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Freelance writing jobs - How to read the Adverts

Updated on November 16, 2009

Work from Home, At these Rates

Every lunch hour I put away my writing for an hour have something to eat and search the job sites, message boards and forums for freelance jobs,. You can never be sure just when you are going to need some extra writing work. What never ceases to amaze me is the sheer stupidity and arrogance some commissioning clients display.

Having worked in the recruitment industry for 16 years I am used to finding the hidden depths of a CV and know what employers really mean in their job descriptions, so many of these advertisements are straight forward. For those of you new to freelancing here’s my take on the jobs. For those experienced hands feel free to add you musings. For any employers reading this, think! You are selling yourself here, show me why should I spend my valuable time writing to you?

The sites I normally browse through are pretty basic, run of the mill job boards, oDesk, Craigslist, Elance or Guru. They’re ok, low end, cheap jobs mainly, but some of the ads just take the biscuit. Here are my tips and thoughts.

You can not be serious

Overly elaborate adverts - lots of detail with very little content, these people are dreamers, next week they will be pursuing some other project and have totally forgotten this one.

Adverts with big lists of expectations and demands - control freak, is more interested in there own ego and self importance over anything else. Will be a nightmare to work for, just pity their partner.

Compensation, not pay - a common one on Craigslist, if you can’t fund the project it is just a hobby and I have enough hobbies of my own without the need to get involved in yours.

And you Pay How Much?

Philippine writers required - Cheap sod wants to pay bugger all. If someone from South East Asia has the required level of English pay them a proper wage, that’s why they studied.

Lowest Bidder, Cheap writer required - Another I want something for nothing merchant. Your cheap rate won’t pay my expensive gas bill. At $1 per 500 words, I would have to spend a day creatively writing for the same money I can get sweeping floors for an hour, here in Italy. You can also bet they want high quality, non plagiarised and unique copy. Yeah dream on sunshine.

Women Only - ladies watch these ones, six months on and they are trying to commission personally written porn off you.

More work in the pipeline - Normally a teaser offered with cheap bids, I doubt they have more work but even if they did I wouldn’t be interested at the rates they probably want you to work.

The Cheques in the Post

Will review pay - Again a strap line attached to cheap offers. They might review it after two years of slave rates but don’t get your hopes up. I am yet to find anyone who does.

Must have good Grammer - It bugs me, people who insist on perfect grammar and don’t bother to check their own work. It means they are sloppy, will be difficult to contact, take forever to pay you and probably forget they even have work commissioned.

Must PM, IM or Skype, or Regular Contact essential - These are bored, busybodies who no one talks to in the office, they will be online constantly hassling you, pinging you and poking you to find out what you are up to.

Long descriptions but no subject - If they omit the topic be suspicious, If they are the secretive type that doesn’t want the rest of Craigsworld knowing their projects they are not likely tell you the whole story when you start. Or its writing stupid viagra, pile cream, sex ads or finance/insurance articles that no one wants.

All in the Name of Art

Needs to be completed in 8 hours - This is because they are poor planners and will drag you into their world of bad practice, ultimately blaming you for their mistakes.

Will need to take test or write sample essay - These are just trying to get twenty poor, desperate fools to send in a free article. If they want to see examples why not look at other sites you’ve written for or ask for a previous sample.

Rewriters and Spinners - These people have reached the conclusion that the best way to make a buck is to rip off someone else’s eBook, text or article, slightly change it and reprint. If they are that crooked as to openly announce what they are up to who’s to say they won’t rip you off too.

And in Conclusion


A good client will tell you about the project, people work better on different subjects, there are some topics I have no interest in writing about. Tell freelancers what you want them to work on. I may be the best person for you job but I never apply for jobs without topics. Dictating to Writers about your guidelines and do’s and don’ts, this is freelance work, its all about negotiation and any worker worth their salt already knows not to cut and paste and to check their copy.

Cheap is as it says, pay peanuts get monkeys. The reason there is so much rubbish on the internet is because people write for free. 80% of clients think quality writers will work for $1.50 an article. Think again bud.

When a client places an ad they are promoting their company, showing themselves off. If they can’t be bothered to spend ten minutes thinking about their target audience why should you spend half an hour convincing them you are the person for the job. A job advert is a sales pitch to attract a customer, I am giving you my time, talent and skills, I don’t know you from Adam. Why should I trust you? This is only fair to expect, after all you are going to expect me to prove myself.


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      I don't think I will ever make money writing. It's a good job the words keep flowing and I am content to simply enjoy that. Hubpages has been a dissapoinment financially but here I am commenting away!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Thanks for all the great info knell63 on what to look out for. HubPages is my first dip into the waters of writing for the internet, so I will re-read your tips when I look to write elsewhere.

      Funny enough, my pole dancing career hasn't taken off yet either!

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks for all the kind comments. It is really frustrating that there are people who seriously believe you should write 500 words of genuine, researched, grammatically correct text for $1. Ohhhh it gets my goat is does. You can earn a living at it though, I write five daily articles, four monthly travel guides and a host of strange, weird and wonderful articles at peoples request each month. Pays the bills, as my pole dancing career is yet to take off.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

      I've never looked into freelance writing on the internet. HubPages earns me such a miniscule amount that it can only be counted as a hobby. If I ever do feel the urge to earn money writing I'll be sure to re-visit this hub!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      This is so true it hurts. I wonder what's happening out there, there isn't a legit place to get ANYTHING published, some days I fear.

      I'm still waiting for all the junk to settle to the bottom. I may be waiting a LONG time.

      Hat's off to a true, well-stated article that many will be interested in reading.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      NEVER TRUER WORDS SPOKEN. The Internet is worse than a shark infested water. Definitely more sharks there. I was caught doing surveys. It was worse than disgusting. Then Hellium, which also was to me a rip off. If you read my two hubs about Hellium you find out why. Thank you very much for a well written article. It can't be emphasized enough, about scams.