Ever come across a job ad, membership site, or business opportunity for freelance writers when you’re hungry for work?
Click here. Pay now. Limited-time offer. Get exclusive access. You probably already know the buzzwords.
Some of these might be legit opportunities for freelance writers, but many aren’t.
In fact, there’s an entire underworld of scammers out there preying on broke and desperate freelance writers.
Ever been scammed by a client or fell for a get-rich-quick writing opportunity?
It’s a painful experience that can take a toll on your bank account, creative energy, and self-confidence as a freelance writer.
And it doesn’t have to be that way, says Federal Trade Commission Consumer Education Specialist Lisa Lake.
“Nobody can guarantee that you’ll make money,” says Lake. “Promises to make quick and easy money are always lies. Stop whenever someone pressures you to buy. That’s a very strong sign of a scam.”
So what are the top scams targeting freelance writers in 2020? Here’s what to watch for:
Want to make money from home as a freelance writer?
That the goal, right? Work in your pajamas. Be your own boss. Make your own schedule.
Being a freelance writer is a great career and lifestyle, but it’s also hard work. And scammers know it.
If you’ve got a writer website or social presence as a freelance writer, prospects aren’t the only people checking you out. Scammers are sifting through the same information in search of writers who are looking for work.
You might think you’re too savvy to fall for the cash-this-fake-check and bankwire-transfer scam, but at least one scammer has developed a clever way to lure writers in with big promises, drain bank accounts and disappear.
Think it couldn’t happen to you? Don’t be too sure. I thought I was pretty immune to “make money from home” scams, but I almost fell for this one. Here’s what happened:
How do you know if an online writer platform is legit? Since new sites are born every week — promising ample assignments and fat paychecks for beginning writers! — I can’t do investigations on each and every possible writing scam (though I’ve certainly looked into some that turned out to be outright ripoffs).
I can’t be everywhere. And this blog has other topics to cover, like finding courage to put your writing out there, self-publishing, blogging best practices, and finding great freelance clients. So it’s important to know how to do your own research.
This post takes you through easy, quick steps you can take online to gather information about websites you’re thinking of paying for access to resources, job boards, or publishing opportunities.
I’m going to use a site I learned about recently as an example: Master Writing Jobs (no, I’m not going to link to them in this story and give them a backlink that might drive more traffic to their site. You can Google them if you want.)
I spent perhaps 30 minutes tops, researching this site to see what I could learn. And it wasn’t tough to see they weren’t a good value, even at their current ‘sale’ price of $34 for lifetime access.
If you’d like to avoid writing scams and learn how to verify online offers, read on:
They pay late, or too little. They’re not sure what they want. They’re unavailable when you have questions, and sometimes downright abusive when they do pick up the phone. They’re clients from hell, and as a freelancer, you just don’t need this grief.
And yet, tales of client woes are an epidemic in the freelance world. Stories of the best friend you went to work for, who underpaid you for years. Or the company that never raised your rates, even as your responsibilities grew. The one that disappeared with your big final payment.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid freelance writing clients from hell like these?
Well, for the most part, you can! There are some classic warning signs that things will go wrong — if you know what to look for.
Here’s my guide to quickly screening out losers:
When you’ve created over 900 posts full of free help for freelance writers, it’s hard to remember every single post. Becomes a bit of a blur!
But a few posts stand out in my memory, because I keep sending their links out to struggling writers, week after week. They’re posts that address a writer’s critical need to understand some aspect of freelancing.
You’ve got urgent questions about how to make it as a freelance writer — and these are the posts that deliver the answers.
I can’t remember where I put my sweater half the time these days, but there are a few key posts that come easily to mind, because I find myself sending writers off to read them again and again.
After nearly a decade (!) writing this blog to provide help for freelance writers, these seven posts seem to address the most common problems freelancers face:
Are you a college graduate who loves to write? If so, you may be drawn to the many, many websites that offer ‘academic writing’ opportunities.
You’ve written scads of school papers in the past, in your academic career. You might wonder if there’s an opportunity in getting paid for that skill.
There is — though it doesn’t pay a lot. From what I’ve seen on the bigger sites, $15-$20 a page for college essay writing is typical.
If you’re fast and want to put in a lot of hours, you might earn a few thou a month.
There’s only one catch: Academic writing is unethical.
I want to be super-clear on that. It’s not a gray area. It’s not sort of mildly naughty. It’s wrong.
As a writer who’s on a mission to bust scams and help writers find good pay, I should have tackled this topic long ago. But let’s get to it now.
First, let’s visit some essay sites and see how writers get sucked in.