Why I’m Shutting Down my Textbroker Account

After a year and a quarter as a Textbroker writer, I’ve finally decided to call it quits. Lest you think the following is tantamount to a child saying “Fine, you don’t like me I’m leaving,” rest assured it’s not. In writing, as in life, and as it should be in any facet of life, I like to work where I’m respected. Not glorified or puffed up – I appreciate harsh criticism if it’s valid, and I think some of my best work has come from being critiqued and learning from it – but respected as a human being. You should, too. I also think you should work for people who are capable of putting logic, reason, and all the pieces of a puzzle together before arbitrarily making decisions that affect your life. 

Admittedly I’ve used less and less of Textbroker in the last few months, and have pretty much resorted to doing my team orders – because I like the team, the leader, and the fast payment – and a few simple things here and there. I’ve gotten to a point in my writing career, however, where I’m starting to realize that even if journalism isn’t your thing and you don’t want to write for corporate clients, there are better options than Textbroker. 

I hadn’t ever thought about closing my account before because I figured it did me some good to have it open. I can make some quick cash here and there, as I need it, and if I’m in a pinch I can do a few articles for clients I know pay quickly and that’s that. 

However, Textbroker recently showed itself to be just another content mill. 

I’ve been writing for Textbroker for a year and a quarter and, to date, have written over 460 articles for them. 

That’s quite a bit of money in their pocket. Sure, I made some money, too, but I think if someone told me the only place I could work from was Textbroker I’d be back in a corporate office faster than I care to think about because, for the work involved in writing a decent article, the pay is just not there. Quick cash, sure. Your entire living? Not  by a long shot. 

Every once in awhile they get around to rating your work and grading you, essentially. The score they give you depends on whether you stay at your current “level” or not. I’ve been a level 4 – where most of the work is – for the last year and a quarter. 

Until today. 

I received some written evaluations from Textbroker on a few of my articles. Absolutely insane. I’m all for learning from mistakes and getting critiqued. But between the reviews I got I received competing viewpoints on where my commas should go, something about parenthetical statements that I don’t even understand the point of, and some other fairly arbitrary and subjective viewpoints and critiques. Apparently the rules of grammar on Textbroker change depending on who’s grading you. 

Not only that, but the grammar rules they laid out go against pretty much everything I’ve been taught (recently) from other writing outlets and professionals in the field. So essentially you’ll get downgraded for doing it right. 

What’s more, they actually gave me a level 3 rating (lower than I was rated where there are almost never writing assignments) on several articles that the client not only rated me an “excellent” on, but made comments stating how happy he was with my work. 

Textbroker’s clients are happy so let’s downgrade the author who wrote the work the made the Level 4 client happy? 

In any case, I am now a level 3 writer. It’s not even because the majority of my recently “graded” work was a level 3. Most of it was a level 4 still. But Textbroker gives you your rating based on the last three or four items graded. 

Simply put, had they been reviewed in a different order I would still be a Level 4. 

They don’t take the average of all of your work. Nope. They take the average of the last three or four items reviewed. Meaning it’s basically up to luck and in what order they review your work that depends on how each article affects you. 

*sigh*

Right now I currently have a team still open with orders that are pretty simple to do, get approved quickly, and are kind of “do at night while Dateline is on” kind of articles. Template, same thing over and over with different information, etc. 

Like I said above, I like the client and the team. Not usually a great reason to stick around for less than excellent pay, but it’s something I do in my free time – so it’s essentially free money. 

But after that, I’ll be shutting down my account. 

I’m starting to understand in my writing journey why people say that using places like Textbroker as a “starting point” is a waste of time and pointless – because one day you realize what I just realized – that they don’t really care about you and you could have been doing far better elsewhere. 

Between the recent Yahoo! Voices shutdown and this arbitrary blow from Textbroker – on articles that made the client happy – I’m really thinking that my writing career will once again be changing into something different. 

I consider this a good thing. This blog is not really meant to be me telling you what to do. I know a lot of people have told me they’ve received good advice here, and I’m happy for that. But this blog is more about my freelance journey, what I’ve learned, and passing it onto you so you can either enjoy it or try it out. Not all of my followers are writers. Some are people who want to find out what I do. Others just think it’s amusing. Whatever the reason, my only goal is to document my journey through the freelance world. 

I think it’s interesting to look back and see how it has changed so far, and look forward to see what it will become. 

Recently I’ve started writing fiction. Like….a lot of fiction. And I’ve never been a big fiction writer before, so this is new for me. I’ve always had a lot of ideas for fiction stories and books, but never followed through on them in lieu of non-fiction work. 

I realized recently that you can submit fiction to magazines and contests and be paid for it just like you can submit journalistic articles. 

I love writing non-fiction. I hate writing journalistic-type articles. I don’t have anything against them as a reader, they’re just not my cup of tea as a writer. 

