Freelancers, I think you’d agree with me that, no matter how busy we get, it’s necessary to consistently research gigs just to keep the ship sailing, so to speak. I came across METRO while researching job opportunities for my Fabulous Freelancer Friday posts. While there are those businesses that regularly advertise for freelance writers and editors, many are brief at best. METRO’s advertisement stood out to me because of its exceptionally thorough description, so I decided to give it a try myself.
What to (initially) know about METRO – yay, that rhymes!
CBS, on its own, is familiar to those of you in the United States as being a television network – but CBS Corporation is far bigger than just that, with interests in other areas such as websites, through their CBS Interactive division.
Websites need content, so it only makes sense that CBS Interactive has a further division, CNET Content Solutions, which brings us to the platform it powers, METRO, established in the beginning of 2018. In a nutshell, the METRO, still in a beta phase of sorts as of this writing, provides retail content, and they hire freelance writers and editors to achieve those purposes.
Note the little hiccups, for they can result in confusion.
I tend to be overly analytical/nitpicky about these sorts of opportunities, so please bear that in mind when reading this METRO review. After all, they’re still getting started, it’s to be understood that all shall not be perfect – heck, it won’t be even if/when they become more solidified. Yet, almost a year into their creation, I still do think certain things should have been correct from the get-go.
I felt like the dashboard had too many tabs to click around in between available projects and assessments. Although writing and editing are the two main categories in here, there’s also the occasional categorization/tagging task – these get snapped up quickly, though, by those who don’t score highly enough on the first comprehension assessment to become writers or editors.
Assessments: amusing, yet annoying.
The first assessment you’ll need to take in order to really get the METRO party started is the English Language Comprehension test. This consists of 20 multiple choice reading comprehension questions that have to be completed within 15 minutes (there’s a countdown timer right there on the test.
I must say, out of all the preliminary tests I’ve taken for freelancing gigs, this one is my favorite, because some of the questions were Game of Thrones-themed. It also kept me on my toes, and I like a good challenge. I’m not entirely sure how the grading system works, but here are the respective processes:
- Prospective writers: score a Level III on the comprehension assessment > unlocks the English general writing assessment > pass, and you get access to corresponding projects – you have 3 tries and a 24-hr waiting period in between each attempt to do so.
- Prospective editors: score a Level IV on the comprehension assessment > contact Support to tell them you’re interested in becoming an editor > wait for them to respond with the next steps and a badge which unlocks the editor assessment.
Once I completed the comprehension assessment and got the immediate “you passed, here’s your Level” notification email, I noticed that the link to it was still on my dashboard, as if I hadn’t taken it at all. I didn’t want to click on it for clarification, in case I ended up having to take the test again! Eventually, it was listed as approved – still, though, that hesitation seemed glitchy.
I got the (fancy!) Level IV badge, and proceeded to contact Support in my quest for an editing role. Although they promised to respond within 24 hours, they, in fact, took 5 days to get back to me, albeit with an apology and very comprehensively written next steps.
Basically, I had to complete 7 editing tasks within one of their projects, which would then be reviewed. I’d have three chances to make any necessary revisions within a 24-hour period. I’d be paid ($1.80) for each approved task, regardless of if I passed the entire test or not, which I thought was nice.
Sidenote: I really appreciated how METRO’s Style Guide along with their FAQ, is on their homepage, before even logging in. It’s reasonable, and more importantly, understandable. It also tends to complement aspects of project-specific style guides.
Anyway, I read up on all the related literature, and even visited the forum, which isn’t all that active – again, it’s still a work in progress. Something that’s discussed/complained about far and wide is boilerplating (keeping a template and switching out only a word here and there). After looking at my first potential (there’s a skip button) editing test task, I understood why.
Each task looks as if it’d be brief – they are, after all, product descriptions. However, the source websites often don’t have much information to go off of in the first place, and many of the products are strikingly similar, only sometimes differing by brand presentation.
Ruminating on the reasonability of it all…
Even the most seasoned writers would have trouble sustaining originality with those product descriptions. It only took a few minutes and several skipped tasks for me to realize that editing for METRO would be, for me, cumbersome at best. To fulfill guidelines, it’d be a regular back-and-forth of revisions, and what I was seeing had to be completely rewritten. So, it was time for me to click on that very convenient “delete account” button, and that was that.
Truth be told, by trying out METRO, I was in unfamiliar territory. Product descriptions have never been part of my freelancing niche. There’s potential here, though I suspect the effort/pay ratio will remain a source of contention.
If you’re used to this sort of work, and want to give METRO a try, then you can sign up here.
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