Unfortunately, there are a lot of writing scams out there, and with free job posting sites like Craigslist, it can be challenging to weed through the garbage to find the legitimate freelance writing opportunities. As the interest in working from home using a computer has increased in recent years, the number of writing scams has also grown.
For example, there are many freelance writing job ads that promise paying opportunities, but when you reply, you learn that access to those opportunities is only available if you pay a fee. Furthermore, some of these scams require that you purchase “training” materials to learn how to write for the company. After you pay for those materials, the company cuts all contact with you. A good rule of thumb to follow is this — never pay for a writing job. It should work the other way around — you should get paid for your work.
Another scam involves requesting original writing samples to gauge your ability to follow directions, match a writing style, and so on. The “company” that requests the samples publishes them without paying you and never contacts you again. This is a common scam that has grown in popularity as content mills continue popping up around the world. A good rule of thumb to follow is this — provide clips from your portfolio or start a blog where you can point to your writing samples.
This post offers you 10 things that you might find in freelance writing job ads that should raise red flags. I’m not suggesting that all ads that include one or more of the elements below are scams or not trustworthy. However, these are ten of the most common things that are found in questionable writing job ads. If you see one of these things in a job ad, proceed with caution.
- Fee required to apply, view writing job ads, or acquire resources of any kind such as training materials (which may or may not be included in the job desicription)
- Request for an original writing sample about a specific topic and at a specific word count.
- Poorly written job ads, which might include excessive grammatical or spelling errors.
- No company name or a company name that cannot be verified via a Google search.
- A website that leads nowhere or to a parked domain or a site filled with ads.
- Compensation ranges that vary significantly. For example, “you could make $10-$10,000 per month.”
- Claims of being legit or similar attempts to prove the job is not part of a scam or unsavory effort.
- Offers that are too good to be true. If an ad says you can make $5,000 per month for a few hours of work, it’s probably too good to be true.
- Phrases like “startup”, “grow with us”, or similar language that might mean the publication is very new. In these cases, you might not get paid or the publication could disappear before you get paid.
- Language of any kind that seems questionable or shady. Follow your instincts.
What red flag elements have you found in freelance writing jobs that you can add to this list? Leave a comment and share what you’ve found, so other writers don’t fall victim to the same problems or scams.