I have been working at Scribendi part-time (More than 3 years)
Flexibility. Large variety of work. Excellent in-house staff and management who treat their remote editors with the respect and the attention they need.
You must be fast to earn a decent income. Unfortunately, many of the documents that you begin with barely past muster and require very careful attention and substantive edits. Until you reach a certain rating and/or average QA score, you'll be stuck with ESL and technical documents regardless of your credentials or background.
Advice to Management
Allow editors who specialize in creative writing to edit creative writing documents. Restricting them to ESL/technical documents because of a couple poor quality assurance checks in fields that they are not experts in is counter intuitive.
I have been working at Scribendi full-time (More than a year)
There is plenty of work available, and you can choose the projects you like. The board may be a little lean during the summer and at other academic down-times, but I've been able to earn a modest and steady living. They provide tools to enhance your productivity, as well as a knowledge base to help you answer many basic questions as you edit.
The company does not support their editors. When clients complain, the order is reviewed by their full-time staff. No matter how high your score, no matter how well they esteem your editing, no matter how petty the client's complaints are (including that the client just didn't like a change you made, which they could just choose not to accept in their own revisions), the client is offered a redo or a refund. Frequently, the client requests a different editor for this. Again, no matter how high your review score or what praise was given to your work by the senior editors, if this request is made it will be granted, and you can lose your pay (and your time) for that order. Unfortunately, because all remote editors are contract workers, this is legit, and you have no recourse.
I understand that keeping clients happy is how they stay in business--it's part of how all companies stay in business. But there appears to be no point at which the company will stand by the work of their editors, and no point at which the client stops being right--no matter how petty, foolish, or unreasonable they are being in their requests and complaints. The worst part is that clients have figured this out, and they appear to know that complaining enough can get them free services.
Clients are not expected to take any measure of responsibility for their own work. You will see some truly abysmal writing in this job, and there appears to be no limit to the expectations placed on you to turn it into something worthy of highest regard (no matter how poorly conceived, constructed, and written it is when it comes to you). At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do without extensively researching and rewriting concepts from scratch (a no-no at Scribendi, and rightly so as that is not editing), but clients expect things to come back to them with no further review or writing necessary on their part, regardless of how dirt-poor the original was. In fact, client complaints often fall under the category of "I don't want to keep this change that the editor made," and rather than simply rejecting that change in the review process (a simple click of a button), they complain and demand a redo or a refund.
In short, do not expect clients to be reasonable and do not expect Scribendi to EVER take your side, even when they deem your work "excellent" or a client's complaints invalid.
Advice to Management
There needs to be some balance between satisfying customers and supporting your staff. Refusing to ever stand up for the work your editors perform is not only a disservice to them, but it is a disservice to you. Deeming an editor's work as well-done privately and then publicly demanding that they redo it is not only duplicitous, but it shows that you have no faith in your workers. If you really believe that you are a premium service that hires premium people, then there needs to be a point at which you balance the needs of the customer with confidence in your employees. The poolside snack stand at which I worked as a teenager was more willing to stand up for its employees, and that job required no education, experience, or real training. If your extensive hiring process and training courses cannot produce employees that you are proud of, then you need to become more stringent. If you're satisfied with the employees that your system produces, then you must, at some point, occasionally, take their side.
This is a work-from-home position that provides a lot of flexibility. Scribendi provides extensive (but essentially unpaid) training that covers grammar, editing, proofreading, and more. Remote editors have the ability to choose their assignments, and there are typically quite a few assignments available.
The pay is project-based and is usually absurdly low. Most projects are from ESL writers, and many take a very long time to complete. I tend to earn between $15-20/hour, but more difficult projects reduce that rate. Scribendi offers "karma," which is basically a $0.05-$1 boost to assignments that aren't getting picked up. Woohoo, an extra five cents?! It's insulting.
Advice to Management
Please consider paid training. The time commitment greatly exceeds the karma that is issued. Please also consider increasing karma values.
This is a decent remote option, but prepare to be hounded and to edit ridiculously bad ESL papers. The pay is less than my current job. The module for training and picking up work is decent, but you will be expected to take their test and go through their extensive and condescending training (full of bizarre photos of cats) with no pay.
The team, at first, seems like they are willing to work with you, but they're not. They're all about money, and if you don't earn repeat business for them, you will be fired.
