Can You Spot These 3 Different Freelance Writing Scams?

Freelance writer scoping out online writing scamsWhen I got started in freelance writing, it was tough to get published. Nothing saw the light of day without an editor’s approval.

Today, the situation is reversed. It’s easy to get published. Set up your own blog and press “Publish.” Presto! Your work is out there, before the entire world.

Another way: Sign up on one of the untold hundreds of websites that promise you awesome exposure on their platform.

With all the “opportunities” out there, what’s harder today is avoiding scams and making sure you find situations that pay you a living wage.

Exposure, waste of time, or worse?

At this point, I’m hoping writers know they should get paid. And that free exposure online isn’t all that valuable, unless you’re posting on a high-traffic site with a great reputation.

If you don’t keep that in mind, you could waste a lot of time writing for websites that offer little in the way of either pay or exposure. Often, you don’t even get good clips out of it. You’re just spinning your wheels as a freelance writer, going nowhere.

Some of the scams out there could even damage your reputation if you get involved.

One day this week, I got three offers to sign up with writer website platforms in a single day.

I usually just hit “delete” right away, but I decided to check them out. I discovered there are many flavors of ripoffs and scams going on out there right now.

Let’s take a look.

Case #1

Case #1

Write about your advertisers? That’s sort of an odd offer.

Also, don’t you find it interesting that instead of sending me to a main signup page or the home page, he sends me to this weird subpage? Smells to me like this guy is affiliate selling this platform and maybe making a cut if I sign up with them.

Or trying to — I tried that page and got a 404.

Main signup page has the details — here’s the key stuff to know:

Case #1 sign up page

Sites like these connect you with advertisers who want exposure on your blog. They might pay you a small fee for posting a paid review on your blog, or for seeding a link to something onto your home page.

They’ll even write that “unbiased” review for you! (ROTFL)

And charge you for it. Hard to see there’s going to be a profit in it for you after that.

Funny that in another part of the site, it says “Publishers — there are no hidden fees. We just want your voice.” (Sounds creepy, like Ursula taking Ariel’s voice away in The Little Mermaid or something.) Sounds more like what they really want is to rent my audience, without full disclosure.

I’m hoping you’re scam detector is going off here. It’s not worth risking the trust you’ve built with your blog audience to run paid reviews where you don’t disclose that you got paid.

And if you do disclose it, your trust is blown straight away.

There’s also some language on that LinkVehicle site about writing “whether for exposure or pay.” So maybe they’ll pay me, maybe not?

There are ways to do sponsored posts right, but I get an oogy “gray hat” feeling out of this site.

Sponsored posts done right

It is possible to do sponsored posts in a way that’s ethical and doesn’t blow your credibility with readers. For instance, Nick Evans over on the Macheesmo food blog (I’m hooked!) sometimes has a food company sponsor a blog post.

Then he offers a recipe that includes an ingredient from that company, all while clearly explaining that the company challenged him to create a type of recipe with their food, and that they are the sponsor of the post.

All aboveboard and to the readers’ benefit, as they get a nice recipe idea out of the deal. It’s not an endorsement by the blogger, but a challenge he was given to create that recipe.

I think food blogs are well-suited to this sort of thing, and sites that do product reviews regularly. Many other types of blogs are not. If you’re considering accepting sponsored posts, think carefully about whether it’s worth it. Ditto with slapping up ads that might just annoy readers.

The big thing to know about offers to place guest posts on your blog that come from link-seeking companies is that Google hates it and may penalize your blog’s search rankings, as Matt Cutts recently pointed out. Just another reason these sort of guest posts probably aren’t worth the small sum they’d give you for the right to post them on your blog.

Case #2

Case #2

 

Took a look at the home page first, rather than that subpage link he sent me, and got this:

Case #2 homepage

Aside from a stock graphic, the home page was empty. I consider that a pretty big red flag.

On the subpage, I did actually find some text. Writers are invited to collaborate on stories in a wiki format where anyone can change your work. Bet writers are just stampeding to have their work rewritten by strangers.

We’re invited to “post your work for free or even sell it in our marketplace.” Which would certainly be a better earning scenario than posting it on Amazon…NOT.

If you’re looking for a place to give away your work, this might be an opportunity, since Amazon doesn’t let you offer e-books free except for short periods. Otherwise, it’s hard to see the appeal.

You can publish on your own blog free, too, and keep total control of your work.

Is it really a scam? They’re aboveboard about not paying you, so maybe it’s just not a good opportunity.

Case #3

Finally, I received this comment on my blog:

Case #3

 

Yes, the ungrammatical URL is a red flag.

But this one intrigued me because I’m always looking to add to my list of Websites that pay $50 or more per post, so I went to the website mentioned. Prominently featured was this handy sidebar on the site’s top earners:

Case #3 - Top 3 Article Writers Earnings

Wow, sign me up!

Sarcasm aside, this site clearly isn’t offering any real pay to writers. Just another “pennies-for-clicks” kind of place. I consider these scams because of how they lure you with the promise of pay, but there rarely is any.

Research the exposure

To see what sort of exposure opportunities these sites might be — since there’s little or no pay involved — I ran the Ever-Changing Story site and Me Seek Articles through Alexa.

Got the following results: Me Seek Articles is ranked over 400,000th globally, and Ever-Changing Story is too small to have any ranking data at all.

In other words, these sites don’t have traffic. You’re not getting any valuable exposure from posting work on these places.

Scam-avoidance tips:

To sum up, when someone emails you or posts on your Facebook page offering you an opportunity to sign up to write somewhere, be cautious.

Be wary of any platform that’s out soliciting loads of writers. Good clients usually just need one or two.

Remember that it’s a dead business model to aggregate masses of low-grade content to put ads against in hopes of affiliate revenue for clicks, thanks to Google’s algorithm changes. Startups continue to try this model despite this — don’t get sucked in. It will never pay well.

Look for things like:

  • A street address and phone number
  • A contact person’s email and name
  • A recognizable company or brand
  • An About page where you can learn more (Me Seek Articles lacked one)
  • Firm, guaranteed pay rates rather than speculative, possible future pay based on traffic or clicks
  • For sponsored-post or blog ad offers, nothing is kept secret from your blog readers

It’s easy to waste time writing for places that won’t help your career, or to hurt your credibility by getting involved in shady offers. Steer clear of these and keep looking for real, paying markets.

What do you think of these offers? Leave a comment and give us your reaction.

Freelance Writers Den

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108 comments on “Can You Spot These 3 Different Freelance Writing Scams?
  1. Naj Kramil says:

    Thanks for the caution.
    That is the reason why I do not write for anyone. I am a beginner also in blogging. (OBVIOUSLY ON MY FREE TYPE WEBSITE) I am just discovering the things and tips on blogging.
    It is really better to write for your own rather than having a shared site to write on. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Freelance writing is one of the biggest online scams right now.

    The following site is the definitive expose of the iWriter scam and the information there applies to many other freelance writing sites as well.

    YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BELIEVE THE INFORMATION YOU FIND THERE.

    One of the biggest online scams right now is in the “freelance writing” area.ย ย 

    The biggest company in this area is called iWriter and it is maybe the biggest online scam period.

    Ignore all the fake positive reviews and fake websites recommending iWriter while pretending to be independent, they are all a part of the scam.

    Iwriter is not just a huge scam, it is maybe the biggest of all the online scams.There is an awesome website that uncovers the whole iWriter scam in great detail.

    The site is hilarious and extremely well-written.It\’s also very thorough and comprehensive, maybe the best resource available yet on the iWriter scam.ย 

    That website shows clearly how fraud is not just peripheral to iWriter, but on the contrary, EVERYTHING at iWriter is fraud and scamming.ย 

    All the freelance writing scams need to be exposed. iWriter should be exposed to everyone so that the iWriter scam is finally shut down.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m a little skeptical when someone gives me a glowing ‘review’ of their own website, Mr. Happyface.

      In taking a look at iWriter, I’m not seeing that it’s markedly different from any other content mill out there, except for the angle where they’d like you to ‘buy’ your five-star rating for $147. Wonder what their clients think of that situation, rather than rankings being based on merit.

      On a site where apparently pay starts at $1.25 an article and tops out at $15 — “earn up to $15 an article!” is their promise — if any writer pays that money, shame on them.

      A scam, to me, is a situation where you’re told one thing, but given another. I’m not sure iWriter meets that criteria — it’s just that their pay is low, and they want to charge you fees to advance within their system. But that’s all clearly stated. Scams, to me, involve deception.

      I started this site in 2008 with a goal of preventing writer exploitation — but there’s nothing I can do about writers who volunteer for this kind of thing.

      But I believe most sites like this *will* eventually be shut down, because the service they offer, of cheap SEO keyword-focused short articles, is no longer useful to online businesses. Google doesn’t like junk content, ad rates have plummeted, and these no longer drive useful traffic. We’ve already seen quite a few of these shut down, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content (which Yahoo bought for $100M+ and then later shut down), and I’m sure more are to come.

      But as long as there are suckers, there will be sites that take advantage of them. It’s up to writers to educate themselves and avoid being used.

  3. Amie says:

    “Iโ€™m hoping youโ€™re scam detector is going off here.”

