Filler Busting: Fluff and How to Avoid It
Filler can be hard to grasp, and it can be even harder to fix. Here are a few tips to help you more easily identify filler, increasing your chances of attaining 4-star status.
Imagine you are in a movie theater, snacking on expensive popcorn and trying not to waste your drink in case the theater doesn’t offer free refills. You’re watching an epic movie about dragons attacking a town defended by noble warriors when you notice something: The movie is dragging on, and the narrator is taking forever to get to the point. Did he really just spend 20 minutes telling you something you understood in the first five? Did you really just pay $10 to see a movie without a plot? Why is the popcorn so expensive?
Maybe these look familiar: [Please avoid using filler content.] [Do not use fluff to reach the word count.] [Vary your word choice and sentence structure to avoid sounding choppy or repetitive.] Filler can be hard to grasp, and it can be even harder to fix. Here are a few tips to help you more easily identify filler, increasing your chances of attaining 4-star status:
Examine each sentence
Pull out a sentence and ask yourself if it enriches your article. Is the information something your reader would like to know? In this way, information that is off topic, repeated, or unnecessary can all be identified and discarded. If something is stated that the reader probably already knows, like "A deep fryer is a kitchen appliance that's used to deep fry food," then you know it's filler.
Filler content comes about when quantity is put above quality. Writing articles is not a race; spending more time on your articles will improve their quality, and your rating will come to reflect that.
Avoid overusing qualifiers
When sentences have too many qualifiers, they begin to sound wordy and dogmatic. Take this sentence for example: “I basically kind of went to the store and pretty much just bought some of these seemingly ripe fruits.” Understandably, it can sometimes be difficult to reach the word count, but extraneous words water down the content of your article. Qualifiers can also make your stance on a subject seem as if it is wavering. This website from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center can help you use qualifiers just enough.
Sometimes, our clients like to include explicit instructions in their orders. Filler is less likely to be a problem when instructions and formatting are more restrictive. On other occasions, clients give an author free rein to write about the topic. Filler tends to creep in when an author tries to write about a topic he or she doesn’t know much about. Research can go a long way in helping to reach an intimidating word-count minimum. If you can write from any angle, use that to your advantage, and choose something that you’re interested in. Passion and background knowledge can make writing come more naturally.
Vary your word choice and sentence structure
Repetition is a sure way to lose a reader’s interest. Repetition happens on a small scale when authors favor certain words. An article can sound very monotonous when every sentence begins with “moreover.” If you can’t think of a good word to replace the one you’ve used twice already, use a thesaurus! Do an Internet search for synonyms of your word, and you’ll be one step further from the fluff. Repetition can be seen on a larger scale when entire articles are comprised of similarly structured sentences. This is most likely to happen with very simple sentences that take on a “Dick and Jane” style. An article that uses the same sentence formula many times can seem repetitive to a reader even with varied word choice, such as “I went to the aquarium. Natalie was there. We got smoothies. It was thrilling.” It is easy to avoid this by mixing up the order of your sentences or combining some main ideas.
Pronouns help make writing less redundant. If you have already stated the subject in the sentence and plan on referring to it again, use a pronoun. Take this sentence for example: “When getting reimbursement for medical insurance, you want to be sure that you know exactly what your medical insurance policies are and that the medical insurance company does not take advantage of you.” The use of certain words in this sentence is certainly excessive. The same information could be shared more eloquently with fewer words: “When getting reimbursement for medical insurance, know the policies so that you receive an accurate payment.” Varying elements of your writing can produce a more entertaining article.
Strive for great writing
Setting the bar high is the best way to ensure a high-quality article. Remind yourself that your submissions receive feedback, that your writing is for a client whom you hope to impress, or that you are getting compensated—anything that will get you motivated. Nothing will improve your writing as much as your own investment in it. This doesn’t mean you should try to write outside of your comfort zone. Use words you’re familiar with, and stick to grammar and style that you know well.
An article full of filler is like a slow, dull movie; its sluggish and wayward plot keeps it from being enjoyable. An article without filler is an edge-of-your-seat film that keeps you wondering what exciting thing will happen next. You won’t even have to ration your soda because it will be sitting next to you, forgotten.
