ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Commercial & Creative Writing»
  • Making Money as a Writer

Freelance Writing Scams on oDesk, Elance etc.

Updated on March 17, 2012

As many freelance writers cannot be satisfied with their passive income alone, and many of the freelance writers often freelance for bidding websites like oDesk, Elance, Guru etc. I am a freelance writer too and I work on some of these websites and get paid for the same. But I found some scams as well, prevailing there, and making fools out of some needy, desperate and/or stupid writers.

NOTE: The websites that I mentioned above have nothing to do with these scams. These are legitimate websites which provide a platform to bridge in between the freelancers and their clients.

DISCLAIMER: I am sharing my honest and sincere personal opinions and experience and I am not responsible for any probable mishaps and/or loss of jobs.

As I am a contractor (worker) at oDesk, I am notified with numerous writing jobs, usually article writing. But there exists a possible chance of scams in these jobs, for which you have to keep your eyes open. Although I must say that besides the following possible scam, these websites have mostly genuine jobs and can become a very good platform for aspiring freelance writers. These following suggestions may or may not prove true, but there is a possible risk of scams involved in this, which you can see as follows:

My Experience:

Once I saw a buyer (client in need of articles), who posted a job about article writing, and he notified in the job posting that whoever is to be selected for the interview, needs to submit a sample article to further qualify to win the job. Some points to be noted here are:

  • The buyer had not paid any single penny yet.
  • The buyer did not have any feedback.
  • I applied for the job to testify his legitimacy and I was soon shifted into the ‘interviewing’ category with other 14 applicants.
  • All of the 14 applicants were being interviewed. In other words, EVERY applicant was being interviewed and hence every applicant was asked to write a sample article.
  • The buyer asked me to write a sample article of 600 words. He himself gave me a topic, which was a very potential keyword.
  • I did not reply back, but I kept on researching and I found that he had 8 open projects but none was awarded to any contractor. I found out that on every project that he had posted, he was interviewing at least 95% of the applicants (remember that he is a new buyer with no money spent and having any feedbacks).

I waited for a day and he sent a message to me if I am still interested. I replied back that I am interested but I am not feeling well about the loads and loads of ‘sample things’ going around. I sent him my hubpages’ profile link, and asked him that if he is serious then he can check my profile at hubpages which have around 60 articles at the moment.

He would have a much better idea of my writing, rather than judging me with an article sample. But the next thing, as expected, he kicked me out of the interviewees’ list and declined my offer/bid.

Final words:

Do a little bit of calculation. He was running approximately 8 different projects with an average of 14 interviewees for every project. He would have been easily snatched 10 sample articles out of those 14 contractors. Then our mathematical brain tells us that, if he does not award those projects to any of the contractors (pretending that he was not satisfied with any of the samples and contractors), he still had the possession of approximately 80 articles FOR FREE! (10 samples x 8 projects).

He himself gave me the keyword, means he could have given a different keyword to every different bidder, and I am sure he must have given different keywords to every contractor. Still, those projects are not being awarded to everyone. Everybody will think that his work was not good enough of satisfy the buyer and will soon forget about looking at that posting, and that project will remain open with around 80 original, unique, potential key-words articles being snatched out of the interviewees.

I had this little experience that I wanted to share with all my fellow freelance writers. So that you may spread this among your communities, friends and profiles and may help us to stop the menace and to help us achieving our rightful rights for the hard-working freelance writers. I hope this would have helped a bit for the cause. Have a good day, keep writing.


What source of freelance writing serves your purpose well?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 5 years ago from USA

      Howdy Hunbbel - Thanks for this interesting article. One time, long ago, I took a look at some of those "bidding sites" and decided that they were no place for legitimate writers who do decent work - there is no money to be earned there more than pennies for your dollars' worth of work. Why bother?

      I participated in two good earning sites - TextBroker and Examiner. Both of those test you upon your application, but you do not supply them with "sample articles." You can make good earnings from both of those sites. TextBroker assigns writers to several ascending levels of skill, each level being paid more than the lower levels - so much per word of a finished and acceptable article. Examiner articles are more like news articles - short and sweet (as the saying goes). So, both pay well for your work. I also wrote a regular column for a medium circulation trade magazine. They paid me well and regularly.

      Today I am goofing off. My writing is for the fun of it, but one never knows what might pop up around the corner.

      Gus :-)))

    • ThisisShe profile image

      ThisisShe 5 years ago

      I am not a huge fan of the bidding sites. Although most of the jobs are legit, many of the clients get away with practically stealing the work anyway by offering their writers basically nothing for their work, which I don't like on principle. I have other online clients that I work for and I love very much.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 5 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Rie Avis: No, I haven't checked it as yet. However, I definitely will. Thanks for the information :)


    • profile image

      Rie Avis 5 years ago

      Have you checked out this is another site for Freelancer jobs.It is similar to oDesk or Elance but for full time work only.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Magdelene: I agree with you that Elance is a better place. Basically, I find that Elance is a better place in terms of professionalism. There are better employers and better contractors on the platform of Elance as compared to other websites.