    Nope, but my bad grammar radar is. How did you make a mistake like this, Miss 6-figure writer? And this has been up over a year and not fixed? Even worse, none of your “professional writer” commenters have noticed it? Geez.

  4. Jerry Nelson says:

    I don’t mean to start the whole conversation rolling again, but I did want to mention an interesting fact.

    Three of the people who defended Guardian so strongly, Nancy, Heather and Rebeca, have now left the organization.

  5. Randy Baith says:

    I am a P.I. and I bust out scams, unfortunately there is not a lot of money in this, but I am growing my online presence.

    Recently I have been searching for ways to make some extra money writing. I am quickly finding that there is no money in it. They want quality writing at 3rd world pay rates, but that’s another topic.

    I applied to a writing job on indeed.com for a company called KinoKrash Outsourcing LTD.

    A guy called me about the job and agreed to a premium price of 3 cents a word. He sent me a Word doc. of the guidelines. They looked professional enough, but one of the things that it mentioned was to check their site to make sure you are not writing about something that has already been written.

    Here’s the problem; I cannot find a website for them. That led me to further investigation.

    KinoKrash is a username for an anime junkie. It also led me to an incomplete profile for a writer on Freelancer. It’s nothing more than a name (KinoKrash) and a few “qualifications.”

    Here are some other “red flags”. The guy was not very professional on the phone. He also had a yahoo email address. He mentioned nothing about the payment process, and he said his name was Brandon Lee.

    I am sure it is a scammer trying to get content that hew will get paid for. I sent him an email asking about the website and payment process. He emailed me back saying that the company website was down due to financial issues. Yea, I wanna work for them. He also said that payment was through PayPal every two weeks. By that time he would have plenty of my work to sell.

    Let me know what you think.
    Thank you,
    R.Baith

    • Carol Tice says:

      Randy, as this post details there are tons of scams online. Answering online job ads is a great way to get sucked into one.

      The good news is there are good-paying freelance writing jobs out there, for writers who prospect proactively and find their own clients. You can check out my e-books tab and the Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success e-book for a system for proactively building a legit portfolio and starting to get good-paying gigs.

  6. Thanks for this post! I found it searching for information on GLV, just like some others recently, it looks like. After freelancing full-time for a number of years, their ad on Craigslist and the writer application page it directs you to — neither of which give any information on payment, by the way, despite claims that they are transparent about how they pay their writers — raised plenty of red flags for me, so I decided to Google them.

    The thing that I can’t believe has not been mentioned: If you want to devote your time writing posts that pay only in a share of the ad revenue, and may never pay at all, why not start your OWN website to do that from? Then at least you’d get ALL of the ad revenue, instead of only a fraction of it. Why spend all your time building someone else’s site? If you are going to assume all of the risk, you ought to also have the ability to reap all of the benefits.

    Despite the GLV staffers who have written in — and yes, if you are earning a commission from writers you have recruited, Rebecca, that makes you affiliated with the company and therefore NOT just a regular freelancer voicing your opinion — I hope that anyone who reads this post will see through the B.S. and understand what is really going on here.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, people write for big-traffic sites because they feel a percent of views on there will be more income than they’d make on their own low-traffic blog…but they may not be right about that.

      I do have a complete post coming up on GLV, Katharine, so stay tuned on that. Been talking to multiple GLV writers for it.

      • I look forward to your post! It’ll be interesting to see what the writers have to say, especially after all the posturing going on in the comments here.

    • I was writing for the GLV for about a month and a half but decided that it wasn’t for me at that point. I think it’s a good way to get exposure if that’s the only thing you’re interested in, but it’s not a great way to make money. I mean, I guess you can make money if you devote a lot of time to recruiting people for your team, but that’s not something I wanted to do.

      I actually did start my own website after I left and monetized it with ads. So far I’ve made more than four times what I made writing at the GLV and have actually written less.

      • Exactly, Jonathan. Good for you! I monetize my own sites too, and although I find that the ad revenue suffers when I go through periods of not blogging as much, I also think it’s a much better deal to be putting my work into my OWN websites. I want to retain my own work and ideas!

  7. Vanessa says:

    I, too, happened upon this site after researching Guardian LV as a possible writing opportunity. As spirited as the discussion became, I’m truly grateful for having been able to observe opinions from both sides. Very enlightening and very helpful for those extreme newbs like myself who understand the need to proceed with as much information as possible! Much appreciation.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Vanessa —

      Stay tuned for a whole post about Guardian, coming up in the next few weeks. Will have a lot more information.

      • Vanessa says:

        Thanks much. I’ve been bouncing around your site, it’s a wealth of information! Thanks for the time and effort put into making it available. Best.

  8. Jericho Garrett says:

    I’m reading all the comments about Guardian Liberty Voice, and to be frank, it is a content mill that lures people in based on the premise of big rewards. I looked into it, had friends who wrote for it, and all have left because of the lack of pay, and the complete lack of follow through by people who were suppose to be in charge.

    All anyone has to do is look at the site. Between the ads and the crappy English, plus the same story over and over, to know that this isn’t a serious site. I’ve even seen articles published with, “Dear Editor, I am having problems with this part, can you look at it for me?” It was fixed, but a serious editor would have never let it go in the first place.

    They keep pushing for more and more writers, which just points to the theory that it is a content mill. Why do I think they do the big push for Sundays? What better way to get a bunch of stories for your site? Anyone who has ever worked for a paper knows that Sunday is the biggest day, and if you get a bunch of writers to crank out 6 articles in one day, then you’ve got it. Who cares if those writers never write again – there are a bunch more to take their places the next Sunday.

    When my friend told me what she actually made from her articles, I about died laughing – she would write about 3 hours a day, and her first check was somewhere around $17. She didn’t even make enough to get paid, because she said she had to have at least $50 of earnings to collect. She kept trying to believe in the dream, but she finally realized dreams don’t pay the bills. I’m sure there are some people who do well there, but they are the minority. Most people probably don’t make enough to pay for a can of air to blow out their keyboards. I told her she’d be better off just starting a blog.

    Before she quit, she told me the owner had started this thing to hire a whole glut of new writers (something like 900 from what I saw on the internet), which means a whole lot less pay for the ones already writing.

    I know you will probably get a bunch of the same stuff you got before, and for that, I’ll just say I’m sorry now. Nothing will change my opinion of this joke, though.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Jericho —

      Thanks for sharing the feedback you’ve gotten from GLV writers.

      I have a basic rule that anytime a market is recruiting hundreds of writers, you know it’s not going to pay well. There is no business model under the sun that is lucrative for writers en masse. Great-paying markets usually hire one or two writers at a time. Maybe a half-dozen for a big project launch.

  9. Alexandra says:

    Oh my goodness. I’m a longtime reader of this blog and was a Den member for a couple of months. I recently was prodded by a friend to join the Guardian LV (not as one of his “team,” just for the record), so I decided to Google the average pay. Surprise–nothing. Except this.

    I want to say one thing, purely my opinion, feel free to delete with no hard feelings, but I strongly dislike the snarky “polite insults” that were flying back and forth. Sugar-coated disdain is so unappealing and I read it from pretty much everyone. I managed to get the information I was looking for but, ugh, what a fiasco.

    Anyway, The Guardian LV seems great for writers who have a lot of free time on their hands. Or, as Carol mentioned, writers in their niche who have basically no paying opportunities. Or, people who write as a hobby and don’t much care what they actually make.

    What GLV is not good for? Reliable income. And, I believe, that is the overall point here.

    The company can tout their support and “opportunities” all they want. I don’t think they misrepresented themselves, necessarily. It’s just that Carol rightly advocates reliability and consistency. Seriously, did everyone forget what this blog is called? Make A Living Writing. A living is more than a number, it’s a sense of security.

    Anyway, I’m off my soapbox. I was just stunned to come across such a heated, muddled debate. I may still sign up to write for GLV; but I know full well that the time spent there has a very high opportunity cost. However, churning out articles for “potential money” is better than refreshing Facebook and meeting the Guardian’s standards would take about that much energy (no offense intended, really, but we are professionals here and re-spinning news is NOT complicated).

  10. Hi Carol,

    I stumbled upon your web page while searching in google using the search phrase” The Guardian Liberty Voice”. I appreciate your helpful article and advice. Thank you.

    I have been considering the field of online-writing for quite some time as I have worked in the finance industry for years. Writing comes naturally to me (but always seeking and learning to write better). I am also a musician, lyric writer, and composer and have written many blurbs via emails etc. but nothing ever published. I also have a degree in Journalism.

    The web site I created (listed above) involved a world-wide youtube competition created with permission from one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band (Richard Betts a.k.a Dickey Betts) as well as Alliance Artists Ltd.

    I was considering the field of a writing and searched the jobs section in craigslist today. Specifically the category titled, “Writing/Editing” and found a post.

    I then went to Guardian’s application page.

    Seems legit but wondering if you could kindly provide your professional advice in regards to this CL post, “The Guardian Liberty Voice” to someone new to seeking writing as an income.

    Your kind patience and help would be much appreciated.

    Regards
    Walter Lepore New Jersey USA

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you’ve got my point of view on Guardian loud and clear already in the comments to this post, Walter. I’ve deleted your links as I am not here to promote anyone’s Craigslist ad.