Realizing that there are outlets for pretty much anything I want to write about and create has been really liberating for me. 

It means taking chances. It means crossing my fingers and praying a little harder sometimes. It means cutting back on spending until I get a monthly check instead of a weekly check. It takes different financial planning strategies. And it takes a lot of courage, because I like things that are guaranteed. I don’t like putting things out there without the knowledge that I’ll receive a return. 

But then it hit me….if I live my life that way, I’ll have one guarantee…that nothing will ever get published (because I’ll never submit it or write it), that my career will never grow (because I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now over and over), and that I’ll wind up technically freelancing but feeling like I have a corporate job that happens to be at my house. 

That’s not what I got into this for. 

So….this is jump-in-with-both-feet-in-the-deep-end time. 

I think sometimes when doors shut in our life it’s for a reason. For me, I feel like God’s trying to show me where to go by putting blockers up where I don’t belong. Whatever you think the reason is in your life is up to you. But I do think that everything happens for a reason, so instead of getting mad or firing back – even if I’m a little disappointed at the lack of logic and consideration behind it – I’m going to take it as a good sign that better things are ahead and I simply am not meant to spend time on this anymore. 

That’s my two cents. 🙂 I hope you’re all having a great week writing, and I have more coming up for you later on in the week! 

‘Til next time…happy writing!

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. storydivamg says:

    I had some serious issues with TB this April and seriously decreased the amount of work I do for them. Unfortunately, they are still the place where I can earn quick cash when I need it. Fortunately, they did not downgrade me to a level 3 writer, which would most certainly result in me leaving for good. In 2 3/4 years, I’ve completed nearly 3,500 articles for them. That number would be much higher if they hadn’t decided to allow clients to reject my work for no good reason twice this April.

    There has definitely been a shift in the managerial style at Textbroker recently, and it seems to be a trend to take care of the interests of clients regardless of how it effects authors. I imagine there will be a class action lawsuit at some point due to the amount of issues they are creating by refusing to pay for good work that a client rejects on a whim. Did that ever happen to you?

    Best wishes to you in your other ventures.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  2. courtneyherz says:

    Hi Marie!

    So sorry that happened to you. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had a rejected order. However, I have had clients make ridiculous amounts of edits – which TB ignored – that led me to cancelling orders on my end. I know that if you cancel the order it doesn’t go against you, but if they reject it, it does, so I’ve always been in a “kill or be killed” mode if I see a client going in the wrong direction.

    3,500 articles! Wow! I know it’s so frustrating to do so much work and then be treated like that. They really don’t care about their writers, probably because they know that if one of us quits there are 10 writers who want work begging to take our place. They don’t need to worry about keeping quality authors, because quality isn’t really their goal. People who buy content on Textbroker, whether they know it or not, are looking for SEO keyword-oriented articles. Many of them haven’t gotten the memo that merely keyword stuffing isn’t good enough anymore.

    So you would think that Textbroker would cherish the authors who actually do good work like you and I. But unfortunately we are all a dime a dozen to them.

    I thought the most hilarious part was that they downgraded me on articles the client loved. Way to get rid of authors your clients like. Makes no sense.

    But soon I am hoping to let go of Textbroker for good and pursue other options, because especially now that I’m a Level 3, I pretty much can’t make any money at all haha. Many writers are starting to see the light when it comes to content mills, and I anticipate that your theory about a class action lawsuit will turn out to be correct.

    Best of luck in whatever you do, and thanks so much for reading!

    Courtney

  3. Katharina says:

    Interesting to hear that it is exactly the same in the US. I’ve been joining Textbroker Germany almost from the beginning, meaning somewhere in 2007/2008. They are absolutely disrespectful to writers (or “authors”, as they call them), regarding comments on grammar, a lousy support (again, just for writers – I heard the support for “clients” is much better – well, yes, writers should be regarded as clients, too) etc. But the worst for me, I think, is getting paid a few bucks for quite some piece of work – for work you never get mentioned and you are, according to their rules, not even allowed to mention in your cv/ work references etc. In Germany, this is not even quite legal. I luckily got some clients who give me DirectOrders for a much more valuable price, so I use that as a small bonus – but apart from that, I am done with TB.

  4. I seem to be in a similar place that you were in when you wrote this. I started writing at Textbroker last August 2014 after the demise of YCN which I started submitting articles for in February of 2014. In August I was accepted at Textbroker but only at level 3. They assured me I could move up to level four after completing the school and after ten completed assignments. I did that, and they reviewed my ten assignments but rated me just under four stars. I got mad and started writing at Bubblews (oops). They ripped me off of $175. I decided to work on an e-book for a while but needed some cash so I went back to Textbroker and pounded out about 30 assignments hoping for a review. Nothing happened so I checked their forum. Some people who are stuck on level 3 have been waiting for six months or more to be rated! One person had over 600 assignments completed and still no review. Needles to say that I think my time and education is worth more than 1 cent a word! I am also leaning towards book publishing. At first some non fiction and then some fiction.

