Freelance writing job boards get a bad rap for being a hive of low paying job ads, cheap clients, and underqualified writers, and it’s mostly true. I spent a large part of my early career on these boards, and I’ve taken many jobs that I’ve since regretted (“volume discounts” of $1 an article, anyone?).
But even in a flea market environment like that, there are still job ads that you should run away from the moment you encounter them. Not just coz they’re low paying, or difficult, or whatnot, but because they’re actually harmful for you.
1. Article Spinning
Sorry, what? They want me to plagiarize someone else’s work? Oh, they want me to hire a team of people to plagiarize someone else’s work? Do I need to explain why this isn’t a moral thing for writers to do?
Sure, they might claim that these articles are theirs and they have the right to do whatever they want with them, but I highly doubt they’re the one who wrote them. The author is pretty much the only person with the right to make that kind of request (and even then, I wouldn’t do it).
2. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is awesome. It’s the equivalent of doing the graduation speech at a friend’s high school. Paid guest blogging is awkward. It’s the equivalent of someone handing you money and saying “get that high school to have you do their graduation speech. And do that for 10 other high schools. Oh, and make sure they’re top-tier high schools with lots and lots of rich students.”
There’s absolutely zero guarantees that this will work. And yet my pay depends on it. Do I still need to explain why this is a bad idea?
3. Profit Sharing
Tell me that job ad doesn’t make your skin crawl. Seriously? They want me to write a f***ing book for you, but they’re only going to pay me after they start selling it? What’s to stop them from claiming it doesn’t sell at all and leave me hanging? If I was going to write a book and wait for royalties, I’d write my own book, thank you very much.
4. Sample Collectors
This is a scam I’ve written about before, and I’m sad to see it still proliferating. Basically when guys like this float a job ad and want you to write a sample from scratch, chances are they aren’t interested in hiring you at all.
Let’s do the math: They plan to pay the winning writer $20 an article (itself a bad rate) and 50 people respond. 50 x $20 = $1,000. Why would they pay these writers, who just sent in free stuff, anything? Just claim “nobody’s good enough” and run!
If they want me to write a sample article, then pay me for it.
I’m sad to say that these aren’t the only examples of bad jobs out there. Maybe I’ll do a part 2 to this post sometime.
In the meantime, I hope that the next time you encounter these jobs on the Internet, you close the browser window and sprinkle your laptop with holy water. If you want to send the job poster a little piece of hate mail, too, then by all means!