Anatomy of a Craigslist Freelance Writing Job Scam

I’ve debated the merits of using Craigslist to find freelance writing gigs, but for those of you who still use CL, it’s important to avoid wasting time on the sort of idiotic scams that pop up on CL with annoying regularity. I myself fell prey to a few of these in my less informed days, so I pass along the benefit of my experiences on to you.

The following is reprinted verbatim from a recent post to the Writing Jobs section of Craigslist:

“A media blog is seeking review writers. You will be reviewing hot products of the new age and writing 500-700 word articles on them. For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written. We have 4 openings. If you are selected as a writer, work will be part-time and 20-25 jobs per week. Will be paying $100/article. Please send your request for more information (no resumes, please) to our email. Thank you.”

Now let’s dissect this ad and see why you should avoid posts like these at all costs.

1. Nomenclature written by the cluelesss. The ad is for a “media blog”. It then goes on to say that you are expected to review ‘hot products’. We’re already off to a bad start here as a media blog would, by implication, be reviewing media. Sure, it’s possible they want you to review downloads, DVDs, or other media, but in my experience, “media blogs” are commenting on either the media itself or streaming content as opposed to disc-based material. Another warning sign here is the phrase “of the new age”. What the writer MEANS to say is “hot new products of the Internet age” or some other such nonsense. As New Age pertains to a religious movement rather than technology, my bullshit detector on this tells me that the writer is a barely-literate scam artist who is throwing around terms they don’t really understand. Again, I could be TOTALLY WRONG. But we know I’m not, don’t we?

2. Confused (and confusing) expectations. The ad starts out saying they are a blog. Then the ad states that 500-700 word articles are needed. Is this a blog or a magazine? If the “blog” is paying $100 per post, the people running this are either on the scam or are the most clueless blog owners on the planet. No blog pays $100 for a blog entry. The ad says they want to fire FOUR PEOPLE at around $2500 a month each. What kind of new blog has this type of budget? Why, a non-existent one, of course! They want to shell out $10 K a month just for writers? Are you laughing yet?

3. They want you to work for free. ” For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written”. To quote that loveably stupid MTV cartoon character, Butthead, “Ummmmm….NO.” Not to be excessively purple here, but this is one of the biggest warning signs in the entire world–fireworks, flaming arrows, explosions on far-off horizons and a great glowing angel complete with flaming sword telling you to RUN AWAY FROM THIS AD. Why? Because those “samples” will end up on some low-quality scraper content blog and you won’t be paid.

4. They don’t want resumes? “Please send your request for more information (no resumes, please) to our email.” That please send your request for more information” line is the American freelance writer job ad equivalent to the Nigerian scam e-mails which begin with, “Dearest friend, I am writing to you in the utmost confidence.” The fact that they don’t want resumes is either a scam or a warning that you’re dealing with the most clueless jackasses on the planet. I wouldn’t work for either one. They don’t want your resume because they have no intention of hiring you.

5. Luring you with the promise of big payoffs. This one’s more clever than some, they don’t come right out and shriek at you “Earn $2500 a month!” Instead, this one lets you do the math and salivate. No way. Be immediately suspicious of any job offer that pays far in excess of the going rate for these services. It’s a way to trick you into lowering your guard and surrendering your e-mail address for later exploitation.

In the end, if you reply to this Craigslist ad, you are bound to be added to every Viagra and penis extension pill mailing list on the planet. Go ahead and reply to this ad if you want, I won’t try to talk you out of it…prove me wrong.

But we know I’m NOT wrong, don’t we?