I used to be a freelance writer for Scripted.com for nearly two years. Back then, I posted a review on my blog about Scripted; somewhat favorable, with a few pitfalls. I’ve written over 200 articles for their clients, mostly in the travel and software categories. Several years ago I was at the EMP Christmas party in Seattle, and imagine my surprise, when I ran into one of my Scripted clients! Peter is a software company marketer who has ordered over 100 articles in the past year on Scripted.
Unfortunately, his experience with Scripted was worse than mine. He only agreed to provide his first name, Peter, and the fact that he works for an accounting software provider. He said until the account was settled, he didn’t want to go public. We discussed our experiences with Scripted.
It began at the Museum party. We were complimenting each other on our geeky Doctor Who costumes, when he asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I wrote for about 20 different content mills, as well as having an assortment of private clients. When I told him that I wrote software articles, his ears perked up. He asked if I’d be interested in writing privately, as he’d signed up for a content mill last year, and it had been a big disaster.
I asked if it had been Scripted.com and he said it had been. We both compared experiences and discovered we each had a negative experience – me from the point of the freelance writer – him from the point of the client seeking content for a company blog.
He asked for my story first. I told him I’d originally started out in the travel category, until a Scripted editor had repeatedly emailed me asking to apply for the software category, as there were a lack of writers on that end. I was hesitant to do it, as I do not possess an English degree, but only two college certificates in writing, and one in IT. After a while, it was clear they wished to work with me, so I signed up. I received the majority of my work through the software category at Scripted.com. The clients loved my pitches, and my articles. My work would come back from the editor with a minimum of edits, which told me I was on the right track. Imagine my surprise when my queue suddenly dried up, yet other writers told me there was plenty there. I had a rating of 96/100. One of the editors told me that 96 meant that my writing wasn’t good enough to continue receiving the specialty topics.
“How ridiculous,” Peter told me. “You’re a great writer! I never saw any errors on your work.”
What’s worse was that they never paid me for the 17 articles that were complete, but awaiting review. According to their terms, if an article was rejected, they’d still pay you 50%. I continued to work on other articles, and I repeatedly tried emailing support to get payment for the $1200 they owed me. I contacted the BBB and the IRS.
This was after two years of supposedly being such a great writer, and after one year, when they asked me to apply for the software category. Not once did I ever have an email or note from with feedback. Why was my Specialty writing so good for six months, then at another moment not good enough? Not once did I ever receive any feedback on my writing, nor any word that they’d changed the ratings system. Also note that I do not possess an English degree. We’re talking about working for seven or eight hours on an article that paid $40 to $80 at most. It was slavery wages at best. I sincerely doubted anyone with an English degree would even write for that low.
“How ridiculous! Here I am paying for my great articles, while you're being bullied. What a scam!” said the software client.
I agreed. What kind of fly-by-night operation is Scripted.com anyway?
“What kinds of articles did you write, that ultimately ended up being rejected, and you were’t paid for?” he asked me.
I told him how I had written software articles. Ten best accounting software packages. How to find the best software for your small business. A favorable review of the latest cloud accounting software.
“Those were my articles! And I never rejected them! I paid for them!” After a moment of excitement, we realized what a small world it was! After I finished my end of the story, he gave me his.
“Originally we needed about 100 articles for our accounting software blog. The owner of the business gave me the budget. We’d heard about Scripted before. Some comments were favorable, some were not. For some reason he seemed hesitant in placing a note on the blog searching for writers. I signed the contract with Scripted and we were on our way. The first 20-ish articles went well. They were delivered in a timely manner. Any revisions were done within a week. I favourited a writer called “Mel”, who I now realize was you. But for some reason, you suddenly disappeared. They told me you were not available. The other writers were terrible. I gathered you had simply moved on. I started rejecting the articles the new writers wrote. Eventually, I asked for a refund for the unused portion of our account, but Scripted refused. As of now, we’re in limbo, and likely will have to write off $5000 worth of funds for articles never delivered. That’s a lot of cash when you’re a small business.”
I told him it didn’t make much sense to me either, particularly since all my clients had loved my work.
“So, I never received my remaining articles, due to an assortment of issues. No one was grabbing them from the queue. I accepted some of the pitches, and then never heard anything back again. The articles I did receive were poorly written. I was frustrated that I couldn’t work with only Mel, who was a great writer. Instead, I was being directed towards terrible writers. Scripted took all of our money at the beginning, and never delivered what they promised.”
Essentially, Scripted took the client’s money, and did not deliver the last set of articles that he had been promised. Not only that, but they took off with the money, and never paid the writer, who was me.
“It was a terrible experience. Normally we worked through email, but soon they stopped answering my emails. I had to resort to calling the company. Several expensive phone calls later, we decided to write it off,” concluded Peter.
We drowned our sorrows in drink after that.
The January after that, Peter contacted me via email. He asked if I could provide him with a list of articles that I written for him. I sent it off. We both sorted through the list and figured out which ones he had never seen before, and which ones he had seen, but that I had never been paid for.
I told him I was willing to give them to him, but he wouldn’t agree. He sent me payment, for which I was grateful.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you,” he told me. “I can’t believe they treat their writers like slaves. I’d never have dealt with a content mill if I’d known they treat their writers with insensitivity, abruptness, and as slaves.”
I told him it wasn’t his fault, and that the majority of companies I worked with were great. Both of us are still waiting for promises from Scripted.com that have never been delivered. Caveat Emptor. Buyer Beware. Cave Vendit. Seller Beware.
Disclaimer: This happened to me over a decade ago now. But the rules are still the same: Be extremely careful before signing up for an online content mill, and be wary when giving any sort of personal or financial information!