When I first got started with freelance writing, the place I began was Textbroker.com. Textbroker is what most of us today would call a content mill or content farm. It’s a site where anonymous freelance writers crank out web content for anonymous clients at highly discounted rates. There are many similar content mills out there, such as Odesk, Elance, WriterAccess, and Zerys. Some pay a set rate per word (like Textbroker, Zerys and WA) while others use a bidding system (like Odesk and Elance).
Due to the anonymous nature of Textbroker, writers receive no byline with their article, ghostwriting is the norm, and all ownership rights are passed along to the client. Most of the writers only earn about 1.0 to 1.4 cents per word for their articles. Writers there quickly learn that it’s not worth their time to put a lot of time and effort into researching and perfecting their submissions, so the quality of the writing is often much lower than clients would receive if they were paying more reasonable rates.
So Textbroker is basically a website that sells mediocre articles at cheap prices. It’s kind of like the McDonald’s of freelance writing.
And if you think Textbroker rates are bad, you should check out some of the gigs on Upwork and other bidding sites. I’ve typically seen batches of 50 or more 500-word articles sell for $50 ($1/article). The quality, I’m sure, was total garbage…sometimes it’s even spun content, but that gives you some idea of what is out there in the world of content farms.
Sites like these are not the best places for freelance writers to make a living — if they have other options — but they’re great places to get a jumpstart on your freelancing career.
If you are a beginning freelance writer and have no idea where to start, I would encourage you to give Textbroker a try. I think Zerys, ContentRunner and WriterAccess are also decent. The pay is better – sometimes – but they rarely have many assignments available, so you’ll probably still end up going back to Textbroker.
So for the next few articles in this Freelance Writing Tips series, I’m going to explore some of the good things about Textbroker. Many of these same benefits will be found at other content mills too. Here are some of the benefits I’ll cover next…
- Build A Track Record For Your Writing Resume
- Learn To Push Beyond Your Comfort Zone
- Learn To Write Faster And Meet Deadlines
- Learn To Write SEO Articles
So these are some pretty good benefits that Textbroker and sites like it offer. Personally, I would avoid the bidding sites and stick with TB, Zerys, CR and WA during this beginner stage. Why waste time bidding against dozens of other writers when you could be writing articles? Remember, any money you make at this point is just icing on the cake. You’re not trying to get too comfortable at content mills. Yes, you can make good money by writing full time at these types of sites, but it takes an incredible work ethic and tons of motivation to keep it up, especially when you know that better paying gigs are out there (if your writing and credentials are good enough to land those gigs, that is).
So think of Textbroker and other content mills like training wheels for your bicycle: a valuable resource to help you learn the ropes and improve your skills, but more of a hindrance once you’ve passed that beginner stage.