By Rhonda Campbell
There aren’t a lot of jobs offering more flexibility, opportunities for growth and development and chances to work with a diverse range of clients the way freelance writing jobs do. You may work hard as a freelance writer, but there are perks. For starters, you can set your own work hours. You can also pick and choose which clients you are going to work with.
Avoiding Freelance Writing Scams
In 2010 writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $55,420 according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that same time period there were 145,900 writers and authors working in the United States. Many of these workers are self-employed, providing digital and print content to clients, including major corporations, operating in diverse industries. Projects they work on vary, ranging from print advertisements to banner ads to search engine optimization (SEO) articles to white papers.
To land these and other writing assignments freelance writers source online and offline job banks and directories such as Media Bistro, Freelance Writing Jobs, Blogging Pro, Journalism Jobs, LinkedIn, Morning Coffee and Craigslist. What writers, especially new freelance writers, may not realize is that scammers post writing jobs at various job boards in the hopes of attracting unsuspecting creative artists to participate in one or more of their time and/or money draining schemes. That stated, it’s worth mentioning that scammers also target laid off workers when soliciting people to rip off.
Types of Common Scams Targeting Freelance Writers
Following are a few scams and tips freelance artists are encouraged to be aware of as they conduct their regular job searches:
- Individuals and companies who place writing ads and grab contact information from hundreds of writers only to tell each writer they qualify for the posted job. Just to make certain each writer is truly qualified these companies may ask each applicant to write and submit a well researched and detailed article. Of course, writers are told that, should they pass the writing test, they will be sent paying work immediately. Although some of these ads are legit, too many offer scammers the chance to receive completed writing projects for free. Some of these tests may take writers two to three hours to research and complete. After the test assignment is received scammers disappear, with a well written article they can quickly edit and publish, adding their name to the byline. When writers follow up with these scammers, they are made to feel as if they are standing on the end of a long and very hallow log as the scammers have already taken 100 or more free articles and run. To avoid this writers are encouraged to submit relevant writing samples from work they have previously completed to prospective clients.
- Some scammers congratulate writers on landing a job only to send writers a check for work they complete then later claim that they overpaid the writers. At this time, scammers ask writers to deposit the check or money order in their bank account and return the overpaid monies to them via Western Union or another wire service. The catch is that the check/money order is bogus, maybe worth 1% of the money it’s written out for. As a tip, freelance writers and other independent contractors are encouraged to never wire money to any client. In fact, it’s a good practice for creative artists to only wire money to people they know extremely well.
- Another scam involves scammers posting job ads and asking prospective workers to maintain spreadsheets that list shipments made from a bogus company to people located within and outside the country. In addition to maintaining spreadsheets, workers are also asked to drop packages off at overnight mail service firms, thereby helping scammers to ship stolen goods back and forth without being caught.
- Although not considered to be a scam, some clients also ask writers to complete numerous edits on documents only to later tell writers they have decided not to accept their work. One reason this might happen is that some business owners get over zealous and think their company will generate greater revenues than it does. When these business owners realize they have bitten off more than they can chew, to save face and avoid paying writers, they simply tell writers their work is sub-par or that (after writers have spent hours or days working on projects for them) they have decided to move their company in a different direction and no longer need writers’ services. To avoid these and other similar rip offs, freelance writers are encouraged to sign reasonable and detailed contracts before they start working for any client.
Reporting Scams and Fraudulent Schemes
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and USA.gov list additional scams and fraudulent schemes scammers run. Whether or not you are a writer, you can avoid being scammed. To do so, never give your personal information, including your telephone numbers and home address, to people you do not know. Do your research and check out companies before you do business with them. For example, you can call a company’s customer service number and ask if they are hiring package shippers, etc. This is important because some scammers go as far as designing official looking websites and using the names of legitimate companies when posting scam job ads.
Should you learn of a scam, alert administrators at job boards where you saw the scam posted. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, share it with others by clicking the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Share buttons below. You bet! We appreciate it!
Click the “Subscribe” button at the side or bottom of this post so you can always be the very first person to receive our updates!
Get Your Copy of Spiral at https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000000841/Spiral.html
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Writers-and-authors.htm (United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: Writers and Authors)
http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud (FBI: Common Fraud Schemes)
http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet-Fraud.shtml (USA.Gov: Internet Fraud)
http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx (Internet Crime Complaint Center)