The following information may seem obvious to freelance gurus while it may save the newcomers a month or two of unnecessary seasoning. Freelance writing is full of scam on both ends of the spectrum – writers and clients. Whether writers find jobs on Craigslist, Elance, Odesk, Freelancer or forums like Digital Point, they need to know the security basics to avoid fraud.
Signs of a typical scam in freelance writing projects.
#1. Monthly payments.
Jobs that offer monthly payments and require a set amount of articles, blog posts whatever be done every day may result in a painful disappointment. It does not matter if the employer’s reputation is high, or if the employer sounds credible in chat or PM. There is always a risk a writer will not be paid by the end of the month, and the employer goes mute when the payment is due. If a writer wants to take a chance with such project, he should contact the employer and see if they can negotiate payment terms that will satisfy both of them. Once or twice a week payment is better. In that case, even if it is a scam a writer will only lose a couple of days’ to a week’s worth of work.
#2. Bulk orders.
Too many employers state they have plenty of work to keep a dozen writers busy on a long-term basis. They use this cliché to negotiate a very low rate. The truth is when a writer completes the first pack of articles, the source of orders suddenly runs dry. The employer no longer has that much work for the writer, if any, or the writer may see an order or two in a week. As a result, the employer benefits because the writer agreed to a ‘bulk’ rate instead of full price for a standard one time or occasional order. Never sell your services cheap for a promise of regular work. The employer has to back up what he claims before a writer will agree to a bulk rate. Charge your regular rate for the first order and then, if things go smooth, give the client a discount.
#3. Free custom samples.
Unless it is a 200 words sample the employer requests asap to prove that you are the one who does the job, do not agree to provide free custom samples. If a writer has a portfolio that showcases his skills and level, this should suffice to an adequate employer as a sample of writer’s work. If an employer is hiring via a forum, he should not be asking for a custom sample because a writer’s forum posting IS his work sample, provided the writer understands the importance of a literate and accurate public profile.
Having your own blog or a website helps a lot in terms of providing live proof of your writing skills. If an employer insists on a custom sample to verify that the writer is doing the work himself, or see if he can adjust to their requirements, writer can negotiate a small fee for it or a full price after they approve his sample. Many respectable employers faced so-called ‘writers’ who do high quality work at the beginning and then outsource the rest of the project.
Proceed with extreme caution. Some writers offer their services at a flat rate of $2 per 100 words and are blatant enough to hire writers on the same forum, or freelance platform, for a flat $3.50 per 500 words minus PayPal transfer fee. While middleman<->buyer relationship may work out well, middleman<->writer is sheer scam. Someone who outsources for the sole purpose of taking 50-60% slice abuses the market and does damage to the industry as a whole. As a possible solution, start with one paid article. This will allow both the buyer and writer understand whether it is worth continuing the relationship.
One more thing you must realize about middlemen – it is highly probable they are passing your work as their own. This is totally different from an actual client hiring a writer to write an article for his blog or website, and the writer agrees that the client retains copyright to it. Whereas a middleman is filling in his portfolio with your work. In many cases, middlemen outsource work to non-native speakers who agree to work at lower rates. I believe a writer must receive a fair pay for the quality work irrespective of his background. However, it is a flat fact that middlemen often hire fairly articulate ‘writters’ to do a job for which the client pays a fortune since the middleman initially positions himself as a “native speaker with a team of PhD’s and master’s in English philology”, or the like. Client, when you hear a statement like that, think of this:
On the other hand, there are agencies and groups of webmasters who provide comprehensive website building services and outsource the writing part. Technically, you can view them as both middlemen and clients depending on a variety of factors.
#5. Websites that collect personal data.
There are low-profile intermediary platforms that offer a number of benefits while inconspicuously gathering your credit card information. A website like that may go belly-up within a month or so. Make sure you provide your sensitive data to trusted and established services, like elance.
In the next issue, I would like to discuss general security guidelines in terms of upfront payment and its alternatives.
- Freelance Writing Websites, Forums and Pricing (danvlasic.wordpress.com)
- Gerilyn’s Top 5 Best Practices for Freelance Writing Success (junipersunrise.com)
- 10 High-Paying Freelance Writing Gigs to Apply for Today (theworkathomewife.com)
- 2013 Trends in Freelance Writing: 4 Things I’ve Noticed by Combing Online Job Listings (business2community.com)