Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review of Scripted.com

(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.

29 comments:

  1. This is one of the most frustrating sites I have dealt with as a freelance writer. I was accepted by Scripted and approved for their legal category in February of this year. I have an associate degree in paralegal studies, have worked as a paralegal for a few years and as a FT contracted legal content writer from spring 2010 to Jan 2013. Unfortunately, Scripted rarely ever has available work in the legal category. And when they do, I'm so far down the totem pole that the jobs are taken before I am allowed to accept them.

    I finally had the opportunity to accept two legal article assignments in June. After completion, I received feedback praising my work and stating that the client had "favorited" me. The email explained this meant I would have priority for future jobs by this client. Not so. The next time I saw work by this client I was unable to "accept" the assignments for at least 44 hours. I emailed Scripted asking them to explain why this occurred. I wanted the work. The client wanted me. What was the problem. They sent some b.s. generic reply. We went back and forth. Some other writer eventually snatched up the jobs. Then Scripted emailed me that the reason I was unable to claim the jobs right away is that the client had actually "un-favorited" me. Really?! With no rhyme or reason, and certainly no notice from Scripted.

    I have also applied for other categories that had available jobs regularly. I was rejected with "form" responses where the "judging panel" utilizes multiple choice options to explain the rejection. Once rejected, the writer can never reapply. I've seen several posts by other Scripted writers that copy/pasted the exact same form rejection emails. Lately there have been between 350 and 700 Lifestyle and Travel articles available. I received a form email from Scripted last week encouraging writers to apply for this category. So, I gave it a shot. Received my form letter rejection today. Same generic reasons. Currently, there are over 100 jobs available in this category.

    So IMHO, Scripted.com BLOWS! Absolutely no real communication with the writers, no clarity of expectations, and no notice of what is going on. Again. . . FRUSTRATING!

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    1. Your experience has certainly been worse than mine. I think being able to re-apply for specialties after being rejected would improve upon the system, because doesn't every writer experience growth?

      But you're right. Many aspects of the site feel more like an afterthought. Between the lack of clarity in job descriptions and robotic customer service, there is a lot that can be improved on if some time were put into site maintenance.

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  2. Thanks for the honest review. I think I am just wasting my time on that site to get some writing assignments. Surely, it will be with no luck.

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  3. I think your experiences are a little unfair. Scripted is one the best sites I have ever used. I had no problem passing two different specialty tests and constantly win jobs. This week alone, I have received 4 jobs and one of them being an $80 press release. This is one of the few online writing sites that actually pays going rates for most freelance business writing. Even if you ratings are not grate, they are easy to improve. Turing an article in ahead of deadline earns you one point automatically. You can easily get a score from 80 up to 90 and you will pretty much have unlimited opprtunity.

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    1. I find it difficult to believe "positive reviews" on such a negative review when the positive person can't even spell "great" correctly.

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    2. Yeah. I got a 77 score on a specialty, and I can't get any work at all due to the 24 hour wait I have to put up with. I will apply to a couple more specialties, but I have no reason to expect it will be any different with the wait time.

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  5. I joined scripted when I heard they pay better than most content mills. When I went to the site, I was impressed with the forward pay, and even the way the grammar test would yell at me if I switched windows to check my Facebook. I thought that this must be some elite hybrid between a real freelancing agency and a content mill and I was excited. However, my experiences so far have been less that great.

    I thought scripted was a sure-shot for me as I have written SEO focused pieces for five years and have consulted for many small businesses. I also knew someone who was accepted to 4 writing specialties on Scripted, and their quality of writing was terrible, filled with typos, fluff, and questionable word choice.

    After applying to the business specialty, they gave me a list of reasons why my 2 sample pieces weren't good enough: among which was, "Topic was engaging, informative, and interesting, but my focus still wandered." Should I be punished because an editor forgot to take their ADHD meds before reading about vital changes to a search engine algorithm? Should I have thrown in a knock-knock joke to hold the editor's attention? Most of the criticisms seemed like they were copied and pasted from a "Sample Rejection" e-mail as I have found that many other talented writers either online or those who I knew personally got very similar rejection letters.

    While scripted tries to look like a real agency, the execution of it all quickly tapers off after the sign-up process.

    As angry as I was about that, it seemed like the problem was having a general editor try to grade a pieces written for an editor who knows at least the gist of a professional area.

    As annoyed as I am, that one terrible writer I knew gives me reason to try again if I have a free moment. But I don't know whether it is worth it since many of the other writers who worked for that site claim that rising up the totem pole is more difficult that the pay seems worth. My advice from my first experience, don't write for professional, write for an editor that may have a degree in English, but doesn't have a vague clue about what it means to be a professional in an area.

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    1. A cursory search into Scripted.com and their so-called 'rigorous' admission process supports what you've shared in this comment. It all generally reveals a muddied picture of an agency that is nothing more than a very repetitive, lazy and dismissive content mill that puts on a decent veneer with little else for substance.

      The review process, from what I have read, seems to be an absolute sloppy joke. Aside from being abysmally slow, most of the rejections are alarmingly generic--almost computer-generated in design--and rather similar to the point that one should seriously consider how this utterly bored panel of 'judges' reflects on the website's own integrity.

      All these details are pretty much in support of the blog post, which I think was a bit merciful in stating some blunt truths. Scripted.com was probably doing okay when they were still a somewhat novel concept at work, but now they've lost the plot and become incredibly sloppy in terms of internal management.

      Beginners need not touch Scripted.com on grounds of how pointless it has become, and established writers shouldn't waste their time on such a website as they should, ideally speaking, already have a decent pool of clients and options on the table.