      In general, Craigslist is the home of many very low-paying and outright scam “opportunity” listings, so beware if you’re ever looking there for gigs. The bulk of my time is spent teaching writers how to proactively prospect to find their own clients rather than visiting places like Craigslist and applying for jobs that thousands of other writers will also be trying to get.

      If you need help learning how to get started as a freelance writer, see my sidebar for some great free resources, subscribe here for free updates, check out my Freelance Writers Den community, or consider 1 on 1 mentoring, I’d say.

  11. Del says:

    Seems to me this is all about nothing. Forbes pays revenue only to their bothers. Huff Post pays “Exposure” and I doubt you would bash them. The fact is, online writers are paid less unless they get hired by whatever client to write for them for a flat fee. Neither model is better or worse, just different. As someone who has been published in print and online, I think the real thing I see is wannabes wanting your fictional
    $100 an hour for basically doing as little as they can get away with. The truth is you, just like every other freelancer is at the mercy of clients, have to constantly keep marketing to get more, and if a wannabe comes around with a cheaper rate and a better sales pitch, you are out the door. So basically, my point is, don’t bash just because you disagree. And aiming the hate towards one site while reading the free work on HuffPo and Forbes is a bit much. Let the writer decide what works for them.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Actually, I’m a big nonfan of HuffPo…and I’m paid by Forbes, myself. Not sure what you’re saying above about their ‘bothers.’ But they have a core group of freelancers they pay — I’ve made $1500 a month and more for writing four posts for them.

      There’s nothing fictional about $100 an hour, Del — I’ve coached dozens and dozens of writers to raise their rates and get real pay. And the types of clients who pay it want a level of subject expertise and journalism knowledge that mean we don’t lose our gigs to the next “wannabe’ who comes around.

      I’m not hating on any one particular site here, but calling out scammy types of business models you might want to stay away from.

  12. PeterS says:

    GLV should be called what it is: an aspiring “news” aggregator who’s main purpose is not to inform, but to generate hits that can be used to induce advertisers to spend. A lot has been said about content, but from what I can see as a reader, it is mostly, if not all carefully regurgitated paragraphs from legitimate content providers. Its writers are, by and large, self appointed journalists who are taught to master SEO.

    I’ll stay with the original sources and credible writers.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Quality seemed very uneven as I read through it…they seem to aspire to be a Forbes type place but without paying for that level of expertise and without the brand-name credibility.

      I’m fascinated to see how Google will regard the site, since it does seem like a flagrant content-stuffing for ad clicks model not much different from many sites Google has already tanked in the rankings.

  13. Patti Podnar says:

    I may have a slightly different take on this, so I’m interested to see responses. It looks like it’s OK to post links, so I’ll link to the blog post inspired by Carol’s article. Hope that’s OK!

  14. Ben Gaul says:

    It seems I need to get out more. I was unaware of this little kerfuffle concerning the Liberty Voice, until the issue was brought up in an editor’s meeting. For the record, I am a professional marketing copywriter; graduate of the Drayton Bird school of writing in the style of first person persuasion.

    A lot of my work has other people’s names on it, because using your own name when ghost blogging for business rather defeats the purpose. There are also a dozen website building companies who contract me to write and edit web pages for them. Again, my name is nowhere to be seen. Consequently, I cannot point to a vast stack of work with my by line, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. My Klout score is a steady 60, which indicates just my social media reach.

    My point here, is that I am intimately aware of the hosing a writer can take, if they are not careful about who they do business with. Also, I am in this for the income, not the notoriety. My minimum charge for a sales letter is $500.00, because those letters generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for the people who buy them. I myself never get additional monies when the letter does what it is designed to do. I’ve already been paid.

    What the Liberty Voice has done, is turn that idea of “paid once and done” and turned it on its ear. If I write something of lasting value, which still gets read months and months from now, I am still going to get my percentage of the advertising revenues, months and months from now. I am even afforded the opportunity to recruit my own team of writers and profit from their work, as well.

    Interestingly enough, I wrote a piece for the Blog side of the Liberty Voice on Feb. 4, completely unaware that it would have baring on this issue. I’m linking it in, because I believe it will help speak for the people who run our news site.

    • Carol Tice says:

      OK, I get that now Guardian has asked all its affiliates to come here and link to posts that have their affiliate links for people to join Guardian.

      Fascinating that your post about your great lessons from Guardian ALSO, once again, does not say what you’re earning. Why the mystery, Guardian writers? Help your community out and share what they pay!

      I’ll leave this one on and Jonathan’s, but future ones will be removed.

      And…you don’t get royalties on your sales letters? Good clients do offer them, you know.

  15. Heather Pilkinton says:

    I write between 30 and 40 articles a month. On top of that, I am an editor and trainer. The link that came up under Tracy Rose was a story I had posted as an editor, not one I had written.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Got ya — I only do allow links to posts you wrote, and your own site, not the home page of Guardian.

      And for those 30-40 posts, what were you paid?

      Let’s see, if I wrote that many posts for my blogging clients, I’d earn… at the very LEAST, $4,000-$5,000.

      Of GUARANTEED pay, not speculative maybe-earnings.

      I’d usually earn much more. Calculating on the base of about the lowest-paying freelance blogging clients I’ve ever had.

      More ordinarily for me, I got over $6K for just a series of 8 online articles I wrote for one client, not long back.

      How does that compare with what Guardian pays?

      Also, how much can you earn if you’re just writing, rather than participating in the MLM scheme of having to recruit your own team of sub-writers that you also edit?

    • Carol Tice says:

      It seems like we’re mostly hearing either from staffers at Guardian like yourself who edit and train other writers as well as writing (is it necessary to do both to make a real hourly rate?), or brand newbies like Jonathan.

      Interesting that 2 years on, there don’t seem to be any just-plain-writers here that are successful with Guardian and excited to share what writers can earn on this platform.

    • Angie says:

      Heather, I’ve only just started to really, actively market my services, and this month I’ve got $3000 worth of work on deck…and I promise you, I’m not writing *nearly* 30 articles for that. Half of that was made from two projects, each around 500 words.

      It’s easy to *say* you’re making a living…but you’ve yet to give us any real numbers. I’ve just bared my numbers for the month. Now, if you want to convince us GLV is a viable client, let’s see you do the same.

      • Carol Tice says:

        I know…seems like an awful lot of work.

        I actually had a flat-fee gig years back with a CBS website where we had a 1x a day posting requirement. What a grind! But at least I had guaranteed income.

        But it’s just not sustainable…think I maybe lasted a year before realizing I’d never be able to take a vacation again under that setup. No thanks!

        • Angie says:

          Yeah, the whole revshare model has always seemed like a gamble to me. I’d rather have a sure thing — and I’m sure my landlord, utility companies, and insurance company would, too.

  16. Thanks for this Carol!

    It baffles me how many people out there are still having a go at these scammy, spammy marketing and SEO strategies. Especially since Google’s Panda, Penguin &Hummingbird algorithm updates…

    The amount of badly written emails that still slip through my spam filter, trying to rope me into some kind of SEO link-building scheme or pay-per-post blogging network – is alarming!

    Why would I pay money to guest post on some over-optimised, irrelevant blog (which has a decent overall PR just because it’s been around for a while) – when I can guest post for free on a relevant, high-traffic blog in my niche just by sending them a friendly email?

    Anyway, I won’t start ranting (too much).

    Cheers for the post!
    Konrad Sanders recently posted…How to Make Your Content Pack a Powerful Punch!My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      My theory on it is Demand Media went public and their owners made a fortune…and lots of wannabe entrepreneurs saw that, and imagine they could be the next DMD.

      Except Demand went public the last minute before Google set out to kill the mass junk content model, and it doesn’t work anymore…and never paid writers very well, in the main, anyway.

      I like the ones that tell me about how groundbreaking and game-changing and novel their idea is…except it’s never much different from the million sites like this already out there.

      I still usually get at least several every week…decided to do this post after getting several in a DAY…was sort of a snapping point for me.

  17. Ryan says:

    Hi Carol,

    I looked into the three sites:

    meseekarticles.com seems spammy, it doesn’t even have an about/FAQ page. Also, the top writers are the same – it probably just displays static text.

    About the ever-lasting story thing, I don’t know what’s the point – 1) There are no ads (or any other monetization techniques) on the page. 2) The homepage is a default Weebly website, (created with a website builder) yet it says it was hosted with Hostgator, and the Hostgator link wasn’t even an affiliate link?

    The linkvehicle link was probably an affiliate link, as there was a “r” (stands for referral) follwed by a name.

    Ryan
    Ryan recently posted…Free hosting vs Paid Hosting โ€“ Which one should I use?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, I thought the LinkVehicle one was an aff link…but it didn’t work! Double fail. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Seems like you had a similar reaction to me on these sites.

      I actually saw a blogger recently where they said they had made a big $135 that month or something from LinkVehicle. Seems not worth it to post link-builder guest posts of dubious quality on your blog.

  18. Great advice, as usual. When I first started out, I heard from a trusted blog source that the guardianlv.com has a good paying writers program where you can sign up and they teach you SEO and tips and tricks in a “bootcamp.”

