If you’re new to freelance writing, you might be tempted to go online searching for writing jobs, or maybe you’ll search Craig’s List.
Either way, you’ll soon find an endless supply of tempting offers, but you can bet, most of them, if not all, are scams.
Keep in mind, the more desperate you are to earn money as a writer, the more vulnerable you will be to a writing job online scam.
If you’re under financial pressure, you are even more at risk. Building a freelance business takes time and requires establishing relationships.
Remember, you’re a writer.
You create value out of thin air! That’s a superpower.
Just because you love to write doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Writing is indeed valuable and some people who can’t write try to scam writers out of their work. Don’t let that happen to you.
I’ll explain how some scams operate below so you won’t fall for them. Then, at the bottom of this article, I’ll explain a legitimate way to earn money online as a writer. The one I recommend and the one I spend most of my time on.
But first, a couple of rules.
If you follow these two simple rules you’ll avoid most of the online freelance writing job scams.
Rule #1: Never pay anyone so you can write for them.
Rule #2: Never write for free. (There are exceptions to this rule, see explanation below)
A little more about Rule #1.
A common writing job scam is to pay for job leads. This is usually advertised as a membership site, club or a subscription service. You’re expected to pay something to join and in exchange, you will have access to freelance writing job leads.
Here’s what really happens. Usually, the scammers will tempt you with an offer to join for just a few dollars and promise all sorts of riches if you join.
They might even say you can join for a dollar, a single buck. If you sign up for a dollar, they’ll have your credit card information and in a week or two, maybe a month, they’ll hit you with a recurring monthly fee of $50, $100 or more.
And, they may continue charging your credit card for a long time. Don’t expect to get any of this money back either. The best you’ll be able to do is cancel your membership.
Real writing jobs don’t expect you to pay. Real writing jobs respect the value you create as a writer.
And More about Rule #2.
Another common writing job scam is to ask for a “writing sample.” The scammer will ask you to write something original on a topic they give you.
They’ll say they need a sample in order to determine your writing skill level or something to that effect. Sometimes they’ll try to pressure you with a fast-approaching deadline.
When a scammer asks you to write on a specific topic for free, it’s because they have a client who will pay the scammer for your work.
However, you’ll never get paid.
A real, honest-to-goodness legitimate business will never ask you to write for free. This is called writing on spec or speculation. When a real business asks you to write anything, they will pay you for it.
Writers across the internet are great at writing about scams they’ve found. With just a little research you can find what others have experienced with different businesses and possible scammers.
The only exception I can think of to the “Never write for free” rule is when you are in the process of establishing your business.
Then, it can be helpful to approach potential clients with the offer to write a short project for free, but only once. If they are happy with the result, ask them for a testimonial you can post on your website.
Testimonials are valuable and will make it easier to get paying clients. Half a dozen testimonials are plenty. From there on out, you should get paid.
Beware of Craig’s List.
Scams are common on Craig’s List. It can be tedious to sort the good from the bad, but sometimes the headline of an ad will give it away.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Ignore ads that sound spammy and hyped or that do not offer specific details about the writing assignment.
Poor spelling and grammar in an ad is a dead giveaway that it’s a scam. Don’t waste your time. Dangling unreasonably high pay is a red flag. Don’t fall for that either.
If the job ad lists a company name, look it up online. A legitimate company will have a professional looking website with an abundance of information. Real companies foster a web presence.
You might also search the Better Business Bureau for information about the prospective company to see if there are any complaints. You should also be able to talk to someone on the phone about the potential writing job.
Never answer an ad that requires detailed personal information. They do not need to know anything about your other than your name and a way to contact you. Never email a full resume until you have verified it is a legitimate company with a legitimate writing assignment.
The Problem with advertised Writing Gigs.
There may be some real freelance writing jobs advertised on the Internet and in Craig’s List, but the fact they are advertised reveals the client is looking for a low bidder. In other words they are looking for a good deal.
As a freelancer, you don’t want to be in the situation where you have to lower your rates just to get a writing gig. That’s a sure way to burn out and go broke. It’s better to compete on quality than to compete on price. Give them above average work and you can charge an above average rate.
A Better Way to Build Your Freelance Writing Business.
Start at Upwork or another freelance platform. At first, you won’t make very much money, but you’ll get experience and build confidence. Once you’re established, you can begin to increase your rates.
Build relationships with your clients and always strive to help them. As a freelance writer, you’re in the business of helping your clients. How much you get paid is a direct result of how much you help your client.
You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration if you focus on a niche or two instead of being a generalist. And, you’ll make more money too. But when you’re starting out, you may want to take on any writing job you can find and let your specialty evolve.
Tell Your Friends.
Tell your friends and anyone you meet you are a professional copywriter. A professional is someone who gets the job done on time.
Once the word gets out that you’re a copywriter, you’ll be surprised who will need your services. This might be all you need to do. It’s easier to start in your local area, visiting small businesses.
Most people won’t need your services right away. That’s alright. Remember, you’re building relationships. Make a pleasant, professional impression and you will soon have business.
A Recommended Alternative.
If you’re going to take the time to build a freelance writing business, why not build one that has less hassles, offers more freedom and pays more money.
I’m talking about blogging for money. It’s the easiest way I know of to make money as a writer.
A properly trained blogger can earn unlimited income and enjoy unparalleled freedom. As a blogger, you write about topics you enjoy. There are no deadlines and no clients to chase after.
Here’s how it works.
For example this website is my blog. When someone searches the internet for topics I write about, they find my site. Sometimes the information I’ve written contains a link to a product sold online.
When someone buys through my link, I make some money. It’s simple affiliate marketing blended with solid writing.
Online shoppers need information to feel confident before buying. As a writer, you have a tremendous advantage as a blogger. You can give these shoppers the information they’re searching for and get paid very well for your efforts.
There are over 2 Billion people with high speed connections to the internet. The number of people using the Internet is increasing exponentially.
At any given moment, millions are searching the internet for information. Information you, as a website owner and blogger, can give them. In the process you make money. In fact, you can make a lot of money.
Let’s Get Real.
It’s amazing that anyone can blog about a topic they love and sell stuff to people with the same interest.
Please understand this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. This is the real deal, a legitimate, long term business that will change your life. And, like any real business, it won’t happen over night.
Success requires commitment and effort. If you can handle that, you can definitely earn money as a writer online.
To learn more, read The Easiest Writing Career.