Advice to Management
Beware of Scribendi!! They don't just expect you to edit papers (which is what they claim to be). You will actually be in a job in which you are expected to teach non-English speakers about their paper and about the use of proper grammar, and if you aren't a teacher/coach, you won't make it. If I wanted to be a teacher, I'd be a teacher! However, I am an editor who thought I was signing on for an editing job. My editing skills are exceptional, and I've never had any problems or dissatisfaction from ANY of my clients except for Scribendi in my 15 years of editing. Their rating system is ludicrous; if a client who is basically a non-English speaker doesn't like your revisions (that they probably don't understand anyway), they can give you a low rating, and Scribendi will dock you without reviewing your side of the story. Instead of giving cash bonuses to incentivize, they give out stupid "karma" points that you can exchange for gift cards. Totally wasted my time working here. They do not care about their editors at all. I was let go via an email...no warning, no phone call, no severance, no time to line up other work to replace lost income. This company sucks.
Yes, editors can work when they want, but the writing they must edit is so terrible and the pay so little, that the freedom is not worth it.
Thanks to Scribendi, hundreds of students who can barely write a sentence are getting advanced degrees because they have their papers rewritten by Scribendi editors. You can make a living wage if you can work 8-10 straight hours every day and, thus, do one-day turnaround jobs. But I am a caregiver, so I could not take any jobs that had to be returned in fewer than 5 days. As a result, the most I ever made for an edit was $8/hour, but I averaged $5/hour. For one two-page document that took me 30 minutes to edit, I made $3.25.
I was a teacher, so I liked to explain why an edit was necessary. In one of my Quality Assurance checks, I had points taken away for this and was told, "Don't explain how to fix it, just fix it." So the writer, in other words, learns nothing.
Many editors obviously pander for positive feedback, which is just sad.
Advice to Management
You say you won't rewrite students papers, but that's exactly what your editors must do. Also, have someone edit your Quad articles as they don't adhere to the very grammar rules you insist your editors must follow.
I like being able to pick up as much or as little work as I want. Editors have access to a board of jobs that they can view and accept if they so choose. I also like how I can work from home and take a week off if I have other commitments in real life or at my other jobs.
The pay rate is based partially on the turnaround time of the jobs and partially on the number of words contained in the document. Sometimes I can pick up a job that pays 2 or even 3 cents a word, but those are getting harder and harder to find. I have been with Scribendi for the last three years, and I have found myself looking for other jobs to supplement my income because I can no longer depend on making what I used to each month.
The pay is low. Most of the jobs are ESL writers so they take much longer than expected, especially if they are highly technical. I average about 1 cent per word here. That is a terrible rate. Scribendi also has a policy where editors must do 10,000 words each calendar month to remain active. If you don't, your account is deactivated.
For the past six months or so, there has been little work available. With so many remote editors looking for jobs, you have to get online at all hours of the night to find a $10 order and hope that it isn't due in 6 hours. I also feel that the customer service department is more likely to side with the clients instead of the editors if the clients have questions or complaints. It's a difficult situation when your client doesn't speak English as his or her first language yet the quality of your editing is questioned and Scribendi forces you to redo the order (or not get paid at all) without even allowing you to address the client's concerns. I do not feel like a valued employee here; I feel like a number who can be easily replaced. The worst part is that Scribendi keeps about 50% of what they charge the client, so if I get $100 for an order, Scribendi also gets that amount. That is a large commission.
The turnaround times on orders are too short. I usually feel as though if I just had another hour, I could do a much better job. Scribendi allows customers to choose 8-hour, 12-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour or 1- or 2-week turnaround times, but the editors have a deadline that is shorter than that. For example, an 8-hour order shows up as only 6 hours remaining as soon as it's posted. While this is a great policy for client satisfaction because clients feel as though they get their work back early, it's terrible for editors who already are working second or third jobs or have family responsibilities. I have to pass up many orders because I know I won't have time to do them adequately because the deadline is too soon. I think Scribendi could avoid a lot of complaints by rewarding editors who turn things in early but not rushing the jobs across the board and trading quality for saving a few hours.
