Saturday, October 28, 2017

Writing Under Difficult Circumstances

I started this blog in part because writing for Textbroker has been an effective means for me to make money under very challenging circumstances. I have serious health issues and, until recently, I was homeless for several years. So, I created this blog in hopes of helping other people with very challenging life situations to start making money in a way that can lead to better things.

I also blog and do resume work. My blogs don't make much money, but I do get some tips, ad money and I now have a few patrons on Patreon. I hope to eventually talk about making money blogging, but it is vastly easier to talk about making money via Textbroker.

I recently created a flyer to promote this site and linked it on a homeless site I run. In the original version of the flyer (since updated), I specifically mentioned that it is possible to make money this way while homeless. I did it. It can be done.

You do need to have a photo ID and mailing address to create an account with Textbroker. They currently only pay via Pay Pal, so you must have (or successfully create) a Pay Pal account (which means you also need a bank account). You will need to have computer and internet access to do work for them. (Though I have done a lot of work for them on a small tablet. It is challenging, but can be done.)

I never mentioned to any of my clients or staff at Textbroker that I was homeless. I did my best to work when I felt I was functional enough for it. I am now back in housing and healthier, but I still have days when I get a whole lot of nothing done due to my health issues. Here lately, my lack of productivity is usually due to exhaustion and sleeping instead of being in agony.

I try to be responsible and not hold articles unnecessarily. It is always a judgment call and I struggle with it some days. Some days, I do the reading and research portion, take a break and get back to it later. Other days, I think that will happen, but I never do get back to it. If it becomes clear to me that this is just one of those days where work is simply not happening, I try to let the article go as soon as I am clear about that so someone else can work on it.

So it is possible to make money via Textbroker under very challenging circumstances, such as with chronic health problems or while homeless. But, it isn't a charity and you need to be mindful of trying to handle things professionally. Your personal challenges and how they impact your work schedule need to be your problem. Don't make them Textbroker's problem. Don't make them a client's problem.

If you aren't going to be available every day for some reason, you can go into your account and indicate you are unavailable. When I was homeless, I sometimes did that for library closure days. I wasn't going to be online and it didn't matter why. Other people may have been taking that day off because it was a holiday and they wanted a break and family time. I was taking it off because I didn't have internet access. I was dependent on the library for getting online.

The reason why I was going to be unavailable was not really important. You don't need to explain that part to anyone. But, if you aren't going to be available, you should put up notice that you won't be.

If you are homeless, you need to come up with a mailing address to put in your profile on Textbroker. I know someone who used a relative's house (with permission) even though it was far away.

You do have to have a mailing address to have an account with Textbroker, but they don't send you a lot of mail. They used to send me a tax form once a year in the mail. These days, if you do enough work in a year to qualify for a tax statement, they make that available via a secure online system.

I am now in housing. I hope to develop this site further. While still homeless, I made over $300 in a week on my two best weeks with Textbroker, though I didn't get all that money in one paycheck. Some of the work did not clear until the following week.

There are people at Textbroker making a lot more money than that. I work very part time due to my health issues. If you are more energetic than I am, you can make real money this way.

You need to get good at it so you have at least a 4 rating. You need to learn how the system works for creating a funnel to better paying work, such as how to get on better paying teams and get direct orders. You also need to put in the hours.

If you are dealing with very challenging personal circumstances, such as health issues or homelessness, and you can't work a regular job, working for Textbroker can bring in money in the here and now and also can build towards something better for the future.

You don't have to start out as all that good. I was rated a 2 for a time. I worked at developing good processes and figuring out how it all works.

Now I can do as much as $300 worth of work in a single week and I am clear that is nowhere near the upper limit. I still don't really work that much, though I certainly put in a lot more hours on weeks when I do $300 worth of work than on weeks when I do less than that.

