10 Words of Advice for People Starting out on Freelancer.com

Updated on July 26, 2018
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We always hear stories about people who have been scammed online in some way or another. However, we never think that this will ever be us since we tend to learn from their experiences and better guard ourselves. What happens when you get into something new, and you fall prey to a pretty promise? Here is my story of how I got scammed using Freelancer and what you can learn from my experience. I will mainly talk about how my experience and these words of advice can apply to people who are trying to make their living as freelance article writers but the advice is universal. Regardless of the field that you choose as a freelancer, these 10 points will help you in the long run on the website.

My Experience With Freelancer

Overall, this website is a perfect hub of activity for new freelancers. It allows you to bid on exciting projects, to perfect your skills and hopefully learn some new ones in the process. Overall, I have nothing against the team behind the website or against the system that awards people projects. It was a hit or miss type of experience in the beginning, but I have slowly started to learn the ropes, get new projects and create my work portfolio.

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How Was I Scammed

I recently left an old client for whom I was ghostwriting articles for around 6 months on a daily basis. Out of a source of side income I decided to give Freelancer a new chance. I set up my account, adding some of the articles that I wrote to my portfolio and bidding on various projects. One such project caught my eye. Simply titled “I need an article writer!” the person wanted someone who could write 5 articles on a daily basis. The pay rate was an hourly one, 15 CAD to be specific. For someone who used to get paid one dollar per 300 word article this change of setting seemed almost idyllic. So I bid on the project waited.

The client was interested in my portfolio; we talked about rates and the amount of work that I would have to do on a daily basis. Things were okay. He advised me to use the Freelancer desktop app to track my hours. I did. We worked on three articles in total, and things turned out great.

The next day, upon going back to my Freelancer account I was surprised to see that my client’s account got deleted. I emailed the Client Support of Freelancer and told them about the problem. They stated that there was no way for them to give back my money but they could offer me a one-month free Professional membership. I declined. In total, I lost 30 CAD that I worked for.

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What Did I Learn From The Experience?

  • Make sure that your client is payment verified

I cannot stress this enough, now that I have grown from the experience and learned how to look for clients. A serious client will set his or her payment after they join the platform to get this out of the way and ensure that their clients are comforted by this fact.

If a client does not have his payment set up, then this means that he either has no money to pay his freelancer or that he merely forgot but it will be set up later. Are you willing to play that game and see which option is a reality? I have certainly learned not to play it anymore.

  • Look for a client that is not new on the platform

Do not put your faith that a new client that has had an account for a couple of hours or a day or two is reliable when he or she has posted a project for users to bid on but no payment method or other details on his profile. This probably goes without saying, but when you are desperate, you tend to overlook things.

  • Hourly rates are risky

If you have a client that is serious and willing to pay you as the platform asks (on a weekly basis based on the hours of work that you have completed), then things are bound to be okay. However, be aware that if his or her account gets terminated for not following the site’s guidelines, there is no way for you to get your money back. If you are okay with a free month membership, then risk it. Some people would rather have their money back, especially if freelancing is one of their primary sources of income and I can’t blame them.

  • Milestones will ensure that you are paid on time

When you bid for a project that does not have an hourly rate, you as the freelancer will be asked to set your milestones based on the tasks of the project and how much you want to get paid after each task. If you are awarded the project, then I suggest you set up these details with his order. Make sure that things are clear and that everything is settled before you start doing any real work. Do not let yourself be bullied or rushed by impatient clients.

  • Look for the country where the client is coming from

Now, I do not want to be rude or imply that clients coming from individual countries will not pay. That is no way near the point that I am trying to make. I want to draw your attention to another aspect. Make sure that the client has a payment option that fits the country that he comes from (I usually see Indian clients pay their freelancer in INR, something that I can understand). In my case, the client was from Canada which did not raise any flags since he was paying in CAD. But do look out for this as well. Especially if it ties in with other topics that I have already talked about (say he has no reviews, no payment options, is new on the platform).

  • Check how well they speak English

This is by far the most important. In my case, the client that scammed me was supposedly from Canada, but he spoke in broken English to the point where I had to take some time and reread his words to understand his points. Should it have been a red flag that he was supposedly from Canada but had a harder time speaking English then someone from around the globe? Yes, and I admit that I should have taken notice of that, but I was more interested in the money.

  • Do not set your hopes too high

For those that do not know, freelance article writing is a tough and competitive field online. It takes guts, perfect English, writing skills, patience and the ability to meet deadlines and write good content to get to the top. Moreover, do not expect to be paid dozens for your article. Value your skills and set a price for them accordingly. In my case, I had some experiences with article writing (where I was paid low rates), and I believed that Freelancer would be a place where I would finally be paid accordingly.

  • Always be aware that things can go wrong

This goes without saying, but I felt the need to add it here. Things can still go wrong in some way or another, and it is best that you take every possibility into account so that you are prepared for the worst. You can still hope for the best if you wish.

  • Do not start work right away if you are not comfortable

This was where I decided not to listen. If you have just set up the details of the project with your client and they ask you to start right away ask them if it can wait until the next day. Pay attention to how they react. A serious client who wants you to begin soon on the project will voice out his reasons promptly whereas one who wants to get as much as possible from you in a short amount of time without paying you will rush you to start working. This advice is not universal. Test the waters and look at the behavior of your new client. See what works and what does not.

  • New writers are paid low wages

People are always firstly interested in their success, and it will be hard to find a client that will value your skills and time accordingly to the price tag that you have set. Do not fret if it takes you some time. Most will ask for cheap articles with perfect English. If you are lucky, you might find an excellent long-term client from the start but do not go and set your hopes up in the beginning. Be realistic.

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The Good Side of Getting Scammed

The only upside to having gotten scammed is learning from the experience. Luckily, I was not in a position where I lost money that I already had but the money that I have worked for. I am honestly happy that I was only scammed for a day before the user was removed. If things had still gone along, I might have found myself angrier over the ordeal.

I did, however, get something out of it. I wrote an article for this scammer during the first day on which I have published on my HubPages account. Since the article was not yet posted and the client did not pay me for the time it took to write it I found it only natural to post my work here. Since we have not set in stone anything about giving away my rights to my articles to him, I think that what I did was the right move.

Did These Tips Help You Learn What to Look out for?

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    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      4 months ago from California

      I had two clients before who didn't pay me for my jobs. Sadly, I had no control with the situation because I used to work for them outside any freelancing website. Yeah, I still learned from it.

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