    I tried it out, but it is very clearly a content mill. The guy running it seems like he may genuinely want to be good to the writers, but the business model is what it is, no matter how you spin it. Pay per click just can’t get you the income you need. I worked for weeks on good pieces for the site and now I use them in my online portfolio of clips, so I got that much out of it at least, but never saw a dime. Beware of anyone putting forth a payment plan based on you getting a percentage of advertising money for clicks on your articles. Not only does it add up to an abysmal hourly rate (on this site, you supposedly get a higher percentage the more articles you can kick out a month), but you have absolutely no way of knowing if you are even being paid what you are due.
    Danyelle C. Overbo recently posted…Why Sales Storytelling Matters to YouMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on, Danyelle — unless they promise data transparency and provide some base pay against that revshare, it’s not going to be worth it. I did a post recently describing the right scenario for revenue share.

      It does exist, but not many places do it in a way that I think makes it a fair shake for writers. I’m lucky to write for one that does. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just billed them for January — I made about $300 a post, for the 3 posts I did.

      If it’s not like that one, pass, I say.

      • Alex Durig, Ph.D. says:

        Earlier this week, Danyelle posted an unflattering note about her limited experience with the Guardian Liberty Voice. One of our senior editors, Rebecca Savastio, posted a response. Then Carol called Rebecca a liar, yanked her post, and wrote an unflattering note about her limited experience with the Guardian Liberty Voice. Today I am issuing two written responses to each Danyelle and Carol, one at a time, and I hope my rights to freedom of speech will prevent these notes from being yanked.
        Dear Carol,
        Amid the conflagration, you actually called Rebecca Savastio a liar, and proceeded to lambast the Guardian Liberty Voice, as if we were the online newspaper best known for exploiting our writers. Then you read her the riot act and basically challenged the Guardian Liberty Voice to prove how much our writers make and post it here on your blog. Here is the thing, Carol, we are only two years old and none of our writers are making over $100k a year – yet. Our writers and editors are independent contractors, each running their own business, and I would never presume to speak for them or to out their finances in public. But, I bet if you took the time to actually communicate with Rebecca in a meaningful way you would find out that Rebecca Savastio probably makes more money per month editing and leading her own team of writers than you do running this blog. However, I would never ask you to publically out your finances to placate my anger, because that would not really be good form. We are only two years old โ€“ one day we will have editors and writers earning over $100,000 a year, but anyone who makes that kind of money as a writer will tell you it doesnโ€™t come easily or quickly. As you are a smart, assertive person who wants to survey opportunities for writers to make money, Carol, I want to invite you to contact me: Alex Durig, Ph.D., VP Business Development, Guardian Liberty Voice, at a.durig@guardianlv.com or 415.410.9651. You have over 100,000 writers visiting your blog every month. You are a force to be reckoned with and an amazing person in your own right. if you went through Boot-camp, graduated successfully, and brought over even just a small percentage of writers from your audience to be on your writing team, then you would easily be well on your way to soon becoming the first writer at the Guardian Liberty Voice to earn well over $100,000 a year. One last thing, Carol, even if you do not want to have anything to do with us, I want to issue an open invitation to anyone reading your well-respected blog: Contact me, Alex Durig, Ph.D., and I will be more than happy to make sure all aspiring, entrepreneurial writers get a running chance to launch your own writing business with the Guardian Liberty Voice, the most exciting online newspaper startup in America.

        We do not run a content mill. Think of the Guardian Liberty Voice as a trade-off: either you take the time and effort to network and communicate with editors and wait for them to throw you a freelance bone once in a while โ€“ or you go with the Guardian Liberty Voice where you will have a guaranteed platform for all of your writing, every day, 24/7, truly building your own business, and actually earning commissions on your impressions for the rest of your life. Who else will pay you for the impressions your articles generate for the rest of your life?

        Kind Regards,
        Alex Durig, Ph.D.
        VP Business Development
        Guardian Liberty Voice

        • Carol Tice says:

          It’s really about 50,000 visitors a month, Alex, but I’m flattered.

          Seems like most of the same stuff here as in your response to Danyelle.

          Afraid I’m not looking for speculative writing opportunities myself right now, Alex. It’s been many years since I needed to do a tryout. Take a look at my article that’s at the top of the stack right now, and I think you’ll see the sort of clients I work with.

          I do spend most of my time assisting my Freelance Writers Den community these days…by challenging the PR startup websites sling and trying my best to deliver facts.

          Nobody expects to earn $100K for a single client…but what DO writers earn? It’s fascinating that you have yet to give us any real details. Can’t see how anonymously sharing average earnings or top 5 earners compromises anyone.

          Alexa tells me you’ve got a lot of traffic…if you have a business model there, I would assume writers are earning buckets! But sounds like not.

          Feel free to keep us posted if you’re ever able to offer any kind of guaranteed per-post pay…most of us really prefer at least some of that in our contracts.

          PS – This blog is not the public square, and there are no freedom of speech rights here. I have guidelines for commenters, and I’ll thank you to follow them in future by avoiding personal attacks, or comments will be spiked.

          • Hi Carol,

            While I am new with the Guardian LV and cannot give details on my earnings (mainly because I haven’t received my first cheque yet,) I can say that my experience with the talked about boot camp program has been nothing but awesome. It was intense, but very thorough and because I’ve written six or seven viral articles, which I know are going to be making some money because of the Guardian LV’s business model.

            I have to agree with Alex that the freelance writing is like running your own business, which means if you want to succeed then you need to put the time and effort into doing it. I’ve tried starting my own business in the past and it is a lot of work. The difference here is that we’re already being supplied with a network of other talented writers and a platform to write on that already has millions of viewers per month. I’ve also (in the past) tried writing to make money using Google Adwords as my revenue source on personal blogs and it is just far too low.

            Personally, I intend to make this my full time gig by writing, editing, training and building my own team. The organization is only a couple of years old at this point and through that time, its owner showed us quite openly its growth rate. Personally, I don’t see it going anywhere but up and I want to be there to go along for the ride.

            I really am looking forward to seeing what comes of this, because I am a good writer and have felt more motivated than ever since I went through boot camp. If you or anyone would like to hear more about my experience, I wrote a detailed blog post about what it was like to go through this process.
            Jonathan Holowka recently posted…Guardian Liberty Voice and Journalist Certification Boot CampMy Profile

            • Carol Tice says:

              Thanks for sharing your bootcamp details, Jonathan!

              I’m sure any of my writers who want to write six posts a day for a not-guaranteed amount of income that could be zero will check that out.

              And please tell us more about the whole “building your own team” angle, Jonathan — I have a sense that there’s some sort of multi-level-marketing type model, where you also must recruit more writers and edit their work as well, in order to end up earning well? Please fill us in.

              • Hi Carol,

                The only day we were required to write six posts was for the very last one, the graduation certification “Hell Day.” The other days it was only either one post or two. The certification is to make sure that we’re all writing to the Guardian LV’s standards. Everyone who has made it that far is definitely writing articles that are getting viewed and starting to make them an income.
                Jonathan Holowka recently posted…Guardian Liberty Voice and Journalist Certification Boot CampMy Profile

                • Carol Tice says:

                  And so you’re planning to make this your only client? I’m just going to advise against that. No freelancer should have only one client.

                  Of course, writing a minumum 30-60 posts a month for Guardian might not leave a lot of room to develop other clients.

                  • I will take that into consideration! I’ve always loved writing and discovering ways to do it freelance is something I’ve started and been doing for only about a month now. I am of course, open to writing freelance for anyone who is looking for that sort of help.

                    What I like about the Guardian LV is that it provides me with a steady stream of writing opportunities, which add to my portfolio and can generate a steady stream of income. In that sense, it is similar to working as a commission sales representative. If you enjoy what you are doing and are good at it, then you can make it work for you.
                    Jonathan Holowka recently posted…Guardian Liberty Voice and Journalist Certification Boot CampMy Profile

                    • Carol Tice says:

                      I agree in part with the commission sales analogy, Jonathan…but there’s so much you don’t control here.

                      I think the operate word above is “can.” Not “will.”

                      But please do check in with us and let us know how it goes. I have yet to hear of a single writing “opportunity” where there are “a steady stream of writing opportunities” that paid anything like professional rates.

                      Perhaps a magical new business model has been created here where you can ‘write whatever you want’ and make real money on a mass content site, even though Google hates these type of sites more with each update. In five years of looking at the marketplace on behalf of my readers, I’ve never found a site that fairly compensates writers with this model.

            • Angie says:

              Hi, Jonathan –

              I’m really concerned by your statement that you plan to make GLV a full-time gig. Professional freelancers understand that they should never put all their eggs in one basket — things happen, companies go out of business, editorial guidelines change, and you can suddenly find yourself with no work and contemplating having to take a salaried position to make ends meet.

              Recommend you look at how the business of freelancing works and why it’s important to cultivate relationships with more than one client. There are some great books out there on freelancing — my top 2 suggestions are Peter Bowerman’s Well Fed Writer, and Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell’s The Renegade Writer.

    • Nancy Schimelpfening says:

      I’ve been with the Guardian Liberty Voice since September and I have to completely disagree with your assessment. Anyone who has stayed for even a few months past Boot Camp has done well with their income. It’s a shame that you went into it with a preconceived notion that it was scam. You missed out on a great opportunity.

