Thanks to the advancements of our digital-crazy world, hunting for remote freelance writing jobs is now simple and fast.
There are hundreds of job boards, bidding sites, content mills and other places you can look to find potential gigs and clients in seconds. It’s easy.
But, like anything, easy isn’t always good.
In fact, in this scenario, easy can end up coming back to haunt you! If you’re not careful to fully vet the jobs and projects you apply for, you could end up wasting your time, dealing with difficult clients or, worst of all, getting stiffed on payment altogether.
Fortunately, I’ve been looking for remote freelance writing jobs for years, and I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t and what mistakes can come back to bite you later on.
Here are the biggest faux pas you should avoid next time you’re on the job hunt:
Writing trial and sample articles for free
You see a job post that sounds promising (good pay, brand-name company, etc.), and you get in touch with the client. After a little back and forth, the client is ready to proceed – with just one catch: They want a “trial” or “sample” piece to make sure your writing is up to their standards.
Sure, it sounds reasonable enough. They want to ensure your style of writing jives with their needs. It makes sense.
But you know what doesn’t make sense? Providing that sample without guarantee of payment.
“If we like it, we will publish and pay you” is not good enough. It’s perfectly fine to write a sample – even one at a discounted rate – but you absolutely need to get paid for it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been burned by the “sample” writing lie. Clients will take the piece, use it however they like and never, ever call you (or pay you) again. They’ll do it with hundreds of other writers, and pretty soon, they have a whole library of content they got for free!
Always set boundaries and make sure you are getting paid for your work. If a client demands a trial piece, agree to something short – something that won’t take up too much of your time – and establish a clear price for that work. Then, when you turn it in, include your invoice. Don’t let the promise of a potential job cloud your judgment. Your talents warrant payment.
Getting stuck with bad clients
The big key to finding great remote work is being able to discern the bad clients from the good ones. Now, this isn’t something you can glean from an initial job post. The true signs of a bad client don’t surface until later, once you’re emailing them, negotiating a price and working out project details.
Though not every bad client will be obvious to you at this stage, there are a few red flags you can look for when communicating with them:
- They’re constantly trying to get you to lower your rate or come down on price. If price is all that matters to them, the job is not for you. You want someone who values quality above all else.
- They ask for a free sample or trial work. See section above!
- They have no experience working with freelancers or writers. Clients who have no experience with freelancers are typically either very demanding or unresponsive. Neither of these bodes well for you.
- They have no clear idea of what they want or what they need. If all they can give you is a vague description, it’s a disaster in the making. You want clear, concise instructions so you can be as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
- Their list of to-dos keeps growing. “Oh, you know WordPress? Then we’ll need you to post those blogs, too.” “Do you have Photoshop? Please include a graphic with each article as well.” You can bet those won’t be the end of their requests if you start working for them.
If you spot any of these red flags, run the other way. There are plenty of other clients out there; don’t waste your time on someone who will just waste yours!
Using unreliable job listings
Not every website or job board is reliable. Many of them allow anyone to post; they don’t need a company email address, they don’t have to pay, and there’s no one vetting or even reading the posts before they go live.
This can result in some poor job listings – they’re missing information, they’re vague, they offer bottom-dollar rates, or they’re just plain spam. And you know what? Those are a waste of your time, and they’ll never result in a high-paying job or good clients. I promise you that.
Your best bet when looking for remote freelance writing jobs is to use only vetted job boards. Some great examples are the ones at ProBlogger. MediaBistro and BloggingPro. On sites like these, clients have to either pay to have their jobs listed, or each post is vetted by an admin who ensures they’re accurate, well-paying and high-quality.
Also, if you want to learn more about winning high-quality freelance writing jobs and clients the right way, be sure to check out my new Free eBook, The Freelance Writer’s Complete Strategy Guide to Winning High-Quality Clients.”
Forgetting the details
Simply knowing the client and the type of content you’ll be writing isn’t enough. To give an accurate quote (and to ensure you’re a good fit for a job), you need more information.
You need to know things such as turnaround time, length, the amount of research required, the availability of the client for questions/concerns, the final resting piece of the content and, of course, the amount of editing and revisions that will go into it.
Once you know this, only then can you evaluate a job against your skills, talents and rates. So ask plenty of questions, get all the info you can and don’t sign on with a client until you’re absolutely sure it’s a good fit.
Undercutting your own rates
As I mentioned before, there are many clients out there who only choose writers if they offer the lowest rate. Whether they’re on a bidding site or they’re a client who found you via LinkedIn, they’ll stop at nothing to get you to agree to a lower number – no matter what it takes.
Unfortunately, many writers let the pressure get to them. They know how competitive the market is, and in an attempt to lock down a job, they agree to a much lower rate than they would normally charge.
The big problem with this?
Many times, these aren’t just one-off projects; they’re long-term client relationships. That means the writer isn’t just accepting a low rate today, they’re accepting one for months – maybe even years. And that lost income can really add up.
Though it might be tempting to agree to a lower rate with a hard-negotiating client, always keep in mind your value and your talents. If they’re not willing to pay you accordingly, then move on. There are hundreds more jobs and clients out there to choose from!
Find Better Remote Freelance Writing Jobs
If you want to find high-paying, quality remote freelance writing jobs, stick to vetted jobs sites, stand up for your skills and rates, and know how to spot the good clients from the bad.