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Brafton Employee Reviews about "writers"

Updated Oct 25, 2021

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Found 60 of over 287 reviews

4.2
92%
Recommend to a Friend
98%
Approve of CEO
Brafton President Tom Agnew
Tom Agnew
48 Ratings

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Top Review Highlights by Sentiment

Pros
Cons
  • "level management just give him a slap on the wrist?(in 19 reviews)
  • "Pay is low.(in 18 reviews)
  • "The upper management could care less how the writers feel.(in 16 reviews)
  • "Low salary.(in 13 reviews)
  • "In my experience, there were some problems with account management (CMS team), which usually included certain account managers making promises to clients without checking with the people who would actually be doing the work to see if those deadlines were even possible.(in 9 reviews)
Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

Reviews about "writers"

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  1. 1.0
    Current Employee, more than 1 year

    No respect for their employees - treat yourself nicely and go elsewhere!

    Mar 31, 2014 - News and Content Writer in Chicago, IL
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    free fruit? can work in your pajamas sometimes?

    Cons

    There are too many to list, but let's be clear: This isn't a bunch of lazy Millennials complaining. This is actually an exploitative company where writers do the bulk of the work and are treated like sh*t. Have some self respect and don't bother, this place blows and isn't worth your stress.

    6 people found this review helpful
  2. 1.0
    Former Employee

    Writers: Just walk away

    May 27, 2015 - Editorial in Chicago, IL
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    *The standard pros of any office job, including on-time pay and health benefits. *Experience writing a streaming flow of extremely high volumes of content: While a con at heart, the high volume of work demanded taught me how to dole out below-average content at a ridiculous rate, which can be useful in some situations. *A strong bond among writers who feel similarly cheated by the company: I've met some truly talented writers and kind humans who I continue to hang with even after leaving. *The option to work from home two days per week: This becomes less of perk depending on who your section editor is - one is extremely strict about it and makes employees feel guilty about working from home, though she does it herself, often without notice.

    Cons

    *Miserable pay, even for an entry-level writing position (which, arguably, it is not): The amount that writers get paid is shamefully low compared to how much the company makes off of our work. The starting salary is now 30,000, actually a vast improvement from the despicable 26,000 it was just two years ago. In a suburb or small city, this might be acceptable (probably not, though), but in Chicago, it's insane. *Long hours: This is a 9-5 job, but those who don't arrive by 8 or stay until 6 will not come close to meeting their monthly volume - which is at minimum 80,000 words of standard content per month, or 4,000 per day for the very lowest-level writer. The volume only goes up from there the longer you write for the company, without appropriate pay raises. (The company is finally starting to ease the volume on writers with premium content, but unfortunately premium is a massive rip-off for the client, as it is merely the addition of pull quotes and in-line images). *Meeting are essentially unpaid: The position does not account for the large number of meetings (sometimes I would spend half my day in meetings, requiring me to work longer to make up for the lost time I should have been writing). This is another huge reason writers end up working on weekends or late into the night after the janitors have shown up (the janitors are very nice, though). *Poor treatment: Writers are regarded as the least important factor in the marketing process and our pay and everyday treatment reflects that. The CEO once even said during a small meeting of writers in the Chicago office that writers are becoming largely obsolete in marketing - that video and graphics get more resources and pay for this reason, and that the company should actually be laying off writers. Fortunately, this scare tactic did not work and a flood of writers are making their way out Brafton's doors. Additionally, while writers receive the lowest pay, they tend to be the one who take the blame when something goes wrong. This becomes a consistent issue when the sales people are encouraged to upsell at all costs (including building up expectations that can't be met). When editorial can't deliver, the writer is the one who gets a slap on the wrist. *Little chance of getting a raise: If you ask for a raise, you will sit in front of two or three levels of management as they question anything from your skills as a writer to your professionalism to your relationship with your section editor. Working harder does not get you a raise - for those who hold this job, don't bother putting in extra effort, because any mistake you have made in the past or any moth you didn't hit your exorbitant volume will cancel it out. *A very unhealthy relationship between editorial and sales/content marketing strategists: As mentioned, the writers are paid very poorly, whereas the sales and content marketing strategists receive the highest pay as well as the recognition when a client is happy. This has created not very negative feelings toward CMS/sales, but it has given the team of CMSs a huge complex (not to their fault). This makes everyday work difficult, since writers must speak with them on a daily basis. This is not true of all the CMSs, and some are quite nice to writers, one even bought a round of drinks during happy hour once - a sort of unspoken thanks for our work and recognition of the rift.

