LinkedIn can be a great way for a writer to establish a network of like-minded writers and other professionals. However, it’s important to understand that while most people online are well-intentioned, there are plenty of opportunities to get scammed.
And we want to avoid writer scams at all costs.
Avoiding Writer Scams: An Example
The other day, I received an email from one of the groups I had recently joined. It was from a translation group I had signed up for. The email consisted of a list of topics that had been recently written about on the group’s page. One of the topics interested me in particular. This posting was advertising translation jobs, which I am always interested in, as I know there are plenty of freelance translators looking to find that first translation job.
Here was the posting exactly as it appeared online. See if you can see the red flags:
Desperately seeking translators! No experience required!
Thousands of people online are discovering how doing simple translator jobs from home full or part time can be very profitable! Work with established, REAL companies and individuals. Start getting paid easily up to $100 to translate text documents, up to $35 to translate emails!
So I clicked on the link and went to the group’s page. There I found a link to a company that purported to help translators make a ton of money, as they were in “desperate” need for translators. Of course, red flags went up after reading that kind of description, but I read on, wondering what kind of scheme the website was up to. Well, come to find out, this was a website that would take your money (a one-time fee), and then supposedly allow you into their marketplace where you could find translation clients.
Of course they couldn’t guarantee you would make any money, nor did they talk about how many translation clients they had using their site. Mere details to them that didn’t matter, I’m sure!
Scam? Very much so. The thing is, though, is that this sort of scam isn’t limited to those interested in becoming freelance translators. This type of scam can easily be found directed straight at writers on sites like LinkedIn.
So how do you know the difference between a writing scam and a legitimate business opportunity? Follow these three tips for starters:
1) You have to pay money to access their marketplace
I’m not a big fan of websites like Elance as place where freelance writers can really get quality business opportunities, but at least writers don’t have to pay money to join or bid on projects. If a site or company wants you to pay money in order to access their supposed marketplace full of clients, be wary of the company’s ability to provide you quality leads.
2) There aren’t any details
If you paid to join a marketplace, but there weren’t even any clients looking for writers, you’d be out of whatever investment you put in. Companies that don’t have numbers to back up their claims are usually not interested in providing you opportunities for your success. If a company can’t or won’t provide you numbers, or is vague on other details surrounding their marketplace and what it means for you, then steer clear.
3) Other writers tell you to steer away
This particular company on LinkedIn looking for translators had already received negative comments from other translators to stay away. It pays to listen to people that have already been there, done that. Many writers who have been burned by a site or company will want other writers to stay away so that they don’t get burned as well. Listen to them.
When you’re dealing with sites such as LinkedIn and come across something that seems to good to be true, it pays to take a moment and think. It is much better to steer clear of scams that promise you the world but deliver nothing. You have better things to do than to waste both your time and money.