If you get good at it, learn to create a funnel for better paying work and put in the hours, this can be a middle class income. And it can be casual income in the here and now while you work on getting there. You can start with terrible circumstances and pathetic earnings and gradually grow your income with Textbroker.

I hope to eventually find other avenues for people with serious challenges, but this is one I know for a fact can work because I did it. I have known at least one other person who did Textbroker while homeless, though they threw in the towel at some point and didn't put in the kind of sustained effort I put in. I really wanted to make this work, so I worked at it.

YMMV.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Login for Textbroker

If you run into a situation where you are having trouble finding the login page on Textbroker, here is the direct link:

https://start.textbroker.com/login

It defaults to checking the box for clients. Make sure you change it to the box for authors, then enter your login credentials.

I have this saved in my email somewhere because finding this became a problem for me in recent few months. I think it became an issue after some site update.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Learn a Little HTML

You do not actually need to know how to write any HTML in order to write for Textbroker, but some clients will want or expect a limited amount of HTML. Some of this can be done using tools supplied by the Textbroker interface, but it is a really good idea to learn a small amount of HTML yourself. It makes it a lot easier to work with the tools they do have and it opens up opportunities to take on articles that require a bit more HTML than you can insert using the buttons Textbroker supplies.

Here is Textbroker's own tutorial on using the "insert link" button. Their "insert link" button creates code that causes the link to open in the same window. There is a way to code it so that it opens in a different window, but I haven't yet run into a client specifically requesting that.

In addition to inserting links, they have buttons for bolding, italicizing, underlining and for creating bulleted lists. I never even remember that they have a button for underlining because I never use it. However, I routinely use the buttons for bolding and creating bulleted lists. I occasionally also italicize something.

I know how to hand code all that, but the buttons are easier to use and using them reduces mistakes. Code is very finicky. If you make a typo, it completely breaks and won't work at all. So you need to be very exacting when you write code snippets.

You can search for the phrase "learn HTML online free" and come up with a number of sources. My go to source is w3schools. Because I run multiple blogs, I sometimes need more complicated code than I ever need when writing for Textbroker. I do sometimes do an online search for that reason and that sometimes takes me someplace like answers to questions on Stack Overflow. But for really basic stuff, I like the resources at w3schools.

When you press the "preview" button on Textbroker, it will check your code and offer to autocorrect it. This is an extremely nice feature, but it really helps to understand a little bit about how the code actually works. Otherwise, it might correct your code into something you didn't intend and you may not readily know how to make it do what you actually were trying to do. This can cause a lot of rework to happen if you are entirely reliant on the buttons because you don't actually understand the code itself.

Because I have been blogging for many years, I already knew some HTML before I began working for Textbroker. I don't know tons of HTML, but I know a lot more than I need for doing Textbroker work. At some point, I expect to also blog on this site about making money writing via avenues other than Textbroker. Textbroker is currently my main source of earned income, but I also make some money blogging and some money polishing resumes and I have done one commissioned article with a byline.

If you also want to blog as a means to make money writing online, you can consider learning a small amount of HTML for Textbroker work to be an easy introduction to the topic. It can help lay the groundwork for learning more HTML if you ever blog. Even with blogging via BlogSpot, which also has buttons for inserting links and the like, I use far more HTML when writing blog posts than for writing for Textbroker.

I don't need nor use a lot of markup and I like BlogSpot because it is so much more plug-and-play than Word Press was, but I still find myself having to correct things or tweak things on a routine basis. I can't imagine successfully blogging with zero knowledge of HTML.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting Paid Bonuses

Sometimes you will find an order in the general pool that is really short and promises a bonus for completing it. In other words, the total word count is really low, like 100 words, so if it only paid the usual rate per word, it might not be done well because it takes too much research or something. So, they will tack on a bonus.

Or, if you belong to a team, if they are coming up on a deadline, they may offer bonuses if you complete X number of orders during a certain time frame. There can also be other situations where a client offers to pay you a bonus -- in other words, to pay you more than what you would get just based on word count alone.

