Leeching-largeIt’s been a hot topic lately on the writers and Linked In forums I visit. The dubious advertising that’s being presented as ‘freelance writing jobs’ is sometimes legit, most times is not.

On the one hand, what better pedestal to peddle your wares from, than sites that are specifically designed to connect writers with like-minded employers?

On the other hand, or the other three hands, newbie freelancers (also dubbed ‘freshers’ by many scammers) are the easiest prey.

The money might not be good, per se, but isn’t it an opportunity to start your career? Aren’t there filters to block the roughage on trustworthy sites? Isn’t every ad you see for freelance writing reliable?

Ha. Hahahaha.

If you’ve fallen for a scam, don’t let it get to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to writing, or if you’ve been writing for a stone’s age. Scammers are professionals, too. They get a little bit of everyone’s trust. It’s how they make their money.

Extremely Low Pay

“I am looking for volume writers for original “Top 5” articles, each with 350 or more words. The number of articles you write per day is up to you, but I am looking for at least 10 per day. I am looking for someone who loves to write. The pay rate is $0.05 per each article. This first set is for 400 short articles for $20.00.”

 Offers like these aren’t just insulting; they make it sound like they’re giving you a chance to do what you’re most passionate about- writing. The numbers game is always a big no-no.

The more numbers they throw out, the more confusing it gets- and the more likely you are to say ‘yes.’ 400 sounds good, no?

Reality check: 350+ words- aka a blog post- in the low range starts from $10 a page. Not $0.05/article. Crikey.

 Low Pay

“How can I forget the guy at (name of content mill here) who offered a dollar for articles by ‘Brilliant Writers’? He wants ‘brilliant’ for a buck?”

Most new freelancers are warned heavily by the been-theres that the money starting out is low. That you must get established before you’ll be able to charge more. It’s certainly true, but that doesn’t mean you need to write content for $2/500 words.

You can. But you don’t have to. You really are worth more. Any client that expects perfect grammar, SEO and research for 2 dollars is a cheapskate- and they know better. Which is why they say ‘freshers welcome.’

 Shoddy Presentation on the Company’s* Site

 “Now you do not have to pay high price for SEO. XX is giving you cheap and good freelance writing. Our writers will do your work in a best way. You are served with great quality and care at XX. It is the fast and unique service for your web. Forget about any quality issue at XX. These freelancers are experts in their field. Our rates are very normal. We always take care for our clients. Our rates are really low than others.”

If you understood the ad above, congratulations. Most would find it bizarrely bad. Crowing how cheap they are- and the poor quality of English on their main page– proves how much this company values good writing.

Always check out the company first. It’s what Uncle Google’s for. If it’s even remotely akin to this…I wouldn’t recommend you look to start your freelancing career there. Ever.

(Note: ‘XX’ isn’t really the company’s name. Grin.)

Different Exchange Rates

A: “They are paying 10p per word for content spinning. Or I should write less than $1 per 500-word post.”

 B: “10p per word/500 is 50 GBP. So I’m just a little confused, have you been in written contact with these guys?”

 A: “10p is 10paisa per word in Indian currency. I spoke with them on the phone.”

Perhaps some of these offers don’t mean to appear like freelance writing scams, but there’s a holy heck of a difference in income. If they’re only looking for Indian writers, great- then why do they ask for Native English Speakers from the US or UK?

And why offer in a foreign exchange? Simply because: people can be too lazy, distracted or clueless to figure out the exchange rate equals pennies for their written perfection.

(Note: The current exchange rate of the INR- Indian Rupee- is 53.98 to $1)

Free Samples– Unpublished, Freshers Welcome!

 “I’ve fallen for the free sample once too, when I first started freelancing. I found out the person had used the sample – without paying me – after I used it for another project with a client who’d Copyscaped the article. Embarrassing!

 While the client said he understood, the work trickled and eventually stopped after that incident. Yet another reason not to give away free samples.”

 This is a common freelance writing scam, but they’re getting more sophisticated.

The usual setup: send them an unpublished sample, usually on a topic of their choosing, as a writing ‘test’ to see your capabilities and if you’ll match their company/writing team. Or three samples. Or a sample and a list of similar article ideas for the same topic.

What it is: a fellow ‘freelancer’ or ‘freelance company’ that paper these ads all over the place. They choose topics according to what’s selling, they advertise a freelance job opportunity- and voila! Free articles. From you, and others like you. For them to sell under their name.

You won’t be hearing from them again, but you’ll probably see them around- under a new alias, using the same shtick.

Unrealistic Expectations

 “Complete between 30 and 60 articles per week (If you cannot write this many, please do not respond)”

 (forum reply) “I work at a daily newspaper and the reporters churning out any more than 15 pieces a week are usually giving you nothing but regurgitated press releases.”

 Starting out as a freelance writer, your instinct is to do as much as possible as quickly as possible. It makes you an easy target to try attempting an unreasonable amount of writing, because someone must be able to do it. They wouldn’t advertise otherwise, right? Wrong.

