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Freelance Writing Scams: How to Recognize And Avoid Writing Scams and Work at Home Scams

Updated on February 12, 2015

Be Skeptical of Scams

Freelance Writing Scams

Every freelancer who's been at it for a while has at least one story of getting scammed. Whether you solicit clients from freelancer platforms like oDesk, write for revenue share sites and content mills, or find private clients, knowing common freelance writing scams is invaluable. Read on to learn about common scam types and ways to protect yourself.

Pay to Play Scams

Pay to play scams are unfortunately common in the freelance world. These websites either ask you to pay up front to join the site, pay for training that will supposedly help you become a better writer, or to pay for access to jobs.

There are plenty of writing opportunities out there that are free for you to join. Anyone trying to get you to pay to see potential writing jobs is trying to con you. Do not fall prey to one of these pay to play scams.

It's worth noting that some free writing websites use a bidding system where writers bid on jobs. In some cases, you may be asked to buy or earn bid credit through site activity. This is not a scam as you usually have some amount of free credits as well and have the option of paying for more.

Getting Ripped Off By a Client

The internet is full of stories of private clients who take a writer's work and don't pay. It may be a company or an individual who refuses to pay. As an example, popular freelance writing bid site oDesk does not guarantee writers payment under the fixed-pay system, which makes it risky for writers.

The best solution in this case is to get up to 50 percent of the cash before you begin writing. New clients may balk at this much, in which case it can be better to go for a 10 to 20 percent deposit. This ensures that you get something. A client who will steal your work will usually bugger off after you ask for a deposit, which saves you the hassle.

Revenue Share Scams

Many revenue share websites say that writers can earn money writing for the site. They don't promise writers money. How should you then decide whether or not to write for the vague promise of potential money?

Try to evaluate specifics, to the extent that you can. If the site offers revenue share, find out when they pay writers. Is it after $10, like writing for Article Document, or at $50 like HubPages?

As an example of what not to do, writes "Compensation: Competitive rates recognize your writing activity and reader interest." That's dandy -- but what does it mean? Many writers gave a try. Some enjoyed it while many found it to be a scam.

If you can't find this out, it's a major red flag. Any revenue share site should make it easy for writers to find out the payment structure and decide for themselves whether to try to earn passive income through the website.

Evaluate a Writing Opportunity So You Don't Get Ripped Off

There are far too many opportunities for freelance writers to go into detail on which ones are scams. I recommend that you spend 5 minutes evaluating any opportunity before you sign up. Review the website thoroughly looking for concrete details about the business, the writing opportunities, and the income for writers.

If something sounds too good to be true it often is. If you have doubts, do a quick google search for the name of the site or client and the word "scam." Read through what you find and make your decision.

There are many pros and cons of being a freelance writer, and the many scams out there are certainly one of the downsides. To maximize your income and avoid writing scams, consider connecting with Freelance Writers Den, an online community that offers writer training, support, and a vetted jobs board for freelance writers. As a member, I can highly recommend it!


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    • Kennedi Brown profile image

      Kennedi Brown 

      4 years ago from Richlands, Virginia

      Thanks for sharing this article :) It'll really help out budding freelance writers like myself.


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