Warning signs for freelance writers: Employers who can't write

By Katharine Swan On Monday, May 08, 2006 At 12:09 AM


Nothing makes me more wary - or more disdainful - than a potential employer who writes:

i am looking for article writers quality only please no plagarism

It's really tempting to think, Gosh, look how bad he or she needs me! Think again. These employers don't need a good writer... In fact, chances are they won't be able to pay a good writer.

Ads - or emails - like this simply indicate to me that the person posting it is sloppy. And sloppy isn't good for business...so where do you think they'll be getting the money to pay you?

Besides, would you really want to be associated with someone like this? Do you want their sloppiness - and possibly their dishonesty or fraud - connected with your name?

And finally, I personally think it's insulting when someone posts a poorly-written ad or sends an equally sloppy email telling me I'd better give them "quality" if I want the peanuts they are offering me. I mean, excuse me?!?!

I have turned down two such jobs lately. In both cases, I exchanged several emails with the person - theirs looking a lot like my example, above, while I took care to craft professional, curteous correspondence - before they threatened me with those words: i only acept quality work. (Yes, the misspelling was intentional, used to demonstrate the irony I feel is present in these emails.) I mean, by this time it should be obvious - if they paid attention to my emails at all, let alone the online portfolio I sent a link to when I first responded to the ad. Certainly they should notice that their own work is anything but quality.

Which brings me to the second reason why I turned down both of these jobs: not only were their emails poorly written and their hint that I would not turn in quality work extremely insulting, but their sloppiness extended to their own work that was posted online. In both cases, I looked at the person's articles or business site and was appalled that they felt they could bully me about "quality work" when theirs was such absolute crap!

I haven't regretted turning those jobs down, not once. They way I look at it, someone who could be so sloppy, offer such pitiful fees, and then be so insulting to their freelancers is not someone I want to be associated with, let alone work for. Furthermore, if they are that sloppy with their business, how can I trust that they will follow through and pay me?

My advice to other freelancers is also to stay away from these types of gigs. It's not worth it to work your butt off for someone who can't spell, capitalize, or put together a proper sentence, yet acts like he has to warn his writer to produce quality work. Nor is it worth risking that this is also the type of scoundrel who will neglect to pay his contractors.

Before taking a job, do the research. Look at the person's emails and site; Google his or her name; make sure he or she is a legitamite employer, not to mention intelligent enough to operate a business. An obscure employer or a failing business are two sure ways not to get paid for your work.

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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