At Textbroker, we want you to succeed. When your writing improves, more orders will be available to you, and you will receive higher compensation. Keep these rules in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to eradicating filler once and for all.
186105 13. October 2013 - 23:58
Regarding your last example, both sentences do the same thing. I know the shirt the person is wearing is yellow. Determining which sentence to use is dependent upon the paragraph it is in, or perhaps, the entire article. I find Text Brokers make the same error a lot of proofreaders make. They see something they believe could be better, but that change then causes other parts of the article to be faced with a series of errors because of the one change. I have also found that complaining raises the bar for meeting Text Broker standards. A client rates an article as excellent, but the writer only gets a 2 or 3 score. Someting is wrong with the system.
Also, grammar rules are changing. Infinitives are being split. Grammar checkers will approve sentences if there is or is not a comma after a series before the word and is used.
333093 22. October 2013 - 17:07
Good advice, especially when ariticles require a specific word count.
336061 24. October 2013 - 19:11
I received a revision request asking for a "meta description", maximum 160 characters. My original article included this description at the end of the article, but the client never accepted it. Will someone please explain what a "meta description" is, and how to incorporate it, with a specific example?
66992 28. October 2013 - 22:56
Great post! Sadly, I'm rationing my drink as I type.
37152 6. November 2013 - 15:34
So very true. Thankyou for your honest imput. I have been on textbroker for almost 4 years and I actively avoided managed clients until recently. I have been so thankful for the work the managed clients have provided. I wish that I had focused more on managed clients earlier than I did.
321453 20. November 2013 - 3:07
Thanks a million!
2229041 24. November 2013 - 20:08
Wow, I'd not seen this blog post up until now. That has been our exact method up until now and has worked perfectly. We've been able to compete in a really hyper competitive market in google without a massive budget by doing really in-depth keyword research and thinking hard from the non-expert users point of view. By identifying these search terms we can provide content with real answers to their questions.
Do you mean 'textbroker finance' is a seperate finance section to normal textbroker? My main problem with textbroker has been that I use the US based version and I can only use them if it's for something that isn't too specific as it would take an expert to be able to write about a lot of the stuff we write about.
2180077 2. December 2013 - 23:12
Please help me understand why anyone would want something less than a 5 star to use on thier online presence or blog? I tried teh service and didnt care fo teh results I received from the writer. I guess I should try it again as it would be very helpful if I got what I really wanted.
Dave 3. December 2013 - 22:40
Clients order varying levels of quality depending on their specific needs. The content type, intended audience, purpose, and budget can all be factors in selecting quality levels. We are sorry to hear that you weren't happy about your experience with us. We'd love to work with you on order instructions, quality selection, and other details to help ensure you get the content you need. We'll get in touch with you via email or you can email us at [email protected]. Thank you!
23690 5. December 2013 - 22:19
Information I had forgotten
71810 10. December 2013 - 21:33
Fillers are a "no" "no." Boredom leads to less reading of the article and what does that accomplish?
4970 12. December 2013 - 17:25
This was a good article. Thanks for sharing your insights.
244281 13. January 2014 - 16:02
Most helpful. Thank you
2112481 29. January 2014 - 19:12
This is really succint and hits a lot of great points. Thank you for your comments!
328849 13. March 2014 - 11:27
Thank you for this article. I appreciated your clear presentation of the Textbroker method. Learning to be compliant with our editors ruling is an exercise in self-discipline. Some of us have become terribly out of shape while relying on secretaries and assistants to clean up our grammar and punctuation. Your article is an eye-opener for all the right reasons.
343201 26. March 2014 - 6:01
I just spent 3 hours on the web trying to learn HTML basics. Then I surfed the forums and found this link buried. Kicking myself for not going to the TB blog first. Thank you, this is what I needed to have. I bookmarked it, so now I’ll have it in the future.
396573 15. May 2014 - 11:13
I’m researching services that simply allow you to click, drag, and use a toolbar for fonts. Squarespace allows the user to create a website with word processor and Facebook format skills. Using Squarespace the website is adjusted by the program depending on the device the viewer uses? Any thoughts on why it’s better to create a website using a development program that requires HTML knowledge and skills?
