5 Tough Lessons Everyone Who Works at Home Needs to Learn (Yesterday)

Working at home is a wonderful opportunity to be your own boss and set your own career course, but it comes with its own unique set of challenges. Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned over the course of my freelance career.

Never Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

You’ll hear me talking about eggs and baskets a lot on this blog. Let me tell you a little story to explain why. It was 2013, the freelancing heyday. I had been a successful freelancer with several of the top content mills for years, and when a shiny golden egg popped up that paid better than all the rest, I quickly moved my efforts over to that new platform. For a solid year, it was a gravy train (or at least as close as content mills ever get). Then, it wasn’t. The company was sold and management changed. What had started out as a wonderful boutique content broker with responsive management and pay rates that would make any freelancer sigh dreamily while listening to Stevie Nicks, morphed into a freelancing catastrophe. The new management was clueless as to the fact that the workforce was the driving force behind the success of the company it had procured. We started hemorraghing talented writers, and the fraction of the original client base that carried over to the new platform began to jump ship. Lesson learned: NEVER, and I mean never, put all your eggs in one basket. No matter how much you love a company or how great the management team is, you are the only person you can trust to manage your own career.

Set Deadlines (And Keep Them)

Most people want the benefits of being their own boss without the responsibility. You’re writing your own paycheck now, and to do that, you have to approach your work with the same amount of discipline that you would any other job. In fact, because you’ll not only be performing the work but scouting for it, you’re going to be working twice as hard. Setting hard deadlines is the key to keeping procrastination at bay (and if Procrastination was a country, I’d be the queen).

Get Organized

I’m one of the few millennials out there who prefers a paper calendar and planner to digital apps, but use whatever you’re comfortable with. Resist the urge to start by planning everything in crazy detail (it’s going to be hard to take your itemized itenerary seriously when you remember you’re still in your pajamas at 3pm.) Start simple. Lay out the articles and tasks you have to perform today, and separate work-related tasks from other errands and responsibilities.

Use Time Blocking

Time blocking is a simple yet magical practice that will help you eek more hours out of the day. Okay, so maybe it’s not literally magic, but it’s pretty darn close! If you’re like me, multitasking is the death of productivity. There are books devoted to the art of time blocking, but in its simplest form, all it is is setting aside a chunk of time each day to devote to a specific genre of tasks. For example, rather than checking Facebook and emails first thing in the morning, then alternating between responding to clients and starting that article that’s due in a few hours, I set aside 30 minutes to get caught up on correspondence. Do I accomplish everything I need to do during that time? Usually not, but being hyper-focused and having a limited amount of time to put out the fires of email correspondence makes me use my time more efficiently. Then, I’ll set aside three solid hours to dig into my most pressing assignments, usually whichever has the closest deadline. I like to devote those first moments of my day to tasks that don’t take a significant amount of focus but still let me start the day with a feeling that I’ve accomplished something. Once my brain is awake (and heavily caffeinated,) I’ll dig into a larger chunk of time spent actually working.

By focusing your efforts on one thing, you can eliminate a lot of the background noise and avoid the deadly quicksand of the social media and email checking cycle. Flitting from one task to another means you accomplish a whole lot of nothing much. Towards the middle of the day, you can set aside an hour or two for housekeeping, both literal and figurative. Other people prefer to group all of their “work blocks” together to maintain laser focus, but I need the brain break that comes with splitting it up.

Value Your Time

You wouldn’t walk into a lawyer’s office and start shooting the breeze in the middle of her workday, and you wouldn’t call a consultant to chat knowing full well he charges $100 an hour for his time. Why? Because explicitly or implicitly, these professionals have assigned a monetary value to their time, and the world respects that. When you work at home, you’re going to learn quickly that people assume the self-employed have an abundance of free time on their hands. In fact, many of us make the same mistake by failing to assign a value on our time. I recommend a simple thought exercise to help set a productive mental attitude that will serve you well throughout your work-at-home career. Think about all the work that goes into your earnings for the day. Not just the content writing or search indexing, or whatever actual task you are paid to perform, but the time spent talking with clients, organizing your files, looking for new work and making revisions. Think about how much effort goes into the work you do and assign a fair monetary value to it. How much would you have to pay a personal assistant to do the things you do on a daily basis, just so you can do your actual job? Once you’ve set a number, divide it out on an hourly basis and ask yourself whether whatever the distraction at hand is can provide benefits that will compensate for the time and effort you’ve expended. This is a good exercise for anyone who feels guilty for not being available to friends and family at all times even though they work at home. You’re a professional, and it’s okay to be protective over the time you spend working!

WriterAccess Review: Is WriterAccess a Scam or a Legitimate Work-at-Home Opportunity?

Disclaimer: I am an independent contract and am in no way endorsed by WriterAccess. The opinions in this review are my own.

WriterAccess has become one of the bigger names in content writing over the past few years. This Boston-based content brokerage is similar to Textbroker in its structure and client base, but it generally has a more “high-end” feel than your average content mill.

Is WriterAccess a Legitimate Work at Home Opportunity?

Yes. Writer access pays every other week and has a great reputation for reliable payments in the freelancing community. WriterAccess caters to U.S.-based writers, but clients come from around the world. This company is definitely not a scam and it is one of my top five freelancing “eggs.”

How Does WriterAccess Pay?

WriterAccess is one of the best paying content mills out there. As the site itself puts it, “Our writers go through hell to get from us to you.” The screening process is tough, but for writers who can stick it out, the benefits are well worth it. Like Textbroker, WriterAccess assigns a tiered rating to each writer, beginning at 2 stars. The WriterAccess rating scale extends all the way up to 6-star writers.

