Finding work can be a daunting task and also, quite a shot in the dark. I’ve been doing this off and on for the past 7 years and it’s still very much the same landscape. It would be great if all job boards delivered only jobs that legitimate but the fact of the matter is, mostly every shot is in the dark but that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is when they try to sell you something.
Like I said, I’ve been at this for a little while and I’ve had my share of BS posts. After a bit you start to see the signs. There are the obvious ones, where the post has a link right there to some affiliate site (don’t click that! It probably won’t give you a virus but it will trap you in pop up window purgatory for a while) or it promises extreme amounts of money for very simple work. If it was that easy to earn, everyone would be doing it. They’re not. Don’t fall for the scheme.
I actually use Craigslist which is notorious for that sort of thing. Which is why many people try to stay away from it but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Sure there’s no gate keeper there (actually, the users are the gate keepers. Keep flagging bad jobs people) but I’ve gotten some pretty lucrative gigs from there and if a person pays attention, they can do the same. Scams usually don’t work very hard at hiding themselves.
But then there are the trickier ones where everything looks legitimate, they have a website, a promising email address, all the parts that equal a possible job so you apply. A few days later you get an email saying you weren’t selected but here, why don’t you sign up for some of our services or even post to your site’s message board.
Alright, stop right there.
This is a cheap tactic. Never respond to these. If your writing was good enough to gain exposure through a message board, then it was good enough to be paid for. Don’t fall for this. Don’t buy whatever they’re selling. Push the trash icon and move on the next.
The worst part of those gigs is the time that they waste. You spend your time putting together a well-crafted and thoughtful bid, only to have that sent back to you.
In order to save myself wasted time when bidding on jobs, I employ a triage system. The jobs that seem most likely go first and I spend time crafting my proposals and selecting my samples. The jobs that are in this pile are ones that are perfect for my type of writing experience and have no red flags.
Red flags are phrases such as “must be a native English speaker”, “no experience necessary”, “looking for top quality work” but has really low pay listed, etc. Red flags also include things like, low pay, poorly edited postings (meaning, not just a few typos but you’re concerned that English isn’t their first language), and links to anything other than their website or a submittable page.
If there is something in this adds that make me think that the job could be a real one, it goes in the second pile and they are bid on after the first rung jobs. These bids are much more generic with a basic portfolio submission.
Then there is the third pile. The third pile is made up entirely of jobs that I think may be not worth my time and or frauds but they seem interesting. Most of the gigs in pile three get deleted after a second look. If they happen to still grab my interest, I send a generic bid with basic information and a single sample. I do not waste any time with these.
I have had some come back as real opportunities but mostly this pile is where you find your scams etc. Those replies get deleted and not a second thought paid to them. Once a bid system is employed, the process is more or less automatic.
Some freelancers enjoy a constant pool of work and never have to find clients. And good for them. That’s what we all want. But getting there takes time and effort. Recognizing when to bid and when not to goes a long way to saving time looking for work. Also learning to spot red flags so that you can avoid bad jobs all together helps a lot too. There are people waiting to hire you, you just have to wade through the muck to get them.