Tips for New Freelance Writers: Avoiding Shady Job Posts

Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

Now in my third year of freelance writing, I occasionally catch myself turning down potential clients and invitations to interview for no discernible reason. I’ve been burned more than a handful of times–as many freelancers have–both before and after I’ve done the requested work, so I can be a little quick to judge.

On one hand, just because something sends up a red flag doesn’t mean the client will drag me through the mud if I give them a chance. On the other, finding new work is a large percentage of freelancing, so it’s important not to spread yourself thin if you know the client won’t be a good fit.

So how do you know a potential freelance client is worth pursuing? And once you get started, how do you welcome a potential client while clearly communicating your needs?

UpWork was (and still is) an excellent resource for my freelancing career. However, whenever I speak to new writers looking to break off into freelancing, I say, “There are a lot of garbage job posts out there. Same as any other site, you just have to sort through them to find the good ones.”

Though you may never know if you’re a perfect fit with a client until after an interview or initial assignment, you can pick up on a few clues before getting started. So if you’re just jumping in (or if you’re a freelance veteran and have some to add), take a look at these red-flag job posts I’ve learned to avoid.

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My First Full Year of Freelancing

This is more of a practical post for a change. I’ve had a few people reach out to see how freelance writing was going, so I’ve written a a rundown of my experience in the first full year.

Also, if you’re one of the many people who found this blog over the holiday season by Googling “Barbie Dream House” because of my old post¬†from 2017, welcome! I hope you found the gift you were looking for.

Whenever I head into the holiday party season, I try to think of a succinct way to sum up the past 12 months of my life. This way, I can quickly answer the “so, how you’ve been?” small-talk question that often makes me freeze up, forget my name, and make the other person wonder what they possibly said to deserve the look I’m giving them. I had a particularly hard time figuring out what to say this year. The past 12 months have been a strange blur. We moved apartments, we saved our sick cat, I broke my toe. I dealt with one of my longest and darkest dips of depression I’ve dealt with in a while–hence the lack of blog posts. Honestly, it was a really weird, hard year, and I’m incredibly relieved to head into a new calendar with new exciting projects ahead.

Despite all the garbage, one reason the year was such a hot mess is that I was finding my footing in a freelancing life. And you know? I think I may have temporarily found it. I’ve had a few people contact me about how to become a freelance writer, and up until now, I’ve really just wanted to yell, “RUN! DON’T DO IT! IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!” But I can chat with a clear head now. So I’ve been meaning to put everything I’ve learned in a post, just in case it helps anyone move in the same direction.

Here are the common questions I get about being a freelance writer:

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