Accentuate Writers Forum

Internet Brands vs CrowdSource vs Textbroker vs Demand Media Studios

Jesse Sears - 2/12/2015 at 02:30 PM

How's it going?

I will give my thoughts on writing for the only four profitable regular clients I have a work relationship with right now. You can make a decent living in the online writing work-for-hire world.

I write for all four of these companies on a regular basis. My work with IB Publishing (contract writer division of Internet Brands) comes at 7:30 to 9 a.m. and must be done immediately. After that, I work for whoever's easiest to make money with that day.

It's not that difficult to make $75-$100 each workday (sometimes much more) if you take the time to learn some skills, style guides and client preferences. Short of a career as a "real" journalist, I'd rather be doing this than anything else.

Without further ado...

IB Publishing/Internet Brands

Internet Brands owns a lot of high-profile Web properties, some of which have been successful since the 1990s. I work in autos, but they have several verticals that you might be more interested in. Most writers use an off-the-shelf CMS called Sequoia that has its own system for turning in content. I've been there since they expanded their pool of writers and websites, so I still do it the older way of turning in my .docx via company Gmail. I receive at least a couple well-paying 250- to 350-word news assignments every weekday morning.

I also have a personal relationship with one editor for all work. He's friendly, knowledgeable and quite reasonable. When I do have a significant revision, it's immediately clear why the piece needs to be improved.

Pay: Excellent
Ease of Pay: Fair (Always on time, but just once per month. Direct deposit.)
Frequency/Reliability of Work: Excellent
Number of Revisions: Excellent
Ease of Finding Work: Excellent (Little time spent not writing/researching.)

Demand Media Studios

I did an internship with this company in-house when they were less than 2 years old. They still have work with competitive pay, but working there has become a challenge due to a rather ridiculous style guide and huge blacklist, as well as a constantly changing and inconsistent set of editor expectations.

If you see you are making $30 for 600-800 words, don't be misled, as that pay will likely include at least one significant revision with editors who can be kind of cheeky, as well as time wasted wading through a huge pool of articles with headlines that were written by a Google-scrape bot. You'll also need to spend a ton of time learning their strange quirks and massive style guide, or you'll face bigtime rewrites constantly.

Still, this company has risen and fallen, but still offers some of the most competitive pay until you get into the world of ongoing relationships with major media outlets.

Pay: Excellent (*: Rewrites)
Ease of Pay: Excellent (Quick approvals, PayPal batch payments 2x/week)
Frequency/Reliability of Work: Fair (Sometimes no work available I'm qualified for.)
Number of Revisions: Poor (Consistent unreasonable revision requests with condescending editors.)
Ease of Finding Work: Fair (Good CMS, but too many bunk titles.)


If you've tried them before through their main portal or the now-dead, give CrowdSource another look. They have a brand-new homebrew CMS, and are just finishing up shifting away from Amazon Mechanical Turk. You now authenticate to log in using a PayPal account, and (here's the best part) they pay daily for everything that was approved on the previous day.

I am pretty new around there, but pay seems to be between ~$0.0225-0.045 per word for the categories I am approved to write in. From what I hear, it goes up once you are approved for some of the more-specialized assignments. The guy who turned me onto it pays rent and bills in Los Angeles working exclusively for CrowdSource. People make thousands per month here, but you have to know their system, work quickly and be a little creative with titles.

There are little idiosyncrasies, like tons of assignments that call for an opinion, which can't be given directly as per the style guide. So, to fulfill them, you have to find a respectable source stating an opinion as an answer to the question/title, and use that as your primary resource. A little weird, but they aren't that picky.

One other interesting part that could be an advantage or a drawback: no rewrites. Once it leaves your desk, the editor either fine-tunes and approves it or denies it flat-out. I've never personally had a rejection, though it's a common complaint on the forums. I haven't completed all that many assignments either. I put this one down as "shows promise."

Pay: Good
Ease of Pay: Good (Approvals vary from same-day to as much 3 weeks, but PayPal payments every day.)
Frequency/Reliability of Work: Good (Thousands of legit titles.)
Number of Revisions: Excellent (No revisions, not sure about rejection rate.)
Ease of Finding Work: Good (Time-consuming to wade through endless lists of titles.)


Textbroker has been resurgent lately, at least in categories I am qualified to write in at $0.014 word without it being slave labor. These days, I can log on every day and make as much cash as I have the stomach for. The pay is dirt; it always has been; but as many of you have probably found, this one can be "old reliable" just when you need it.

A little different setup here. In most cases, you work directly with the clients who will be using your copy in some fashion. This can be good or bad. On the plus side, they usually have some knowledge of the subject matter, making any revisions more likely to be somewhat logical. However, since most of your contact will not be with employees of Textbroker, it's kind of like the Wild West.

