The following is a review of my experience writing for Travelista Club, which operates under Writers.Academy.

It has been edited to reflect the information kindly provided by Travelist Club is the comments below.

I first came across Travelista Club about six months ago. Since then, I have bought myself a domain, built up my own blog and started to develop a well-rounded portfolio of published articles all through the platform. Currently, I am actively using the website, getting occasional paid work and am learning more about freelance writing as I go. But there is still one aspect of the setup that I am somewhat hesitant about.

Let me explain more…

Is Travelista Club legit?

The first question people new to Travelista Club ask is, “Is this legit?” But what I think they actually mean is, “Will I really get paid for the articles that I write?” Yes, you definitely do. I am more than happy to vouch for this.

But when it comes to a deeper understanding of exactly what you’re writing and how your work generates profits, Travelista Club slides into a rather questionable business model. Below I give my account of writing for Travelista Club, highlighting the benefits and discussing some of the potential drawbacks.

Travelista Club really pays

Payment happens exactly as the website describes. The first article you write as a new freelancer for Travelista Club will be a 1000-word travel guide for a destination of your choice. You will also need to provide photos. I wrote about the Transit & Stay Cultural Programme at the international airport for Tokyo in Narita, Japan. The first Friday following its publication, I received AU$40 into my PayPal account.

Screenshot of my article published on Travelista Club.

Trustworthy and reliable payment

As a freelancer, being paid in full and on time is a major concern. In this regard, Travelista Club is completely trustworthy. I have been paid promptly into my PayPal account on the Friday following the publication of each of my subsequent writing pieces. No fussing around and no missing or delayed payments at all. That said, the rate of pay is very low. But I am willing to accept it for the time being.

Writers.Academy really pays.

What is the rate of pay?

There’s no denying it: Travelista Club’s rate of $40 for 1000 words is low. To be honest, I am not sure if it gets any better. Since my first article, I have only received offers to write 500-word articles and blog posts for AU$20 each. However, at this stage of my online freelance writing career, I choose to look at it as paid work experience.

Free training with paid work

Also, the website is more than just an agent hooking me up with paid writing jobs. (Although, whether the website even operates as an agent at all is something I am not yet certain of, which I explain in detail further down.) Alongside offering paid writing jobs, it provides an in-depth training platform. Here you learn all about the art of freelance writing. This includes the finer points of setting up a personal blog and using it as a marketing tool to get clients. In my opinion, this aspect of Travelista Club offsets the low rate of pay, at least for the first few months.

Just some of the available areas of study on Writers.Academy.

What are the requirements for getting work through Travelista Club?

In short, there are three requirements to write for Travelista Club. First, you need to verify yourself as a real person through logging in via social media. Second, you must have your own blog that is not hosted on a free domain. (Just like Written in Paradise.) You must submit this for review before you can move on to the next step. Third, you have to follow their style guide and successfully submit your first article. After that, you will be listed as a writer on their website and will be eligible to receive offers for more paid work. However, this point needs some clarification.

The three steps you need to complete to become a writer through Travelista Club.

Travelista Club vs Writers.Academy

You won’t actually be getting work through Travelista Club, and, as I’ve found, the articles you will be offered to write probably won’t be travel related. Travelista Club is one of many websites that comes under the umbrella of Writers.Academy. (Not to be confused with Writers.Agency, which is where people seeking to hire writers should visit instead.) It’s essentially a portal into the freelance writing platform that registers your area of interest or expertise. For example, if you’re more into technology, you would sign up via Tech.WTF, whereas if you love all things health and medicine, you would go through Nupathe.

Writing widely

So when you first sign up, you register through your preferred topic (see below for a comprehensive list) to write and publish your first article. After that, you won’t be restricted to any one topic or theme. Rather, you will be invited to write on a diverse range of topics via emails sent from the Writers.Academy team.

Do I need to pay anything to join Writers.Academy?