335037 19. June 2014 - 1:30
396281 26. June 2014 - 16:09
Thank you for the tips! Examining each sentence is one of the best (and simplest) tips I've ever received. It makes so much sense.
304673 13. August 2014 - 18:37
Awesome advice! Thank you so much!
304673 13. August 2014 - 18:38
Awesome advice! Thank you so much!
58314 20. August 2014 - 3:04
Thanks I needed this. Doing other work requiring knowledge of other writing styles sometimes confuses me and I needed to know where TB stands on a particular style…support answered my questions quickly and referred me to this blog post.
32206 21. August 2014 - 22:52
Why are there so few level 2 and 3 opportunites?
452981 9. October 2014 - 16:55
Thanks! I'm not familiar with AP Style as I used APA style in college.
459701 15. November 2014 - 18:06
I absolutely love this. As a relatively new writer I laughed as I read the mistakes you spoke about, since I am guilty of quite a few of them. Your writing style is engaging and funny, and it has a flow that I admire. Thanks for taking the time to share this!
27286 19. November 2014 - 21:27
Enjoyed this article and will definitely be making changes to some of my writing habits going forward.
28043 25. November 2014 - 2:43
Thank you for this CLEAR explanation. The TB editors are not always as helpful when writing evaluations.
I've been a Level 5 writer at Textbroker for years, and still have trouble with pesky commas.
This ^ may put an end to all that. Yay!
2613 19. December 2014 - 14:22
Wonderful! Really very helpful. Thank you. Eleanore (ewent)
473469 28. December 2014 - 7:30
So far Ive had three assigments accepted, id like to keep it that way. But as for the games assignments, All there are is casino slot games and I do not play those at all. So i do my research and Im lucky if I can get to 300 words. 🙁
472685 31. December 2014 - 18:05
Thank you for the advice.
467741 22. January 2015 - 2:47
Awesome! Another tool for my punctionation anti-mistake tool kit.
475345 17. February 2015 - 19:45
I almost understand this, but I'm still doing it wrong. I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding your explanation or misunderstanding the client's instructions.
501033 7. March 2015 - 16:06
I realized that my initial sample contained filler. Now I know what to work on. Thanks!
246533 14. March 2015 - 2:13
Just a few additional thoughts.
– It would be nice for editors to leave more detailed feedback in the first revision request, add all comments in a single revision (rather than multiple), and for instructions to be only on one page.
– "Please put all sizing information in the article." I wrote an article that stated this in the instructions. On a Google Spreadsheet, I was told to create a quick overview of the product, then the full product overview. I was told that the sizing information wasn't to be included in these articles (this was said by the editing staff), even though it was stated on the Texbroker site instructions for the client.
Now, the article came back a second time for me to remove the sizing information. The basic instructions never mentioned that we couldn't have extra paragraphs at the end of the article, (it just mentioned that there needs to be 2 subheadings and the 3rd subheading needed to be a certain title….even though this was the reason for my 3-star rating and being kicked from all managed teams….
– I fear everytime Chris mentions that he has a new client and they will be putting out a massive amount of orders. Everytime he mentions something like this, I fear the worst and it always happens. Now, I'm unable to do any managed orders because the instructions didn't state that there "Only needs to be 2 subheadings and 1 additional subheading." Nowhere in the instructions does it state this, if it did, I wouldn't have ever added a concluding paragraph and I'd still be on teams. Either way, I still don't think this blog post has helped me any. It's just restating the facts that we all know.
The reason why people are writing articles before getting their questions answered….is supply. If there's a new team and they don't hear back for a few days from an email, chances are they will just try one and see how they do. This is what I did. I wish I had known about the calling thing before. But then everyone will be calling and getting put on hold. I can see it now. I meant to only write 2 paragraphs…sorry.
