Signs of a Scam – Tips When Applying for a Writing Gig

As a writer, sometimes it can be difficult to tell when someone is just out to take advantage of you and when they have a legitimate job offer. But that shouldn’t make you avoid applying for writing jobs. If you are careful you can spot the red flags of a scam before you send out your application or at least before committing to a job you might not get paid for.

The first thing you should watch for is people that ask you to write for free. You should expect to send sample of your writing but links to places you’ve published writing online (and they should identify you by name) should be perfectly acceptable. Many will ask you to write something specifically for them but before you do you should ask yourself why the writing you have online is not enough. Is it because it is a specific niche that requires a certain amount of knowledge? If not you may want to skip this ad. Also, are they going to pay you for that sample? Again, skip this one if they expect you to do it for free.

Sometimes you’ll see a job that offers a large payment and you think, “This is too good to be true!” It likely is. Sometimes they will try to lure writers in with promises of lots of money to be made once the writers prove themselves. Be aware that the writers that work for them may never prove themselves enough to get that big payout.

Be wary of any company that asks you to sign up for a membership that will cost you money. You should never have to pay to get work. There are some places that offer a service of providing members info but if they write and ad that looks like a job. The will portray themselves as a service provider because they know they can’t promise you a job. And if they ask you to sign up for sites that will cost you money to join so you can write a review you are not likely to see any money from them. If they legitimately wanted reviews for members’ sites they would provide you with a user name and password.

If you do apply for a job that you’re a little hesitant about read the response email carefully. Do they give you details about who they are, their websites, or their company name? If they withhold that information, ask for it. If they won’t respond to your questions you’ll know they are out to scam you. Beware of any company that will not answer your questions!

Another red flag might be if the email from the prospect comes from a free email service such as Any respectable business nowadays has their own professional domain and email address. This is also an opportunity to look at your own email address: is it something like, or Which one looks more professional?

Of course, be careful who you give your custom email address to. You should still use your free email account for signing up for newsletters, and for other free accounts on the web. You never know how your email address will be used or who it will be sold to.

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