I knew when I started that freelancing was a very different beast than full-time employment. I would be responsible for all my own invoicing and collections and marketing to find new clients.
In the beginning I took a lot of low-paying jobs to get “experience,” and some of those experiences weren’t so great. I focused on building relationships instead and work with an amazing group of businesses now. But freelancing is always an uphill battle and it’s important to never stop looking even when things are in a good balance. You just never know when something will change.
I will apply to nearly everything I feel qualified for, but that doesn’t mean I go in blind. Here are the red flags that I avoid.
- They ask for PayPal information up front. Craigslist is known for producing scam job descriptions, among other things, so I am cautious of job offers that provide little detail but request PayPal information along with your resume and samples. I won’t discuss payment options until after I’ve discussed the job.
- They ask for references in the ad. I gave this advice to candidates when I worked as a recruiter, too. References are for later in the process, not before an interview. In part, this is to protect my references. I like to give them a heads up on who will be contacting them.
- The pay is significantly below your rate. This is a tough one. On one hand, you have to start somewhere, but on the other I’ve learned that when people pay below market average they are likely to be a less reliable business partner. I’ve established my rates and I make very few exceptions.
- They require a fully completed article. Occasionally a company requires that you create a blog post “in their style” as a sample. I have found out the hard way that this is sometimes a way to get content without paying for it. I stopped doing them once I built a respectable professional portfolio.
Because there are so many possible options for freelance writers I’ve decided where I am willing to take a stand. It might sound like I have few options but in reality there are good companies looking for good contractors and if you’re willing to put in the hard work of finding them, you can.
What are the reasons you would stay away from a job posting?