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The Textbroker Solution: Gig work as a freelance writer (writepay.blogspot.com)
67 points by DoreenMichele 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments

In case it isn't obvious, I'm the author of the piece. Some of my writing about homelessness and similar does well here, like this piece from about a month ago:


I'm genuinely baffled that people on HN persist in asserting that Write Pay is content marketing for Textbroker or that I'm a shill for them. This isn't the first time someone here has said something like that.

I've been a member of HN more than a decade. My previous handle was briefly on the leader board. I know there are people here who recognize me.

I'm trying to bring solutions to the table in the face of a pandemic. They're solutions I've field tested, so to speak.

I don't know what I need to do to get this taken as seriously as some of my other writing. If anyone has suggestions, shoot me an email.

It might be because you use a bunch of different sites for your different writing, which means each one gets evaluated by first impressions and people's first impressions tend to be suspicious. If you had a single unified site/identity like some of the other writers on HN, people might be more likely to recognize you and realize that they know you already, but a site like this seems like a one-off. The name "write pay" probably brings up sketchy associations in people's minds too and there isn't necessarily any trusted association to offset that. Now that you've posted the above, that will probably change. If your main audience is people who need to get paid and didn't know that they can write to do it, that's a great name. But maybe not so much for the audience here.

Are you sure it's not taken seriously by those who need need the solution? Do you have any way of knowing how many people have investigated/signed up as a result of your suggestion?

If you want to be taken seriously don't make it so obvious.

I don't know what that means. Can you explain a little?

Don't make it so obvious = the best content marketing is subtle and indistinguishable...just offering some feedback for future efforts.

It's not content marketing. It's first-hand testimony that this worked for me under extremely difficult circumstances posted to an audience that best knows me for surviving those extremely difficult circumstances.

First, thank you for posting.

Speaking as a publisher who has spent over $5000 on their platform over the past couple of years, TextBroker offers a very valuable service for people who are otherwise shut out of the job market. I took the time to get to know a few of my favorite writers.. here are their stories...

- Several are working in countries where they cannot get a work permit (cannot support themselves via legal means)

- I'm almost certain several of my writers have criminal convictions, which blocks you from most white collar jobs.

- Many of the rest are the victims of age discrimination, where hiring managers "just prefer" to hire younger people or decided that anyone "out of the workforce" a few years must surely be damaged goods.

If you can write passable text, Textbroker really doesn't care who you are. That's huge benefit, in terms of getting access to work and being able to put a gig on your resume.

By the way, they're not the only game in town. Another good option for US writers is Constant Content, which allows you to publish & market pieces in a "catalog" at higher rates. I'm a writer on that platform.

But since people are agitated about the money side, let's talk about that topic.

Are there higher paying freelance writer opportunities? Certainly. Take a look at Problogger or Media bistro. However, get ready to spend unpaid time pitching... and chasing people for payment. (so a bunch of unpaid hours and social stress from pitching, plus the risk of unpaid work)

Upwork is another option, although the competition can get pretty brutal. I've found I can buy content for less on Upwork than Textbroker. Too many people want the same gig. I tried applying to a few gigs as a specialist contractor and was blown out of the water on rates (50% - 80% below what I was asking for). I will say a few folks have found a way to make it work, usually for high end specialty roles.

Where TextBroker excels is as a dumping ground for unused time. Go chase higher paying gigs... and if you can't sell a full book of work, Textbroker gives you a way to recover some of the value of that time.

Also... there are some highly productive ($$/hour) writers on Textbroker. I worked with a few of them to assemble an article on how to level up your earnings at a content mill.


It walks through how to go from making minimum wage (as a entry level writer) to about $40 - $50 per hour (between productivity hacking, direct orders, and leveling up the quality rate). And shows you how to recycle your work to build your own websites as a longer term investment.

Is it my life plan? Nah, I'd rather go write software and do data science. But in case of emergency, that is most definitely something on my to-do list....

The part I really admire about TextBroker is the relative openness of their market for people who are otherwise not able to participate in the regular labor market. This includes:

- Unable to work a traditional 8 hour shift in person

- Travel / Visa restrictions

- Criminal Record

- Lack of "credentials"

- Socially Awkward / Interview Challenges

- Ageism / Lifestyle Discrimination

The latter is significant to me personally, since it became very apparent a few years ago that I was an "increasingly undesirable candidate" to many employers due to my age.

It may be illegal, but nobody is enforcing it....

Thank you for this.

I'm medically handicapped. For me, it allows me to work whenever I can manage to get my act together and it means when I go through long periods of being unable to work, I haven't been fired. I've just not earned anything recently, but I can go right back to work.

