Freelance Writing Job Scams

Know the Red Flags

Work at home writing job scams
Work at home writing job scams: some red flags. Courtesy of Andy Ryan/Stone Collection/Getty Images

There are plenty of writing job scams out there, trust me! But within a couple years of searching for freelance writing jobs on the net, you’ll be able to sort the good, bad and ugly pretty quickly. But, if you’re just getting started in the freelance writing industry, here are a couple red flags to watch out for when choosing freelance writing jobs.

  • Mega Bucks o’ Plenty. If you’re promised thousands of dollars per day/week/possibly even per month, tread lightly. Sure, there are freelance writing jobs in which writers bill thousands per month, but these opportunities are more likely to come through networking and contacts, rather then through a random, anonymous posting. For a realistic look at what you should be able to make, take a look at our list of typical writer rates.
  • Little or No Experience Necessary. Ok, maybe there are freelance writing jobs out there with little experience necessary, but be sure to refer back to #1 above before diving in. Keep it real.
  • Spammy Ads. Employers don’t really need to resort to begging to get employees.
  • Page Views and Exposure! New Enterprise! Alright, so this may not be a scam, per se, but it’s likely an equally risky use of your time. If a new enterprise, webzine, or blog network can’t pay something up front, move on. This is not the place to “make your fame.” You can't pay your light bill with "exposure." And, if you're paid solely based on traffic generated to your articles . . . be careful. 
  • Fuzzy Math/Fuzzy Details. Related to the above, don’t be forthcoming with a potential employer who is not as forthcoming with you. Pay rates and responsibilities should be discussed up front and openly.
  • Fuzzy Site! No potential employer who is on the up and up will hide behind the net. You should be able to garner info about the company, who they serve, and what they do within just a few emails.
  • Send Us Samples! Some samples are required—many, many samples is overkill. In addition, I won't generally do custom samples, either. Potential employers: I might be able to provide you a paragraph on your topic, but I simply don't have the time to generate an unpaid article on the off-chance that you might hire me.
  • Bad Rep. You should be able to get a feel for what other freelancers think of the company with just a tad bit of investigation. Check out your favorite blog communities and writer forums. Ask around.


Whew! So, where are the good jobs, you ask? That's easy. Start with my listing of telecommute freelance writing jobs, and start making your own contacts and networks. The further you go into this career, the less often you'll use these lists. Best of luck.

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