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What are the WARNING SIGNS That a Freelance Writer is a FRAUD?

Profile photo of Sunday William Submitted by Sunday William April 7, 2016

In content marketing, the need to outsource or hire freelance writers often arise. This is because constant content is needed to fill in blogs and the task of creating consistent content may be overwhelming for the average content marketer.

 A blog requires regular update with fresh contents and to meet this demand, hiring writers becomes a invaluable to the marketer. Outsourcing freelance writing jobs has the advantage of helping the business meet with its audiences’ demands. It also helps the business save time as the blogger can concentrate on other aspects of the business like promotion and management.

Indeed, there are benefits associated with signing up freelance writers cannot be ignored but the relationship is not always smooth. Some freelancers can promote their sales page with fascinating offers but when it comes to delivering the actual writing project for client, it then would dawn on the client that all of those offers are misleading!

The best of content marketers have experienced “scam” freelancers in one way or the other. You get to hear about freelancers doing shoddy work, not meeting with deadlines, plagiarizing other peoples’ work, etc. Although most clients now have a way to check and manage “fraudulent” freelance writers, many are still falling victim of these scams.

Now, it becomes necessary to know the signs to lookout for when avoiding fraudulent writers. No one wants to fall victim of it.

If you have been scammed by freelancers in the past, what are the warning signs to watch out for? What are the red flags to look out for when outsourcing writing projects to freelancers?

Your input in the comment section would be invaluable in helping unsuspecting blogger/content marketer avoid being scammed in the future!


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Profile photo of Sunday William
I started with a College Degree in Business but I have been an Internet marketer and writer for 10+ years and have written 5,000+ high quality articles in diverse topics. I have also written 20,000+ comments on Kingged.com and 1,000+ blogs and/or websites. I have been working closely with Kingsley, the admin of Kingged.com for 10+ years and have been in the Kingged.com's administrative team since the first day in 2012. I highly recommend Kingged.com's Coaching and Partnership Program.
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33 Responses to “ What are the WARNING SIGNS That a Freelance Writer is a FRAUD?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Robert A Kearse Profile

    Sunday:The questions you raise are critical and often crucial to the successful publication of quality content.

    However, my approach to hiring authentic, quality freelance writers to to come at it from a POSITIVE direction, not the negative, what to avoid direction.

    Steps to take:

    -1- Review published portfolio of prospect – put samples through http://Copyscape.com (assuming samples met quality criteria) to check for plagiarism

    -2- Only hire through established freelance sites that have a “review and evaluation”
    archive (where previous customers rate the written product contracted for)

    -3- For really important jobs contact previous customers of the prospective freelancer for detailed confirmation of positive reviews

    -4- One last point. Do not give some huge order to a provider you have never used before. Start small and scale up with a quality provider.
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    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Robert,
      You are right, these are just from the “positive” direction and not the “what to avoid” perspective. One can follow the above steps you have highlighted to hire a freelance writer.

      However, even with the best best of hiring process, one may need to deal with a freelance writer that don’t meet with the ‘published’ skills. Bad experiences do happen with freelancers, and my question remains, how do you actually deal with a situation whereby the freelance writer hired becomes a fraud?
      Sunday William recently posted…What are the WARNING SIGNS That a Freelance Writer is a FRAUD?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    As a freelance writer myself, I would look into the following elements on the writer’s website before hiring:

    – Presence of samples
    – Presence of already published material (links, PDF, etc.)
    – Presence of testimonials
    – The writer’s social following and the overall trust factor transpiring from it

    Usually a trustworthy writer has a track record of samples. Even a beginner writer will have a few published guest posts around, or at least their own blog.

    Meeting deadlines is a must for every writer, however there might be writers (like me) who are sickly and who will often need deadline extensions or to work with flexible deadlines to begin with.

