As someone who receives a constant stream of emails from aspiring freelance writers seeking help and advice, I was intrigued when I heard about Writers Work. In this detailed writers.work review, I look at exactly what the service has to offer (and what it hasn’t!) Most importantly, I discuss whether it’s worth your money.
Writers Work is an online service that aims to act as a “one-stop” destination for writers, offering job listings, training materials, and a selection of tools to help writers manage and share their work. Writers.Work is NOT a company employing writers directly, despite what their “creative” adverts may seem to suggest – more on that later, so read on!
There are quite a number of features here, so let’s start with a run-down of what you get with writers.work:
- Curated live listings of writing jobs from a range of online sources.
- A list of publications that actively seek pitches for articles, along with details on how to submit work to each.
- A personal project management system for organising writing jobs, documents and tasks.
- A web-based text editor that incorporates readability analysis to help improve your work.
- An online portfolio area to share with clients.
- A Writerswork “University” area containing a library of training resources for new writers.
- A selection of features to keep track of your work, including functions for time logging and statistical analysis.
It’s quite an impressive list, and I explore each of the features in turn below. I have to admit that when I saw what Writers Work includes, I was fearful that it would come with a hefty price tag. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 3rd April 2017: For a service that’s relatively new at the time of writing, Writers.Work is already courting some controversy. I am continually updating this review as I find out more, and it’s now on its third revision.
Although I was largely impressed with Writers.Work when I originally reviewed it, and remain so, a fact was brought to my attention by a reader shortly after publishing the review that soured my experience somewhat. Essentially, it turns out that the people behind writers.work were previously behind another online product for writers – a product with a distinctly negative reputation. I have left the main body of the review in its entirety as it represents the product exactly as I found it, but I have added a section towards the end discussing this situation in detail. I suggest reading the review in its entirety, including this new section, before making any decision to purchase Writers.Work.
The most recent information that readers have kindly told me about regards how Writers.Work is being marketed, and I have to say it doesn’t sit very well with me. This is why I’ve added above that Writers.Work do not employ writers directly. I’ve gone into detail on this below too.
writers.work Review: Pricing
Writers Work’s pricing is very straightforward. You can either buy a lifetime subscription for $47 (this is an “early bird” price that will apparently increase to $94), or pay monthly at a cost of $15 per month.
This pricing is low and transparent, and it’s fair to note that it’s considerably lower than the pricing of Contena, which is a similar offering. While the latter may include a few notable features that aren’t available here, the same applies the other way around, and writers.work is dramatically cheaper.
Writers Work also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Now, let’s look at each of those features in turn:
Writers Work Review: Job Listings
Writers.work curates writing job listings from a range of sources, and puts them all in one place. It’s not the only service that does this, but it undoubtedly saves time. Writers typically spend many hours searching for new gigs and sending out pitches, and having a bunch of job sources in one place beats having to trawl lots of different listing sites – day in, day out.
If you look at the screenshot below, you’ll probably notice something that I imagine some people will criticise about Writers Work: The job listings come from places like Indeed and Problogger. Now this means that the jobs are also freely listed elsewhere online, so you’re not getting anything here you couldn’t find elsewhere. However, job listings aren’t the only feature of writers.work, and having them all in once place is clearly far easier than searching multiple sites.
What makes the job listings feature especially useful are the filtering features shown on the left. Filters include the source of the job, the type of job, and the salary expectations. You can also do keyword searches.
It’s possible to save filters so you have preset job searches to run, and you can ask to be notified daily, weekly or instantly if any jobs come up meeting your search criteria. Having an instant notification for new jobs is invaluable, as people who get their applications in first often put themselves in an advantageous position.
While I like the way the job listings of writers.work function, I do have a couple of criticisms. First off, it would be good if there were listings being pulled in from more sources, as in some cases selecting a bunch of filters all at once resulted in only a handful of opportunities remaining. Secondly, I couldn’t find a way to organise my search by how old the job listing was, nor filter out jobs that were posted some time ago. It would be good to see this feature added, as jobs that were posted over two weeks ago are probably already filled, and seeing them gives a false impression of how many real opportunities are out there.
Even so, this isn’t a deal-breaker. My personal recommendation would be to set up alerts for the brand new jobs, and concentrate on grabbing them fast.
The Writers Work Submissions Section
There are countless online articles that list publications that pay for articles, but writers.work has curated dozens of such opportunities into a searchable list. It’s a genuinely useful way for writers to find places that may pay for their work.
In each case, there’s a description of what the publication is looking for, and information on how much it pays for articles, as shown below:
There’s a decent (although not huge) range of opportunities here, and they range from “entry-level” publications paying $50-100 per article to big names paying $1 per word. You can search using various criteria.
This feature gives writers a place to find pitching opportunities and is quite useful. If the writers.work team manage to keep it stocked with a steady stream of new opportunities, it could cross the line into really useful.
writers.work Project Management System
Writers Work isn’t just about job listings. It’s also intended to be the place where you manage all of your live writing projects.