      And I will be revealing many more scams that are circulating in these legit websites.

      P.S: If you liked my writing style (you have plenty of my stuff to read at hubpages), maybe we both can work together too :)

    • Magdelene profile image

      Magdelene 6 years ago from Okotoks

      Hi there Hunbbel,

      I do use Elance and oDesk both and I find that Elance is better in regards to hiring writers. I have posted a couple of jobs on oDesk and did not hire any of the writers that did apply; I also did not ask them for sample articles.

      Now, I have successfully posted several jobs on Elance and still use their services to have articles and website updates done; I just seem to like the applicants better on Elance.

      My experiences with some of the writers hasn't always been spectacular, but... I plod on and sift through what else is out there.

      If a person wants to make it on Elance as a writer you have to be polite, get the job done on time and in the manner which was specified.

      I am always looking for a good writer who can communicate and produce what is required at a reasonable price.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Chris W:

      Nearly every buyer asks for a sample. I just don't know why they do not bother to have a look at our portfolios or links like hubpages that we give. This is not right at all to make writers write an article to judge their skills.

    • profile image

      Chris W. 6 years ago


      Does oDesk buyers to ask for free spec work? I use elance and this job would have been removed from the marketplace once reported.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Jacqui2011: If the reputation of that company is good enough to trust them, I think it may prove a good deal in the end. But obviously I couldn't trust a person, who had not even done a single project with any writer, and didn't have any sort of feedback and was asking to write loads and loads of samples for him.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience :)

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      A very interesting hub of your experiences. I did register with one of the companies and was asked to submit a sample, I didn't think that this sounded right, so I never sent it. I haven't tried again since. I think that there are so many scams out there that nearly everything I have looked into has been a total let down. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Voted up and rated interesting.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      mariefontaine: The freelancing word is full of scams and scum-bags. The need here is to help each other by sharing your experiences and protecting the rights of hard working freelancing writers; just the way you did now. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Randomcreative and Rangpur: You are welcome.

    • rangpur profile image

      rangpur 6 years ago from BANGLADESH

      thanks for help

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for the heads up!

    • mariefontaine profile image

      mariefontaine 6 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Nice article... covers a very similar experience I had. This woman made everything sound so simple and so appealing, but when I wanted a phone number to talk to her and letterhead proof of hire, she stopped talking to me. I figured out it was a scam that way. She got about 10 articles out of me at that time. I currently write here and on ...

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @homesteadbound: Happy to see you back at my hubs :)

      I hope you are doing good.

      Regarding the hubpages, I would say that hubpages act as your strongest portfolio in your freelancing career. When your buyer will have a look at your profile, they will judge your excellence by your followers, your author score, time duration, published hubs etc etc. There are so many things to induce them to use your service. Serious writers will always appreciate your profile at hubpages, while buyers like I mentioned above, will kick you out of the interviewee list like I got kicked :P

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      This is the first time that I have pursued any type of writing, so I found your article very informative. I have bookmarked it for future reference. It gives me a good idea of other venues I can pursue in the future should I choose to do so.

      I really liked your idea of using hub pages to show him your writing.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Rosemay: It is very advisable to show your work in your portfolio, but more than that, through an external url (like hubpages). They cannot publish the same articles again on the internet, and you will be safe, as these articles have already been published by you at hubpages.

      Thank you for stopping by :)

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Meisjunk: These bidding websites are 99.9% legit. You don't see any scams that have any relation with these websites itself. The only potential scams are like these where the buyers/clients do not honour their side of the deal.

      But I hope that you have tried the oDesk hourly based 'team-work' program. If you are hesitant about the scams etc, then I'll highly recommend you to take up a job at oDesk on hourly basis. That will be 100% risk-free. Although, you have to compete with the low-rates of many Asian contractors at first, until you make your name and then you'll be able to charge the reasonable fee you want to.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      iwansaptiko: Everybody is on his learning curve. You'll learn gradually, don't worry :)

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      @Vinaya: If you are willing, then you should try oDesk. Fresh starters have a more potential chance there to make their mark.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      You do a good job in warning other people of these scams. Very sensible of you to show him your hubpages instead of giving him an article.

    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wow. I'd been hesitant about ODesk because, while I kept hearing awesome reviews, I didn't hear it from any actual sources. It was all what people had heard from other people and so on. It's good to know that most of the site is legit. Thanks for the tip!

    • iwansaptiko profile image

      iwansaptiko 6 years ago

      I am not a professional writer and English is not my mother's language. I just look for "a hope" to have experience of writing, Who knows it will be a good thing for me. You can see how terrible my English.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Though I have registered with Guru and submitted proposals I have not found any luck. Your experience is very inspiring.