    The best way to handle the deadlines matter is to discuss it with the writer before hiring: ask the writer if your editorial calendar and deadlines are okay for his lifestyle and any health issues; the writer should be honest and tell you what they can realistically achieve withing your terms. If a certain writer’s productivity and conditions don’t meet your needs, just part kindly and look for another writer.

    Or you might ask that writer if they can recommend you another good writer from their network who can meet your needs (and, by doing so, lay the foundations for a relationship).

    A good writer will also be communicative, whether it’s to tell you they have a flu or to respond to blog comments or to take care of any edits you may request. Or to talk editorial plans, too, because a good freelance writer will feel as part of your team, not like a content producing machine.

    Communication and mutual understanding are keys, but they have to start BEFORE the hiring process, when you really are still only talking it out.

    (A very recent personal experience: I had an accident in February that had me bedridden for weeks and made it impossible to work; I let my clients know about it immediately and I took March off. They understood and wished me well, and now that I feel better I’m completing posts I couldn’t work on in February, plus my new April posts starting next week. :) Communication and reciprocal trust are very important. It came to a point that our community of founder, editor and writers feel like a group of close friends.)

    Just my two cents and I hope they help. :)

    ~ Luana

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    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Luana,
      Quite impressive I must say! Indeed, applying open communication in the writer/client relationship will go a long way to helping preventing fraudulent writers.
      From the onset of hiring, communication and trust are very important. This will also make the writer feel as part of the system and not just as an extended content machine.

      I like your take here

      The best way to handle the deadlines matter is to discuss it with the writer before hiring: ask the writer if your editorial calendar and deadlines are okay for his lifestyle and any health issues; the writer should be honest and tell you what they can realistically achieve withing your terms. If a certain writer’s productivity and conditions don’t meet your needs, just part kindly and look for another writer.

      It becomes important to establish that trust point from the beginning!
      Sunday William recently posted…What Steps Do You Take To Keep Freelance Writers Honest?My Profile

      • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

        Oh, you can be sure a fraudulent writer won’t be open to communication, won’t take responsibility and you may not find any samples on their website.

        About deadlines, I even wrote on the About page of my professional website that if a prospect is looking fo a quick writer, who never gets sick and who gives 24 hour turnarounds, I’m not the writer for them.

        Honesty wins and a serious writer is well aware of their personal limits. (Which are no excuse for lack of responsibility, of course.

        Thank you, Sunday!

        ~ Luana

    • Profile photo of Robert A Kearse Profile

      Luana:

      RE:The writer’s social following and the overall trust factor transpiring from it

      Do you think that the “social following” criteria can be easily manipulated? Could you be more specific what you mean here and the means of evaluation?
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      • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

        Hi Robert,

        Thanks for asking. :)

        When it come to social following, numbers and minor interactions (retweets, ‘thank you’ replies) can be manipulated, but not authority. So here’s what to look into:

        – Does this writer engage in insightful discussions with their following?
        – Are they followed by any influencer or strong engager?
        – Are the writer’s social posts retweeted by fellow writers and other professionals in the writer’s niche? Do these retweets/reposts spark discussion?
        – Are the writer’s social posts retweeted/reposts by influencers or engagers? Do they spark discussion?

        You can use these questions as guidelines to evaluate a writer’s social following and the writer’s interactions.

        All these elements cannot be bought or manipulated, only earned via genuine networking and trust.

        Hope that helps!

        ~ Luana

    • Profile photo of Judith Chang Profile

      Thank you for this comment, Luana. I learned a lot from what you shared here, particularly coming from your personal experience as a writer.

  • Profile photo of Cendrine Marrouat Profile

    I see frauds coming a mile off. Here are some of the red flags I would suggest anyone should pay attention to.

    1) They use the same kind of pre-formatted emails when contacting you.

    2) They don’t really introduce themselves or tell you why they may be able to help you.

    3) Their emails are rife with typos and grammatical errors.

    4) They call themselves “experts” or “gurus”.

    5) They compliment you a little too much.