I had an account with whatever became Upwork. I never made money on it because you have to pitch for an assignment and compete with others. On Textbroker, I just choose something I think I can write. Done.

The other platform also only allowed me to do up to five assignments per month with a free account. To access more, I would need to pay a fee.

I was homeless at the time and I worked very erratically. There is no fee to have an author account with Textbroker. There is no minimum I must work or anything like that.

The flexibility is critical to my ability to make my life work and having some earned income that has gradually improved over time helped me grow healthier and get back into housing.

I know there are other services. But I don't chase my pay and I don't have to negotiate for work or pitch myself and these are huge advantages for me that help make it make sense.

Edit: And that's why I say Textbroker is nominally low paid work. Because it cuts out so much of the unpaid hours freelancers typically spend pitching their work, chasing their pay and even working for free when they can't successfully get the pay they were promised.

If you count those unpaid hours, actual hourly wage is lower for many other avenues than their nominally higher pay rates suggest. Textbroker pays better than it seems to most people.

That's a critical detail and I never know how to really get that point through to people.

> That's a critical detail and I never know how to really get that point through to people.

I haven't had a look at either of these platforms (and have in fact only learned about them just now) but I think you just did.

Thanks. That's good feedback and I hope to build on that at some future point.

I very much appreciate the feedback I've gotten from people in this discussion.

> That's a critical detail and I never know how to really get that point through to people.

I agree with the other commenter that your explanation in the comment that I'm responding to is awesome!

Thanks. I'm trying to take it and run with it. I'm working on a draft post to try to elaborate on that angle.

Textbroker appears to only allow signups from authors in the US.

There should be a drop down menu for the US plus nine other countries. On my phone, I found it at the bottom of the page under the word "International."

Direct links:

BR (Portugues): https://www.textbroker.com.br/

Deutsch: https://www.textbroker.de/

Espanol: https://www.textbroker.es/

Francais: https://www.textbroker.fr/

Italiano: https://www.textbroker.it/

Nederlands: https://www.textbroker.nl/

Polski: https://www.textbroker.pl/

PT (Portugues): https://www.textbroker.pt/

UK: https://www.textbroker.co.uk/

The only ones earning money on gig works are the platforms.

I appreciate this piece as it's another option that some acquaintances can look into to help weather the current economic storm.

Thank you.

Please let them know I welcome questions via email. I'm pretty socially isolated and it actively interferes with figuring out what to write about to inform people on various topics. There would be more content on the site if I had better audience engagement. I don't think well in a vacuum.

Will do.

To your point on social isolation and writing: Have you looked into one of those services that track SEO trends? I've found them useful to get a sense of what a specific niche of people are looking for. Think google trends but more targeted.

People are usually not looking for the things I talk about. Gig work is vilified. People mostly aren't talking about how to design gig platforms well to benefit the workers. They think that's an oxymoron and insist that gig work is intentionally exploitative.

People mostly aren't talking about how to help the lower classes access remote work. People generally assume that it's out of reach for the underprivileged.

People aren't looking at homelessness the way I look at it. They routinely claim housing issues aren't relevant and it's just a bunch of junkies.


> "People mostly aren't talking about how to design gig platforms well to benefit the workers."

that's not entirely true, although certainly under-considered. for instance, the freelancer's union [0] is concerned with worker rights and pay. my last startup (now defunct) also focused on this problem. so there are people who care, but it's difficult to get capitalholders to care.

[0] https://www.freelancersunion.org/

Would you be open to sharing more about your startup?

it began as a screening tool for the candidate pipelines of on-demand platforms looking for qualified workers, with the goal of better matching and placing workers with platforms (increasing conversion rates, in the parlance). wonolo[0] is an example of such a business that's still operating.

the wider ambition wes to create a liquid hourly labor marketplace that would bring near real-time bidding for chunks of hourly work (like "we'll pay you $100 for the next 3 hours of your time"). hourly work (not just gig-work, but whole swaths of the service economy) is notoriously opaque, which gives all the leverage to employers, and workers don't have the time or wherewithal to effectively comparison shop to maximize their earnings.

over time, complementary services (training/certification, social networking, insurance, financing, etc.) could also have been added to increase the usefulness of the platform.

[0] https://www.wonolo.com/

Thank you.

Those are very astute observations. I myself transitioned from low class work to software. It was mostly an avalanche of perseverance doused with barrels of luck. One of my main weapons was writing (still is, to an extent). A quite difficult challenge given that English is my second language.

I understand what you mean and maybe can somehow relate a little more than thr average HN user. Best of luck if nothing else.

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