Writing job scams: a quick guide on what to avoid

Writing Jobs & ScamsIf you’ve ever looked for a writing job on the Internet, chances are you’ve seen a little tag line like the one pictured here. You very likely even recognize the very site this image was taken from. It’s a glorious site that makes a new writer’s eyes go big: “there are hundreds or thousands of people on the internet wanting to hire a writer, and now I can find them!” Suckered in by inexperience (and usually a desperate need to get a paying job ASAP), the new freelance writer slides up to the bar and says “I’ll have what you’re having!”

Little do they realize, they never had to.

Let’s make this clear: while competition is fierce, writing jobs are easy to find. Yes, there really are hundreds or thousands of people and companies actively looking to hire writers. But you don’t need to sign up at a special site that promises to get you as many writing jobs as you can handle from thousands of clients to find them, because these writing jobs are not part of a “secret society.” You don’t have to be on the “inside” to find them. You just need a little search savvy and you’ll find hundreds to apply to each day.

If you’re looking for writing jobs online, or to start a freelance career, here’s a few things you need to be aware of or avoid entirely.

  1. The site demands a fee to access their clients. Most writing job scam sites are based off this premise: “We have thousands of clients, and you can get access to them all for $50 a month!”. While some of them do end up delivering active lists of clients, you could have found them yourself in short order – without paying someone else to do the work. More often than not, these lists are actually out of date, or you don’t get a list at all.
  2. The site demands a fee to have your work reviewed or submitted. You should never have to pay to have your work submitted to any client, unless you’ve personally hired an editor. Alternatively, many writing contests demand a fee. Some of these contests are legit, but be wary.
  3. The site is unclear on the rights to your work. This information should be upfront to you before your work is ever taken for submission. If a site can’t explain what rights you or they will have to your work, they don’t know the business – or plan on claiming exclusive rights ex-post-facto.
  4. The site is unclear on how you’ll be paid. Any writing site or client should be extremely clear on:
    1. Methods of payment (check, PayPal, bank wire, etc.)
    2. Payout threshold (How much do you have to “earn” to get paid, if there is a minimum limit?)
    3. Payment timeframe (once payment is due, how long does it take to process before arriving?)
    4. How much you’ll be paid. (Pay per click, on what approximate ratio? Upfront? Exactly how much? Royalties?)
  5. The site wants you to start work “for free,” with a promise to re-evaluate your performance later. It’s alright if you decide to write on a volunteer basis for a site, as it gives you valuable experience and may be something you are passionate about (particularly non-profit organizations that cannot afford often the extra budget for writers). But don’t let the lingering promise to “pay you later” or “after we evaluate your performance” let you work for free on a site that should be paying you. They’re still going to publish your work, and they’re still going to make money off it. Consider that before you sign away your rights.

One final note about pay per click sites (sites that pay you a set amount per views – say $0.10 per 1,000 views.) There are a solid handful of these sites that are legitimate, pay reasonably well, and follow through on core payment guidelines and rights issues. Writing for these sites can also help build your professional writing experience, especially if you haven’t much yet to show for. However, if you do join these sites, realize that your writing effort must also include a great deal of self-marketing these articles afterward to garner attention and more page views to make them worthwhile in the end. I personally believe that as a new writer (and even as an experienced one), writing for these sites (sometimes called “content farms”) can be very beneficial in offering you experience and something to stick in your portfolio; however, you should also be cautious and generally opt for upfront paying opportunities on these sites, rather than rely on articles that will only garner performance payments. Be very cautious when joining these sites, and do extra homework in researching satisfaction and payment amounts beforehand.


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1 Response to Writing job scams: a quick guide on what to avoid

  1. Pingback: Scams, Scoundrels and Communal Websites « BookBuster

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