    6) They don’t use your name anywhere in their initial email.

    7) They haven’t read the guidelines on your blog.

    8) They get annoyed when you ask them to edit their work.

    I hope it helps!
    Cendrine Marrouat recently posted…We all have to start small…My Profile

  • Profile photo of Judith Chang Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    The biggest warning sign for me will be past experience with other clients.

    If a writer has had bad past experiences with lots of other clients, then it’s likely he can’t be trusted.

    I would ask for reference of past clients and follow on asking what their experiences have been with the writer.

    If most of them recommend him, then that’s a fair indication the writer is not a fraud.

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    Knowledge is power and if you don’t know much about a freelancer then you are most likely to encounter fraud.

    One sign that a freelancer is a fraud is you don’t know how to check him/her when things are going wrong.

    If the freelancer is not clear about how their work can be checked then this should be a red flag and you need to be careful!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Amit,

      Indeed, knowledge of who we are dealing with is crucial when it comes to avoiding fraudulent freelancers.

      If we don’t know much about the freelancer then it becomes easier to fall victim of their deception.

      You raised a good point about getting adequate knowledge about them!

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    There are lots of warning signs to detect a fraud in freelance writers. However, experience will remain the best teacher.

    A newbie should learn from the mistakes of others.

    This is why it is important to checkout reviews and follow advice of mentors!

    Every client of freelance writer must use past experience and opinions of others to make final assessment!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi James,

      You are right, if newbies or those without prior experience with freelance writers can only take time to study the experiences of those dealing with these people for years then it would become easier to see and avoid the clear warning signs.

      The red lights experienced by others should be enough to give newbies clues on what to avoid!

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    For me, if a freelancer is already asking for upfront and don’t have verifiable personal and professional information then that would be red flag for me!

    So, those intending to hire freelance writers must be wary of these details!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey Black,

      Yes, asking for upfront and not having a verifiable personal and professional details should be a warning sign when hiring a freelance writer.

      There must be clarity and sincerity in what is expected from freelance writers!

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    The warning signs that a freelance writer is a fraud might not be glaring from the onset but if the client make enough research before engaging the services of freelancers then it becomes easier to check on and decipher who truly can deliver as genuine freelancer.

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Carl,

      You are absolutely right. From the onset, it is often difficult to decipher the ‘genuineness’ of a freelance writer.

      It is until after the job is ‘done’ would we actually know the reality of the capability of the freelancer writer in promises and delivery!

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Just about any freelance writer could be a potential fraud! Yes, this a fact if one has not done business with them before hand.

    It is one thing to promote what they can do but it is a different ball game seeing them deliver on their “promises”.

    Hence, it becomes really necessary to do pre-hiring research on the integrity of the freelancer before offering them the job!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey Winford,

      You are right,doing a pre-hiring research on the integrity of the freelancer before hiring is a good thing. At least, this will tell if the freelance writer actually keeps to his/her ‘promises’ as widely promoted on job boards!

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    A fraudulent freelance writer doesn’t sound right. He must be avoided like plague. A content marketer that is ready to engage the services of a freelancer must be clear on what to expect.

    However, there must be proactive steps in the effort to research the work history and integrity of the freelancer before hand.

    Although, in most cases, it is not easy defining who a sincere freelancer is but there is nothing to lose if we can only make effort to try!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Sarah,

      Indeed, if there is no proactive steps taken to check the activities of the freelance writers it would be difficult to detect ‘fraudulent actions’ from them.

      Researching the work history with other clients and putting on the integrity test for them sounds very good!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Once I get to know that a freelance writer plagiarizes other people’s work then I know he/she is a fraud. This is an idea that puts me off!

    I also align with the ideas of @cendrinemedia in this discussion!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Celine,

      Indeed, Plagiarism is clear sign of “fraud”. The content marketer must establish a way of dealing with this warning sign. Thankfully, tools like Copyscape and others comes in handy to detect plagiarized content!

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