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3 big ways people fall for freelance writing scams

There are many freelance writing scams out there. You may fall for them because you’re desperate for money or because you just don’t know the signs to look out for. Take a step back when you find an offer and go in with your head.

While it is embarrassing, many freelance writers share their experience about being scammed. It could be that they weren’t paid the money due or because they were forced to pay upfront for something that turned out to be useless.

Here are some of the signs and top ways that people fall for these freelance writing scams.

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

The pay upfront job board

One of the biggest freelance writing scams is to pay upfront before you have access to a job board. Most of the time, the jobs are those that you can find on free job boards.

In other cases, there just isn’t a job board insight!

You should never have to pay to view a freelance job board. If you can’t see the jobs then how do you know you can trust the site? The way these job boards make money is by charging the people posting the advertisements to weed out the scammers.

There are times you’ll be charged to apply. This is certainly not the norm, though. I highly recommend ProBlogger for the job board. I’ve found many great clients there.

I did find a way around those that charge to apply. Some of the companies will list an email address to contact them, so you can apply directly.

The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms

Pay to find work through the system

The second biggest of the freelance writing scams is paying to find clients and accept work. This is usually a content mill style where you bid for jobs or accept low paying work.

In some cases, the companies simply take your money and there is never any work available.

Do not pay to be able to see the list of work available on a system. There are plenty of systems that are completely free, such as Indeed or Upwork. There are some that will take a commission but that should only happen after a freelancer has been successfully paid for a project.

I don’t advocate using these methods to find work anyway. Most of the time, the pay is extremely low. Search for businesses that have blogs or magazines that you’d like to write for and get pitching your ideas for better pay!

How to Avoid Freelance Writing Scams

The not being paid freelance writing scams

These freelance writing scams are harder to spot. It could be a company notorious for not paying out on time or it could be an individual client.

Unfortunately, most freelance writers are going to run into these types of scammers at least once in their careers.

Not everyone will share about not being paid. Or you’ll find review sites that give a mixed option (sometimes because the client writes their own fake reviews).

The trick to spot these scams is to request 50% of the payment upfront. This will usually weed out those who are going to run off with your work or those who are willing to pay the full amount. Most of the time, those willing to pay 50% upfront will pay the full amount at the end of the month.

Watch out for freelance bidding websites as this is where most of the work is stolen. If you are in doubt, do a quick search for the company name + scam. If there is a problem with payment, there will be plenty of freelance writers complaining about it.

MORE: What determines your writer pay?

Have you been affected by any of the above freelance writing scams? Maybe you know of others that I haven’t covered in this blog post. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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