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Are Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist a Scam?

31 May

If you are starting out as a freelance writer looking for opportunities to earn a little cash, you may find that there are many jobs posted on Craigslist. These jobs can vary from one-time projects to ongoing work with content companies, web development firms and private people who just need some articles or blog posts. Pay rates also vary widely depending on the scope of work and what hiring companies deem as “fair” wages for freelance writing.

While Craigslist can be a great source of freelance writing work, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when applying for work there. Why? Because oftentimes scammers use this free advertising website as a place to steal information from job seekers. Craigslist is a place where people of all types post information annoymously. This means it can be a playground for unscrupulous scammers who use email as a way to gather information on citizens.

So what do you look for to avoid being scammed as a freelance writer?

1. Does the job sound too good to be true? If the job advertisement says something like ” Work from home part time and earn full time wages” or “Make $50 an hour in your spare time”, chances are you’ve found a scam ad. Do not apply to it, but rather promptly flag it so Craigslist will take it down.

2. Does the advertisement ask you to click on a link that takes you to a work from home website? If so, you may be dealing with a scammer who uses Craigslist to get traffic and steal information online. Again, avoid it like the plague and flag the ad as spam.You won’t get a job there.

3. Does the ad ask you to write a “sample” and send it in for approval (with no mention of pay)? This is a common ploy that some scammers will use to get free content to use as they please. You do the work, and never get paid. Instead you get a blanket email that says “thanks for your sample, but you are not what we are looking for”. Do yourself a favor, and never work for free. Get payment terms in writing before you send an unpublished writing sample in. Or send in something you’ve already published online under your own name.

4. Does the ad ask for your personal information (social security number, birthdate, home address, etc)? This is clearly a scammer who acts like a potential hiring manager but who is actually an information thief. Never send your personal information to anyone online, especially through email. Keep your resume neutral and leave off your personal information until a job offer is made by a real person.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Craigslist is not a bad place to find freelance writing gigs. In fact, it can be a very good source of work on a regular basis. Other career-oriented advertising websites can also fall prey to online scammers. The point is to be cautious when applying for any work online. Check out the company further by reviewing their website, pick up the phone and actually call to speak to a hiring manager whenever possible, and protect your information at all times. By following these “rules” you can avoid becoming a victim of online scammers.

Copy Writing 101: Getting Started as a Freelancer

23 May

Ever since I made the leap of faith to become a web copy writer over five years ago, a lot of people have asked me, “how I did it?”  To be honest, it was not an easy transition from being a corporate HR manager to that of a home based freelancer. There have been a few bumps in the road, but I knew if I stuck with it long enough I would see the fruits of my labor. And over the years, I have.

 So, if you are wondering if this may be a valid career choice for you, here’s some quick advice on getting started!

1. Keep your day job for at least six months. One of the biggest mistakes many work at home wannabee’s do is quit a perfectly great job right away. Not only is this foolish financially, but what if you realize you don’t really like being at home full time? Stay in your current job and write on the side for a while. During this time, develop your skills, pick up clients and learn the ropes of copy writing. Before long, your freelance work will outweigh your outside the home job and you can put in a notice.

2. Devote time to write daily. While you are working on building a nice career in copy writing, start developing the habits which will make you successful for the long-term. Most copy writers spend between 4-8 hours daily at their desks, researching and writing copy for a variety of clients. Many work longer hours to meet deadlines or manage multiple projects around other responsibilities. To do copy writing on a full time basis, you must LOVE writing a lot and you must be able to do this 30-40 hours a week or more.

3. Learn all you can about copy writing. One of the best ways to ramp up your career as a freelance copy writer is to learn from other writers before you. That means taking classes, participating in webinars, reading great books on writing, and studying the masters of marketing copy. A good low cost alternative to a college class is my 6 week freelance writing class where I teach you everything I have learned over the last 5 years as a web copy writer and how you can get started (and find paying work).

4. Select a writing mentor. Just as you would starting out in any other career, finding a good mentor is a critical aspect of becoming a highly compensated copy writer. A mentor should have at least five or more years of writing experience and be able to answer your general questions about freelancing, give you advice on locating work, and provide feedback on your written work. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to my mentor(s) with questions and found the help and encouragement I needed to make sound decisions as a writer.

Well, that’s about all I can tell you about getting started as a copy writer. There is a HUGE market out there of businesses and clients who need supperb copy – so go out there and grab ’em!

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About the Author: Tess C. Taylor, Owner of Taylor Resources Writing, is a skilled web copy writer from Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in helping small business owners project the right message online. She has personally written over 2,500 articles, managed 100+ web copy projects and is regularly featured on The Chamber of Commerce, FindVenture, WiseGeek, US News, Yahoo and more as a business and careers writer. You can find out more by visiting HTTP://WWW.TRWRITING.COM today!

