A few months ago, I created a mailing list to share opportunities with local freelance writers. Recently, one of the writers on the list had a less-than-impressive experience with one of the shared job boards. The communications he had with the prospective client raised some red flags for him, and we thought it might be good to point out some typical signs that a job is a scam.
Your next project might be a scam if:
- the website is unpopulated or rife with errors – This is a good indicator that a) the company is not legit or b) they’re not willing to pay for decent content. Both are red flags.
- the prospect asks for a writing “sample” based on a specified topic – first, I don’t recommend you do any spec writing (writing with the intent that it “might” be paid for.) Giving this content to the prospective client is basically writing for free, and that’s not what freelancing is about. You’re better off sharing examples of previous work you’ve completed for paying clients.
- there’s little-to-no info about the client online – I will often research the client, especially when they’re asking for info about me/my business. A few minutes spent on Google or LinkedIn can save you hours of chasing a payment. This isn’t a foolproof method, as some exceptional clients might not have much of an online footprint.
- “If you do this for free/cheap, I’ll use you for bigger/better projects” – unfortunately, this type of client rarely has bigger/better projects for you. They usually give them to a writer who is confident and can justify the higher rate. But they’ll keep the tiny/free projects for you.
What are the red flags that pop up for you while job hunting, and what do you do when you see them?
If you’d like to be added to the mailing list (occasional emails with links to online opportunities that struck me as being interesting and share-worthy,) please shoot me a note and I’ll add you.