Just how useful this is will depend a lot on how much you’ve already established your workflow as a writer. For each project, you can list a bunch of sub-tasks, and then link documents to that project and track the time you spend working on it. The interface is very straightforward to use:
The reason I say that this feature may not be useful to everyone is that I, for example, already have ways to manage all of these things, from listing tasks to tracking time. However, I shouldn’t reject a feature just because I wouldn’t use it personally. If I was just starting out as a writer, I could see the benefit of using something like this to organise my work, and as it’s cloud-based it’s all accessible from anywhere.
It’s a useful feature, but not something that makes writers.work a “must buy” on its own.
The writers.work Text Editor
My instant reaction when I discovered writers.work incorporates a web-based text editor was to wonder why anyone would possibly want to use it instead of Microsoft Word or another favoured word processor.
However, I’m willing to stand corrected after checking it out. The main reason is that the text editor incorporates a readability score and reading grade level that updates in real time as you type. There are also live word, sentence and character counts, and a spell checker.
A dig around also reveals the ability to include basic formatting and justification, and it’s simple to incorporate hyperlinks and header tags. There’s also a “lightbulb” icon when you highlight a word that links to dictionary definitions and synonyms. It’s even possible to activate a background noise function with sound presets that include “Outdoor serenity” and “Hogwarts Library!”
Finally, the document editor links smoothly into the other Writers Work features, so you can – for example – track the time you spend on a document and link it to a particular project.
I was rather surprised by writers.work’s document editor once I started digging below the surface. I’d been ready to dismiss it as a feature for a feature’s sake, but I actually found a rather slick and well-thought out distraction-free word processor designed to include the things that writers typically need.
I’m not convinced that, personally, it would be enough to tempt me away from Microsoft Word, as I use far too many advanced features and keyboard shortcuts. However, a new writer establishing a workflow for the first time may decide to use it all the time.
You can also, of course, simply use the readability features by dropping text in after you’ve written it elsewhere, or you can do it the other way around and export to Word or PDF afterwards. There’s even the ability to publish directly to WordPress and Medium.
It really feels like someone sat and thought about what features writers would really need here. If writers.work can work out how to build in a plagiarism checker in the future, I’ll be seriously impressed!
The Writers Work Portfolio
Writers Work gives you the ability to maintain a portfolio of your writing work from within the system. (We’ve discussed the importance of a portfolio and shown ways to create one here).
The portfolio functionality in writers.work is basic. What you see in the screenshot above is really what you get – a cover image, a profile picture, a place for a title and description, and the ability to add as many portfolio “clips” as you like.
It’s OK, and it would work perfectly well as a writer portfolio, especially for someone just getting started. However, it doesn’t have the functionality of something like Contently. It would be good to see some extra features here, such as the ability to add images for each project and a way to include links to social media presences such as LinkedIn.
UPDATE: Since writing this section, I have been shown a screenshot of an updated portfolio section, which appears to contain new functionality, including the social media integration I mention above – so there’s good reason to expect that this area of writers.work may improve.
The Writerswork “University”
The WritersWork university includes a selection of training materials, primarily videos, to help new writers learn the trade and the craft.
The videos cover subjects from copywriting to pitching, and they’re well put together. You’re essentially getting a small but well-formed writing course included with writers.work, and the system keeps track of which modules you’ve completed.
There’s not an enormous amount of content here, but given it’s just one of many features, it’s a worthwhile addition that’s well-implemented.
As previously mentioned, it’s possible to track time in writers.work, which can help with keeping on top of what to bill clients. You can also set yourself writing goals (a feature that could, frankly, do with far more options beyond writing “X words per day”).
There are also some statistics baked in to Writers Work, such as your words per minute over time and your total words typed. Obviously keeping these accurate is dependent on using writers.work as your text editor of choice.
In addition to the features I have discussed, I’ve also been told that more are on the way. Specifically, there are plans for companies to be able to post writing job ads direct to writers.work, which could result in the platform having some exclusive jobs. There are also plans for a freelancer’s marketplace, where employers can go to look for writers.
Writers Work is in its infancy at the time of writing this review, but I get the distinct impression that plenty of thought is being put in to how to develop it. The fact that it’s already slick to use is also a good sign.
Writers.Work vs. Contena
I think it’s inevitable that people are going to compare writers work to Contena, which is reviewed here.
Contena does include some functionality that Writers.Work doesn’t, including an option for one-to-one coaching for new writers. I also feel that it has a rather more refined way of presenting the jobs on offer. It’s worth noting that both systems pull jobs from many of the same sources, so you’re going to see lots of the same opportunities on both platforms.
On the flip-side, writers.work offers some stuff that Contena doesn’t, with the text editor a particularly notable example.
The only way to conclude a writers.work vs. Contena debate simply has to be the disparity in cost. Throwing less than 50 bucks at your writing career by buying writers.work is inevitably going to be a far less significant decision that investing upwards of ten times that with Contena. I suspect that fact alone will cause plenty of people to choose Writers Work instead.