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    2. Yes, that absolutely was a form letter rejection. I got the same one verbatim on two specialties for which I was not accepted. I did get accepted to another, but I have that freaking 24-hour wait period to put up with, and that makes it nearly impossible to get any work. I have a couple other specialties I can try, but I have no reason to think it will be any easier to get work.

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  6. So, I am an Indian writer where do I go if not Scripted. Are there any honest paying sites for International writers around???

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  7. I've used the site for a month and I haven't had problems grabbing assigments, but the editing process is frustrating. They give deadline, then it takes them at least two weeks to edit the jobs given. I'm not exactly sure what they are doing during this time, but as someone who used to work in newspapers and who is used to things turning around quickly, this is a bit frustrating.

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  8. I actually laughed out loud when I was turned down after applying to a specialty. I'm a professional technology writer with 25+ published books (not self-published) in my field as well as over a decade of paid writing work with the specialty I selected.

    Scripted probably did me a favor, as further digging has revealed to me their standard pay rates for short articles and long articles, and they're not acceptable. I've heard from colleagues that Scripted is understaffed and is way behind in not only approving writers but in finding them work. This doesn't surprise me. The only reason I applied to Scripted is I'm always looking for additional paid writing jobs and a friend recommended it. The hoops I had to jump through to apply were hilarious; cutting and pasting in a three or four paragraph sample of my work is all I'm allowed to submit? Really? A scripted staff member is going to be able to tell the quality of my work from a fixed essay topic?

    Good luck, Scripted. Turning away qualified writers is definitely the way to succeed. I forwarded the email message (telling me in four single sentences from an "editor" why I wasn't qualified to write for Scripted) to eight writer-colleagues and almost all have given a comical response. One nailed it - "Sounds like Scripted would be better off trolling English department hallways at the local junior college."

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    1. This makes me feel better. I was rejected by scripted stating my quality was not up to their standards. They claimed I had several grammatical errors. However, I have passed more difficult tests than scripted.com's test. I'm doing well with other brokers, but I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket so I applied to scripted too. They did not provide specific examples of where they felt my work was poor. I applied on Saturday and was rejected on Sunday. This makes me question if someone really looked over my work.Looks like I dodged a bullet☺

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    2. They rejected me for business too. I worked in marketing and business for seven years...

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  9. The rejection I got on my specialty application at Scripted seemed to be a carbon copy of what others are getting:

    We're sorry, but your specialty application in Business was not approved by the community review board. Here is their collective feedback:

    Regarding the consistency of your voice: I know what voice this piece needed, but the writer didn't execute it perfectly.

    Regarding the clarity of your writing: I see what the writer was trying to express, but I'm still a little confused.

    Regarding the flow of your prose: The thoughts linked together, with one or two notable exceptions.

    Regarding the extent to which you kept the reader engaged: The subject was interesting and informative, but my focus still wandered.

    Unfortunately, we're not able to reverse this decision. However, you are welcome to apply to other specialties on Scripted.


    I'm keeping an eye out to see if my sample piece ends up getting published somewhere.

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    1. I got the exact same reply as you did when I applied for a science specialty. I have been writing science content for awhile now.

      I was accepted in the Education area in Scripted a month ago. I check a few times a day in the "unclaimed jobs" area and so far I have not had access to one assignment...maybe I'm doing it wrong...

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    3. At least you got accepted to something. I have been rejected with that very same form letter that says nothing. Not sure if the writing sample was off-topic, if my experience was not enough or what the deal might be. I suspect it has more to do with their needs than actual expertise or writing skill. I have one more pending specialty request and will give it a shot at two more. I have a bachelor's degree in print media journalism, more than 30 years' experience and work as a court reporter as well as freelance writer, Yet, I suspect I will get shot down, anyway.

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    4. At least you got a rejection letter. I just got a red REJECTED status. No feedback. Nothing. I applied for education industry. I have been teaching for over 20 years, have a doctorate in Educational Technology and I am a full time university professor of English (I think that is what might have turned them off...??) I have learned how much people delight in telling English professors that they made mistakes. Oh well. Waste of time but I thought it was interesting to apply to see what they would say. Not surprised. Truly.

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  10. Please suggest a good site then for such jobs

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  11. Could someone suggest a site worth signing up with? Thanks!

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    2. I used to write for Textbroker. If you can deal with their so-called "editors," who are nothing more than glorified spell-checkers, and don't mind making a pittance on 500-word articles until gaining enough direct orders or team orders, then you can do okay making a little extra money. I eventually got sick of the site and goaded them into booting me off of it after lodging some criticisms that they didn't much appreciate. But, if you can get on some decent teams, pay close attention to what they want and can churn out content in a short period of time, you can make some decent extra cash. The site, however, generally burns out writers, as basically was my experience with it. It's best used for making pocket money. Still, you could make $100 or so a week on it by writing a couple articles per day. The pay format is the best thing, and they are good at getting you paid on time, which is every Friday via PayPal, and they pay the PayPal fee. So, it's great for making extra pocket money and great at paying on time. Everything else about it kinda sucks, but, it still is decent enough to give a shot. My next attempt to get freelance work from an online site will be WriterAccess and Constant Content.

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  12. I received the exact same rejection comments as Hitchhiker as if a robot responded. I have a degree in business and years of work experience in the field. Additionally I have earned good money from writing many articles over the past several years.

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  13. It is Aug., 2015, and I got the same form rejection after a month as hitchhiker (see above). Who does the reviewing over there - the writers or the editors? I have a business degree, and many years of experience, so it is their loss to not get someone new to pitch articles and make clients happy.

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  14. It's nice to know others are having issues with them. I was told no one ca ever reapply with them in an email. It don't sound like I want to anyhow. People keep asking about where the best writing places are and there's very few responses. If there are others, please let us know.

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  15. Does Scripted accept writers from countries other than the United States, Canada, UK and Australia?

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