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Content Websites 101

By Stacy Smith

In this month’s column, I want to examine two popular content sites where you both pay-and are paid- to write. “Wait a minute,” you’re probably thinking. “Aren’t I supposed to write and get paid for it?” Yes, you are. However, they charge fees/pay less in exchange for you being able to find clients easily.

There are numerous ways to find clients. One of them is to go out on your own to local small and midsize businesses and see if they could use your services. Another is to find start-ups online that could stand to have a great blogger or social calendar person if that is your thing. You can also always ask friends for recommendations where they work.

However, the easiest way to get started is still by going to a writing job website such as Textbroker or Upwork. Some basic facts about each will allow you to decide what best suits your needs.


Textbroker is the most straightforward of the two. You make an account, create a profile, and send them a writing sample. Once you are accepted, you can begin taking assignments. Acceptance usually takes about two days. It will take longer if there is a holiday or if it is over the weekend.

The Good and the Bad

As of July 2018, Textbroker’s Welcome page focuses entirely on potential clients, not writers. They have a separate button that you can click to go to the author page to receive a different welcome.

Both clients and writers can choose between two, three, four, and five star assignments. Note to writers: you have to take a special grammar test to be eligible to be a five-star writer. If you fail the test, you cannot try to take it again for 3 months. To say that this test is difficult is an understatement.

If you write a 500-word, 4-star assignment, you will earn $7.00. Textbroker charges the client $12.00. Therefore, you earn $7.00 out of that $12.00. Most Textbroker articles have a 24 or 48-hour turnaround time. They pay for approved work once a week through PayPal.

The Verdict

If you need money fast and are trying to get your feet wet because you have no professional experience, Textbroker is not a terrible way to start. Just keep in mind that unless you qualify to write 5-star articles, the most you are going to be able to earn is essentially $7.00 an hour.


Upwork is a completely different ballgame. You make an account, create a profile, and start applying to jobs. You are given 60 “Connects” a month to apply for jobs. It takes two Connects to apply for each job, so you can apply for 30 jobs a month.

The Good and the Bad

Payment can range anywhere from the equivalent of $3.00 to $50.00 an hour, assuming that you can create 500 words in an hour. Sometimes you will apply for an opportunity and never hear back. Potential clients are from all over the world, so you are going to see a wide range of assignments.

You can create job search filters so that you only see the types of jobs that interest you. You can also make a filter for people who are looking for United States writers only. This will help cut out jobs where you would be writing 500 words for $5.00 or less.

Payment is complicated, but essentially, you are paid 5 days after the client signs off on the project. Money is transferred to you either with PayPal or to your bank account. You will be paid faster if you choose PayPal.

Upwork charges you a 20% fee for everything you earn from a client up through the first $500.00. After that, they charge you a 10% fee on what you earn for everything up to $800.00. The tier charges decrease as you hit certain financial milestones. It is very unlikely you will do that much work for one client, however, so expect to lose 20% of what you make.

The Verdict

Upwork has the potential for you to earn a lot more money. However, it is not like Textbroker, where you choose an assignment and it is yours to write. You will be competing with potentially up to 50 other writers for the best projects. Clients can also be more demanding on Upwork. Choose assignments carefully before you apply and make sure you factor in Upwork taking 20% of your proposal amount.

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