I started in October of 2014, editing remotely. I've been impressed with Scribendi's professionalism from the beginning - everything is well organized and I've learned a tremendous amount through working here. Feedback from both clients and internal review comes frequently, and they keep you on your toes. I could see that if you were not a top-notch editor, things could go downhill for you quickly, but it seems that they are quite rigorous in their hiring practices to get good editors in the first place. The pay is good - it depends on how rough the English is on the assignments you get - but you have 20 minutes to decline an order if it seems like it will not be worth the effort. Overall I'm averaging about $20/hour, although the first month was a little below that.
None that I can think of.
As a former in-house employee turned remote editor, I can now say that I understand both sides of the Scribendi coin. The main perk of working in-house was that it gave me a unique opportunity that truly was not available anywhere else in the region. Editing tends to be a very city-centric profession, so finding a job like this in Chatham, ON really felt like a stroke of luck. If I hadn’t been hired at Scribendi, I likely never would have gained the experience I needed to pursue a career in copyediting. Scribendi is an excellent place for young and ambitious people to start out after finishing school.
The benefits of working remotely are quite different. The biggest one would be that remote editors are not obligated to complete any orders they are not interested in doing. If you don’t want to commit to a job that will take up a lot of your time, Scribendi may be a good option for you. I find that working as a remote editor to supplement the income from my full-time job really works well for me. Scribendi takes a lot of the stress out of freelance work, as the Customer Service team handles all communication with clients. You never have to worry about negotiating for your paycheque, either. You can totally rely on Scribendi to send you what you have earned on time each month. (And the pay is in USD, which can definitely be a perk!)
Scribendi’s management team is also obsessed with doing things right. As an ISO-certified company, Scribendi has strict processes that it must follow in everything it does. As a former in-houser and as a remote, I have to say that I really appreciate working somewhere where corners are never cut. The quality assurance system, which some other reviewers have complained about, is NOT stacked against editors. In fact, editors are always given a chance to redo or revise any work that has not passed a quality assurance check. Honestly, Scribendi is not some giant corporation out to steal money from the pockets of its editors. It’s a very small group of people in an office in small-town Ontario who work very, very hard to do things right.
There are some cons as well, unfortunately. As an in-house employee, the main cons were the very unusual (and relatively inflexible) schedule and the stress of busy season. Unfortunately, Scribendi is a bit of revolving door when it comes to in-house staff, which can have an impact on the workplace culture at times.
There are a few cons specific to remote editors as well. Depending on where you live, you may find it very difficult to make enough money to support yourself without working 10-hour+ days on a regular basis. There are also times when no work is available at all, and this is very stressful for people relying on Scribendi to pay their bills. Pay is also distributed once per month, which could be difficult for budgeting purposes.
As some other reviewers have noted, a lot of the work Scribendi receives is in really terrible shape. ESL writers from all around the world use the company’s editing services to help them get through their educations, and I can definitely see how some editors are not down for helping people with such poor English skills receive degrees they may not be ready to earn yet. Moral ambiguity aside, the biggest problem with these orders is that they often do not pay enough to be worth an editor’s time. Scribendi’s pricing is based on two factors: word count and turnaround time. The larger the word count, the more an order costs, while the longer the turnaround time, the less expensive the service. This model has its flaws. Scribendi generally expects its editors to work at a rate of 1,000 words per hour. For ESL orders that essentially need to be re-written, this is not a realistic expectation. A 10,000-word dissertation is two days’ worth of work, not one, but to take the time needed to complete such an order, an editor may end up only making about $10 an hour. In other words, the most difficult orders often pay the least.
As someone who only works remotely for supplemental income, this is not a huge problem. I simply don’t pick up the orders that aren’t worth my time. However, for those relying on their Scribendi income to pay their bills, these orders are sometimes the only options. Completing orders like this can definitely make one feel undervalued—or it can lead one to complete subpar work. This also caused me considerable stress when I worked in-house, as the bulk of these orders end up falling on in-house employees, who are paid an hourly rate and who are put under a great amount of pressure during dissertation season to get everything done in very little time. In short, Scribendi sometimes expects too much of its employees, both in-house and remote.
Many other reviewers have mentioned the QA system as a con, but I have to disagree. While there may be a bit of learning curve for new editors, ultimately, those who are able to adapt and learn what is expected of them always figure out what it takes to pass a QA. And, as I mentioned before, there is always an opportunity to make up for any mistakes you may have made the first time around. Sometimes I think it’s hard for editors to admit that they are humans who make mistakes, but ranting on Glassdoor certainly isn’t the way to deal with that.
