Monday, August 18, 2008

Is Craigs List the Freelance Jobseeker's Inside Joke?

I started freelancing full-time as a writer in August of 2007. I spent my time reading and learning all I could from various writer's forums about where to look for decent paying jobs. I found that many job listings were just rehashing Craigs List jobs, so I started checking there on my own as well. I landed two decent paying SEO clients from from the job listings, and they are still clients today.

I belong to a copywriter's egroup. A new writer asked members of the group how she should get started finding clients and setting rates. One respondent suggested that the new writer get her feet wet by getting a few clients from Craigs List. A couple of other writers responded and virtually pooed this idea. One respondent, who also teaches writing courses, stated that she always tells her students to avoid Craigs List when seeking clients because it is strictly low pay. Another writer who once posted job ads on Craigs List for her employer says they stopped because of the increased appearance of vague ads and scam ads.

Visit any freelance writer, business writer or copywriter forum and you will find somewhere in the archives a discussion about finding freelance work on Craigs List. There is also likely to be some complaining about the site. Some of the complaints are valid – the job listings can be riddled with work from home/write from home scam advertisings or just plain old con artists asking for free samples to review for a supposed job, hoping a few na├»ve writers will send some in so they can get free content for their site. Then, of course, there are the ads that get mysteriously flagged before you even get to see the opportunity being posted.

Sure, Craigs List can often be hit or miss. I learned quickly not to rely on them as my only source for finding consistent work. And if you are aiming for a higher salary as a freelance writer, you'll have to employ other methods to find higher paying gigs. Most people who make their living from home learned long ago – even before Craigs List was around – to be careful when presented with opportunities to make fast money from home. Just because they say you can doesn't make it true.


Erin Melanie said...

I find this post really interesting because I had my own craigslist nightmare, which I'm still frustrated by and don't want to get into. Thinking that I'm a student and just beginning to build my career, I put up with really low pay - lower than minimum wage - just to get the credential, and then wasn't even paid!

Well, experience is the best teacher. Now I know about contracts, valuing myself higher, and fishy things to look out for.

Can you offer any suggestions besides craigslist to look for jobs? I'd be really curious to know. Thanks for the interesting post!

Avid Writer said...


It's sort of a crap shoot when you go out to find clients. I had a bad experience with a scam gig that I got from a very trusted job site (it wasn't the job site's fault). I learned to always insist on wrking with some kind of service agreement. When clients dfon't want to or try to make you think it's not necessary, something's fishy. I also request a50 percent downpayment.

Check out:,, and as a start. I also suggest marketing your services on your own to companies for higher pay rates. I hope that helps some.:)

Valencia Higuera said...

For about two years, approximately 90% of my clients have come from Craigslist. I haven't had a bad experience, but I tend to stay away from vague ads, or ads that includes phrases such as "great for work at home moms, college students, etc.," "churn out," or "no experience needed." These always raise red flags.

Telecommuting Diva

Courtney said...

I have one awesome long-term high paying client whom I am able to constantly cross-sell my services to...I found them on Then I have had a couple of really great one-time gigs here and there, and also I have found my 2 best salaried 9-5 jobs there in the past when I had "real jobs" or whatever bitter people (and my father) call them. :)
It's worth browsing through quickly every couple of days and learning the red-flag lingo the scammers use.
I second Avid Writer--marketing directly to will make quite a bit more that way.

Avid Writer said...

@ valencia: You are so right about those terms you list that jobseekers should beware of. Ads that say things like "churn out," "no experience needed," etc. are suspect.

@courtney:I agree. Take Craigs List for what it's worth which isn't necessarily all bad.

Amy said...

One of my two favorite clients I found on craigslist, and it's not low paying by any means. But it does make sense that folks on a low budget would choose craigslist to post their gigs, since there is no charge to post in the gigs section. If they had the money to buy an ad elsewhere, they probably would have more money to pay a writer. :-)

I don't think CL is bad, necessarily, but I do recommend to people to look out for scams. Like Valencia said already, I also don't respond to vague ads or ones that want me to churn anything out. ;-)

Avid Writer said...

I agree, amy. Like you my experiences with Craigs List have been pretty good. But I have noticed some grumblings from other writers about the site more than usual lately.

Josh Squires said...

I've had some great success and incredible repeat business from craigslist. You have to be careful, for sure, but the best way to protect yourself is to have your prospective client sign a contract for the work you are to perform. Your contract should lay out in no uncertain terms the date your work is due and how much you are to be paid (and whether it's per hour, project, day, etc.). This is the best step for protecting yourself when working with craigslist.

Be sure to never use form letters when responding to craigslist ads. You'll be hard pressed to get work that way.

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