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The Importance of Web Copy Writing Contracts

18 May

Do you use contracts for your writing projects? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last five years as a professional web copy writer, it’s to always get it in writing. I learned this early on in my career when a client hired me to do some ghostwriting of a book chapter and then failed to pay me for about 15 hours worth of writing and research work. Although I later tracked this unscrupulous person down and reported him to the freelance website he was using to find writers, and finally got payment, this was an eye-opening experience for me as a writer. From that point on, I started getting everything in writing with clients.

Sure, in some cases an email can be recognized as a legal agreement between two parties, but oftentimes it’s not enough. A contract states clearly in black and white what is expected from each party. Additionally, it spells out in certain terms what work is to be performed, at what rate and when it will be completed. A contract is a legal document that gives both sides the chance to resolve and make claims for what is expected from the start. Without a contract, you are taking chances with your time, business and reputation as a freelance writer.

If you need guidance on what should be included in a freelance writing contract, here are some pointers:

1. Information for both parties should be included at the top of the contract. Get the actual name of the business, the responsible person’s name, the full address and contact information.

2. Provide a breakdown of the work to be performed. Be clear and to the point. Remember you can always modify this agreement if you choose to do more work for the client in the future.

3. Give a clear price list or hourly rate for your work. Do NOT offer discounts in the contract – those can be negotiated later via email or phone. Set clear payment terms as to any fees due upfront and when the final payment is due. Also state what will happen if the client fails to pay you on time.

4. Provide a disclaimer for your work that it does not guarantee any specific results or goals for the client. How the client uses your work after you submit it is up to them.

5. Request that you are granted the ability to include a link to any content published online in your personal portfolio. This gives you a chance to show examples of your work to future clients.

6. Get the contract signed and dated BEFORE starting any work for a web copy writing client. Failure to do this works against your efforts and can lead to trouble. If a client is reluctant to sign it, then run away quick as this can be a bad sign they are not sincere.

Here are some more helpful guides and resources to help you write a contract for writing clients, which you may find useful.

HTML Writer’s Guild Contract Guidelines and Templates

Sample Freelance Writing Contract

Simple Freelance Writing Contract

So, do you already use writing contracts? Why or why not? Please feel free to leave your comments below!

Career Opportunities for Web Copy Writers

5 May

In addition to writing, one of my favorite activities is to post opportunities for web copy writers on my Freelance Writing Class website, home of a little virtual course I wrote last year about getting into freelance writing as a career. There are literally thousands of ways in which copy writers can earn a decent living, either part time or full time.

The advantages of being a freelance web copy writer are endless, including:

  • The freedom to work from home or anywhere an Internet connection exists.
  • Flexible schedule that fits well with family life or other responsibilities.
  • The ability to take on as little or as many writing projects needed to earn an income.
  • Being your own boss has many perks and increases confidence.
  • Experiencing different industries and cultures around the world.

For me, becoming a web copywriter has been the single-most rewarding aspect of my adult life. Despite having worked in human resources for well over 14 years, I found that my transition to becoming a freelancer was a positive one. While I won’t paint a completely rosey picture because this choice has had it’s ups and downs just like any career, I can say that I am more fulfilled as a career-woman and feel much more in control of my family finances than I ever did working outside the home in a corporate day job.

If you are exploring the many opportunities in web copy writing work, in addition to my freelance writing  jobs page at Freelance Writing Class, here are some resources to help you get started (and where I found a lot of inspiration over the years!) :

Freelance Writing Jobs – one of the largest and well-respected sources for information on freelance writing and career opportunities. Multiple job postings and information to keep you in the know.

Freelance Writing – Helping freelance writers succeed since 1997, this website will give you insight and information about freelance copy writing opportunites and contests around the globe.

Online Writing Jobs – Find organized lists and sources of information on freelance copy writing gigs all over. I return to this list time and again for updated opportunities.

Writing Career – posts updated freelance writing job leads from Craigslist and other online job boards. Nice resource and fun way to find work online.

FlexJobs – This is the only membership freelance writing job resource I recommend. Why? Because I personally worked for FlexJobs when I was first starting out as a freelance writer!  I know from first-hand experience that all of the freelance writing job leads are legit, well-researched and updated on a daily basis by real people to make sure only the best jobs are listed.

So, if you are trying to find your way as a freelance web copy writer, or you are searching for new opportunities – be sure to check out the above sources for fresh job leads and inspiration!

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About the Author: Tess C. Taylor, Owner of Taylor Resources Writing, is a web copy writer in Charleston, South Carolina who has been featured on The Chamber of Commerce, Yahoo and US News. She has been writing for 5 years and has published over 2,500 articles and 100 websites on business and career topics around the world.