Many people who would like to earn extra money by writing web content are eager to learn the magic secret for avoiding freelance writing work at home scams. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. Unless of course, you’re talking about simple common sense.
I’ve always been paid for my work as a freelance web content writer, although I had a few close calls in the beginning. I try to operate under the assumption that most people are honest, but I am very cautious when accepting new projects.
Since most web content writing projects don’t involve a written contract, here are a few general tips to help you avoid scams.
1. Do your homework. A quick Google search should give you an idea if a company is legitimate. You can also try posting on popular message boards for freelance writers to inquire about the validity of a particular opportunity.
2. Think twice about accepting an assignment if a potential client doesn’t ask for a resume, writing samples, or a description of your experience. While most web content writing jobs don’t require extensive professional experience, legitimate publishers will want to evaluate your abilities before offering work.
3. Don’t write custom samples for a potential client. Many unscrupulous individuals will use this tactic as a sneaky way of getting free content for their websites. Put together a portfolio of previously written samples for potential clients to review.
4. Be wary of unprofessional email correspondence. A legitimate businessperson should at least make an effort to appear professional. In my opinion, email that obviously lacks proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar is a major red flag. There’s a good chance that someone who doesn’t care about their own image isn’t going to care enough to pay you on time.
5. Always get full contact information before beginning an assignment. Get a company name, mailing address, and phone number. In case someone “forgets” to answer your emails, you need to have a way to keep in touch. I generally try to avoid working with clients from outside the United States, but that decision is up to you.
6. Get payment details in writing, even if it’s just an email from the publisher. Ask if you’re going to be paid by PayPal, check, or some other method. It’s also a good idea to know how often they process payments and whether or not you’ll need to submit a written invoice before receiving your money.
7. When I’m working with an unknown company, I like to keep my first project relatively simple so I’m not out of much money if things turn sour. However, if it’s a larger assignment, I always ask for a portion of the money upfront.
8. Don’t advertise your inexperience. It’s generally not a good idea to mention that you’re a stay a home mom looking to earn extra income or that this is your very first assignment. While there is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom or a beginning writer, you don’t want to give people a reason to think they can take advantage of you.
9. Listen to your gut. Part of successful self-employment is learning how to trust your own instincts. If something doesn’t feel right about a project, just say no. There are plenty of other opportunities available.
10. If you’re really worried about scams, consider registering with Guru.com to bid for assignments. Guru offers a feedback system and an escrow account option that provides writers with additional protection against unethical clients.