Learning how to recognize and avoid a freelance home writers scam is essential to developing a successful freelance writing business.
A Prime Target for Scam Artists
Unfortunately, freelance writers make prime targets for scam artists. This is because freelance writers often fall into one or more of the following categories:
- People who hate their day jobs and think working at home is going to solve all their problems
- People who are struggling to find a traditional full-time job and hope to have better luck with self employment
- People who have always loved to write and find it appealing to think they might be able to get paid for this activity
- People who think that creativity is more important than business sense when it comes to launching a successful writing career
A Cautionary Tale
Freelance Home Writers (now defunct) was one example of a site that first appeared to offer great opportunities for writers, then turned out to be a giant hassle. This site claimed to have job listings that you could view by paying a membership fee. When you authorized your account to be debited for the $2.95 trial, an additional $49.95 fee was deducted. Then, when you tried to contact the site, you were unable to get in touch with anyone who could refund your money. Additionally, many writers who signed up for this service said the lists were the same ones you could find for free on sites like Craig's List and Freelance Writing Jobs. You can find more information regarding the experiences writers have had with this site by visiting the following links:
Is it a Scam?
As a freelance writer, it's important to be on the lookout for scam artists who are trying to take advantage of your desire to work from home. While there is no single sign that guarantees something is a scam, there are a few tricks you can use to identify when an opportunity may not be legitimate.
- The client wants an unpaid sample as part of the application process. Samples are occasionally needed when a job involves a specific and very detailed type of writing. In most cases, however, your previous work should speak for itself. Requesting unpaid samples is a common tactic scam artists use to obtain free content for their Web sites.
- You're asked to pay a fee for training or information access. Legitimate jobs don't require you to spend money for the privilege of working. Sites that claim to have job leads but refuse to allow you to see the opportunities until you pay are just a variation on this theme.
- The company makes inflated pay claims, such as stating that you can make $1,000 per week with no qualifications other than being a native English speaker. If a job is legitimate, it requires skills and experience.
- The company refuses to provide specific details about their compensation structure. This is very a dangerous warning sign if the agreement involves revenue share as part of the compensation. Revenue share agreements can be profitable under certain circumstances, but you need to understand what you are agreeing to before you start work.
- There is no contract. Whenever possible, you want written confirmation of your work agreement.
- You're asked to commit to several weeks or even months of work before you can expect a check. If you'll be writing five chapters of an e-book, for example, you should ask for one half the project fee as an upfront deposit. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting your time and losing out on several hundred dollars of income.
- You've noticed that online forums are full of other writers who have had bad experiences with the same company. One person's bad experience doesn't necessarily mean a company is shady. When several people are claiming to have the same problem, however, it's a good indication that an opportunity might not be legitimate.
The best defense against becoming a victim of a freelance home writers scam is to trust your instincts. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be afraid to walk away and wait for an opportunity that is better suited to advancing your freelance writing career.