When I got started writing full time there was a lot of anxiety about whether I would be able to find enough work to get by. It was in my search for work that I stumbled across the Zerys, a content production platform that is actually one of the better content mills out there. Early on it was a big earner for me, and has only improved over time. While you may start out as a 3 star writer like I did, the platform is designed in such a way that you can move up fast by turning in quality work. Earning an overall 5 star rating is achievable, and once you do your rate of pay increases generously. It is worth noting that while Interact Media allow writers from all nations to apply clients are allowed to geo-target writers based upon their nationality. This, along with the requirement for all articles to pass Copyscape prevents clients from receiving spun foreign content. This assurance may be why the platform rarely has a shortage of orders for writers to accept.
What Zerys does right
Interact Media runs a tight ship on the Zerys platform. Unlike other content mills that have ratings done by on staff editors or even software, the content produced by the writers is judged by the end user who ordered the content. Client satisfaction should be the measure of content's success or failure. In some content mill systems this is a one way street where writers can be criticized and have no recourse, but on this platform writers can rate content requesters as well. This means that before accepting a job on Zerys a writer can look at the star rating and comments past writers have left regarding the content requester before deciding whether or not to take the job. Clients who habitually give low ratings or cancel/reject assignments will have as bad of a reputation as writers who do not finish assignments or write bad content. It is one of the most fair and even-handed ways to handle relations between a writer and a client. Clients who reject too often or rate too low will soon be unable to find anyone to work for them, whereas writers who deliver low quality work will eventually be weeded out.
Zerys uses three main metrics to keep writers on the ball: rejection rate, cancel rate, and missed deadline rate. Along with a 1-5 star rating system that clients give completed work will give a picture of the writer. If these poor metrics rise above 10% of a writers total work within a given period Interact Media can level temporary suspensions to keep low quality writers from taking assignments. After their time is served, they can return to the platform without further penalty so long as they deliver quality work. This means that writers who have turned in enough successful assignments can opt to cancel an assignment if hey need to on a limited basis without worrying about being kicked off the platform. Zerys rewards writers who are consistent and punishes the inconsistent. This is also the case for clients, as those who are perpetually difficult will find that no one will write for them. Clients are rated with a percentage for the amount of work they approve, the percentage they reject, and the percentage where they request revision. The higher the percentages of the last two, the less likely that quality writers will accept their assignments.
One of the best features that Zerys has is its direct assignment and favorite writers feature. Writers are allowed to set a standard rate per word for their own direct assignments, which allows writers to market themselves at a rate that they feel they can command. If a writer does quality work and their clients want to use them again they can offer the job to them at their standard rate. I have gotten a great deal of work this way, and it has been very profitable. If the rate the writer charges exceeds the requester's budget, the two of them can negotiate a custom rate just for that client and/or project. For beginning writers who have not had clients in the past, this is a great crash course in how freelance writing works.
When it comes to payment, the platform is dependable and consistent. They pay direct to Paypal for all articles that are approved on the 1st and 15th of every month .When you work on Zerys you almost feel like you have a real job with a real paycheck. It kind of makes me feel nostalgic for those times before I went freelance.
What Zerys can improve
Zerys is a pretty good platform overall. When used correctly it can be a fair playing field between writers and clients. There are only two areas where it really could improve to the benefit of both writers and requesters. The first problem is the enforced anonymity. Both you and your client are reduced to a first name and a series of numbers. I have observed a breakdown of civility between writers and clients that comes with anonymity. If nobody knows who they are people often do not feel accountable for their actions. This empowers clients to do things like reject up to 50% of content submitted without requesting any revisions. It also empowers writers to leave nasty feedback when their articles are rejected. The entire platform would improve if both parties used their real names and were held accountable for their conduct. This is an area where Copify leads the way, allowing their writers to have public profiles that are truly public. They are putting their professional reputation on the line with every submission and therefore the quality of work improves.
Zerys may not feel free to lift anonymity because of fears that clients will jump ship and do business with the writers directly. Why should they fear this? The second problem is that they charge too much. If a client pays 4 cents per word the writer only sees 2.8 cents per word. It is easy to assume that the writer would like to make more money and the requester would like to pay less money, and that they could split the difference by cutting out the middleman. This is a false presumption because what the writer and client are looking for is the security that comes with a payment intermediary. They both want to be treated fairly, which the platform does a good job of. Therefore, if they made both parties public and lowered their rates a bit both parties would without a doubt see the value in continuing to work together on the platform. Also, higher pay for writers means better writers delivering better quality work leading to an increase in orders and clients willing to pay more money. This policy would really be the rising tide that lifted all boats and would benefit Interact Media in the end.
Besides these issues, there is one constant complaint I hear from writers who are getting started on Zerys. This is that the category selection is confusing. All writers are required to pick between 5-100 categories that they are qualified to write about. These are structured kind of like the brackets of a basketball tournament. In other words, if you choose five main categories all of the remaining categories must be subcategories of those five. I managed to do it in a way to get the full 100, but many writers have difficulty navigating this step. It also has huge repercussions, as choosing the wrong categories means receiving little or no work. This would improve if the platform just laid out all possible categories like static boxes and allowed writers to click 100 boxes without worrying about the main category/subcategory mess.
Overall a Good Option
The long and the short of it is that the Zerys platform, while far from perfect, is an outstanding place to work when you are a freelancer between assignments. It has a little room for improvement, but it is a place that you can feel secure in picking up a job or two when you need them the most. For those who are able to consistently turn in quality work on a variety of subjects it may even serve as the cornerstone of your freelance business. I have no compunctions about giving them a 4 star rating.
Interested in yet another possible platform to earn money for writing? Check out my review of Textbroker on Examiner.com