Monday, March 08, 2010

Mistakes that All Freelancers Can Learn From

I started my full-time writing career in January 2008. Since then, I have worked for more than a dozen companies and many more private clients. Most of these relationships, though not particularly fair when it came to the price I was paid, worked out well. They gave me directions, I created the content and I was paid what I was promised. But there are some companies that have been reluctant or unwilling to pay me for my services, and for all of the new freelancers out there, I wanted to give you a heads up about these companies. You can decide for yourself whether you want to risk working for them, but I have to say that if my bad experience is not the only incident, think carefully whether you want to waste your time or not.

Content Gurus

The Situation: I started working for this company in the summer of 2008. At first, they seemed pretty reliable. Writers were able to take sets of articles for a flat fee. All writers had seven days to complete and submit the set. I was paid regularly for every two weeks—for awhile. I really got into writing these articles, making sure to meet the needs of the topic as well as keyword ratios. One week I completed more than $400 of work. That's when I stopped seeing payments. At first, I was just missing that one large payment—the admins had responded to my first email, telling me they weren't sure why the system didn't pay me, but they would look into it. Weeks passed. Anything I earned above $150 was no longer being paid and my concerns were no longer being answered. I told them that I would not write another article until I was paid what I was due, because it was only fair. Since I didn't complete at least 1 assignment within a week (terms of the contract) privileges were revoked and my emails continued to go unanswered. I thought it was just me for the longest time, but recently I did some research on other writer's experiences with this company and found how common it really was. Steer clear if you expect a steady paycheck.

Blog Advertising Store (formerly Paying Post)

The Situation: Many of you who read this blog regularly know that I openly admit that I post some paid advertisements on this blog. Though these have steadied to a trickle, I thought this was another way to boost my freelance income. I worked for three different blog advertising companies at one time. Two of them paid regularly and on a timely manner. Blog Advertising Store, however, has failed miserably.
When the company was known as Pay Post, there was a $50 minimum all bloggers had meet before getting paid. My blog is not that big, doesn't have the traffic that would attract a lot of different offers, so it took more than six months to reach the $50 minimum. Unbeknownst to me, Paying Post had changed its name to Blog Advertising Store and had also bumped up the $50 minimum to $100. They cite that too many bloggers had removed posts from their blog once they were paid, which was against the terms of service. Alright, so I worked even harder to get more opportunities. Finally, in January I earned a total of $102, surpassing the minimum. Bloggers are told that they will be paid the first of the month after meeting that threshold. February 1st came and went. No money. I used the contact form on the website (the only way to get in contact with the business). I explained the situation and asked someone to contact me. No reply. I sent two more messages, but still not a single reply. I then tried an old support email address from Paying Post. No reply.

Now I'm upset, fearing that the contact page for the business is really just a dummy page and no one gets the message. I check the terms of service to see if they have made a mistake, or if I have in any way. I find this:

“Do not sent a zillion e-mails because your chance to get a [replay] is reduced to ZERO, since you will be marked as SPAM.”

Would 3 be considered too many? If so, they apparently have the right to not pay me for asking a question.

It's past March 1st now, and I have little hope I will be paid for this. Bloggers, please don't let this happen to you. I also checked on this one, and many bloggers have not been paid.

While I may be out of a few hundred bucks, I have learned a big lesson about freelancing online. I hope you can learn from it too.

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