ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Writing job scams

Updated on September 26, 2013

Writing jobs come in various forms. The good, the bad and the stunningly insulting are the usual mix. The trick for writers is to recognize the signs of dangerous jobs.

Scam jobs

  • “Research” jobs: These jobs can be “academic writing”, assignment writing or variations on those themes. These jobs are sometimes legitimate, but only if related to bona fide organizations. The rest (about 90%) are ripoffs, and sometimes major ripoffs. The theory is that you do the work, submit it, they reject it, then they recycle it, without paying you. You can do a lot of hard, boring work for literally nothing. If you complain, the sites disappear.
  • Peer group review writing: This is a new one. Your work is “approved” by other writers. There’s no guarantee of anything, in this environment. The process is slow, and some writers dislike the uncertainty as much as the unfamiliar method. The scam is that like the others you can do a lot of work simply to get annoyed by a much less than transparent process.
  • “Access writing”: You get to write for these people if you know where to get your articles published. Note that in this case you’re doing their work for them. You could (and should) do that for yourself. Generally speaking these “offers” have specific places for publication in mind, like news sites, magazines, etc. So you’re doing the work, getting them exposure, for what is usually pretty lousy money.
  • Bidding jobs: These are quite normal, until you see the ridiculous amounts being offered, particularly by some overseas clients. $4 an hour? That’s big money in the Third World, particularly with currency considerations, but it’s still $4. I saw one gig “$30,000 for 500 articles”. Turned out to be Filipino dollars, worth about $700.
  • Freelance ripoffs: Check out the second tier freelance sites for writers. Elance and oDesk, they’re not. The usual signs are El Cheapo ads and lowest possible rates placed by people who don’t even bother to check their own copy. Avoid, unless you’re looking for startup materials for a portfolio. Don’t hang around to find out how many ways there are to get ripped off, though.
  • Contract jobs: These can be very good, and very frustrating jobs. The general rule is that you set an accepted rate, get paid on time, etc. A lot of contracts don’t do that. You can be left hanging, and/or treated like part of the furniture. It’s not a nice environment and does nothing for your motivation. (Yes, you do need to be motivated to write 5000 words a day, guys, try it out for yourselves if you think it’s that easy.)

The theory of ripping off writers

Like other providers, the idea is that someone with an advertising budget of $50,000 spends about $200 on site copy or other written materials. They spend as little as possible on actual product and apparently pocket the rest themselves or win Brownie points for saving money by producing crap.

Providing you’re making decent money yourself, that’s their problem. If you’re not making decent money, however, it’s not exactly a great career move to stick around getting ripped off.

The solutions

Bear in mind that some magazines pay over $1 per word, and that they do count as great portfolio material.

My solution has been fairly simple. I charge $100 an hour specifically as a deterrent. Only genuine people will pay that sort of money. The ripoff merchants definitely won’t.

Higher rates can cost you some jobs, but you can negotiate a budget-based deal, too. Of that $50,000, for example, the usual commercial rate could be say $10,000. You charge $8000 and you get at least respectable money for your work, and stay competitive.

Don’t be inflexible about your pay. Be realistic, and put a decent value on your time and hard work. Negotiate, don’t capitulate. The rest is pretty straightforward.

Professional writers please note: It is actually useful to other writers, particularly new writers, to do the poll below, providing them with an indication of the depth of the issues in terms of real life experience.

Have you ever been ripped off as a writer?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)