The only cost involved is the price of buying your own website. It’s not very much and the payment doesn’t even go directly to Writers.Academy. It’s actually more of an investment in your own writing career/side hustle than a fee for signing up. I think I paid US$12 for 12-months for this domain from GoDaddy.com, which is dirt cheap.

Buying your own domain

As mentioned above, you will need your own blog to join and you need to own the domain. To help you with this, Writers.Academy provides a link to an exceptionally cheap deal. They help you to buy your chosen domain and get WordPress hosting through GoDaddy.com. They also include a step-by-step guide for the entire process, so it’s super easy.

If you already have your own free blog, there are guides to help you transfer it over to a paid domain with hosting. And if you already have your own blog with a paid domain, you can apply using that so there would be no need to pay at all.

Making your money back

Once your domain is verified by the Writers.Academy team you will be able to complete your first assignment. As mentioned above, if you sign up with Travelista Club, you will write a 1000-word travel guide and get paid AU$40. At the time when I joined, this payment was more than the cost of buying my domain and hosting. So right from the start I was in the black with only a very minimal initial investment.

Am I guaranteed more work after my first article?

Honestly, it took almost two months before I received my first offer for more work through Writers.Academy. Since then I get offers rather inconsistently, but at least I still do get them. Although there is never any guarantee, especially as a freelancer, if you follow the training, you should be able to get at least few offers for additional paid writing jobs.

How Writers.Academy ranks writers

To improve your chances of getting work, you need to rise up the ranks. Thankfully, Writers.Academy is quite transparent over how they rank and promote their writers. They take into account two main factors: first, the quality of your personal website and second, your average number of readers. Using these measures, each writer is given a ranking on Writers.Agency, the sister-site, where clients are presented with higher ranking writers first. In theory, the better your ranking, the more likely you are to get work.

Here is a breakdown of how Writers.Academy grades writers’ blogs:
A = a fully developed portfolio based on the training
B = a partially developed portfolio
C = a barely touched portfolio with little content
D = the portfolio is offline or has errors

With just a few blog posts, all of which followed Writers.Academy’s suggested format, my website quickly got an A grade. However, my average number of readers is still considered low. I must admit, that’s my own fault for not better marketing my articles.

Here is a breakdown of how Writers.Academy ranks average number of readers:
~2000 Readers – Excellent performance
~1000 Readers – Good performance
~500 Readers – Average performance
~200 Readers – Low performance

If you can couple an A grade blog with a high readership, in theory, you should be able to get a fair amount of work. I say “in theory” because I haven’t achieved this yet, so I can’t confirm it in practice.

Here you can see my ranking on Writers.Academy.

What’s the catch?

Despite my positive experience, I still have a few reservations about Writers.Academy. My main issues have to do with their business model and the legitimacy of the writing assignments.

Writers.Academy is NOT a freelance writing agent

After signing up and processing a lot of information, I discovered that Writers.Academy’s main business is not sourcing and allocating freelance writing gigs, which is what I had originally thought. As they explain, what they really do is provide all-inclusive web development packages. They manage everything “from hosting to web development, social media and search engine optimization.” So, in fact, they are really a web developer rather than an agent for freelance writers.

This should have come as no surprise. After re-reading much of the information accessible only after signing up, I realised Writers.Academy had been relatively upfront about this, although not entirely explicit. They justify assigning paid writing jobs for their own websites because after they publish them, they can track the average number of readers. This is simply not possible if they don’t own the website. They are then able to better rank and market writers to outside clients.

Although, I am not so sure there are very many external clients using Writers.Agency to find freelance writers, if any. As stated by Writers.Academy, this is not their main focus. Exactly how many external clients they have for copywriting is unclear.

Why does Writers.Academy hire writers?

To sum up their business, Writers.Academy hires its own writers to build content for its own websites and then encourages these writers to link back to these websites via their own blogs. The writers are rewarded with a small monetary sum, a link back to their own website to help improve their own ranking, plus free training. This creates a huge collection of blogs all linking with one another. And the more writers participating and building links, the better.

