Freelancing is not all roses and high paying jobs, and I’ve learned the hard way that there’s a lot of nonsense to slog through. But you get to learn from my mistakes and avoid these particular black holes as I like to call them. You might call them scams, but in a way, these are almost worse because it’s so easy to get sucked in, and before you know it you’re swirling in a vortex of low to no pay, sample articles, grammar tests, and waiting for someone to bid on your work like you’re a cheap piece of meat instead of a reputable writer.
To avoid the black holes, stay out of the bidding wars and seek out the real clients with a basis in reality, here are a few of the biggies that I learned are a total waste of time:
I simply do not understand websites like Freelancer.com. They are great for the employers but lousy for beginner writers. Simply because you have to place bids on projects, but unlike most bidding wars, the name of the game is how low can you go and how fast can you get it done. You want to make your bid stand out so you need to compete with the lower prices. Who is an employer going to choose, someone who wants $300 and one week or someone who wants $25 and two days? Freelancer might be a useful tool once you have an established career and can back up your rates with clients who are happy with your work.
Alternative: For a never-ending list of vetted paying gigs, try Freelancewriting.com. They always make sure to comb through their job postings before putting it on their website, and you can subscribe to a weekly morning newsletter with gigs for blogs, websites, magazines, and contents. They also have a writer’s program you can apply to and get special access to premiere job listings.
Upwork is another website like Freelancer.com. Its purpose is to streamline the process and it’s perfect for a client looking for the cheapest or the best. Picture Tinder, but for freelance writers. You create a profile, set your rates, and send proposals. But you’re up against a lot of competition. I don’t think Upwork is a total black hole, but it could be a time waster when you’re just getting started.
Alternative: Try nDash, it’s a similar idea to Upwork, but way easier to pitch to companies and industries. And even though there is some stiff competition, the markets on nDash are specifically in need of freelance writers. You can browse assignments, do research on the potential markets and clients before making your pitch. It’s a little more welcoming and has a little more breathing room than Upwork.
At first glance, this seems super, duper and official and I was very nearly duped. IAPWE is the International Association of Professional Editors and Writers. See how fancy it is? If you get accepted into this seemingly reputable organization you’re promised to be connected with jobs, employers, and assignments. But the reality is more scammy. This article by Victoria Straus on the Writer’s Beware Blog outlines the red flags of IAPWE. It’s also great for recognizing other red flags when applying to writing gigs.
Alternative: Check out Problogger.com, It’s along the same lines as Freelancewriting.com but has fewer job listings. However, they do have a stellar blog and if your business has any sort of blog connections, this website is a valuable tool.
Craigslist Job Listings
Think for a minute how you would respond to this job posting?
“Calling all Writers! Want to make Big$$$$$$$$$. Emial us your resume and three wriiitng samples. Our clients are clamoring for content”
Hopefully, you wouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with looking for jobs on Craigslist, but this kind of posting spells trouble. From the grammatical errors to the big bucks, it’s just trying to take advantage of someone’s naivety.
Alternative: Try actual job boards. As of now, there are thousands of writing and freelance jobs on Indeed.com. It takes some sifting to sort the reputable postings. But I’ve found two clients on Indeed. It seems a little silly looking on a national job posting website for freelance writing gigs, but once you get familiar with the lingo, you can find work.