How to Avoid Being Scammed as a Freelance Writer

Everything has writing behind it. Every product, every concept, every person has had someone sit down and take the time to write something about them. Writing is one of the primary ways in which we preserve our culture, our history, and our entertainment.

There is writing everywhere. Whether it’s a manual in the box of some electronic you bought recently, or a master’s thesis written for an Ivy League college somewhere, someone had to write it.

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It’s no surprise, then, that writers are in high demand. Being able to eloquently or persuasively phrase something in order to accomplish a goal is a talent that not everyone possesses, and so individuals and companies have to get help to get that stuff on paper sometimes. Thus, the industry of freelance writing was born.

However, as with any industry, you’re going to have bad apples. There are companies out there that don’t feel like the ability to write is one that should be compensated for, and they’ll try to scam you out of the money you earn from writing for them.

While these companies are few and far between, anyone who has been doing freelance for any significant amount of time has come across these not-so-legit writing jobs.

In order to save you the time and hassle of dealing with these crooks, we’ve made a list of things you can do in order to ensure you only work with upstanding businesses who are good for their money.

1. Rarely (or Never) Work for Free

A common scam that freelancers come across is the “test piece”. Businesses will ask you to do a test piece for them to prove your ability and worthiness for the job. Don’t get us wrong, some of these are totally legitimate, and it makes sense from a business’ point of view.

However, sometimes these test pieces are actually the only piece the company needed written, and once you’ve submitted it for evaluation, communication will halt immediately.

There are defining characteristics that separate a legitimate writing job asking for a test piece, and one that’s trying to get the better of you. Keep an eye out for overly long or overly technical pieces.

Requests for test work written in poor English can also be a red flag, as can an overly vague job listing. Trust your gut feeling when it comes to clients—if it seems like something is fishy, it probably is.

2. Work Through Trusted Websites

There are websites that act as a middle man between clients and companies. “Writing Jobs Online” is a great example of one of these websites. They offer tons of benefits, most notably putting you in contact with companies that need your business.

Working through them and their rules can help you make sure everything with your clients is on the up-and-up through payment confirmation and protection. While they do ask for a membership fee, only legit writing jobs are posted on websites like these, so the small amount of money you pay for the benefits will be vastly outweighed by the money you’ll save by not having to deal with scammers and cheats.

3. Look in to the Company

If you’ve got a bad feeling about a new or prospective client, Google is just one click away. Searching for a company online can tell you a lot about their practices.

If you find minimal information about them, or can’t seem to find any sort of presence whatsoever, that’s the first red flag. However, don’t go for the jugular just yet.

Some clients are new, and need help getting their company up and running, hence the lack of virtual exposure. The best way to get a feel for the company is to chat them up—ask questions about their business, like how long they’ve been running, if they’ve hired any other freelancers, where they’re located, etc.

Keep it all professional of course, as you don’t want to anger a legitimate client with annoying questions. However, a shady business won’t stick around long if you seem too nosy. Don’t expect a confession, however. You’ll likely just get silence in order to confirm your suspicions.

There are loads of other things to look out for, and tips in order to keep in good company. Mostly it just comes down to common sense. When you have the chance, work with clients you know and trust. Avoid working with clients with bad reputations or shady evidence on the internet.

Most importantly, trust your instinct. No job that steals from you is worth it. You’re better off just not doing the work until you find a legitimate writing job.

Our Top Pick For Getting a Writing Job

Learning the best ways to get a writing job has never been easier!

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