5 Red Flags in Freelance Writing Ads

21 replies
The pros here probably recognize these, but since there are so many newbie questions here, I wanted to include a link to this piece I wrote for WriterAccess:

5 Red Flags in Freelance Writing Ads
"This is an easy job for someone who knows what they are doing"
"This job should take you X number of minutes/hours/days to complete"

If those statements don't make you cringe, then y ou haven't been writing long!
Check out these -- and other --red flags for writers here:

I've already been paid by WA -- I don't get any extra cash if you visit, just wanted to share the info
#ads #articles #clients #flags #freelance #red #scams #writing
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Another one is, "Hey, there's a lot more work just around the corner. Trust me..."
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    • Profile picture of the author TheWrightWords
      You're totally right, that one makes me click an ad closed or end a conversation, fast!

      How about..."You'll make big money once my website/business/book/scheme takes off...and I'll pay more then!"

      Or "Our budget isn't very big, but you can add the piece to your portfolio" hahahahaha

      I had about 20, had to cut to 5!
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I see so many of those and similar other statements that it is laughable.
    I love it when they say.." my team will run your work through Copyscape and our own testing software and won't pay for plagiarised work. As if I am not going to do that just to double check myself anyway.

    I think the worst one is the person who claims to have tons of work at a rate of $2 and thinks you will be excited at doing "so much work" when you can make 10 or 20 times the amount for one article.
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  • Profile picture of the author EricMN
    I remember seeing a gig sometime last year that offered something like 30 websites and he was paying $500. I knew the niche real well, and I wasn't demanding the fees I am now.

    So I approach him, knowing he wants all 30 done for $500.

    "I'd love to write you 30 home pages for $500 each"

    Didn't go over too well. Started asking me why I messaged him in the first place.

    You waste our time, we waste yours.

    "Best rates in the business" tends to be a red flag, too. This ALWAYS draws in newbies.

    Last time I fell for it I was informed the best rate in the business was 3c/word.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rayddp
    Yes, these are definitely a conspicuous red flag.
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  • On sites like a Elance, a good sign that your time is going to be wasted is that they are offering $50/hour or more--inevitably this is either a confused job poster (meant to write $50 for the entire project) or a tire kicker who never actually awards the job. Inevitably they get 50 plus bids and the job just sits and sits until it times out.

    I have never seen a job go for more than $40/hour on Elance. (Not for writers anyway.)

    Thanks for the thread, and ditto Lawrencewins point (quantity only means anything when you are first starting out)--once you're established find a higher paying jobs is what matters.
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    • Profile picture of the author TheWrightWords
      Originally Posted by FreelanceWritingGuy View Post

      On sites like a Elance, a good sign that your time is going to be wasted is that they are offering $50/hour or more--inevitably this is either a confused job poster (meant to write $50 for the entire project) or a tire kicker who never actually awards the job. Inevitably they get 50 plus bids and the job just sits and sits until it times out.

      I have never seen a job go for more than $40/hour on Elance. (Not for writers anyway.)

      Thanks for the thread, and ditto Lawrencewins point (quantity only means anything when you are first starting out)--once you're established find a higher paying jobs is what matters.
      I'd take another look at elance -- if you screen carefully you can find easy work there in a decent pay rate -- I won't go under $35 per 500 words, and readily find work there -- most of what I have found is in the $50-$75 per page for article/blog stuff.
      The key is finding good elance clients who want quality and are willing to pay for it. If you have a niche specialty that is a big help --my highest paying jobs were on "men's health" (nice way of saying erectile dysfunction), mental health and small business grants/loans, all are examples of niche topics that a lot of writers don't cover. (and no, I am not worried about competition in my pet topics-- as far as I am concerned the more writers that charge decent rates, the better it is for all of us).
      Sales letters don't go for as high as they should, but they tend to run higher than I've seen them advertised here by some folks...
      Do give it another look, ignore hourly jobs and search for terms like "quality" and any industry specific terms you specialize in.
      Hope this helps!
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      • Profile picture of the author underworld90
        Another great one:

        "This job is perfect for someone that is a student / stay at home mom / just starting out..."
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  • Profile picture of the author AMS1992
    Thank you!
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  • Profile picture of the author outwest
    I had a guy on skype today
    He had messaged me or vice versa and I had told him his pay rate what he was offering was probably not enough for me, etc
    He kept sending me pm's saying ARE YOU INTERESTED
    so i finally added him to skype, never saying I was interested just to hear what he had to say

    He starts off right way
    Ok these are the rules.........
    1. 100% copyscape passed
    2. no errors
    3. He doesnt have to correct any spelling, Grammar etc
    4. on time etc etc

    Odd I thought, to be so up front with these "rules" as he called them

    then he proceeds to tell me
    "well these articles must be bookmarked by the readers"

    ahh, I thought, a bit of a slimey back way out for him not to pay
    He continued to blab on for a few minutes, and asked me
    do you understand?

    I had finally had it and said
    Look I am not some uneducated English as a second language slave, willing to accept any salary. With all these "rules " you have, are you willing to pay a fair wage?

    oh oh, he says I thought you agreed on 1 dollar for 200 words

    No I never said that, I replied.

    He was a bit taken aback since I am sure he is used to dealing with people who eagerly wanted to take his offer. and thought this was good money.

    I said my minimum is 1 dollar per 100 words.