      • Carol Tice says:

        Nancy — can you enlighten us on what you mean by “done well”? I’d love to hear about how many articles you wrote and what you were paid.

      • Hi Nancy,

        That is fantastic that you feel you are making good money through GLV. I can assure you that I would never have gone into it if I had any preconceived notions that it was a scam. That would be counterintuitive. Eventually, the amount of work versus pay did not add up for what professional writers actually need to make, among other issues. That’s my experience.

        If you have a different experience, please share the details of how it works for you (how many articles you write and how much you are paid) so that other people on the forum can benefit from your knowledge.
        Danyelle C. Overbo recently posted…Why Sales Storytelling Matters to YouMy Profile

        • Heather Pilkinton says:

          I have worked for Guardian Liberty Voice for awhile, and I well past the boot camp stage. I would like you to know and understand that not only I do well working for GLV, I am well taken care of by the publisher. While this may not have worked out for one person, that doesn’t mean the system does not work; just like with any business, you get out of it what you put into it. This is not the type of work for everyone, but for those of us who have put in the time and dedication to seeing our commitments through, the rewards have been well worth the effort.

          • Carol Tice says:

            Hi Heather —

            Thanks so much for commenting! We’d love to hear what “well worth the effort” means in your case. How many posts did you write, and what were you paid? Give us a typical month, maybe?

            It’s fascinating how much bluster we’re hearing about how great Guardian is, except that no one really wants to say what they make.

          • That’s great to hear Heather, but we would still like to see the actual numbers. How many articles did you write in one month and how much were you paid for that month?
            Danyelle C. Overbo recently posted…Why Sales Storytelling Matters to YouMy Profile

          • Carol Tice says:

            Heather, I’d also love it if you’d explain why your link to a Guardian post that you included with that comment isn’t by you but by “Tracy Rose.” Are you using a fake name on Guardian? If so, why?

            If not, why are you linking to someone else’s post?

            I don’t allow those type of links, so I’ll be removing it. If you’d like to link to something you wrote, happy to have it.

          • Angie says:

            Hi, Heather –

            Could you please explain what you mean by “do well with GLV” and “well taken care of by the publisher”? What’s your average hourly rate working for GLV? We freelancers live and die by the hourly rate, because that’s how we know we’re making what we’re worth.

            Please don’t take this as an attack – I’m genuinely curious to know what GLV writers/editors are making, and whether it’s anywhere near the $100/hour that spells professional rates for experienced freelancers.

            • Nancy Schimelpfening says:

              Angie, I can’t speak for what other writers make, other than some make a lot more than I do and some make less, but for my coming paycheck, I averaged just under $38 per hour spent writing. I know some would prefer the certainty of knowing that if they crank out x number of articles they will earn x number of dollars, but that doesn’t mean our model is a bad one. I really love the fact that if one of my articles goes viral, I will be earning hundreds or thousands of dollars from it. If you are paid a flat fee, however, and your article goes viral, guess what? You still earn that paltry little fee. I love it that my efforts to promote my articles have a direct effect on how much money I make. Yes, you probably will start out not earning much until you learn the ropes. Once you do, however, you will find your income increasingly steadily. We have people who have been with the company since last summer who are already making a full-time income. That wasn’t instantaneous; but, given that their income is still continuing to grow, I foresee that they will soon be making more than what’s average in this industry. It really depends what your goals are though. It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’d like the money generated by your hard work to actually go to you instead of the company that you write for then this is the place you want to be. If anyone wants more information, they are welcome to email me. I’m more than happy to answer questions.

              Oh, to answer a question I saw earlier. This site automatically fills in a link. I’d love to be able to promote one of my own articles instead of whatever it randomly fills in, but it doesn’t give that option. You can always Google me though if you want to confirm that I’m a real person.

              • Carol Tice says:

                Nancy, you’re getting those random posts because you keep putting that your website is the home page of Guardian. Which I don’t allow anyway. You can only link to a site of your own here. Doesn’t Guardian at least give you an author profile page you could list as your link?

                Thrilled to hear $38 an hour works for you! I know many writers who’ve gone broke and had to get day jobs at those rates.

                Nancy, there are sites that pay you a flat fee PLUS bonuses for traffic. I’m sticking to my opinion that THAT is what you want — a site with a business model that’s successful enough to be able to guarantee you at least a modest fee for your writing, so you know you won’t earn zero.

                I wrote about how to make revenue share really successful for writers here:
                http://www.makealivingwriting.com/revenue-share-websites-learned-love/

                I don’t know why the writers should have to take 100% of the risk in this model, when they are doing ALL the work of building the site. That to me smacks of writer exploitation, and is the whole reason I started this blog way back in 2008.

                Also…remember that Google is targeting and killing sites like this in search, so the revenue you can earn today may not be what you can earn tomorrow.

                My advice is to stay diversified! And don’t put all your eggs with a model that, like Demand Studios, Google could up and decide to kill one day soon. Because this sort of mass content delivery and requirements to write 30 posts a month rarely results in articles people really want to read.

                And if the links Guardian automatically filled in are any indication, the general drift is the same sort of SEO headline junk Demand does.

                So watch out. Take a look at Demand’s stock price if you’d like to see what the future will probably look like for Guardian as well.

      • Angie says:

        Hi, Nancy –

        Could you please explain what you mean by “done well with their income”? What’s your average hourly rate working for GLV? We freelancers live and die by the hourly rate, because that’s how we know we’re making what we’re worth.

        Please don’t take this as an attack – I’m genuinely curious to know what GLV writers/editors are making, and whether it’s anywhere near the $100/hour that spells professional rates for experienced freelancers.

    • Alex Durig, Ph.D. says:

      Earlier this week, Danyelle posted an unflattering note about her limited experience with the Guardian Liberty Voice. One of our senior editors, Rebecca Savastio, posted a response. Then Carol called Rebecca a liar, yanked her post, and wrote an unflattering note about the Guardian Liberty Voice. Today I am issuing two written responses to each Danyelle and Carol, one at a time, hoping my rights to freedom of speech will prevent these notes from being yanked.

      Dear Danyelle,
      Apparently you went through Guardian Liberty Voice Boot-camp and then quit the newspaper before even really getting started as a certified writer. You said some unflattering things about our organization, as if we are cut-throat, deceptive people dedicated to exploiting our writers at every turn. Danyelle, almost 100 writers and a dozen editors cannot all be wrong. In less than two years the Guardian Liberty Voice has already achieved a readership of over 6 million people a month. All 6 million readers keep coming back because we write good stories they enjoy reading, not for any other reason, and not for content mill junk. If we were a content mill, then how could we keep growing and growing? It is true that Boot-camp is a grueling experience. It is certainly true that most people do not make it through Boot-camp โ€“ only 20-30% of entrants stay on to write with us. It is not for everyone. The formula is simple: you have to be a very hard-working person who is willing to get paid for what people read; and the more you write, the more people read, the more money you make. Also, you can recruit and build your own team of writers, receiving an override on their commissions. That means one thing, and one thing only: the Guardian Liberty Voice offers you a chance to start your own writing business. Itโ€™s not get rich quick, itโ€™s definitely not easy, and itโ€™s absolutely not for everyone. Danyelle, I want to invite you to contact me: Alex Durig, Ph.D., VP Business Development, Guardian Liberty Voice, at a.durig@guardianlv.com or 415.410.9651. I saw your website. I saw that you are in business for yourself as a person who can write sales stories. It seems you would be a good person to find an interesting news item, and tell the story in your own words. It seems you would be professional and serious enough to grow a team under you and earn overrides from their commissions. It seems this would be one of the greatest things you could do to promote your own ability to write sales stories and run your own business as a writer. Danyelle, if you give us another chance, I will do everything I can to help you become a successful writer with the Guardian Liberty Voice. Our motto is Boldly Inclusive, and that means that we have high standards, but we give everyone a chance. And you know what? That also means we give everyone a second chance. We are real good people growing a real good organization. There could be any number of reasons for your perception of our organization. But, if you can give us the benefit of the doubt, we can do the same. We are quite probably as hard-working a team of writers as you will ever meet, but we are also as kind as we are tough. We will gladly give you a second chance and welcome you with open arms, Danyelle. Will you give us a second chance?

      We do not run a content mill. Think of the Guardian Liberty Voice as a trade-off: either you take the time and effort to network and communicate with editors and wait for them to throw you a freelance bone once in a while – or you go with the Guardian Liberty Voice where you will have a guaranteed platform for all of your writing, every day, 24/7, truly building your own business, and actually earning commissions on your impressions for the rest of your life. Who else will pay you for the impressions your articles generate for the rest of your life?

      Kind Regards,
      Alex Durig, Ph.D.
      VP Business Development
      Guardian Liberty Voice

      • Carol Tice says:

        Hi Alex —

        Thanks so much for checking in with us!

        I’m afraid Rebecca’s post was deceptive in that she posed first as a freelance writer in part of her comment, then revealed (with a threat to sue me) that she was in fact a staffer at Guardian.

        You don’t seem to refute any of the basics of Danyelle’s comment — that she wrote 15 articles and was paid zero. Unfortunately, many of us freelance writers take a dim view of speculative writing that may or may not pay depending on how many clicks we get, or whether at the end of that lengthy ‘tryout’ we’ll get a green light to continue.