6-Star Writers: 7 cents per word
5-Star Writers: 5.6 cents per word.
4-Star Writers: 4.2 cents per word
3-Star Writers: 2.8 cent per word
2-Star Writers: 1.4 cents per word

As you can see, a 2-star writer (the lowest rating) on WriterAccess makes the same as a 4-star writer on Textbroker. That’s quite a difference! There is some competition on WriterAccess for higher paying orders, so it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of abusing the refresh button.

Order Types at WriterAccess

WriterAccess has a general order pool organized by star rating, and writers get no notice of when an order will be posted. Love List orders are similar to Team Orders on Textbroker. WriterAccess allows clients to post Casting Calls, for which writers of the appropriate star rating can apply. If chosen for that Love List (you may be one of many writers,) you will receive an email 10 minutes before the order posts to the job board. There are also Solo Orders that allow clients to order directly from a specific writer. Only you can accept a Solo Writer, but it’s better to complete orders sooner rather than later.

How Does WriterAccess Treat Writers?

I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with the WriterAccess team. They’re very accessible and professional, and on the few occasions I’ve had issues with order requirements or system glitches, I’ve had a helpful response within a day’s time.

Warning to WriterAccess Writers: There is a one-hour grace period for picking up and returning an order. If you fail to return your orders on time or return them after the hour is up, WritersAccess may issue a warning. If repeated warnings are issued, you could risk losing your ability to write on the site.

WriterAccess Overall Rating

I give WriterAccess 5 out of 5 stars. This is one of the only freelance writing platforms I can recommend without reservation. From the steady flow of work to highly competitive rates of pay, this platform deserves its generally positive reputation in the freelance writing community. It does take some time to fill out the rather extensive profile, but doing so will open you up to more freelance writing jobs and opportunities to connect with long-term clients.

Textbroker Review: Is Textbroker a Scam or a Legitimate Work-at-Home Opportunity?

Disclaimer: I am an independent contract and am in no way endorsed by Textbroker. The opinions in this review are my own.

Textbroker is one of the top content mills in the world, and for good reason. For years, Textbroker has been a household name in the freelancing community. Read on to learn more about the options available to you as a freelance writer, the number of freelance jobs you can expect to find, and how Textbroker treats its writers.

Is Textbroker a Legitimate Work-at-Home Opportunity?

To this question, I give an unequivocal YES. If you’re willing to put in the time to develop your profile, including a few written samples for which you will not receive compensation, you can make decent money on this platform. In fact, there was a time when Textbroker constituted the majority of my monthly income. I have personally worked as a writer for the company for more than five years, and I can vouch for its legitimacy and the fact that it pays writers for their work.

How Does Textbroker Pay?

Like most content mills, Textbroker pays its writers based on a tiered structure. Textbroker’s five-star rating system is used to determine which content you have access to. A 3-star writer has access to projects rated 3 stars or below, a 4-star writer has access to projects rated 4 stars and below, and so on. Textbroker’s pay rates are as follows:

  • 5-Star Writers: 5 cents per word.
  • 4-Star Writers: 1.4 cents per word
  • 3-Star Writers: 1 cent per word
  • 2-Star Writers: 0.7 cents per word

Quite a jump between 4- and 5-star projects, isn’t it? The good news is that even if you aren’t able to obtain the coveted 5-star rating on Textbroker, you can still earn a decent amount of money. Direct Orders and Team Orders account for most seasoned Textbroker writers’ earnings, and pay is generally much higher than articles in the Open Order pool.

Open Orders, Direct orders and Team Orders

Open Orders: Textbroker’s general content pool. These articles are paid based on your star rating and they vary in terms of difficulty. Many writers complain that the Open Order pool is full of assignments with unreasonably complicated instructions for the pay rate, and I would have to agree from experience. Even so, if you were assigned lower than a 4-star rating upon entering the platform, this is a good place to build your writing skills and prove yourself until you can advance.

Team Orders: These are orders placed by clients who have either chosen to create a Managed Team run by Textbroker staff or to run their own team of qualified writers. Most teams require that you apply with a short sample or a brief summary of why you would be a good fit for the team.

Direct Orders: Direct orders can be won if you develop a strong relationship with clients through the Open Order or Team Order pool. Basically, if a client likes your work or finds you through Textbroker’s search system, he or she can request an order that only you can complete. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly fill out your Textbroker profile. You set your own Direct Order rate, but remember that you are competing with others of a similar star rating.

How Does Textbroker Pay?

Textbroker pays on a weekly basis, and Open Orders are generally accepted within 3 days. Team Orders and other special orders managed by Textbroker can take longer to accept, but I’ve rarely had to wait more than a few days for an item to go through to payment. Once you are paid, the funds can be transferred to your PayPal account on file. You will need to fill out your Textbroker account with the relevant tax information for your region.

How Does Textbroker Treat Writers?

In addition to the higher-than-usual pay rates, this is where Textbroker really differs itself from other “mills,” in my opinion. I have always found the Textbroker team to be responsive and helpful in the rare event that I have had an issue with a rude or overly demanding client. I’ve never had an email that wasn’t answered within one business day, and I’ve never once had an issue with payment. Anyone who’s worked with shady content mills that would sooner lose a dedicated writer than provide good management knows how valuable this is.

Textbroker’s Overall Rating

4 out of 5 stars. Textbroker is a legitimate work-at-home opportunity with a steady flow of work and decent advancement opportunities. Due to intermittent lulls in the Open Order pool, the significant pay gap between star ratings, and the difficulty of obtaining a 5-star rating, I have to bring this rating down to 4 out of 5 stars. If you’re looking for a somewhat steady basket to throw one of your freelancing eggs into, Textbroker is a great choice.