It’s the ‘more is more’ concept. It also happens to be completely out of date. Google’s Panda has nearly nullified the practice of slopping out masses of cruddy  content.

And when you fail (which you undoubtedly will), your already meager income gets swallowed by your ‘lack of writing skills not meeting our standards.’

It’s a lose-lose situation. It ends up making you feel like a loser. Not the writer that you are.

Preposterous Proposals

 “My favorite ghostwriter listing was for a novel in which the poster didn’t know anything about the story, characters, or time period, just that he wanted it to take place in a cemetery. Compensation was $25 for the 75,000 word manuscript and a copy of the book when it’s published.

Not all, but some people out in the big, wide world want to get something for nothing. It’s not just the economy- it’s their penny-pinching personalities, too.

When a client hasn’t got a clue what the work entails; has no clue what they want (yet still want whatever ‘it’ is done well); and has no interest in what you’re worth- it’s your neon-lit cue to get the heck out of dodge.

It is a scam. It’s asking someone else, i.e. you to do all of the work, research and creativity (which will be in their name, ahem) for next-to-nothing.

Oops, sorry. You do get a copy of your book when it’s published.

Threaten With Finding Others

 “They wanted me to write a two page essay every week and then translate it perfectly into another language for $10/article (one article encompassing the two translations). I told them that each article would require a minimum of five hours to complete so my $40/article seemed more than fair (basically minimum wage). They said they would find someone else who “would appreciate the opportunity”.”

 Companies and clients seem to forget that their copy- their content- their blogs- are a direct reflection of their professionalism. They should be willing to pay as well as they’d like their reputation to be online. Bargain-basement copy translates into bad business. Period. Full stop.

In hiring discount freelance writing, people really do get what they (don’t) pay for. And it shows.

Big Money, for What Exactly?

essay writing as one of my best way to express my thoughts and concerns in a brief and detailed manner. I would like to propose my project in a well detailed content and an inspiring one to captures readers attention. papers, $346.00”

Offering what appears to be really good money for what also appears to be nonsense is one gimmick. In the case of yon fella looking for essay writers- he gets contact information (also called ‘data collection’), or perhaps some freebie essays* from freshers. He then magically disappears, selling whatever he’s gleaned from you to the highest bidder.

Another gimmick: trying to hook you into ‘pay me this much for this advice/book/seminar/webinar/exclusive chance to be personally emailed- by me!- and I will make you RICH FAST. Easy money guaranteed, writing online, no experience necessary!’

Hmmm…what’s wrong with this? If these ‘experts’ were making so much money from their writing skills and business-savvy success, why would they need to fob off a $1.99 eBook with their secret tricks?

It’s a curiosity. Where are the proven stats, not the ones they’ve produced from thin self-marketing air? A little look behind the curtain typically reveals a get-rich-quick scheme, with them as the benefactor.

(Note: There are legit publications/paid-for freelance writing help. Doing some research reveals the writing wheat from the chump chaff.)

Account/Name Began Same Day As Advert, No Replies to Valid Questions

“…all online marketing candidates, who are interested in pur-suing new opportunities within a London based excited online company…”

This kind of freelance writing ad is popping up more frequently in forums, unfortunately. It could be real. Or it could be the same as many scams: sign up for a group/site that day; post the ad on every imaginable combination of keywords and disappear.

From the responses, they can get: personal information, including your private email or social media sites; ye olde free sample articles; or it’s a dud site that simply links to a PPC page (pay per click) and your visit has just made them a little money.

Post On My Blog As a Guest Blogger

“Send me new blogs on anything you want to write, and I’ll post them on my blog!”

(forum reply) “Don’t do it- it’s an affiliate site he’s working for. He gets paid for each post while you write for free. It’s a pyramid marketing scheme.”

Guest blogging is gorgeous. It’s great fun, a great source of legitimate backlinks and online credibility for you. The online freelance writing arena is a great place to be, no?

No. Not when it comes to lying to fellow freelancers about the fact that you’ll make an income off of their work and words.

I don’t think some writers would mind donating articles- particularly on a more popular site- to help build up their own audience. It’s the dishonesty in the presentation that rankles.

Those daily posting pyramid schemes, by the way (‘post every day and watch the money come in’)? The more content you put on your page, linked to theirs- the more money they earn. The only way you can make cash back is by doing the same sleazy process to anyone you can. It’s icky.

They are, of course, ‘freelance writing experts.’

Explain to me again how you can consider yourself a writer if you outsource all of your writing-?

Go With Your Gut

If it walks like a scam and talks like a scam- it probably is. As a new freelance writer, you might be inexperienced but that doesn’t make you completely naïve. You still have your instincts. If you’re still in doubt, just ask Uncle Google. It’s what he’s there for.

I’d like to thank the writer forums for pointing out the new scamming trends. What about you? Is there a scam I’ve missed, that newbie freelance writers should know about? Let us know, M.