        I agree revenue share isn’t a content mill. We’ll give you that. I’d say Danyelle misspoke there, in terms of what we normally view as a mill.

        For many writers who try it, we’ve found, revenue share is worse. Content mills do usually offer at least a small, guaranteed per-post fee.

        We’d love it here if you could enlighten readers as to average earnings for your 100 writers, and how many articles they have to write to earn that pay. What are earnings for, say, your top 5 earners? That’d be useful information as well. I’m all about presenting good writing opportunities to my readers, Alex, so feel free to fill us in if there’s a major living to be had on Guardian by the typical writer for you. Also — how many posts per day are they required to write?

        As a longtime business journalist, I have a love of facts, Alex. Please feel free to share them.

        Really appreciate the stats on how few people make it through the bootcamp. I think that gives our writers a great sense of whether Guardian is a site they would consider worth their time.

        And that “for the rest of your life” part? Give me a break. Most of us have been around long enough to see many startup websites promising residual retirement income disappear, and for pay rules to be arbitrarily changed without notice. Now that Google is actively hunting and killing mass content sites, I’d say most experienced writers’ expectations that sites like yours will survive are lower than ever.

        I had welcomed Rebecca to send over a freelance writer who’s earning well to comment and share their earnings and how many posts they write for the money. One person turned up who seemed to post under a fake name (their link to a Guardian post had someone else’s name on it, so I’ve removed those). You can see her in fact right up above you here.

        And “she” never responded when we asked what she meant by earning “good income.”

        I’ve been covering ecommerce as a beat since 1999, and have yet to see a site that pays for impressions become successful…since impressions are not dollars, that’s not a sound business model. Very best of luck with being the first.

        I have to note that as a policy, I don’t allow personal attacks on my comments, Alex.

        I’ve made an exception and left you here even though you called one of my posters a liar, because you indicated you felt wronged. You wanted a platform to respond — here it is.

        We await the details that matter to writers. Look forward to your response.

        Thanks again for dropping by —

        • Hello Alex,

          It’s clear you feel very strongly about your company and your work and that’s commendable.

          This website is devoted to helping writers who feel the same way about our work play the game right to find financial and professional success – and change how many people and companies still wrongly devalue good writing.

          There aren’t a lot of industries where people are content to do work that they may or may not get paid for. I know commission-based sales positions aren’t uncommon, but in the vast majority of businesses and positions, people need to get paid a set, agreed-upon amount for their work. Otherwise, you’re just gambling with your time and energy. Why do that when there are many clients out there who will agree to pay you for your work?

          I know you feel strongly that your business model doesn’t devalue the work of writers, but if writers are providing their work for you for free (as at least one writer on this site has attested is the case), then it’s hard for other professionals in the industry not to look askew at what you’re doing.

          There’s a community on this site that cares about other writers succeeding, and it’s hard for us to hear about those whose work isn’t properly valued.

          Kristen
          Kristen Hicks recently posted…What is Content Marketing?My Profile

          • Carol Tice says:

            Great point, Kristen — I’d like to invite my plumber over and ask him to redo a bathroom while I train him up on what I want, and then I’ll decide whether to hire and pay him. I can imagine how that would go over.

      • Angie says:

        Hi, Alex –

        First, I’m sorry that you feel attacked here. I’m confident that was not Danyelle’s intention, nor was it Carol’s. Danyelle simply posted about her experience and that she didn’t find it a profitable one. Her use of the term “content mill” may have been misspoken.

        However, I think I speak for many freelancers when I say that nothing you’ve said in this comment thread instills the slightest confidence that your publication would be a good one to write for.

        First, if I’m understanding correctly, you require potential writers to go through a bootcamp before joining your actual team. In this bootcamp, for which there is no compensation paid to the potential writers, they have to write several articles, on spec, again for no compensation. IF any of those articles are accepted for publication, then there’s a chance that they might make some money for the writer.

        To put it frankly, there is absolutely no way I would ever agree to such terms. You’re asking me to spend hours of my time in a bootcamp with no guarantee of any pay whatsoever. You’re asking me to produce “sample” articles for you, instead of the normal editorial process of providing already-published clips. For brand-new writers with no clips, I could understand giving a trial period, under which they’d write one or two articles on an assigned topic for pay. But not a whole, unpaid bootcamp with several unpaid articles required.

        Second, you keep telling us what a great opportunity you provide, and how writers can make a real living…but you still haven’t explained how. You have skirted around the issue of providing real numbers, which again does not instill much confidence. As a professional, when I judge a writing opportunity I want to know exactly how much I can expect to make. Your version of a “real living” and mine might be — and, I suspect, are — wildly different. If you could provide us an average monthly income from your entire writing staff as a whole, and then from your top five or ten earners, that would paint a much clearer picture. I would also want to know how many articles those writers are creating in order to make that amount, so that we could calculate their average hourly income.

        Are all of your writers making, at minimum, $50 per hour? That should be the absolute bottom-barrel hourly rate beginning freelancers should shoot for — otherwise, they’re going to find it difficult to pay for things like quarterly taxes, health insurance, and the other necessities self-employed people must pay out of pocket.

        Are your top earners making at least $100 an hour? I’m talking about their total hourly rate, after they’ve spent time writing 30-60 articles per month (!!), edited however many more they’re supposed to edit from the writers below them, etc.

        With respect, sir, it just doesn’t sound like you’re providing a viable opportunity for actual professional freelancers…and I suspect you don’t even realize that’s the case.

      • Angie says:

        Sorry, I meant to address this, too:

        “Think of the Guardian Liberty Voice as a trade-off: either you take the time and effort to network and communicate with editors and wait for them to throw you a freelance bone once in a while โ€“ or you go with the Guardian Liberty Voice where you will have a guaranteed platform for all of your writing, every day, 24/7, truly building your own business, and actually earning commissions on your impressions for the rest of your life.”

        I include my marketing time in my hourly rate calculations. I know that I spend X number of hours per week marketing (and it’s not as many as you seem to think it will be), so I know I need to build that amount into my project fees. As such, I make enough on each project that I average between $75-100 an hour. As I build experience, I intend to push that number even higher.

        I challenge you to show us that your writers are making anywhere near that hourly rate. And if they’re not…maybe they should consider whether the time and effort it takes to network and communicate with editors is well spent, after all.

    • Rebecca Savastio says:

      Since I am being discussed in this forum, may I please have an opportunity to defend myself? My original post was not deceptive. I AM a freelance writer. I responded to Danyelle’s comment based on my experience with Guardian Liberty Voice. Carol, in an email to you, I explained that I am not different from any other writer on GLV. I am not a “staffer” as you seem to keep insisting. I write every single day for GLV and am a writer the same as all of the other writers on staff. I am also an editor, and my title is “Senior Managing Editor,” but that does not negate my status as a writer; I still get paid the exact same way as everyone else. You removed my first comment and are AGAIN calling me “deceptive” when my first comment was in no way deceptive. I put my real name, Rebecca Savastio, on the comment just as I am putting my real name on this comment. There is zero difference between me and everyone who works for GLV in terms of how we get paid. No one on this forum from GLV is using a “fake name.” I am not sure why you keep insisting that we are. You accused me of using a fake name and now you’re saying someone else was using a fake name. You are more than welcome to check the link I sent you in a prior email to verify we are who we say we are. I do not understand why you are persisting in your personal attacks again me and Guardian Liberty Voice just because you don’t like our payment model. It’s fine for you to attack me, call me deceptive, etc. and yet I am not even allowed to leave a comment on here. Is that fair? My first comment was refuting Danyelle’s comment because Danyelle’s comment contained information about our paper that is not true. We are not a content mill. We are transparent with the pay. We give all of the writers access to Tribal Fusion, our ad provider, so that the writers can see exactly what we are making at all times. I told you in an email I make around $3,000 per month, and yet you keep saying “no one” will tell you what they make. I am not “on staff” in any different way than any of the other writers. I don’t understand how I failed to make that clear. I am really disappointed that now you have called me deceptive on a public forum. It’s totally 100% unfair.

      • Carol Tice says:

        The thing is, Rebecca, I’m the queen of this blog.

        I felt your comment was deceptive. So I spiked it. I get to do that. On your blog, you get to do that as well.

        In fact, I never said anything about your comment here on the blog. Alex from Guardian is the one who announced that you had left a deceptive comment, not me. Then, I responded to that. No one would have ever known otherwise. I informed you about it privately to invite you to repost with full disclosure.

        You’re not changing my mind about it with the above. When you’re editing the work of others and your title is Managing Editor, you are not a regular ol’ freelance writer. You have a deeper relationship with the company. Maybe they don’t pay you any more, which would really be sad, but your comment purported to be from a typical writer-on-the-street, and it was not.

        I felt your original comment didn’t reveal your deeper relationship to Guardian appropriately. After 20 years as a journalist, I’d like to think I have a bit of a nose for when people are being straight with me, and I felt you weren’t. So it went off.

        The fact that you raced on here to comment after I received an email and responded on email to an executive at Guardian, alerting him to the reader feedback I’d had about his platform, also doesn’t dissuade me that you aren’t part of leadership at the company.

        And thanks for addressing Danyelle’s original point, that you feel you are able to know what traffic you’re generating. Glad to hear it.

