(Note: This will be cross-posted to my other blog, Beth Rhodes.)
As previously mentioned, one of my resolutions for 2012 (and 2013) was to take on more freelance writing jobs. I've had some success with this. While I was able to find and produce some work, it was not exactly at the level that I was hoping for.
Being completely unfamiliar with the freelance world and unsure of where to start, I stumbled across Scripted.com and thought I found gold. Unfortunately I found more hassle than I bargained for.
The site has an approval process in order to get in and I'm wary of privacy/trade secret regulations. So I won't be posting any screenshots to illustrate. Can't be too careful.
Bear in mind: I have been a member for some time and the site has gone through major renovations since my induction. But I made the cut with almost no experience under my belt, so their process isn't that rigorous. If I can get in, you likely can too.
Once you're accepted as a writer, you'll have access to the rest of the interface. (There is a separate interface for buyers, who use a different part of the site to log in. I have not worked with this side personally.) There are further steps you need to take in order to start claiming jobs, including filling out a profile, posting a W-9 to the site for tax purposes (US writers only), and applying for certain "specialties" in order to accept jobs in a certain field. The latter step will ensure that you will wait at least a few days before taking any jobs, due to the time your application takes to be accepted or denied.
This comes to my first complaint: The turnaround time for the Scripted staff is slow. Not just for applying to specialties. Once you are able to take a job, finish it and submit it, you can count on waiting at least a week for the content manager to look at your piece and send it back for edits before the buyer even sees it. On a few occasions in the past, staff members would email you directly to let you know about certain big jobs you could take. I would respond immediately for more information, only to wait hours for the staff member to reply and tell me the position was already filled.
Let's say you made it on the site, filled out your profile and gave them all the necessary information. You even applied for a specialty in Food and Beverage, and were accepted. Awesome! Now you can start taking jobs. Nine times out of ten, unfortunately, you won't see one available to you. And when you do, it won't be available for at least two days. What gives? According to Scripted this has to do with your "writing score," an arbitrary number assigned to you based on the writing sample you gave when you applied and can be adjusted based on the quality of previous jobs you've filled. Those with higher scores are given first priority at new jobs, and you'll find that many of the jobs will go away quickly. This makes it very difficult for new writers to move up - how are you going to improve your score if you can't get any jobs?
Another option for new writers, and one where I've had most success, is with Pitches. Buyers not looking for any specific topic will post a general idea in the Pitches section and writers will pitch their own ideas to write about. If the buyer likes your pitch, congrats! You've got yourself a job. This is a popular avenue for blogs to find new content to post, because it will give them greater variety. Unfortunately, the minimal information required of buyers to make posts in this section gives it a Craigslist feel, and the "ads" will be as vague and unprofessional as possible. There seems to be very little quality control on part of the staff in this section, too. More than once I've seen ads written in Korean, ads that said only "this is a joke/test, please don't pitch to me," or double postings. (At the time of this writing, all of the aforementioned ads are still up.) It wasn't as much of a problem in the past, but now navigating this section feels like navigating through a minefield.
I'm not going to pretend that finding jobs in the freelance world is easy, especially for a beginner. But these are obstacles that are unnecessary and could be done away with on part of the staff, but for whatever reason this did not happen.
So while Scripted.com is a good idea in theory, the execution seems to be lacking and the quality slipping. Because of the learning curve, I would not recommend this to beginning writers. If you are more established and skilled in the field, this may be of more use to you.