Reaching 5 Stars: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Comma
When I registered with Textbroker in October of 2011, I was sure that I would receive a 4-star rating right off the bat and quickly achieve access to the vaunted 5-star OpenOrder pool. I was right, as long as you take "right off the bat" to mean two years, much of which was spent being kicked by my own high horse.
As someone who had always done well in English courses, I was sure that my initial 3-star rating was a mistake–except that my next article, as well as the dozens that proceeded it, met with the same paltry 3-star fate. What was wrong with Textbroker? Clearly, I was 4-star — no, 5-star — material.
It eventually occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't as good as I thought. As ridiculous as the idea was, perhaps I could improve my writing.
By finding a step ladder and getting over myself, I discovered two important things: I had room for improvement, and Textbroker sets the standards, not me. I don't know of any organization that focuses on content production, be it The New York Times or Cracked.com, that does not have its own set of standards. If I wanted to do well, I needed to learn them and stop trying to get Textbroker to come around to my way of thinking, which, just for the record, was wrong anyway.
Thanks to my new attitude, I was able to focus on getting better, and my ratings improved. Apparently, the editors aren't meanies who drink the tears of 3-star authors. When I discovered my new 4-star rating, I did a happy dance around the house, scaring the cat half to death in the process. My elation was short lived, however, thanks to the proofreading test.
Saying the proofreading test appeared to pose a certain amount of difficulty is on par with saying the ocean appeared to contain a certain amount of water. My suggestion for passing the proofreading test is to keep writing and taking note of editor feedback. Eventually you will be able to identify correct answers from your own experience.
When I got the email stating that I had been promoted to level five, I once again scared the cat and hopped up and down in circles for an indecorous period of time.
If I Can Do It, You Can Too
Outside of patience and awareness that there is always room for improvement, here are some specific ways I improved my writing:
The editors have a job that I could probably not do. When I see people writing things like, "Whats the big, deal its a stupid question and you're point is mute," my right eye begins to twitch. While I understand we are far better writers than that, seeing an endless stream of grammar, comma and homonym errors would drive me to drink something other than coffee. The fact is the editors are telling us exactly what we need to fix to improve our writing and our ratings.
Know your Weaknesses
In spite of knowing when to use "who" and "that," I was constantly referring to people as "that." I resolved the problem by doing a CTRL+F search for "that" before submitting an article, possibly saving the sanity of a few editors.
One of the things I love about the site and her books is that not only does she explain rules, but she also gives you devices for remembering them. Thanks to her site and the book The Ultimate Writing Guide for Students, errors cower in my presence.
This program is free and an excellent tool for catching spelling, homonym and subject/ verb agreement errors before they scuttle past and wreak havoc on your ratings. It's available at http://www.gingersoftware.com/grammarcheck.
In an effort to be helpful, your brain will "fix" a variety of errors when you are reading something, unwittingly enabling mistakes to embed themselves in your writing; reading aloud overrides this part of your brain.
You may be thinking that the system is stacked against you; I did at one point. However, though it was not easy, I still managed to climb to the top. If you love writing, and I’m going to assume you do, it's worth getting better and increasing your opportunities, even if it doesn't happen overnight.
361285 16. February 2014 - 11:07
You have given me hope.
372341 21. February 2014 - 5:59
I'm new here so this gives me hope, too. Although I winced at the "two years" bit. Ouch.
367305 22. February 2014 - 19:17
I was so afraid when I joined that I would get a two star rating and have almost no assignments to choose from. But, the editors gave me a four star rating. My first assignment was accepted almost immediately. My second is still waiting. I am so nervous and excited by this new adventure. I just hope that I can learn how to write faster. The first assignment took me two hours for a single 100 word essay. The second took me almost a whole day. (I had to sleep and go to my day job.)
374237 24. February 2014 - 11:12
I joined textbroker this week. Your text here is an inspiration and a guide to success. I intend to print and follow it.
379297 12. March 2014 - 16:43
343181 14. March 2014 - 14:54
Thank you Alex. Thank you for taking the time to explain HTML codes and how to write them. I’ll learn how to use them, until then using HMTL is still a little scary.
391309 24. April 2014 - 5:27
Where is the proofreading test located? I have searched this site relentlessly, and I still haven’t found it.
150273 5. May 2014 - 22:43
This is the same stuff we learned in our journalism classes at UM almost a decade ago. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the simple stuff. Thanks for reminding me 🙂
446517 19. September 2014 - 8:33
I was having the same problem
70306 19. October 2014 - 23:54
Will there ever be a WordPress plugin for the Textbroker AUTHORS?
447929 5. November 2014 - 18:44
How do I hyperlink a website in Textbroker? When I do it in Word, it does not transfer as a link, but simply as text?
472897 7. February 2015 - 20:35
Thank you for making a guide that is so easy to follow and understand!
477045 19. March 2015 - 2:37
Great information. Very helpful. Thank you for giving writers your stance on comma ussage. I will be referencing this in the future.
170921 20. September 2016 - 16:17
I have had great experiences working with managed clients, until recently. My current team client seems to want something different every single day- yet the briefing is the same. The client also takes longer than 4 days to payout.
I would still definitely recommend managed clients as a way to earn a steady income. Just know that some are going to be difficult.
2507 4. April 2017 - 11:58
Thank you so much for this post! I've recently found a new love for semi-colons, and am still working on using them correctly; like the perfect dash of spice in a recipe. 😉
Mirce 3. June 2017 - 2:03
I received a number 2 rating. There are no assignments for me to improve. Is there anything I could do to improve my rating?
Cody Christensen 6. June 2017 - 19:35
Hey Mirce! If you are looking for more information please contact one of our author services representatives at [email protected] and they will gladly assist you!