        Thanks for telling us about what you’re earning! Can you give us a sense of how many hours you have to work for that $3K, and how many posts you have to write and how many edit?

        • Patti Podnar says:

          You know, we have a saying in the South: If you have to tell people you’re a lady, you’re not. The same is true for being blog queen. I stated in my blog post that I admired you a great deal. I still do…for what you’ve accomplished. But I have a completely different impression than I did this morning. How does it further your career to be so dismissive of people who post on your blog? I just don’t get it.

          Oh…and I unchecked the “CommentLove” button. You do know it’s checked by default?

          • Carol Tice says:

            I have entertained at great length people with opposing views here on the blog today, in the service of getting more information for my readers, so they have all the facts. I don’t think that’s dismissive, Patti. I could have spiked this whole thread off, but instead, I’ve allowed the folks at Guardian extensive real estate to state their point of view.

            I do not allow comments that are personal attacks or denigrate commenters or me. You also need to use a person’s real name to leave a comment. Like most blogs, I do have a comment policy.

            From the beginning of my blog in 2008, I have taken the position that straight revenue share sites are generally not a great situation for writers. Since I’ve never seen one where more than a handful of writers end up earning well — and I get asked to check out new sites every week — that continues to be my view.

            That’s my opinion and it’s my blog, so I do get to express it.

            I’m sure my readers can sift through this thread at this point and make up their own minds.

            As it happens, I actually posted Guardian in the Den today as an opportunity for political/opinion writers. I let folks know about the bootcamp and large number of tryout posts required, but there is almost nowhere that pays anything for that particular type of writing, and thought we might have a few members who’d be interested for that reason. Beyond there, I would think there are many better ways to secure your financial future as a writer.

            I’ve reviewed many, many revshares sites over the past 5 years, and have yet to see one I think is a great place for writers to be. It’s my job here to help warn people off of bad situations, and to call ’em as I see ’em.

            That may not always be popular…but my mission here is to help the most writers earn the most the fastest. Hoping your posts might “go viral” as everyone at Guardian constantly says, and then you’ll have a paycheck to me is not a smart or secure way to run a freelance business. Especially if that’s going to be your only client.

            As I discussed in detail recently, sites based around mass content driving ad clicks are failing thanks to Google. All the more reason this model doesn’t sound like a good bet to me.

            We could keep debating this all day, but I don’t think anyone is changing their mind. At this point think we’ve heard all views.

            I sure hope some of the Guardian writers will check in in future to let us know how it’s going and how they’re treated. Because writer pay and writer treatment is what I care about.

        • Maybe I am failing to explain myself correctly. My title has no bearing on how much I get paid. I don’t go around thinking about my title all the time. I didn’t “disclose” my title not because I purposely left it out; but because I was just trying to reply to Danyelle’s comment. Danyelle knows me because I recruited her; therefore, she already knows very well what my title is. She also knows it has no bearing on what I get paid. I am at the mercy of the public just as everyone else who writes with GLV. My title is of no consequence to the discussion Danyelle started. It doesn’t make me make more or less money, nor does it make me any more or less important than each and every writer we have, all of whom have the same opportunity to receive an editor title. I’m on an equal and level playing field with everyone else with regard to how I am paid. I am a freelance writer. I write for other clients. GLV is one of the clients for whom I write. I also write for numerous independent clients. From GLV I make anywhere between 2,000 (the first month I started) to $4,000 per month for now with an average of about $3,000 per month. That should increase as time goes on due to the fact that I will be receiving unlimited ongoing royalty commissions for all of my articles for as long as I am with the company. I also recruit people under me. I make some income from them as well, which DiMarkco pays to anyone who decides to become a team leader. We are not “mutli level marketing.” We get paid for the people right underneath of us on our team in exchange for mentoring them. As I recruit more people, my income will also increase from that. This is no different than from any sales organization for which I have worked in the past that pays a commission percentage. There is nothing unusual about the payment scale or structure. It’s performance-based pay and is a model with which I am familiar and comfortable. I have been lucky in that my articles do well with the public and on social media. Somehow what I write seems to resonate with many people, and for that I am grateful. With regard to how many articles I write: I usually write one article per day during the week, so… 20-ish per month? Sometimes I write two when I have time, so maybe a high could be 30 per month, I guess. I don’t really focus on counting my articles; I am much more concerned with making each one the best it can be. I personally much prefer to be paid this way, and I don’t think it is fair to demonize the whole organization because we use a pay model that is unique in the world of writing (it’s not unique at all in the world of sales; in fact it is very typical.) Lastly I would like to reiterate I was NOT being “deceptive” in my first comment. All I was doing is responding to Danyelle. I don’t view myself as higher, better or as some VIP within the company, so no, my title was not on my mind at the time I was writing. I just view myself as another freelance writer trying to make her way; that’s it. It’s a level playing field at GLV. Everyone has the opportunity to become a managing editor. No one is left out. We are a family and a team and we are all equals.

          • Carol Tice says:

            Well, if they’re not paying you more for recruiting, training, mentoring, and editing, that sounds like an even bigger ripoff to me than the risk inherent in writing for revenue share.

            But hopefully you feel you’ve been able to have your say here.

            You let me know on email that you’re a fairly experienced journalist — I can only feel sorry that your marketing activities have brought you so little that you’re writing for a (not guaranteed) $100-$150 a post at this point in your career.

            Glad to hear you have other clients. Given what we know about Google’s feelings about mass content sites, that’s wise.

            Sooooo many sites have made that promise of lifetime earnings, only to vanish one day.

            But oops, from what you say, sounds like at Guardian, it’s only for as long as you keep writing for them. And so do the gerbils get chained to their wheels…

            • All of your responses are extremely well-put, Carol! I am more than happy to go on record in saying that I was wrong to call GLV a content mill, they are a revshare site. We’ve gone into great detail here on why that can be even worse.

              Given all the posts up from GLV people, I think it is important to repeat this here, you are only paid as long as you continue writing for them. Gerbils chained to a wheel indeed.
              Danyelle C. Overbo recently posted…Why Sales Storytelling Matters to YouMy Profile

              • Cynthia Collins says:

                Danyelle and Carol,
                My name is Cynthia Collins and I’m the Deputy Managing Copy and Arts Editor for the Guardian Liberty Voice. I find it interesting that both of you are on the attack, demanding to see our paycheck statements, comparing those of us who write for GLV to “gerbils” and questioning our integrity. It is rude to ask how much someone makes or to expect to see their financial records. Having said that, I can assure you that neither I nor any of my colleagues are gerbils. The link I posted for the website is to an article I wrote yesterday about the arts in Russia. This was not written by bots. Danyelle, did you complete the boot camp training? It appears that you did not. I’ve been with GLV since last April.

                • Patti Podnar says:

                  I’m not a writer for GLV, and that model doesn’t particularly appeal to me. However, I’m offended by the disdain heaped on the writers who work for GLV and similar sites. Repeatedly telling people they’re being taken advantage of is tantamount to telling them they’re too dumb to know better. It’s fine to share information, but let’s trust each other to make our own decisions!

                  • Carol Tice says:

                    Not disdain, and not too dumb, Patti — too inexperienced. It’s notable that one of the Guardian writers who is excited about them has been freelancing for one month. And that everyone else who’s posted here for Guardian appears to be at a higher level than simply a writer for them.

                    Most writers have only their own experience in evaluating a site like this, while I have over a decade of freelance experience and have coached thousands of writers, and heard writers share literally hundreds of experiences with straight revshare in my Freelance Writers Den community.

                    My point of view on revshare comes from this broader range of data and years of experience vetting many revshare sites. Most folks read my blog so they can benefit from that.

                    I want writers to be cautious in evaluating any straight revshare ‘opportunity’ they’re presented with. These platforms have a history of going bust, changing their payout and editorial rules, and otherwise proving unreliable sources of income.

                    It’s also notable Guardian is a startup — which always means more risk for freelancers. The fact that Guardian has declined repeated requests to share average writer revenue on their platform to me is a big red flag.

                    This is also a platform that by their own description, puts writers through a 12-13 article ‘tryout’ and then rejects 70-80 percent of them. Guardian is a guaranteed ripoff for all of those writers.

                    That’s a ton of free content being harvested from a lot of hardworking writers without a dime of compensation. I have cautioned writers since 2008 that writers should not supply free “sample” or tryout articles to sites that profit from them, and nothing I learned here changes my mind on that. We’ve seen many sites through the years ask for 2-3 samples, but Guardian takes this free-content harvesting to a whole new level of writer exploitation.

                    All of which means when someone from Guardian tells me they’re earning great, I’m not going to just pat them on the head and send us all on our way. It may be unpleasant to take flak from posters, but it’s important to me to get details for my readers rather than happy-talk.

                    Any writer willing to market their services can find better opportunities than this, and will be better off financially in the long run avoiding cranking out reams of articles for a revshare site they don’t control. That’s my take on it. Calling me names is not going to change it…but from here on on this thread, it will get comments removed.

                    I get a steady stream of thank you notes from writers grateful that I tell it straight. Those who don’t want to see the PR cranked out by a revshare site challenged are certainly free to read other blogs. Vetting markets is a major mission of this blog, and I will continue doing it. Even if some folks find that harsh.