  5. Sandy says:

    I have written thousand of articles for Textbroker since early last year, but just recently they deleted my account and gave me the boot. I was accused of “stealing” a title from a popular blog, a blog I never even heard of. The requester made a huge complaint, and just like that I was done. I tried to defend myself but to no avail. I was a 4 star writer and worked on 25 teams with numerous direct orders non-stop, but they still pulled the rug from under me.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi Sandy!

      Sorry for the late reply. But yes, this is a very common thing. In fact, I’ve heard many horror stories about people who worked very hard on Textbroker, only to have Textbroker shut their account down because one client made a complaint. They have a habit of not listening to authors, and if you do try to make any protest, they even shut accounts down for that, as well, sometimes. It’s a sad thing. I’m sorry that happened to you! But I wish you the best of luck finding work you’ll be appreciated for! 🙂

      Have a great day!

      Courtney

  6. April says:

    Wow. I really appreciate your blog and everyone’s comments! I was looking into doing more freelance editing, in addition to my day job, but I don’t think I’d consider TextBroker. My former coworker was bragging about how he can get writing on the cheap- about 2.4 cents per word- on TextBroker. Oh boy. Might not want to work with him now.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Hi April!
      Exactly. Your former coworker’s attitude is extremely prevalent on Textbroker, and that’s what makes it such a problem. (Well..one of the things.) Their editing rules seem to change by the day, they are there to serve their clients, and their clients are there to get a lot of content as cheap as they can. Now, I have worked some really great direct clients, and while the fee per word was still lower (by far) than I should have accepted, it was still nice to work with him, and the articles were so easy it was simple to accomplish and he was a joy to work with.

      But…did any of those articles do anything to help me in the future? Nope. Textbroker pays into “right now” thinking. Well I can do these articles and make money “right now”, since they pay weekly. However, if you’re always thinking “right now”, you’ll always be living check to check, working ridiculous hours for pennies a word. It’s just not feasible for long-term success.

      I’m so glad you have found my blog and the comments here helpful to you! Have a wonderful day!

      Courtney

  7. Phyllis Stewart says:

    I have written about 1000 4-star articles for Textbroker and have had a wonderful experience. I love the structure and the payment scheules.I would suggest that anyone who wants to use this service seriously pay the monthly fee for Grammarly. The only change to the application’s suggested changes is to reject the Oxford commas in series It has been a great addition and right up there with Copyscape. These are tools that any writer in any medium should have available. I have noticed that the articles available have recently gone way downhill. I am not interested in writing about testosterone enhancements, for instance. One of my best direct-order clients no longer uses the site, so I am wondering if clients are having difficulty as well. I am currently looking for another service to join and would appreciate any suggestions.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      I’m glad your experience has been good so far. I would recommend Constant Content or Zerys if you’re looking to write for a content mill, though. The pay is much better and the clients are more plentiful. 🙂 Good luck to you as you continue your writing journey! 🙂

    2. Karin says:

      I started with Textbroker to just to get my foot in the door on freelance writing (which I plan to do as a side income) but I would like to find better sites I can write for and get paid more. With Textbroker, I feel like it is a “sweatshop” of the digital age – the hours spent typing articles for the low pay.

      1. courtneyherz says:

        I totally agree. If you’ve not seen some of my posts about Constant Content, they should pop up in a search for the term “Constant Content” on my blog. I much prefer them. Hope you’ll find loads of success in the very near future! 🙂

      2. Phyllis Stewart says:

        I have not been active on Textbroker for the past months for the same reason. I think Fivver was the final death knell. After four years and nearly 1000 articles, the final straw came when a legal firm wanted a very technical explanation about a criminal offense compared to other states. This blog post would pay just a little more than $5 for at least an hour’s research with more time for the actual writing. If you know of a more fair setup, let me know. Thanks. Phyll

      3. courtneyherz says:

        Hi, Phyll. Yes, I like Constant Content because, while it’s not a job board as you would think of one, it does allow for much fairer prices. You can write about whatever you like, set your own prices (knowing that CC takes 35%), and as you write you create a catalog. Then, clients come along and purchase. You can also do projects and fill requests, as well. I’d say an average article of mine on CC sells for between $45 and $80, and since I get 65% of that, it’s much better than the other sites. In some ways it feels like it’s less secure because you can’t be sure that someone will want an article you’ve written, but if you write quite a lot and on a wide range of subjects, you can expect to do quite well. Constant-content.com is the site.

        You can also go out and find your own clients, as well, if you like, or pitch articles to magazines. There are loads of ways to create a freelance life, and most of them are more profitable than Textbroker and Fiverr.

        If you do like the job board style, though, you could check out Zerys.com, as well. Better prices once you’ve gotten a few articles under your belt there. Let me know if I can help at all. Good luck!

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