Janice from Blackburn sent in a question that seems to be coming up more frequently recently – and it’s a worrying trend. She writes: I have subscribed to a freelance site where we have to bid for writing jobs. Many of these jobs specify quite low rates of pay, which I ignore, but there are others where the pay rate seems fair, but in the bid we are asked to supply a newly written sample article on the subject stated in the job offer, for which the bidder will not get paid. Do you think this is a scam, even though the lucky writer who gets taken on will (presumably) receive a fair payment for future work?
Janice, I’ve seen such job offers on numerous sites and very often the job is never awarded to anyone – and why would it be when the so-called employer has collected enough free work to use for a long time to come? Usually the brief says the sample article has to be able to pass Copyscape to prove it’s not been copied, which sounds fair until you think about it a bit more. I’ve noticed that these jobs sometimes get over a hundred bids, which means the person asking for samples has received that number of free (freshly written) articles.
Assuming the articles are used in a print publication somewhere on the other side of the world, or even on a website, the chances of the writer being able to claim payment for their work are not high.
Don’t reply to such job offers. If the person seeking a writer asks for samples of your work, send them something that has already been published, for which you have been paid, and state where and when it appeared. No reputable employer would ask for newly written samples, but would be only too happy to look at your previous writing clips to judge your ability to undertake the task.
The Writer’s ABC Checklist