  19. Peter says:

    freelance writing, just like any other online jobs is always based on trust. my personal scam avoiding tip is to work for a trusted company, a certified agency or even it is about some small business, you should already some friends on that circle

  20. Marie says:

    I actually went to a site that was suggested as a great place to pick up freelance work. They had me go through this whole process, which included writing a supposedly “sample” sales piece. The requirement was to use certain keywords a certain number of times. I was suspicious, but willing to try it for the first time.

    I spent about an hour, wrote a piece I thought was done very well, carefully used each keyword a minimum of the required times –

    Then was told my copy “didn’t use the required keywords” and wasn’t acceptable.
    That’s when I noticed the fine print. What I wrote became their property – FOR FREE – to use or not use as they choose!

    I am convinced it was a scam to get writers to provide copy for free. Have you heard of anything like this before?

    I think I’ll skip the whole “freelance sites” thing, and stick with writing great blogs for my real estate clients, thank you.

    ps
    LOVING the Audience Business Masterclass with Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing! Thanks for the introduction at the webinar!
    Marie recently posted…The 2 Secrets about Real Estate Blogging Youโ€™ve been waiting to hearMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Marie, I started my whole blog in reaction to online freelance writing scams. I can tell you I’ve had 1 million reports of ripoff sites like that. It’s totally common.

      Of course, you signed that contract…so it’s not really a scam in that it isn’t deceptive…they’re completely up front about ripping you off, and you agreed to it. And of course, the whole point was for them to get free content.

      I get so many writers who email me and ask, “Which websites are the good ones I should apply to?” Is Suite 101 better than Textbroker?” And other questions like that.

      Sounds like you’ve discovered the answer — all these sites suck, to varying degrees. None of them are designed as a way to earn a full-time living. It’s writers who make the mistake of trying to use them that way.

      PS – glad you’re loving ABM with Danny! I learn so much from him all the time.

  21. Bob The Programmer says:

    I have as close to a zero-traffic blog as you can imagine and I get these from time to time.

    At first I paid attention, now I can spot them a mile off.

  22. Thanks for a great article, Carol.

    These are such BAD “opportunities”, on every level!

    I stopped following a blog I loved because they ran two posts one after the other that so obviously were the “Case #1” scam. The topic was only tangentially related to their usual blog content, and it wasn’t at all written in their usual style. And worse, no disclosure it was a guest post, they pretended they’d written the post.

    I forgave the first one as I know the bloggers are short of cash, it’s something they occasionally blog about. The second one had me reaching for the unsubscribe button, and I haven’t been back.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah…I do think bloggers need to think carefully about these sort of exciting ‘offers’ to pay you for guest posts they want to place on your site, that link to their clients. As you note, often they’re not even on topic.

      What I’ve come to is that I want all my guest posts to be either from top-level experts I really trust — Ed Gandia, say, or my fellow Top 10 blogs winners — or from full-time freelance writers who are not trying to sell products to other writers.

      I get a ton of requests to guest post from people selling ebooks whose work I don’t have time to review, and who seem to have a very short track record and limited/questionable success of their own…and I don’t want to be seen as recommending or approving their products, so I’m going to pass.

  23. Carol,
    You always seem to post something just at the time I need it. I contacted a company the other day that on the surface seems legit, but falls into one of these scam scenarios I think, but on a local level.

    There is something about a canned writing response that can just reek of scam.

  24. Charlotte says:

    I tell people to steer clear of these sites also. I receive a constant stream of emails asking if the writer can guest post on my blog. They always start by complimenting me on my great blog and then proceed to offer a guest post that has nothing to do with my blog’s topic of writing. Sigh. Thanks for a detailed look at what goes on out there.
    Charlotte recently posted…10 Foundational Writing PracticesMy Profile

  25. Mai Bantog says:

    Thanks a lot for these guidelines, Carol. One thing I realized when looking for legitimate sites is that it takes hard work in order to get your piece published. You have to pitch editors, wait for their responses, take their rejections, and look for other avenues. Those that come too easy, like Me Seek Articles, also do not pay well. You gotta work hard if you want to earn more than the cents that these content mills are paying.
    Mai Bantog recently posted…The Philippine Islands Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great point Mai — if the platform is wide open and you can just slap up anything, you can bet there isn’t good pay involved. Because there is no market for random unedited posts about whatever.

  26. Another thing to check is the contact information of the domain’s registration record. (Use your domain registrar’s Whois link.)

    If the contact information is obfuscated with privacy protection, what else are they hiding? I doubt any aboveboard public business really, truly, doesn’t want people to find them.

    Contact information on web sites can be faked. Contact information on domain registration records must be accurate. But, they can hide by obfuscating the domain’s contact information.

    Will
    Will Bontrager recently posted…CSS ButtonsMy Profile

    • Will, that’s a good point.

      I don’t consider it’s not ALWAYS a red flag though. I keep my domain registration records private because well, I value my privacy!

      There HAVE been cases of authors and bloggers getting stalked, and though I’m not yet well-known enough to attract that sort of attention, who knows?
      Autumn Macarthur recently posted…On being vulnerableMy Profile

      • Oops, should have proof read before posting- that should of course be “I don’t consider it’s always”! Just mentally delete that “not” that snuck in there!
        Autumn Macarthur recently posted…On being vulnerableMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          Autumn, I see you’re new, so let me assure you you are covered by my Universal Blog Comment Typo Insurance policy! We know it’s just comments and you don’t have to come back to note you made a typo. We love you anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Of course, it’s not always a red flag. Still, the observer doesn’t know, which creates doubt and erodes confidence.

        And yes, there are really good reasons to obfuscate domain registration contact information. Such as when privacy must be maintained, as in your example. I see you’ve kept contact information off your website, too, which would otherwise have negated the privacy obtained by hiding the domain contact info. (Nice website, by the way.)

        For business owners who want to maintain a public presence and private lives, the business mailing address can be used. If the business address is at the residence, domain registration records (at least .com and .us registrations) accept post office box and other mail drop addresses. The telephone contact number can be to an answering service if the business doesn’t have it’s own.

        The same business contact information may be published on the website.

        Will
        Will Bontrager recently posted…CSS ButtonsMy Profile

    • Rob says:

      I got privacy protection after somebody sent me a bogus announcement that my domain name was about to expire and included a link to their site to renew. It was well done and convincing enough that I asked my host about it. Except for a few affiliate links, my blogs aren’t commercial, so I don’t see why people should know my address, etc. Agree, though, that if a commercial site/blog hides their contact details, they should be viewed with suspicion.
      Rob recently posted…I Poo Poo on Your Guru – ‘Book’ ReviewMy Profile

  27. Rohi Shetty says:

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for these clear guidelines.

    I used to write for Suite101.com a couple of years ago. They’ve recently re-launched their website. Do you think it’s worthwhile to post articles on their site?
    Rohi Shetty recently posted…The Best Thing You Can Do With Your LipsMy Profile

    • Rohi, you can browse through NoJobForMom (dot) com, or better yet type “Suite 101” in the Search box. Felicia is a work-at-home writer with lots of experience on pay-per-clicks or pay-per-views sites.

      Although this kind of work (ppc, ppv) is not my cup of tea, I think being informed about what’s going on around the web is quite useful.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Rohi…what would you goal be in posting for a site like that?

    • Leigh says:

      Hi Rohi:

      I know you asked Carol her opinion, but I hope you don’t mind if I share my experience. I wrote three articles for Suite 101 in 2008 or 2009 and earned a grand total of…51 cents. I wouldn’t write off revenue-sharing sites entirely, but in most cases, I think your own site/blog is a better bet. The revenue-sharing sites control ad placement and SEO, so if they do something Google doesn’t like, people might not be able to find your article. You also have no way to test different monetization methods or play around to see which types of ads get the most clicks or highest payments.

      There is also no guarantee a site will be around forever. I used to write for a site that paid $10 per article up front and then a certain amount of ad revenue per month. I did very well there, making $400 and $500 for articles that took me very little time to write. However, the site’s owners decided to change the writer agreement after Google’s Panda update hit the site very hard. They stopped paying revenue share, so that effectively eliminated an income stream for me.

      I started my own website in 2012, and while I’m not making a fortune, I’m making about $60 a month in Adsense revenue and $10 to $20 per month in Amazon commissions. I control the look of my site, the types of ads that are shown to readers, and so on. I’m also at the point where I have enough traffic to start selling ad space, so I expect my average revenue per article to jump within the next few months.

      • Carol Tice says:

        Thanks for sharing this Leigh…I haven’t used Suite101 myself so I appreciate when writers with experience on a platform weigh in with how they were treated.

        My sense is all these Suite 101-type sites that are based on mass traffic/ad click revenue are a dying breed. The time to use them was 5 years ago, before Google began its campaign to remove them from search results and kill their traffic.

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Can You Spot These 3 Different Freelance Writing Scams?"
  1. […] Make A Living Writing:ย  Can You Spot these 3 Different Freelance Writing Scams? […]

  2. […] following conversation that Carol Tice had with a GLV writer is quite enlightening (check the comments of the post). In numerous instances, the writer was asked […]

  3. […] Many writing jobs today are a scam so I had to be sure and my research made me a little nervous I came across a site called Making a Living Writing. […]

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