I stumbled upon freelance writing while reading a tech-related blog. I did some research, and joined a freelance writing website, taking a shot at writing for a living. I didn’t know I was setting myself up for a shocking experience that almost forced me out of the industry.
I was contacted by a client who baited me with bulk writing jobs. (That should have been my first warning sign.) He equally offered me a price far above the standard pay for that type of work. I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought I was the luckiest freelance writer in the world! We agreed on weekly payments, which sounded pretty good to me. Basking in the euphoria of a mouthwatering offer, I got to work. I fell for his tricks, and ended up losing $400 to the scammer.
You can imagine how devastated I was when he later blatantly told me wouldn’t pay me a dime. Scammed by my very first client? That was unbelievable! Yet, it happened. I was an unlucky victim of a client who preyed on my innocence and lack of experience.
The temptation to give up on writing was pretty high. For days, I couldn’t get it out of my head. In my mind, I kept repeating everything that happened, from his first contact, to his heartless refusal to pay for my services. My morale was low for days.
However, rather than pack up my laptop and bid freelance writing goodbye, I appraised the situation, and picked some valuable lessons.
I learned the following lessons from the bitter experience:
- Always research potential clients in a search engine. See if they are active on social media. Dig up whatever you can about them. There is the likelihood that you will find something strange or a clue that their business is not on the up and up. If you are not comfortable with your findings, you may consider rejecting the offer. Do that politely, and move on.
- Ask for partial payment up front, especially for large or long-term jobs. I once stumbled on a piece addressing the issue of fraudulent clients on Facebook. The writers in the group unanimously agreed on asking for partial payment before embarking on a writing project as the solution to losing out completely when a client decides to become a cheat. I learned that lesson through my unfortunate experience with the client.
- Be cautious when providing writing samples. I learned this vital lesson, too, when a client I provided with some writing samples modified them, and then used them without paying me a dime. He eventually blocked all channels of communication from me. I was speechless. I vowed never to make such a huge mistake again.
That was some five years ago. I eventually overcame the initial shock and disappointment and I’ve met some great and supportive clients after that ugly incident. I appreciate them.
Never in my career will I ever fall for such a cheap scam again. I’ve been bitten once and I’ll be more than twice shy. I have learned my lessons. Hopefully, you’ve learned a lesson or two from my experience, too.
HAVE YOU, TOO, BEEN CHEATED BY A CLIENT? PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW.
- When Writers Contribute to a Scammer’s Success By Angela Hoy, WritersWeekly.com
- Top 10 Signs You’ve Been Scammed Into Writing for Free By Angela Hoy
- What?! New Authors Are Being Solicited by “Free” Publishers? How to Avoid This Common Scam…
- A New Scam Targeting Authors – “Will you swap ebooks with me?”
- Just Published? Great! Now, Get Ready for an Onslaught of Scammers! By Angela Hoy
- WHO’S SCAMMING GRANNY? Snakes That Prey on Elderly Authors
Akintubi Ayodeji is a versatile writer with a flair for writing informative articles, and meeting the needs of clients. Akintubi has been in the writing industry for over four years, and currently contributes to several websites, including TechTrickWorlds and VitalRecipe.
Have a Freelance Success Story to share? We pay $40 on acceptance, non-exclusive electronic rights only. Success stories run around 300 words but we're very flexible. Our guidelines are here:
>>>Read More Success Stories<<<
QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments
Peek over the shoulders of highly successful freelance writers to see how they earn thousands per article! The query letter is the key!
In these pages, you'll find real query letters that landed real assignments for national magazines, websites, and corporations.
- Abbi Perrets' form letter that brings in $30,000-$45,000 annually
- Sample phone query from Christine Greeley
- The Six Golden Rules of Queries and Submissions...and How I Broke Them! by Bob Freiday
- Your Rights As a "Freelancer"
- and ANGELA HOY'S SECRET for finding ongoing freelance work from companies that have a stable of freelancers, yet never run ads for them!
HOW TO REMEMBER, WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR LIFE STORY
Angela Hoy's popular online class is now available in book format!
Remember Your Past
Write It and Publish It
in as little as 12 weeks!
Angela Hoy's book will get you started!
- Using Angela's MEMORY TRIGGERS, recall memories that have been dormant for years
- Record those memories in chronological order in your memory notebook
- Using the memory notebook as your outline, write your autobiography!
- Also works for biographies and memoirs!
Read more here:
Thanks for your insightful contribution, Anne. Taking some preventive precautions such as asking for a part payment is key to weeding out potential fraudulent clients. I love the copyright tip, too. I’ll surely look into that.
SUBMITTED VIA EMAIL TO WRITERSWEEKLY:
Your correspondent Ayotubi Abedeji and anyone in the same situation should be aware that until it is paid for, their written material is copyrighted, and belongs to them not the commissioner. It can be sold to anyone they choose, at any time. Something similar happened to me and as soon as I was aware that I was going to be scammed, I offered the piece to another publication which used it, with a copyright mark on it. But getting a deposit is always a good policy. In my editing business, as a standard I ask for a fifty per cent deposit before I start. As a colleague commented, this covers both parties. If the commissioning editor doesn’t like the finished article, they have only coughed up half the fee — as a kill fee. And if the commissioner doesn’t want to pay, I am out only half the fee which I can probably get by rewriting and selling elsewhere, at best. And at worst, if it is a date-sensitive story and can’t be used later, I have part of the expected income. Deposits tend to weed out the crooks. In a case like that quoted, regular provision of written work, one should send a letter of agreement as a contract and include a clause agreeing that payment will be regular ie on the Monday after date of publication of a weekly. Making it plain that article No 2 will not be delivered until payment for article No 1 has been received and so on for ever. No-one can use the “cheque is in the post” excuse these days of online banking.