The reason behind developing this enormous series of intricately linked blogs is that the Writers.Academy websites gain credibility. With more content and direct links being added daily, these sites can consequently move up Google’s rankings and drive more traffic. It looks very similar to what’s known as a Private Blog Network (PBN), although traditionally the series of websites that make up a PBN is owned by the same person/company, rather than by an unaffiliated group of individuals. As such, I consider the Writers.Academy’s model to be an evolved PBN, or a PBN 2.0 for lack of a better term.

By MithrandirMage – Own work based on: File:Link farm2x.png by Tomwsulcer., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19975672

Monetising the Private Blog Network 2.0

From how I understand it, in a traditional PBN, this system would return a profit through views of paid advertisements on the websites. And the higher up on Google searches a website is, the more visits it gets. However, Writers.Academy doesn’t put adverts on its websites. Instead, they aim to make their websites profitable through affiliate marketing. I guess they get commission every time someone clicks through to the page of the product or service being reviewed, or maybe they get a kickback if someone actually goes on to buy the reviewed product.

Super cheap marketing

Writers are also encouraged to share their published articles as widely as possible to increase their average number of readers, improve their ranking on Writers.Agency and thereby gain more work. Having the writers do the majority of the marketing work as they spam their friends, family and forums with their promotional articles drastically decreases Writers.Academy’s marketing costs and, at the same time, should also increase their revenue as more people view the product pages and buy the items.

Expanding the PBN 2.0

This is also how Writers.Academy grows its pool of writers and thereby expands its PBN. When writers promote their articles heavily, the resulting traffic is not only exposed to the affiliate marketed product or service, but also to the brand of Writers.Academy itself. Each Writers.Academy website has a “WRITE FOR US” button in the top righthand corner to attract potential members to the PBN. Anyone curious about freelance writing can click through, sign up and, like me, join the network under their prefered topic.

Moreover, writers are actively encouraged to recruit additional writers to the network. Full disclosure: we get a few dollars if you sign up via our referral links. (You can find mine at the end of this article.) I assume Writers.Academy also gets commission from GoDaddy.com for each referral and that they continue to get commission each time the referred writers renew their domains. Either way, it seems they are using this network to increase their rankings, drive traffic and earn passive income. It’s a very clever business model.

What’s the problem?

As a freelance writer, it’s my job to make content that is engaging and that creates a return for whoever has hired me to write. Of course, I must expect whatever I produce to be used commercially, which includes affiliate marketing. This is perfectly acceptable. The real issue is that the website I have paid for – Written in Paradise – is now part of the Writers.Academy PBN 2.0. All the articles I write through Writers.Academy include a writing credit to me plus a direct link to my website, which helps to build up this network but may put me at a disadvantage on Google searches.

Personal Blog Networks are penalised by Google

Google tries to stop PBNs because they consider them to be “thin content”, meaning they are “low quality or shallow pages which do not provide users with much added value.” These sites are then labelled as “search spam” and are penalised in Google searches. Consequently, any site that is part of a known PBN will struggle to make any kind of ranking, even if the content is legitimate. And this may include my website.

I think Writers.Academy has avoided being labelled as a PBN by Google so far for two reasons. First, there are many diverse users and website owners.

Second, all of us novice freelance writers are providing “valuable” content. The writing tasks I have been assigned all have a minimum of 500 words, and Writers.Academy will not accept my articles if they are a single word less. As such, all of the pages in this PBN 2.0 look good to Google, so Writers.Academy can avoid being flagged. It’s a well thought out system, but there are no guarantees that things won’t change for the worse in the future.

Questionable legitimacy

More pertinent to my current situation, I am using these paid gigs from Writers.Academy to develop a broad portfolio of published work. However, potential clients may not take these articles too seriously if they figure out they’re part of a PBN 2.0. It may actually completely turn potential clients off hiring me if they realise that my portfolio is based on making fluff to legitimise a PBN 2.0. But I guess it’s up to me how I market and present these examples of my work when pitching to clients outside of Writers.Academy.