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    8 people found this review helpful
  3. 2.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    A chance for young writers to gain some experience

    Jul 14, 2016 - Content Writer in Auckland, Auckland
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    The editorial team are generally young, nice, fun people. You'll write a large volume of content, giving young writers the chance to build up experience and a portfolio - the quality of that portfolio may not be particularly high, however Nice, central location in Auckland, if that matters to you There are some very talented writers in there and you could learn a lot from them. Unfortunately they don't often get to show off their writing skills. There is decent variety among the client base, so you'll get to write about a nice range of topics.

    Cons

    As has been said already, Castleford is a content farm where quantity trumps quality every single time. Writers are given ridiculously high targets which make it impossible to create original, well-written pieces of work. The focus here is unashamedly on writing for SEO - engaging writing doesn't even take a back seat, it wasn't even allowed in the car in the first place. Whether anyone actually reads your content, or would even want to read your content, is of little consequence. What matters is that you repeatedly hit what's usually a narrow set of poorly thought out keywords in your articles. They also specialise in creating 'landing pages' for client websites that are often so poorly designed the landing pages are impossible to find, even for someone actively looking for them. That's fine if your a young writer looking to gain experience - and the ability to write at volume and speed is certainly a worthy skill. Just be aware that working here will do little to develop any real creative flair or writing ability. It's the writing equivalent of colouring by numbers. Additionally, the pay levels are unfairly low given the huge workload expected of writers, while the constant pressure to churn out upwards of 3,500 words a day means that often the only sound to be heard is the frantic hammering of 25 keyboards. Most people take lunch at their desk. Office atmosphere is more a concept than a reality.

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    6 people found this review helpful

    Brafton Response

    Director

    Thank you for taking the time to post your review. As one of Castleford's founders it's obviously disappointing that you had a negative experience working for us. I wanted to post a quick response because your point about 300-word blog posts relates directly to some product work I've been involved in recently. We started phasing out 300-word blogs in 2014 and our starting point with new and existing customers has been longer-form features for some time now, which means lower word counts and fewer unique items for our writers. We're expecting the market to keep going in that direction with more investment going into fewer pieces of content. Average daily word count across the department is now closing on 2,000 words. That should keep on falling as the editorial content we produce continues to evolve. Thank you again for your review and for the work you did while you were at Castleford. I hope you're enjoying whatever you're doing now. Best wishes Adam

  4. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 3 years

    Good for building your resume and fine-tuning time management skills

    Oct 27, 2016 - Senior Writer in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Ability to work from home and even work at freelance capacity if you want to move across the country is nice. Even if you want to stay full-time, they have offices all over the world - plenty of opportunities. Employee base skews young, easy to make friends (or at least drinking buddies) Given the volume and deadlines, you actually do need to learn really effective time management skills or else you'll be overwhelmed. Helpful for managing work in future positions, it's hard to find a workload tougher and less rewarding than what you do at Brafton. Overall, I think Brafton gets a bit too much flak for things like low pay, long hours, tight deadlines and intense workloads. Since I've moved on to other jobs in both freelance and full-time capacities, I've learned many marketing agencies, newsrooms, etc. have similar expectations for entry-level positions. That said, a lot of the complaints are very valid...