Writers Work: Ownership, Controversy and Advertising
Shortly after publishing this review, a reader posted a long Facebook comment containing a series of worrying allegations about Writers.Work.
Several of the criticisms were incorrect; The person claimed I wasn’t disclosing my affiliate relationship when there’s a disclaimer at both the top of the review and the footer of the page. He also had a theory that writers.work was using fake testimonial photos, something I quickly disproved when I discovered numerous photos also featured on individual writers’ websites or LinkedIn accounts. If you’re interested, I’ve discussed in detail what happened when all this came up in an article here.
However, my investigations did find that the reader’s primary accusation was correct, which is that the people behind writers.work are the same people who were behind MasterWritingJobs.com.
MasterWritingJobs.com, which is now closed to new members, has a terrible reputation online, with many people describing it as a scam. In the interests of being completely fair, I think it reasonable to point out that many of the bad reviews of the product are found on websites that then go on to try to sell you their own writing course – so this is far from a black and white situation!
However, from what I’ve read about MasterWritingJobs, the company used some really underhand marketing techniques, including implying that people could rapidly earn money writing if they bought the product, regardless of their experience. Now, to me, it should be blatantly obvious to anyone that the world of writing can’t possibly work like that, but marketing a product in this way is preying on people’s gullibility and desperation for work – and that’s not cool.
Unfortunately, Writers.Work seem to be employing similar marketing “tricks” this time around. A HomeWorkingClub reader kindly sent me a link to this Facebook advert:
It’s pretty clever – because it’s not telling any actual lies. BUT there’s an inference that writers with “no experience” can “start in less than 30 minutes” and earn “anywhere from $20-$65 per hour.”
Well, writers could sign up to Writers.Work and start training straight away. And if they proved good at writing, they could start to apply for jobs, and once they got one, it’s quite conceivable that they could earn $20 per hour or more.
But it’s also quite possible that someone could join Writers.Work with neither the writing skills nor drive nor business acumen to ever earn a penny as a home-based writer.
As far as I can see, Writers.Work are doing nothing illegal with how they’re marketing this product. BUT I think it’s inevitable that they are going to profit from some people’s gullibility and, like I say, that’s not cool.
Writers.Work is essentially a job board and toolkit for writers – it’s not a magic spell that’s going to create a career from nowhere.
So, the decision you have to make is whether to buy Writers.Work on its merits, or avoid it because of some questionable marketing messages and a sketchy product the team were previously involved in.
You CAN trust in my integrity on this – because I investigated the situation the second it came to my attention, and have disclosed what I have learned in full here to allow you to make a decision. And I did this with the full awareness that it will inevitably reduce sales!
This section lays out everything I now know on this, and have confirmed with research and (very long) emails back and forth with the founder of Writers.Work. The decision on whether to purchase has to be your own.
Writers Work Review: Conclusion
Even though some of the component parts of Writers Work feel rather shallow, particularly the “goals” feature, it’s impossible to deny that you get an awful lot for less than 50 bucks, which is the current one-off payment for a lifetime membership. The monthly payment option works out more expensive, but gives the option of dipping your toe in the water – and there’s a money-back guarantee too.
Some of the component parts of writers.work are really well thought out; The text editor charmed me when I didn’t expect it to at all, and the job listings are nicely bulked out with the addition of the pitching opportunities.
Oddly, while no individual component of writers.work would necessarily justify its purchase, when everything is put together it creates a rather compelling package – especially for novice writers who will enjoy getting stuck into the training resources. Established writers who already have processes for their work and a portfolio set up elsewhere will find less to get excited about here, but there’s definitely a market for writers.work, and I suspect plenty of people will enjoy using it.
Inevitably, some potential purchasers will want to factor in the overblown promises the creators of Writers.Work made with its previous iteration, especially as they seem to have fallen for the temptation of making similar promises again. Understandably, some people will be put off by these things, which is why I’ve explained them in full in the section above.
At the end of the day, $47 is not a lot to invest in a new freelance career, especially given that this essentially has a freelance writing course built in. With new features being promised and demonstrated, I get the impression that Writers Work could offer more in the months and years to come. However, if you’re going to buy it, you need to know that you’re buying something that will potentially help you to establish a writing career if you have the skills, drive and determination to work at it. The company’s adverts might suggest it’s easier than that – but it’s not.
- Low price
- Great distraction-free text editor with readability functions
- Curated job listings
- A range of places to pitch writing work
- Good training videos
- Slick in operation
The Less Good
- Weak portfolio features so far
- No way to filter older opportunities
- Exclusive job opportunities would be good – everything here is available elsewhere
- Goals feature needs far more options to be worthwhile
- The writers.work team’s previous project leaves a sour taste
- Advertising for this product is uncomfortably misleading
While writers.work may not be something every writer needs, it's a decent bundle for people getting started at a friendly price. However, some people will inevitably be put off by the company's somewhat seedy previous foray into products for writers and their rather exploitative advertising.