475917 18. March 2015 - 20:22
I appreciate your post. I am feeling very depressed right now. The TU editors just completed rating five of my articles, and I am still a three. I can't believe I keep making the same stupid mistakes again and again. I am wondering if I will ever learn how to use commas appropriately! I thought I was pretty good at punctuation until I started writing for this site. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the help Textbroker gives. Obviously, I need it.
What encouraged me from your post is the two years you hung in there. I know that sounds crazy, but it is nice to know that a 5-star writer had her problems to begin with. I have only been at it for three months so I guess I can keep going.
By the way, did I get my commas right in this post?
396017 21. March 2015 - 23:52
What would be the best way to get back to a level 4 rating? I was brought down to a level 3 about two months ago because of several grammatical mistakes I was making on some of my articles. I definitely understood why, and so I decided to step away from TB to help improve my writing. I have now gotten back into writing strictly for TB, but my goal now is trying to get back to a level 4. When I feel my writing is sufficient enough, should I send an email to the proofreading team to take a quick look? Or do I just wait? The reason I ask is because they don't rate as often, and I definitely don't want to wait another month or so to get back to level 4.
254725 7. April 2015 - 21:21
SeekWisdom, I have the same question. I use Ixquick and Startpage for the same privacy reasons. You could try testing a fake search term in Google and DuckDuckGo to see if you get the same results. Just an idea…
516173 30. April 2015 - 18:30
I must say that I was also relieved to read about the comma struggles other writers have also experienced… I've been writing for many other websites and publications for years, but I'm new to Textbroker. My first TB evaluation was incredibly deflating, and this was the first time I've ever suffered a rejection of my writing by a client due to commas! And on my very first TB submission! AACK!
According to the evaluation by TB, my article was entirely due to 3 examples of improper comma usage. Harsh. (I'm wondering how I survived this long on all of the other writing sites?) I guess it's time to become better acquianted with FANBOYS if I choose to hang out here!
30875 23. June 2015 - 15:52
I especially appreciated the advice to examine each sentence to be sure it adds real information that the reader needs. No fluff please!
531581 4. July 2015 - 17:03
I have had three revision requests so far and they were all pretty basic and took about five minutes to fix. One of them was because I missed something in the instructions.
Before reading this, I had already figured out that articles with ambiguous instructions or lots of research added would not be worth the pay. I agree that it's key to choose articles that you can knock out quickly.
459173 14. July 2015 - 0:52
Another technique which I find extremely useful for proofreading is to read your article backwards. Read each sentance from beginning to end, but begin reading the article from the end. This way, your brain doesn't find it as easy to automatically correct errors as it runs along over what it already knows.
396913 3. August 2015 - 1:42
This cheat sheet is excpetionally helpful! I'll be using it from now on.
522349 3. September 2015 - 16:46
keep applying and do not give up this is a spare money earner for me right now but with time and patience id like to become a fulltime writer.
561549 19. November 2015 - 22:48
Thank you! This post was very helpful!
582529 20. November 2015 - 2:44
This topic brings back memories. I did very well in English Grammar; however, while I was writing a column, for a website, the site owner hired someone to edit the content. Most of the stuff that I had learned got challenged; consequently, I got thrown off. I had to adhere to the editor's notes, which confused me even more. I got so used to following her instructions that I doubted what I had learned in Grammar school. Shame on me for not sticking to what I had learned.
525205 15. December 2015 - 16:08
I really appreciate the feedback here, and the comma information really made me search out info and study hard. What I don't like, though is that one editor told me that part of an author's last name was a typo! Maybe SHE should do a little research. In the name Sarah Ban Breathnach, Ban is not a typo. That is her name.
2433001 9. February 2016 - 0:14
164265 7. May 2016 - 19:38
Makes a lot of sense.
164265 11. May 2016 - 20:16
658627 25. October 2016 - 22:28
Appreciate the way it is broken down and simplified. Makes it much easier to apply.
409157 15. March 2017 - 18:15
wurdSmifff 16. June 2017 - 15:12
…great article filled with motivation… thank you textBroker…
stan 21. February 2018 - 11:46
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Wordswrite 12. March 2019 - 1:32
This is a good article, but you overlook one important fact. At times, there is no valid resource on the Internet to learn sufficient knowledge from for certain topics.