Monday, January 16, 2012

You Ask Too Many Questions

When I first started freelancing as a business writer, I used to troll Craigslist and other job boards regularly. My experience was pretty positive. I didn’t feel very confident in my ability to approach companies directly and offer my services back then. Responding to ads seeking help was easier.

Over time I’ve noticed the prospect of coming across decent paying opportunities has become pretty slim. My experience on Thursday is a good example. I still wonder over to Craigs List every blue moon (I know, I know). Although I don’t have time to dig around there regularly for clients, I can’t completely dismiss it because back in September I quite literally stumbled across an ad that was NOT your typical Craigs List gig that has so far provided a nice steady stream of well-paying projects. It appears that you can still find a jewel among the rubbish, though I’m not sure I’d recommend relying on it to build a solid client base.

Last Thursday I thought I might have come across another gem – a regular blog writing gig in my area of expertise offering pay that stuck out like a sore thumb among all the $10 and $15 per post blogging jobs you usually see littering the site.

I responded to the ad, and received a response pretty quickly; only it wasn’t at all what I expected. The respondent stated that he was very interested in working with me based on the information I’d provided, but listed a completely different rate for the project – one that was significantly lower than the advertised rate. I replied asking for clarification since the ad listed one rate while he’d responded with a lower rate. His response to that email: “Fine, I’ll pay you $x. When can we get started?” No other explanation of why he changed the rate.

Before you even ask, yes, red flags were popping up all over the place; but I was too curious and couldn’t resist asking a few more questions , namely:

  • How many blog posts will you need a week/month?
  • What payment terms are you proposing (e.g. weekly pay? Monthly Pay?)
  • Do you have a contract agreement? If not, are you willing to consider my terms of service agreement?
  • Do you require an image with each post?
  • How do you want the blog posts delivered? Do you want me to upload them myself into your blogging platform, or deliver them to you in a Word .doc?
  • Do you provide blog topics, or do I submit blog topics for your review?
  • Are keywords involved, and if so do you provide them?
  • Are there weekly or monthly deadlines?

Now I didn’t ask all these questions all at once. Initially I asked my contact if he would be providing project details. He had no idea what I was talking about. He just needed me to start cranking out posts, stat.

Eventually all my questions must have rattled him because he finally responded saying, “You ask too many questions. I like being able to tell a writer what I need and get it. This just isn’t going to work.”

Indeed. I receive no project details (other than the general topic of the blog and some bait and switch per post rate), and then get chastised for asking too many questions?

If you spend time searching for writing jobs on Craigs List or other job boards, scams aren’t the only thing you need to look out for. You must qualify each job opportunity carefully. Sometimes it takes responding to get the full gist of the offer. Lots of people use these platforms to find writers, yet have no idea how to work with a professional writer.

It IS possible to find good projects/clients on these sites, just make sure to do your due diligence when using them.


Lori said...

Wow. Just. Wow. He changes the rate, then gets ticked over questions about how to please him - you're so right. Red flags. Big ones. Might just as well start celebrating Flag Day right now! LOL

It's possible to find good projects and clients, but I think the odds are not in your favor. I just don't see people who take their projects seriously investing time in a Craig's List ad too often. It happens, but not very often.

Kimberly Ben said...

Yes, that guy provided me with lots of laughs that day. The experience was unreal.

Unfortunately you're right, Lori. When I first started freelancing back in 2007, I found a few good clients on Craigs list, but now you really have to dig around every day - and there's no guarantee that you'll find anything worth while. That time could be better spent researching your target market, and contacting prospective clients directly.

As I said in my post, I did recent find a good client via Craigs List, but it was maybe just "dumb luck" that I was looking around the site because I hadn't visited their job board in months.

allena said...

Do you think that was a scam?

Kimberly Ben said...

Yes, I certainly think so, Allena. I hate to think he may have gotten over on someone else out there. :( said...

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