Advice to Management
Consider adjusting the pricing on longer orders by readjusting the Scribendi-to-editor income ratio for dissertations. Reduce the buffer period on long turnaround orders to give editors more time to work on these documents. In short, work to take some of the strain off both the remote editors and in-house staff during busy season. Show your in-house employees that they are valued by providing greater flexibility and opportunity for growth.
I have been working at Scribendi (More than 3 years)
I've been a Scribendi remote editor for three years. This situation is what I have been looking for all my life; I don't handle an office very well or do well in a job where you deal with people all day. So that's a plus right there. I can take a break and walk around the block any time I want. I can make muffins on my "coffee break" and eat lunch on my 28th-floor balcony. I can decide, "It's too nice outside" and take the rest of the day off and meet a friend at a park.
Another pro is the fact that I do not have to pick up any editing project that doesn't interest me or that I think is beyond my knowledge or ability; I choose only the projects I want.
In just three years, I have learned an immense amount. Regarding my editing skills themselves, I've expanded my knowledge of academic styles and my knowledge of English grammar and editing guidelines in general. When I started, I wouldn't have dared pick up an electrical engineering paper written by Japanese engineers or a study about post-stroke treatments by Korean doctors. But I can do them now, and I've gotten very good at recognizing terminology and knowing when it's either incorrect or being used the wrong way.
As I mentioned to a friend today, one day I might be editing a report commissioned by the European Union, and the next day I'm editing lecture notes on the major Greek philosophers--translated into English from Korean. I've edited a wonderful novel that was a multigenerational saga of a family in the American South. I have been educated, through several papers by the same professor, on the phenomenon of "slum tourism" in Egypt. I've learned a great deal about the pulp and paper industry in Finland and about the pioneering work of the teaching profession in Norway. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.
I have found everyone I have had contact with at Scribendi to be extremely helpful. The senior editors have agonized with me over odd formats, weird terminology, and strange editing requests. The customer service people have bent over backwards to be as helpful as they can. And when I haven't entirely agreed with a QA experience, the editors have been willing to listen and discuss their interpretations with me. (And yes, sometimes I still disagree after they've explained their views. But I don't mind shrugging and just thinking, "I'd be letting this go if it were the 'house style' in a company I was working for. This is really no different.")
And the claim that the system is "rigged against the editor" and that the company always sides with a complaining client? Not so. I have had a few clients actually give me a zero rating, kicking off an automatic QA, and in those cases, the Scribendi editors told the client that no, I had edited correctly and there was no basis for the complaint. Only once did I have to redo the edit, and when the errors were explained to me, I sheepishly redid the edit, because they were right. Only once in three years have I had a complaining client who resulted in a docking of the pay for that edit.
Of course there are always some cons, even with a job you love. Some have mentioned compensation, and yes, that would be my only fret. Sometimes you do more work than you feel you have been paid for. For example, since we are paid by the word, I would be paid the same amount for a 5000-word ESL paper written by someone with beautiful, grammatically correct English as I would for someone who couldn't put a five-word grammatically correct English sentence together to save his/her life, not to mention a whole paper. One paper might take three hours, and the other one might take eleven, and the pay is the same. I honestly don't know how something like that can be gotten around, though. (But I come back to one of my early pros: I take only the projects I want. Or if projects are getting a bit thin and I HAVE to take one of the less great ESL ones to make money one day -- it only happens sometimes. I can live with that.)
I also think that in a world where writers are now being told to churn out 500-word articles for five bucks, and almost nobody is hiring good writers and paying what they're really worth--the same way many companies think paying good money for an editor's good work is unnecessary--there's a fine balance between wanting to pay editors well and driving away potential clients so there's no work for ANY editor. When I began to work for Scribendi, I was actually quite surprised that the clients were willing to pay as much as they were; I had had some experience with places that expected their editors to work for pennies (but do stellar work or else!) so potential clients could pay as little as possible.
