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When a freelance writing job offer just isn’t worth it

As a freelance writer, time is money. There will be times that you get a freelance writing job offer that sounds great at first but sucks up all your time and becomes something you hate.

I’ve had projects that have made me wish I don’t do this for a living. I’ve had writing projects that have made me want to quit it all and go back to working in an office. But now I know the warning signs so I can do something about them first.

You need to know the warning signs that a freelance writing job offer isn’t worth it. That way you can get out before it becomes a nightmare.

The free samples

Hands up! How many times has a potential client asked you for free samples? If you’re just starting out and struggling to get your first freelance writing job, you may think that you need to create custom made free samples for a potential client.

Don’t do it!

Yes, they have every right to see your quality and experience but that doesn’t mean you have to do something for free. The reputable companies and individuals will pay you for the work or will accept your online portfolio as samples to make a freelance writing job offer.

If they’re asking for special samples written for them, mention that you charge your standard rate for them. If they’re not open to paying, they’re not worth your time. It shows that they’re low on a budget already. What will the pay be like when they decide you’re worthy?

This is also a trick used to get a project completed for nothing at all. The individuals send snippets of the work to different providers so the job is done through ‘samples’.

However, you can have your own portfolio of samples. Good clients will want to see samples of your past work. This is the time to have your links ready, whether it’s a Samples Page on your website or quick links you can grab of work you’ve done in the past.

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When there isn’t a contract involved with the freelance writing job offer

This should be a major sign that there is something wrong. All reputable offers will sign a contract. It’s in your best interest to create a contract.

Not only does this protect you from a client not paying (well, offers you more protection), it states exactly when you should be paid, any interest charged on top of that, the terms of the project, and how long it lasts for. It increases your chance of future offers from the same company. Your contract will also offer a returns clause, any revisions you will allow, and who holds the copyright afterward.

If the potential client isn’t willing to sign a contract, it puts you in a very risky position and should be a sign to hold your horses. This is always my first thought that it’s a dodgy freelance writing job offer.

“I’ll pay you this now but hopefully more in the future”

How often have you heard that line? It’s usually after a freelance writing job offer that’s at a small amount. The line of “more in the future” is a way of pulling you into it.

Don’t do it, though. It really isn’t worth it.

The chances of ever seeing that more are very thin. The only time you may want to consider it is if it’s a one-off project that is slightly less than your quoted price—where it’s still worth it for the time. I’ve done it to get a byline in a specific niche or for a charitable cause.

Individuals and companies use the line above just as a way to pull a writer in for a short project. After that, they’ll continue to pay that low rate. When you ask about the pay increase, it just won’t happen. You’ll find that the client lets you go and you’re left looking to fill that gap.

How to tell a writing offer isn't worth it

When there’s something iffy about the company

Do your research about the person with the freelance writing job offer. Find out more about the project and the needs of the company. This will allow you to do more research before deciding on a quote.

If you can’t find out anything about the company, it’s a big sign that something isn’t right. It could be that the company is new but it could also be that it doesn’t really exist. It’s a name used in email communications just to get the job done.

The research will also tell you if the company has a habit of not paying. If other writers have had problems with getting paid, why will you be any different? Don’t bother communicating further and walk away from the freelance writing job offer.

MORE: 7 freelance writing mistakes you need to avoid

Have you had opportunities that have turned out to be a waste of time? Knowing the signs is really important but there are times that you have to learn from experience. Share your experiences and tips below or ask your questions to help others.

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