Should I sign up?

If you want to start freelance writing but have no idea where to begin, definitely yes. You get a very cheap domain and a detailed guide on how to set up your blog and start your writing business. Plus, you can instantly make back your initial investment if you choose to take on the first 1000-word writing assignment.

If you want to build a portfolio of published work to show to potential clients, I would only say perhaps you should sign up. While you do get published, the fact that it appears to be part of a new type of Private Blog Network reduces its credibility. It may also negatively impact the ranking of your own website should Google try to stop these kinds of networks from operating.

If you are an experienced freelance writer who already has a decent portfolio and established readership, please go ahead and sign up and let me know what kind of job offers you get. I am curious to know if they do in fact offer high profile jobs with matching pay, or if it’s simply a rouse to get more writers on board for their affiliate marketing program.

Where to sign up

Below is the promised list of websites anyone can use to sign up to Writers.Academy. Simply chose the area that interests you most, click through and follow the prompts.

iPhone Topic – Apple products writing
Nupathe Health & Medical Solutions – Health and Medicine writing
Style Plus – Fashion and Style writing
Tech WTF – Technology writing
Travelista Club – Travel writing
Twisted Fitness – Fitness writing

Did you find my review helpful? Any questions? Leave a comment below.

14 thoughts on “Travelista Club Review: Is it legit?”

  1. Exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get before signing up. Based on your review I decided not to sign up. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found my article useful.

      I believe that Travelista.Club is a helpful tool for complete beginners but I understand why someone like yourself, who is more established, wouldn’t sign up.

      Best of luck with your blog!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    Signing up has been in the back of my mind, but I felt like I did not have enough information about it yet.
    Your review was very helpful and gave me the info needed.

    Good luck with the writing. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m very happy to have helped you form a decision.

      All the best with your travel writing!

  3. Wow, this is the most thorough review of them I found! Thank you so much! I already signed up before I decided to look for reviews, but I don’t regret it. It will be a good training in writing for me and I don’t intend to continue using the website I created after I feel that I am proficient enough. I chose a stupid name because it was late at night and I was impatient… *eyeroll* Never heard of PBNs, very interesting! I wish you a lot of success in your writing, you are really good at it 🙂

    1. Hi Maria,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think that is what Travelista.Club is really about – experience and training. It’s a great site for complete beginners to get exposure, learn how to write SEO copy and learn how to develop a blog. I hope you have a positive experience wih the site and make the most of their writing tools.

      Best of luck with your travel writing!

  4. Hi Jamie – that’s an excellent article and you have it mostly right, as you have found it’s quite a complicated setup that’s taken years to develop.

    There’s a few misunderstandings though :

    To be classed as a PBN the network of blogs is most often owned by the same person – or they are blogs that exist purely to help the main site rank better in google.

    In this situation all the blogs are owned by real people, and they exist for real reasons (those people are travel bloggers).

    Although it’s encouraged, we don’t force anyone to link from their own blog to our site.

    Mainly we link from our site to the authors blog (at the bottom of each article) – which are going the wrong direction to be a PBN. One site linking out to many others is not a PBN and it’s completely accepted by Google.

    So … Not a PBN and nothing google wouldn’t like 🙂 but how does our system work then?

    1. Organic links.
    We don’t force it – but we do encourage our bloggers to link to the articles they write and also share them so that others may link to them. That’s how google wants websites to gain links we are just ‘crowd sourcing’ the process by having a massive team of writers.