So that's the only con, really, and I'm honestly not sure how far Scribendi might be able to go to make clients pay more without reducing the number of clients--and reducing how many editors can even work for the company as a result. I've seen them make several efforts in that direction, even in just the three years I've been there, so obviously I hope they succeed beyond their wildest dreams, because yeah--I'd breathe a bit more easily too. I admit that I've welcomed the collapse of the Canadian dollar, just so the pay--in American dollars--stretches way farther for me now than it did a year or so ago. :-)
Advice to Management
I would like to see editors who can also write (and have done so professionally in the past) have the opportunity to do writing projects as well, for Inklyo, the sister company.
I have been working at Scribendi (More than a year)
Scribendi is an editing service that works like this: there's a pool of available orders, each one with a fixed price and deadline. Pros:
- You know what you are going to get paid up front. If you look at an order and it's absolutely terrible and not worth the money, you don't have to take it. You can select assignments that need a reasonable level of editing based on the dollar amount assigned to the order.
- There are absolutely no hours. The only requirement is that you edit 10,000 words per month, which can easily be done in a day. Other than that, you can work however much and whenever you want.
- The pay can be hit or miss depending on the type of writing (they categorize with things like 'ESL Editing,' 'Personal Editing,' etc., which each receive different levels of pay). Many assignment simply aren't worth it, because they'd need a certain number of hours that would even out to about $10 per hour. My understanding is that Scribendi takes 50% of what they charge clients.
- They have a strange 'bonus' system called 'karma points.' You earn and can have points docked based on things like picking up a late order or holding an order too long. When points are added to an order that's late or particularly difficult, the value is nominal ($5-10). In other words, they don't equate to real incentive...instead, the company should just significantly increase the pay for orders that are very difficult or need to be rushed. (Also, you can only redeem the points for a gift card to an online retailer, not cash. I don't want to be paid in gift cards.)
- I read a recent review here in which a person stated that she frequently edits for 'celebrities and the world's most interesting people.' Perhaps she's just much luckier than me, but more often than not, the board is filled with ESL university essays, which aren't exactly a joy to edit. I have occasionally come across an interesting journal article, but this is the exception and not the rule.
- Sometimes there is a ton of work, and sometimes there is almost none. In the fall, almost any time you log in, there will be a plethora of assignments to choose from. Other times, like in the late winter, you can sign on to find little or no work for weeks at a time. I don't see how anyone could make this their full-time job...in my opinion, it could really only work as extra side income.
- Now here is the absolute worst thing about Scribendi, and the reason I do not wish to work for them any longer. They have a 'complaint' system that works like this: (1) a customer complains about the editing job s/he received, (2) Scribendi does a 'QA check,' (3) if the complaint is deemed 'valid' based on the QA check, the customer is offered two choices: a second pass at their work or a refund, (4) you either have to re-do the assignment for no additional pay or, if the client wants a refund, THE PAY FOR THE ASSIGNMENT YOU ALREADY COMPLETED IS TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. I could understand this policy if editors were rushing through assignments and turning them in riddled with mistakes and poorly edited, but this is not the case. The QA check is completely arbitrary--you are docked points for things like 'word choice errors.' It's supposed to be that if you receive less than an 80, the complaint is valid, and the client can either have a redo or refund. If you receive an 80 or above, *technically* the complaint is considered invalid and you do not have to worry about anything. HOWEVER, I have had complaints on assignments, received OVER AN 80, and then STILL been told that the client wanted a refund and was granted it, so I would not receive pay for that assignment. It's clear that whomever is completing the QA checks is instructed to almost always side with the client, even if the document was editing extremely well and contains very few errors (like one or two missed spelling errors). This system is CLEARLY being abused by clients who have orders edited (and edited well), then complain to receive a refund and thus have the work done for free. Multiple times I have had clients request a refund on work that I received a high score on and was literally told I did 'a good job' editing, to then have my pay taken away. It's unfair and unethical, and it simply makes working for Scribendi not worth it. If you can spend HOURS on an assignment to then have the pay for it taken away because a client wants free editing services or a student didn't receive an 'A' on his/her assignment...it's just not worth it. You want to take high-paying orders to earn more money, but what's the point if that pay could potentially be taken away from you? Could you imagine someone returning a dress they didn't like, then the person going to whomever sewed that dress and saying 'Someone who bought this didn't like it, so we're not going to pay you for the time you spent making it.'...?
Advice to Management
The QA/refund/redo system is a joke. It's being abused by customers, and the QA check itself is unfair and rigged to almost always give clients redos or refunds. It's simply unfair and unethical.
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