The Textbroker Solution

Gig work has a really negative reputation overall, but it was nothing short of a miraculous solution for me when I was very ill and homeless. It was the only access I had to earned income and it was earned income with clear potential for a better future.

I still do gig work and I still see it as a potential force for good for the world at large, not just me, but only if we can start doing a better job of designing and promoting platforms with more upside for the workers. That's the crux of why I started this website.

Gig work has been a really positive experience for me, but when I would recommend what I was doing to other people I met online who had lost their job, they just didn't get it. So I created a quick start guide to help people see what I saw.

Now there's a pandemic on and suddenly people are being encouraged to do remote work. Other people are being laid off and certain businesses are being shut down to control the spread of the virus.

This is tending to split along class lines. People with fairly well-paid, white-collar jobs are being asked to work from home. People with less skilled work and many gig workers, such as Uber drivers, are simply being laid off.

I'm in a weird situation in that I've done nominally low-paid gig work for about eight years now. I was homeless for nearly six of those years and doing gig work helped me get back into housing.

But it's also white-collar, remote work. I work as a freelance writer through an online platform called Textbroker.

So far, the pandemic has only impacted my life to a minor degree. I already work from home and don't get out much due to my medical situation.

I'm overall experiencing a great deal less stress from the pandemic than most people seem to be experiencing. So I want to propose The Textbroker Solution to help us resolve the issues being caused by the pandemic.

A Solution for Laid-Off Workers

For some years now, I have been trying to promote Textbroker and other forms of online income as a potential solution for homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness, such as people with various handicaps. Here lately, I have also been trying to promote it as a solution for less-skilled workers who are facing layoffs due to the pandemic.

You don't have to be a great writer to work for them. They have a rating system and if you have a low rating, you can only access work that pays less well.

But you can work and get paid while improving your writing. I had a low rating for a while and gradually improved.

I kept at it because I saw the potential for this to pay adequately if I got better at it and got healthy enough to put in more hours. In the meantime, it was more money than I would have otherwise had.

While homeless, even very small paychecks made a big difference in my life. If my paycheck was only $10 that week, that was sometimes all the money I had that day and I was very relieved to have it.

So if you are in a real pickle, it can be meaningful income even if you aren't especially good at it.

I will add that I don't think you necessarily need a lot of education to get started. I have a lot of college, but I've had to learn to write differently than I did for college.

This is not academic writing and I am unconvinced that lots of college makes you better prepared. I once saw someone in an online discussion say that their wife had a degree in English Literature and was given a poor rating by Textbroker.

Their conclusion: Textbroker sucks! My inference: This is not academic writing and too much training in academic writing may actually be a liability.

So please don't think "I can't be a writer. I'm a waitress." You can be a writer. You just may not make much at first.

If you keep at it, your income can go up. Mine has.

And if all this pandemic stuff blows over and you go back to waitressing, you can continue to write as supplemental income. That's apparently how most people use the platform. Internal messages suggest to me that very few of their writers do this full time as their primary income.

If you have been impacted by layoffs or reduced work hours, start an author account and check out the quick start guide on this site. You may be able to get your first payout in as little as two weeks.

A Solution for Businesses

If you need some writing done for your business, please set up a client account with Textbroker. It's all online, so you don't have to risk talking with anyone face to face.

They offer good prices and transparency up front. The prices are low enough that some clients put multiple copies of the same order into the queues so they can get different takes from different writers and pick the one they like the best.

Clients also use the open order queues as a pre-screening device. It is a way to find good writers that are a good fit for the kind of writing they want done before placing direct orders or creating a team, both of which generally pay the writers better.

You would also be doing a good thing for laid-off workers.

If this is going to be a solution for workers, there needs to be work available for them to do. If it catches on with workers, it is only going to go well if it also catches on with businesses looking to hire writers.

The queues are currently lower than normal. I have no idea if that's due to lower than normal availability of orders or if it is due to writers working more or a little of both.

As noted above, most writers for Textbroker seem to use it as supplemental income. It's possible that some writers have been laid off, desperately need the money and are suddenly doing a lot more writing.

I don't have a client account, so I'm not as familiar with how that works as I am with how an author account works. Generally speaking, you can decide beforehand how much you wish to spend and list out all the particulars.

I have seen people object to using services because of the nominally low pay. They feel it's immoral "slave wages" and they don't want to participate in such a system. It offends their sensibilities.

Please don't feel that way. I can make up to $25/hour through them when I'm having a good day and I am nowhere near some ceiling on earnings. I'm not even at the top rating for writers.

I also don't spend a lot of time trying to woo clients, advertise my services or negotiate for a specific job. I look at the articles that are available and choose one I feel qualified to write.

I have done some writing directly for clients. There is a lot of time involved in trying to cut a deal and, after spending the time, the deal may fall through.

That's basically not a thing on Textbroker. This helps keep my hourly wages up, in spite of the nominally low per-word pay scale.

Another reason I like working for Textbroker is because I don't chase my pay. Freelancers chase their pay a high percentage of the time and this drives their real hourly wage down.

I've elaborated on that here: The Value of Not Chasing Your Pay

A Good Startup Idea

If you are looking for an idea for starting a new business, set up an author account and do some writing for them, set up a client account and pay for some writing and read through this entire blog. Then try to create a gig platform similar to Textbroker's model but do it for something other than writing, such as programming or graphics work.

They do a good job of protecting their workers. They do a good job of protecting their clients.

They are well positioned to weather this pandemic. All of their writers were already remote workers and they moved their staff at their headquarters to work-from-home arrangements when the pandemic began.

If you think gig work sucks, try to be part of the solution. Try to create a gig work platform that doesn't suck for workers.

I think Textbroker has done exactly that. I think you can borrow ideas from their model to do that for other kinds of work.

In the mean time, Textbroker already exists and is a potential solution right here, right now to help people return to work and begin getting on with life, pandemic or no pandemic.

People tend to assume I'm a shill for Textbroker. I'm not.

I'm someone who happens to work for them and is happy to work for them. In fact, I initially worried that they might fire me if they found this blog.

At some point, Textbroker did find this blog and slipped a few dollars into my Textbroker account because of one of the pieces here. I'm a little less worried since then, but I'm absolutely not writing at their behest.

I actually feel like I'm taking a risk anytime I write a post here. I feel like it could potentially cost me my main source of earned income.

My blogs are all my own writing and my own opinions. I get Patreon money and tips, but no one has ever paid me to write anything on any of my blogs. I blog because it gives me a voice. That will not change.

If you are concerned about my welfare during this pandemic and/or just want to see more of my writing in the future, I take Paypal, Venmo (@Doreen-Traylor) and Patreon.

Thank you for reading.

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