As freelancers, we all appreciate how valuable our time is. The less time we spend chasing work, the more time we can actually spend writing.

Like most freelancers, I peruse the Internet in search of projects on a regular basis. Over the years I’ve secured a variety of assignments for a number of different publications through this means.

Yet, in the past few months, I’ve noticed some interesting “trends” in the freelance market during these online searches. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just getting started in the field, you may want to keep an eye out for the following types of job postings:

  1. Postings as a means to collect email addresses After applying to a job posting specifically for health and wellness writers, my mailbox was suddenly flooded with emails attempting to sell me health/wellness products and services. Because of the timing, I can only connect my response to that job posting as merely a means to create an email database for these offers. Since I showed interest writing about these particular topics, the assumption was that I’d be a likely consumer in this area as well.
  2. Opportunities that utilize your blog and don’t pay On several occasions I’ve applied for blogging positions only to learn the job actually entailed using my own personal blog to advertise a product or service, without pay. In one instance, I received what seemed to be a personalized reply indicating my writing services could be used the following month. I was then asked to post a press release advertising the sender’s business on my personal blog without compensation for doing so. Yet, when I asked for details regarding the work they had for me, none were provided. I’m assuming this posting was just a crafty method to utilize existing blogs with the promise of paid work in the near future.
  3. Positions that require viewing your Facebook or Twitter accounts While we all understand the importance social media plays in today’s digital world, the new practice of assessing a candidate based on their network of friends over their writing ability is questionable at best.
  4. Ads for writers that aim to attract desperate workers We all know you can make a living writing, but some people believe writers are desperate for any type of work they can find. Case in point, I recently responded to an ad for a very specific type of writing–jewelry design, to be exact. Shortly after, I received a reply that started with “Dear Jewelry Design Writer, We are a property management company in need of eager workers…” However, there was no mention of any type of writing in the job description.

In these tough economic times, it appears people are getting creative when it comes to job postings. What’s a freelancer to do? Rest assured, there are still reputable companies out there who do business in a professional and ethical manner, actually paying writers for their work. Here are some suggestions for steering clear of possible scams:

  • Be skeptical of very vague ads. The more detail a posting provides, the more legitimate it usually is.
  • Ask for a company’s Website to check out before submitting your work for consideration. Based on the answer you receive, you can usually tell if there’s reason to be concerned.
  • Stick with reputable sources for job listings.
  • If the project or job seems too good to be true, it probably is. Is someone offering to pay $1/word for a 1200-word article, and promising unlimited articles per week? It’s most likely a scam.
  • Finally, always trust your instincts. There have been many occasions where an opportunity just didn’t seem right, and I elected to pass on applying as a result.

Kathy Levine’s writing has been published in a variety of publications, both online and in print. Her articles, features and columns cover a range of topics, but she particularly enjoys those relating to health, wellness and pets. In addition to actually writing, she spends time coaching new writers and conducts writing workshops as well. She may be contacted at pack940 -at-