    Cons

    Pay is not good, especially for how much you have to write and it doesn't scale at all with tenure. Like it's not unlivable, but it's just not good, especially with expenses like rent on the rise. Also, management tries to frame writer salaries as being fair by comparing to journalism rates, even though you're writing promotional copy, not journalism. Lack of diverse career paths, which was the killer for me. Brafton has plenty of growth options given the turnover rate - but only if you want to be a manager. Not everyone wants to be a manager, some people enjoy writing and editing. But past senior writer (which has a salary of ~$33,000), there is no way to advance any further down that path. No way to become some sort of specialist, dealing with tricky clients or subject matter. It's management or bust. I now do great campaign work at a publicly traded company making nearly double what Brafton paid me. I know some of my former colleagues have similar stories (one, for example, went on to work for the NFL). Brafton is bleeding a ton of talent because of their perception that all writing/production is an entry-level job Management is clueless and often horribly underqualified because of the above. They hire from within for most middle management jobs like section leads, which is usually a good thing. But in this case, Brafton basically winds up promoting writers with no actual leadership or management skills, simply because anyone actually applying for the job with the right qualifications would balk at the salary. A great writer won't be a great manager, but that's basically what Brafton hopes for. There is zero unity between the different departments and the company as whole. Salespeople promise the world to clients, so editorial/product struggle to meet expectations and then account management has to deal with pissy clients. And then there is the whole pay issue - account managers make double what writers make or even more through bonuses if their clients are happy and upgrade services. Meanwhile, there is no incentive for writers to improve quality, they get the same $30K regardless, so you have clashes between AMs and editorial due to poorly designed incentives. I don't think Brafton is awful, like many people suggest. It's poorly managed and very low-brow work, but for an entry-level job, it's not terrible. That said, don't make the same mistake I did - work there for a year, get the experience and start looking for a new job immediately. Brafton has a bad rep with employers as a content mill, so being there too long may actually hurt your employment options because many know you're not producing thoughtful, meaningful work.

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    4 people found this review helpful
  5. 1.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Long hours, low pay, not a good place for writers

    Jun 6, 2013 - News & Content Writer in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    The other writers are good people and most of them are very smart (though they would rather be doing something else.)

    Cons

    The writers at Brafton are expected to write 20 articles per day, without exception. This means that many people work well beyond 40 hrs a week, till 8pm and on weekends just to finish. The office environment is very quiet, with all the writers stressing out and almost no interaction. There is no lunch room, most people eat at their desks. The salary for entry level writers hasnt gone up in 3 years (it's still around $28,500). These are just facts about the company. The whole business model of the company relies on having writers crank out short but still high quality articles at a rapid pace. It's a lot of time in front of a computer screen rewriting news stories and press releases silently. It's not where a lot of people had hoped to be. It certainly wasnt where I had wanted to be.

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    2 people found this review helpful
  6. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Know what to expect

    Apr 6, 2016 - News & Content Writer in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    - Agency/writing experience to put on your resume. - Endless writing samples to choose from when applying for other jobs. - Flexibility to work from home.

    Cons

    -Salary so low it borders on insulting -No advancement opportunities for writers who don't want to become 'content managers' -Strategists receive bonuses for retaining clients, while creative departments - who do 80% of the work - are left hanging. Strategists also receive competitive salaries, which is unheard of for creative departments. If you're thinking about working at Brafton, here's my advice: know what you're getting into. Yes, it's a writing job, and, yes, it will help you refine skills and gain experience. However, it can be a very toxic environment to enter into if you don't manage your expectations. First, Brafton doesn't offer a great company culture. This issue improved significantly throughout my time there, and will hopefully continue to evolve. However, people who have worked at the company for years tend to be somewhat cliquey. Work is largely independent as well, which means you spend most of your days looking at a screen instead of getting to know your colleagues. Next, salaries are insultingly low. My genuine advice is to only accept this position if you're living with your parents, have parents who are willing to support you, or if you're willing to bartend a few nights per week. Otherwise, you'll find yourself living paycheck to paycheck with no wiggle room for savings. Even without a car and student loan payments to worry about, I still found myself leaning hard into my credit card between pay periods. Brafton also devalues writing by charging clients SO little for copious amounts of content (and by paying writers even less). Plenty of people I worked with had no problem contributing articles for free to outside publications, which strikes me as depressing - nobody should ever work for free. Brafton makes creative, intelligent people depreciate their own work, because that's the mindset of its management team. Despite being trusted with sensitive accounts, I rarely heard 'good work' - there's an intense focus on the negative at Brafton. Most of the time, the only recognition you'll receive comes when you mess up. The positive feedback I received was sporadic at best, and usually came secondhand via forwarded email that found me days - or weeks - after a client or strategist praised my contributions. I'm not the type of person who needs to get a trophy just for showing up, but when you're killing yourself to write 3,000 words per day and juggle numerous high-profile clients, you expect at least a pat on the back.