I've only ever had one rejection in many, many (embarrassingly many) attempts. Re-writes do come, meaning you're losing money on that assignment at such low pay due to time spent not working on something else.

Pay: Poor to Good
Ease of Pay: Excellent (Approvals often same-day, PayPal batch pay 1x/week)
Frequency/Reliability of Work: Good (Can be a dry spell, but rare.)
Number of Revisions/Rejections: Excellent (Rare, and when they do come, it's usually clear why.)
Ease of Finding Work: Excellent (Simple, very good CMS.)

There ya go. Hope that helps someone make some $:ninja:$:ninja:$:ninja:.

[Edited on 2/12/15 by Jesse Sears]

Michy - 2/12/2015 at 05:38 PM

Thank you, Jesse! This is great information for people who are still interested in internet writing!

SarahJones - 2/17/2015 at 12:23 AM

Great post and really informative.Internet or web content writing is more important for own business.Every website has a specific target audience and requires a different type and level of content.

[Edited on 2-18-2015 by Michy]

chrisstevenson - 2/17/2015 at 01:10 AM

Great info. My auto has dried up in Demand, and my Textbroker account is still open but I rarely go there anymore. I got spoiled on doing Chinese translation science articles for kids at 25 cents a word and making 250 bucks per article, which amount to a couple pages. I could do three articles in one day. They're on hiatus at the moment but I expect to be notified when more of their major projects come through. They also have a short story line that pays 12 cents a word. Needless to say I'm spoiled rotten. I've made thousands of dollars in just months--they are highest pay I"ve ever received, including my biggest advances for my non-fiction books.


opher - 2/17/2015 at 08:23 AM

As far as online writing, these days I use Elance exclusively. While many find it difficult to get traction there, if you're good at marketing, you can do very well. I charge $0.10/word for editing/revising/restructuring client content, and $0.50 - $1/word for writing new content where the client provides all resources.

I have one long-term gig there, ghostwriting blog posts at $300 each (typically 600-1000 words). Since I also have a "daytime" gig that's close to full time, I don't have too much time for other Elance work, but I do grab the occasional additional project.

Melanie - 2/17/2015 at 11:45 AM

I'm still active at Textbroker... mostly direct orders.

Seeing how much people make with some of this stuff makes me feel like I should actually work on my freelance career and forget fiction. Sigh...

Jesse Sears - 2/20/2015 at 01:27 AM

Opher, I've never given elance a go, but that sounds worth the initial time investment.

Is this a place where, in the open pool, workers bid on and complete projects, then the client selects from a number of options? Or do workers pick from a pool of jobs, complete the work, and then can be reasonably certain they will be paid?

Michy - 2/20/2015 at 03:31 AM

Jesse, with Elance, you bid and the client selects your bid, then you complete the project. They have an escrow account, where you can require/request the client pay into the account, so you can be sure to get paid.

I loved Elance when I used it--it's how I started my freelance career, many, many years ago!

opher - 2/20/2015 at 06:55 AM

Like Michy said, you search through open job postings and find those you like. You submit a closed proposal that only the client, you, and Elance can see. You can include in the proposal a price and schedule, but are not required to. The client can contact any proposer for further discussion, and then chooses if s/he wants to award it to you, someone else, or nobody.

Once you win the job, you finalize terms, including any milestones you and the client agreed on, stating what gets delivered when, and for how much. You wait for the client to fund escrow (at least if you want to avoid getting scammed), and start working. When you deliver, you request payment for that deliverable. The client can release payment immediately, first review then release, or not release. If s/he doesn't release, the escrow is automatically released 30 days after your request, unless the client submits a dispute (e.g., s/he thinks what you submitted wasn't what you agreed on). To date, in 17 months I've never had a dispute or a client refusing to pay.

You can also take on hourly jobs, where there's no escrow. For those, Elance has WorkView, which is an app that takes screenshots of your computer screen every few seconds, as proof you actually worked on the project during the hours you claim. I never use that because I feel it's too intrusive. I only have one client I've worked hourly for, who never asked for WorkView, and always pays on time ($8k to date).

The most critical thing is to put together a really strong profile, and to submit compelling proposals. With those, you can charge premium rates and still win jobs. Without those, you're just one more shmoe among over 400,000 in the Writing & Translation category, of whom more than 370,000 have yet to earn a single dollar.

[Edited on 2-20-2015 by opher]

Jesse Sears - 2/23/2015 at 08:49 PM

Thank you both for that comprehensive information!

I am heading over there right now to learn more.

ayrus87 - 4/19/2016 at 10:19 PM

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Michy - 4/20/2016 at 01:12 AM

Quote: Originally posted by ayrus87  

Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized itís
new to me. Anyways, Iím definitely glad I found it and Iíll
be book-marking and checking back often!