Scams are always a problem on the Internet. Writers should be wary of potential red flags in a job listing that could indicate a scam. For the writer to earn money, they must find legitimate writing assignments.
Any site that requires a writer to pay money is a scam. These sites range from pyramid schemes to run-of-the-mill scam artists. The only time a writer should pay money is to join a writing organization or to take a writing course. If the client requires a payment to begin work, it is a sign of a potential scam artist.
If the writer is using a freelance website, they will be able to read reviews from the client's other writers. As a rule, most writers will only leave positive feedback because they want the client to hire them again. If there are a lot of negative reviews from other writers, it indicates that the client is difficult to work with.
Online jobs should be fairly simple to research. The writer should be able to locate the client's company and view their website. On the website, the writer should look at the quality of the writing and the website's design. If the writing is terrible, it is a sign that the client is not a professional. They may still be a decent client, but this serves as a warning sign.
Some clients will list a sample requirement for prospective writers. They may require a 500-word or 1,000-word sample on a specific topic. If 30 applicants submitted 30 samples, the client would basically get 30 free articles. Whenever a sample is requested, the writer should submit an example of their previous work. If the client demands a custom sample, the writer should demand a payment. Otherwise, the writer will be giving away their work for free.
There are a number of websites that cater to freelancers. Although the writing pay may be lower than with traditional clients, the website will offer the writer a number of protections. Through one of these sites, the writer will be able to read reviews of the client. They will be able to see how much the client has purchased and their job history. Likewise, most freelancer sites will offer escrow accounts. This type of account is great for writers because it must be funded before the project begins. If the client tries to skip out without paying, the writer can appeal to the site and have escrow funds released.