    2. Social sharing
    It helps google to notice and index new articles when they receive a burst of traffic the same day they are published. We share articles to our social media and ask the authors to help out by sharing too. This also helps SEO because actual traffic from social media is thought to be a ranking signal to Google. (Google analytics can see the traffic and sources and it may influence ranking)

    3. Internal Linking
    Google might not like manipulated links between different sites — linking between pages on the same site (to promote a specific page) is perfectly acceptable… it’s just called link architecture. Every article about a specific country or city links back to the city / country main category page. So if we have 100x articles about Sydney, Australia — all of them link to the page /best-places-to-stay/Australia/Sydney… which boosts that page ranking.

    4. Affiliate Links & Revenue
    The ‘best places’ pages have a listing of best Hostels, which link to Hostelworld and we receive a commission for any bookings made.

    This in a nutshell is the strategy all websites ultimately use…

    – lots of articles to attract links and readers
    – links from all articles to a few main pages
    – the main pages rank well because they have internal links to them…
    – put affiliate links on those pages to make revenue.
    – reinvest the revenue into more articles and scale up…

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to read my article and explain how Travelista.Club works. I appreciate that I’ve mislabeled it as a PBN and will be sure to make some corrections to better reflect the actual system you’re using to develop your websites.

      As I’ve said, I think it’s a great site for beginner writers and the business model that you’re using is very clever. I’m excited to see what further opportunities it presents for writers like myself in the future.

      Best,

      Jamie

  5. Hi Jamie,

    No problem – for someone with 6 months experience you have grasped the overall concept very well.

    You are 100% correct. It’s a great system for beginner writers, and it gives you a taste of the freelance writing market… and for us it’s a self-sustaining way to grow our website.

    But as you have also found, it’s not very lucrative in the long term because yes – it is beginner level work for anyone in a western country. For those in the Philippines or India (a large portion of writers) it’s actually quite a good rate.

    We are trying to create new opportunities for our members but it takes time and the competition is heavy.

    So how do you make big bucks as freelance writer?

    Well, you DONT…

    Or rather, you don’t write for clients. In general they pay peanuts.

    Because the first thing in anyone’s mind when you tell them your writing is worth big bucks is – “why are you selling it to me then??” … it’s a valid question.

    Like the guru who wants to sell you their ‘make a million dollars’ training course for $197 … It makes no sense.

    They won’t believe you, and they don’t want to pay you what it’s worth…

    That’s why we only work with writers who have their own blog (that they own) – you need it in the long run.

    Write on your own website, prove you’re real, write amazing articles with tonnes of information (like this article), be insightful, learn SEO and marketing… and people will come to your site.

    Then find partners (affiliates) who will pay for referrals and you can make money on commission.

    One article can make thousands of dollars over time.

    In travel there’s flights, insurance, hotels, hostels, tours, and tonnes of others… thousands of brands will pay commission on sales you generate.

    You can also link from your book reviews to Audible.com or multiple online or e-book sellers.

    Or (as in my case) if you don’t like writing – save money from your day job, learn to code and hire other people to write.

    After some time its not even about making money – that’s just how you measure your score in the game, it’s about the freedom, the skills and the excitement – there’s no deadlines, and no limits.

    But you must invest in your own websites, and try to make it unique with an angle nobody else is – cause the competition is insane.

    With all that said, I’ll leave you to it – and to anyone else reading this sorry we can’t explain all this up front but from 5+ years of trying to teach people these lessons it’s become clear that people learn best by just getting started doing it – and we don’t want to get too complicated on day one.

    Good luck and I hope you all the best 🙂

    1. Thank you Very Much I really appreciate it. I needed to listen to this. thanks once again. I am glad I read This review and also read all the comments.

  6. Hi Jamie!

    Thank you for this article!

    I just signed up with Travelista Club and I still have some whereabouts and apprehension about its legitimacy. Your review is helpful and written with transparency about the pros and cons. I am new to being a Freelance Writer and I really hope to learn from them.

    I wanted to do things right and I believe that “small baby steps” to becoming a good writer that can impact and influence its readers will compensate you later on when you have been a good steward of this talent and gift.

    Keep encouraging and inspiring newbies like me!

    Thank you and God bless!

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