    I said, for all the demands you have, I am surprised your pay rate is what it is.
    I added, my clients paying me 1c per word, are much gentler and more professional and less demanding than you are, at your low rate.

    OH OK BYE he said
    LOL
    I said hey good luck fool
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    Tech article writing .Native English Speaker(with Proof)
    specializing in SmartPhones , Internet security, high tech gadgets, search engines, tech shows, digital cameras.

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  • Profile picture of the author jumanorbert
    I believe the best way here is to have your own writing blog. Make clients find you through your blog. Normally they'll be serious clients with good offers.

    I've tried freelance job sites like freelancer.com before. They're filled with con men.
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  • Profile picture of the author infinityplr
    Seen a lot of this in Odesk. Actually I check out the page too. But yeah you are right. I did not pay much.

    There's another one: "this is for a long term contract, if you do better the rates will increase."

    Dream on, I say.
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  • Profile picture of the author vCr8
    One thing i've noticed with such clients is that they have too many guidelines or rules... They also threatens writers with lines such as " if your articles do not pass 90% in CS we will immediately end the contract..." on the other hand, polite and professional clients on a tight budget can work on it still...For these types of post where writers from other countries might find sufficient, it should be written to their post that they prefer writers from such countries....just saying...
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  • Profile picture of the author CollegeCEO
    How about "Looking for High Quality Content, Paying $3/500 Words". I don't understand some people. Sadly I think it's the fault of other writers who essentially write for next to nothing. People have become satisfied with mediocrity. SMH.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Warriors
    "PERFECT FOR A STUDENT OR SOMEONE LOOKING TO GET EXPERIENCE!"

    Also, anything mentioning copyscape generally signals that the poster is posting low rates and is used to attracting spun article scammers (as you inevitably will when you post low rates).
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  • Profile picture of the author TheWrightWords
    Got one on elance today....
    "We love your work but our budget is only $10/500 words -- but we have lots of work available. I awarded you the job but set the milestones to the budgeted amount". (My bid was $195 for 4 blog posts)

    Want to know how fast I hit "decline"? As soon as I got done laughing.
    1. Your budget = not my problem.
    2. Awarding the job doesn't mean I'll accept it if you switch the rates around.
    3. Lots of work at $10 a page is not a good thing -- it means I'll be tied up and not able to accept jobs at my normal rate.

    I totally get that budgets differ, and will happily refer someone with a beginner's budget to some good, solid beginner writers -- but to assume that I'll be thrilled just to "win" the assignment and work for whatever you deem acceptable? I don't think so!

    Lots o crazy out there today!
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    • Profile picture of the author rjweaver10
      I think there are some great points here. I also wanted to point out that it makes me laugh when people say that have a never ending amount of work. Also, when they say that they can pay xx amount of dollars, but they have never ending work.

      Why badger me for my prices when they are not in your price range at all.?

      One last thing. High quality means that the writer has to write high quality. If you are going to charge 4 cents a word then it better make sense. Too many writers want to charge 4-5 cents a word, but not actually write stuff that makes sense.

      If you are going to pay me 1 cent per word please do not expect the same quality that I would give someone who pays me 4 cents a word. Anyway, I'm done with my tangent.
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    • Profile picture of the author underworld90
      Originally Posted by TheWrightWords View Post


      Lots o crazy out there today!
      And there are a lot of so-called business owners who have delusions of grandeur about how important their idea of "employment" is. So many armchair dreamers that think that they are entrepreneurs, so their idea of being a smart business owner is to pay pennies and expect the moon in return.

      It's a vicious cycle because these owners attract the writers willing to work for slave wages, who in turn can't develop their skills because they're working too many jobs to make less money. And in turn, those companies that buy the sub-quality content go nowhere and make very little, if any, sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author michaelhearne
    Interesting to hear ya'lls take on this as I've been hiring a lot of ghostwriters lately - and i am sorry to say I threw up at least one of the red flags you mentioned...

    only i made good on my promise to pay more on the second gig if he did good on the first...

    First time around I was not trying to be cheap - I was worried about being ripped off by some amateur writer I've never tested... So I offered $10 a page and 'lots more work' (which I had/have) lol

    When I got my work back ahead of schedule and higher quality than anything I'd experienced in the past with English as a second language writers, I immediately hired him to write two more ebooks and paid a much higher rate...

    He told me that he loves working for another writer because I understand what the writing process is like and stay out of the way... I just tried to treat him like I wish my clients would treat me and it's been a great experience for me...

    And I've made a great ROI selling these little ebooks so I'll keep coming back for more...

    anyhoo - i know from experience that there are a lot of douche bags out there with unrealistic expectations from writers - there are just as many for us sales copy writers...

    i've written many a high dollar sales letter and had the clients never give me a copy of the product I'm selling... lol

    and the worst for me is when some utter newb - who has just learned about interweb marketing and has an 'idea for a website' - wants me to partner with him...

    they'll have the idea, i'll tell them how to make the product, pay for tech to set up the website, write all the copy and marketing and we'll split the profits 90/10 - where they get 90% and i get 10%...

    happens to me and my clients all the damn time - and you just learn to graciously say 'no - but good luck'...

    anyhoo - writers are totally under-appreciated - and most are under-paid - and usually it's their own fault

    glad to hear that ya'll have more self respect than the average writer!!!
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