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    5 people found this review helpful
  7. 1.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    Content producer

    May 25, 2015 - Content Writer in Auckland, Auckland
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    The writers at Castleford are nice and generally young so they're fun to hang out with in what little free time you'll get. You'll get a crash-course introduction to content marketing. Daily stretch time is nice.

    Cons

    I had a bad feeling when I went in to Castleford on the first day and heard not a single word spoken conversationally between any of the 20 writers. Only the frantic tapping of fingers on keyboards. Castleford is a content farm with very little regard for the quality of the work they produce or the mental well-being of the writers. The workload is unreal at roughly 4000 words of content a day (waaay beyond any comparable agency in the industry). Consequently this means quality is usually appalling as writers repurpose other content from the web in an effort to meet the obscene weekly quotas. This translates into being able to take zero pride in your work. Salaries are low, and opportunities for "promotion" really only equate to increasing your workload by 10% for a 5% raise. That's not a promotion. Burnout is frequent (there's a reason they always have hiring ads up), and unpaid overtime is essentially mandatory to make quotas.

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    2 people found this review helpful
  8. 1.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Senior Writer

    Sep 6, 2017 - Senior Writer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    A job that allows a writer to gain business writing experience.

    Cons

    A factory environment. Not conducive to quality content production. It's pretty much a sweat house environment for writers and the pay scale is very low.

    Continue reading
    3 people found this review helpful
  9. 4.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Opportunities for the taking

    Sep 2, 2016 - Content Writer in Auckland, Auckland
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Castleford has great people. That's undoubtedly one of the best aspects of working there. The office is small enough to know everyone and feel comfortable walking around, stopping by to discuss projects, or grabbing a buddy for a coffee run. People hang out after work on Fridays and even organize weekend excursions together. The work itself is demanding, but it can be incredibly rewarding if you take advantage of opportunities to learn about an incredibly vast range of industries and to push the boundaries on your writing and content ideas. I loved interviewing fascinating, talented people - often the leaders in their industries - and hearing them talk about what they're passionate about. I learned so much about things I didn't know existed, and became genuinely excited about writing great content for these companies. The editorial manager created a very pleasant working environment, with "company stretch time" and one-on-one mentorship. I felt like she was always willing to listen to concerns and ideas, and was genuinely concerned about helping my professional development. The director also had more personal involvement with employees than in any place I'd worked before; he arranged meetings to discuss strategies, strengths, and weaknesses, and was involved in monthly "media law" sessions with small groups. The changes to editorial team structure were, in my mind, one of the most positive differences compared to previous working experiences I've had. By bringing the content strategists to the same table as the writers for those clients, we were able to work better as a team, get instant answers to questions, brainstorm collectively, and have a stronger voice to ensure clients weren't promised what writers couldn't deliver. As a "foreigner," Castleford was also my ticket into an amazing year-long adventure in the most stunning country that is New Zealand. Kiwis are some of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I've met, and the landscape can only be described as breathtaking. Because there are a number of ex-pats in the company, there's a great support network for excursions and advice about where to go and how to do it. In sum: - Work environment - Community/ colleagues - Challenge and room for growth/ learning - Managers who will listen to ideas and concerns - Location!!!

    Cons

    Although the volume has decreased over the past few years, the workload is still very demanding - especially since there's an increasing focus on quality, voice, thought leadership, image selection, etc - and I would echo concerns about sick/ vacation days only causing more work when you return. Sometimes, clients would have unrealistic expectations and were promised things beyond the scope of our business model and expertise. This caused significant stress and pressure on content strategists and writers. Sometimes, the amount of time it took to do something well was not recognized in the monthly quota system. In sum: - High volume - fine for fast writers, but some will struggle - Frustrations from clients - often a result of poor communication/ unrealistic expectations

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    1 person found this review helpful
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