I very recently learned that bonus payments are listed at the bottom of your Pay-Off page in a section titled special payment. Just scroll all the way down.

I never knew where to find this information and I have been shorted on bonus monies promised me once or twice. Now that I know where it is listed, I can follow up if I don't get bonus funds promised me and say "Hey, you said I would get x and I haven't been paid that." There has been a time or two I suspected I was shorted, but I had no idea how to verify that and I never followed up.

Be smarter than me and keep track of any bonus payments promised you and follow up with the client if you don't get it. If they promise you a bonus when they send you a revision request, copy and paste that info somewhere else, along with a listing of the headline ID and client number, so you can readily follow up in the internal messaging system if it doesn't show up in your pay.

Even if you are on a team, it is typically on you to keep track of which ID's are supposed to get a bonus. You can't see the instructions for a revision or anything you wrote (except the title) after you submit it. So if there is any discussion of bonus payments, do keep track of that and check to see if you get it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Enable Your "Away" Message

This is something I did not do for the longest time. Now, if I expect to be unavailable for a bit (call it at least two days), I enable my away message.

You will find this option at the bottom of your profile page. You can enable it for "until further notice" or for a set of dates. While it is enabled, your messages area on the top left of your member area will show a notice in bold that your away message is enabled.

I have begun doing this because I treat this as my job and I have repeat clients who sometimes send me direct orders. It is a courtesy to let people know that I am unavailable for a time and it allows me to schedule some time off without fretting about clients so much.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Check Your Notifications and Take Action

In the upper left section of your author area, there is a thing called Notifications. If you have no notifications, it will say that (except the word Notifications will be in orange and the fonts are different and it has a gif of a paperclip next to it and I don't know how to recreate that here ):

Notifications
There are currently no messages

Things listed under Notifications are things you do not necessarily get emailed about, such as team invitations. If you have a team invitation, it is a good idea to go ahead and look at it and make a decision. Either accept the invitation or fill out the invitation (they sometimes want a writing sample -- actually, more often than not they want this) or go ahead and decline if you are just not interested.

If you don't take action about the item, it will continue to tell you that you have a team invitation and if you then get an actual new team invitation, you won't know that because your notification status will not change and you will not get an email about it. It will just perpetually "You've been invited to a client's exclusive Team."

The Notifications area will also let you know if you have internal messages. You will get an email about this and the Notifications area can tell you how many messages you have. I always go click on all of them promptly and see what they are about. But, unlike with internal messages, Team invites do not get emailed to you and I don't think they update to indicate that you now have multiple invitations. This is possibly a thing that Textbroker could do better. But, hey, if you actually want to know if you are invited to a new team, it takes little time or effort to address this yourself and stay on top of it.

I am on dozens of teams. Only a handful very regularly provide work. So, the clients are not that different from the authors in terms of using the system intermittently, as they see fit. Being on more teams is a good thing. In most cases, there is no additional burden of expectation on the author in terms of how much to work or when.

In a few cases, they do explicitly say you need to do X number of articles per week to remain on the team, or you need to complete articles within 2 hours of pulling them or whatever. The instructions are typically a little more heavy handed, but since you use the same instructions over and over, it isn't necessarily that burdensome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Learn to Use the Search Function

Textbroker has a search function for looking through the available articles. I have known this forever and never gotten around to figuring out how to use it. A few days ago, I accidentally clicked on it. Whoa!

One of the things it allows you to do is sort by article length. You can also sort by client ID, deadline, keyword and quality level. There are a bunch of things you can do with it that you cannot do in the regular interface where everything is listed by category.

So, if you want to make good money and not waste a lot of time simply looking for an article to write, learn to use the search function. This can be enormously helpful.

Unfortunately, I am not even qualified to do screen shots and give tips because I am just now "discovering" this. But don't waste all your time just manually looking through the queues. Learn to use their internal search function.