines and blogs… how do you get started with those? I never really pursued anything like this because I always kind of assumed they were all kind of scams, but I am glad I looked into it further!

    Thank you so much for your tips and tricks!

    – Leah

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi Leah!
      Textbroker will only be helpful for personal development, and by that I mean if you’re trying to “try out this writing thing”, so to speak, you might find that it’s helpful.

      However, I wouldn’t stay there for long. The problem with sites like Textbroker is that they’re not designed to help the writer. Most of the time there are clients who want a ton of content, cheap, and quality…isn’t always the top priority. So you can get used to writing below par, and even if you do get a byline, content mill articles aren’t usually seen as being a legitimate “clip”, or sample of past work.

      So, my suggestion to you would be to try out something like Constant Content. There, you can write about whatever you want, set your own price (you get 65% of the sale price), and build up a catalog. If you’re selling full rights pieces, you’re still not getting a byline, but that’s hardly important, because you can earn SO much more while you “get your feet wet”.

      (To illustrate my point, I sold an article about how to pick out a ripe pineapple for $45. No joke.)

      I have tons of information about Constant Content here, and actually plan on writing an eBook about it after I wrap the one I’m currently working on, but I highly recommend it for earning money. Law, medicine, education, technology, and business are your best bets as far as topics go, along with health and fitness.

      However, the long-term goal is published material with your name on it. That’s what you’ll end up using to pitch to businesses, magazines, and so on.

      I’m literally wrapping up an eBook as we speak that has to do with research, and then how to turn that research into content and market it places that will really start to build a career. Readers of this blog and followers on FB will get the eBook for free if they sign up for my newsletter, so stay tuned. Lots of helpful information in there.

      But the short answer to where to find magazine article jobs is writersmarket.com. It’s $5 a month and SO worth it. You can find places to pitch for fiction and nonfiction alike, big and small.

      Also, pick up a copy of The Renegade Writer books – any and all of them. They are so good! 🙂

      Hope that helped answer some of your questions. And, as always, if you have more questions feel free to email me at courtneyherzwrites@gmail.com.

      Happy writing!

      Courtney

  6. A.J says:

    Awesome article!

  7. LeTara M. says:

    Great article! It was very helpful. I started writing on Textbroker again yesterday after being gone for nearly three years. I wrote articles regularly for a couple of months, but my brain just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m more of a creative writer and getting paid just a few dollars per article when I was already struggling to eat nearly drove me crazy. I had no clue of where or how to begin my writing career and ultimately made a series of bad decisions following that. After a few weeks of trying to talk myself into writing on Textbroker again, I finally sat down and wrote my first article yesterday. It took me about an hour and a half to write 439 words for an article that paid $6.15, but it got me past that hump, the mental barrier, that kept me from even trying. I don’t intend to do this full-time. I’m researching how to really break into freelance writing and setting a few goals, but this will be a good supplement for my “day job.” Thanks a lot for the tips! I will definitely put them to use.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      That’s awesome! You can head over to afreelancersguideto.com, also, where I’m compiling a library of articles and other helpful tips on freelancing, as well. Hopefully it helps. Good luck to you! Rest assured you can do much, much better than writing for $6.15 for an hour and a half’s worth of work. That’s just not okay. Keep searching. You’ll find your way in this business soon enough! 😀 Let me know if I can do anything to help you.

  8. Dana Aljaber says:

    I’m slowly dying (not literally but mentally). I have been searching for some freelance work for two months now! On freelancer, I got nowhere. I worked for two gigs and both ended horribly. Like for one, Wikipedia didn’t want an article published on a client’s company due to its lack of notability and just like that two days wasted for no reason. The other figured out I was Muslim and just didn’t want me writing for him even before I could submit something. So I turned to text broker and I have recently finished an article. The client was evil. They asked for a revision and in it, they stated I was placed on their black list and to add the article back in the pool. My confidence has just been wrecked. How do you stay motivated? I feel like giving up it has been too long and I can’t even land 10 bucks. Did you ever have these feelings? Any tips, please??

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi, Dana!
      Thanks for the comment. First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about the discrimination you suffered in what should have been a professional environment. That’s just ridiculous. Secondly, yes, I completely understand how you feel. Unfortunately, stories like yours are far too common on sites like Freelancer, Textbroker, Demand Media, and others. A major reason is because the clients who request work from these sites don’t often understand what they’re asking for. More specifically, clients who purchase tons of content from these mills are usually only looking for keyword-stuffed articles that hold up to ridiculous standards for what they think is SEO. However, SEO has changed dramatically in the last several years, and if you happen to be able to meet all these clients’ qualifications, you’ll be lucky if the article you have left can even be read. Another major problem is that the content mill business model is failing – and fast. Most legitimate companies who know what content marketing is and want to hire writers understand that they get what they pay for. They understand that it’s more about writing for an audience than it is about writing for a search engine. And, they understand that search engines themselves have improved dramatically and that algorithms nowadays are searching more for natural content with high engagement rates than for keyword-stuffed crap articles (for lack of a better term) to scatter across the internet while they hope for millions to roll in.

      All that said, there is hope: get out of the content mills. I understand the feeling that if you’re not writing for content mills, you won’t have any “immediate” money. However, the problem is that if you’re always searching for that quick dollar, you’ll never have time to devote to a solid business in freelance writing that will allow you to make a good living without killing yourself slowly in the process.

      I think all writers who have worked for content mills with the hopes of making a living there have felt the pain. It’s like every stupid article you write about “laundry service WI local” is a horcrux with a piece of your soul in it. Writing these ridiculous articles with unnatural SEO targets isn’t just boring and awful, it’s not helping you in your freelance career because the legitimate companies who have the budget to pay you what you deserve and actually need compelling content don’t want that kind of content. So you’re not even getting practice for what real content marketing/web content writing is like.

      My suggestion to you would be to pick up Linda Formichelli’s Book “The Renegade Writer” and her subsequent book “Query Letters That Rock”. Her website is invaluable and really woke me up to what real freelance writing is like. Also, I recommend checking out Carol Tice’s blog “Make A Living Writing”, which is the single greatest resource I stumbled across when trying to break out of content mills.

      I hope this information helps you, and if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email (courtneyherzwrites@gmail.com).

      Good luck! And don’t give up! Money is out there for you, just not where you’re looking. 😉

      Courtney

  9. Stephanie Z says:

    Hi Courtney,

    I really enjoyed your article. You’ve done a great job of illuminating what it’s like to write for Text Broker; warts and all. I’m completely new to writing for any type of monetary compensation. I’ve dabbled in writing (primarily screenplays) over the years having worked in the film industry as a set designer for 2 decades. I now write for the blog I created for my e-commerce vintage & modern furniture shop.

    Thank you so much for all of the insightful tips. It’s much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Stephanie

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi, Stephanie,

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Textbroker can be rough, for sure. I’ve found success on Constant Content and Upwork, and I think both of them are great platforms for work if you know what to look for (and what to avoid). I feel like I should do a series about red flags/signs of a good client! Knowing that is half the battle in this industry, right?

      Anyway, that’s fascinating that you worked in the film industry as a set designer! I’m an artist, as well, so that job always seemed like a lot of fun. (And a lot of work!) What’s your site? Feel free to link it here so people can go check it out! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

      Courtney

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