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October 1, 2014
 

How to Find Legitimate Freelance Work

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What You Should and Shouldn't Do When Applying for Freelance Jobs Online
With a lot of talent comes a lot of available work - every established freelancer knows this. As a matter of fact, finding freelance work only takes several quick searches online. Thanks to the World Wide Web, freelancers can get easy and quick access to great opportunities; however, they can also come across a lot of scams in the form of potential clients who hope to get good things for free. So, how can you protect yourself from these scams? All you have to do is follow these simple tips on how to stay alert and choose freelance jobs the smart way. Read on.

What You Should Do:

Do proper company background research
It is quite common for clients to ask you for more information about your work, company, and previous client references. So, when responding to virtual freelance listings, it would be natural for you to ask for more information on the company you will be working for, as well. Your goal here should be to figure out, as much as possible, whether the client is actually legitimate or not. Aside from looking for a company website to verify this, check the BBB and find out if any complaints have been filed against the company so far. Naturally, you can ask for previous professional company references and current business vendors, too. If it makes you uncomfortable to ask for these things, though, you can just ask your client to pay you half of the total work cost in advance to protect you against non-payment. Some websites out there will also show clients' payment and feedback history, so you can get a verified record of the clients' legitimacy, how well they pay, and whether they pay on time.

Only visit well-known freelance job websites
If you go to a search engine and type in 'freelance jobs', chances are, you will get results for thousands of websites with potential opportunities for your field. In general, though, it would be safer to stick to searches on well-known and established websites instead. Traditional job websites, like Monster.com, are usually full of freelance listings, while websites like Guru.com have a proven track record of offering up legitimate freelance work. Plus, they only work with individual professionals.

Schedule conference calls for job discussions
A lot of freelance work online will only require a little interaction, like several emails, but this will actually make you miss the chance to interact with potential clients. Having real face-to-face conversations or phone conversations happens to help a lot in reinforcing a situation's overall legitimacy. Whether your client is in another country or continent, don't hesitate to ask for conference calls, so you can meet on the phone and talk about the job in more detail. If they don't mind talking to you over the phone, then you can definitely rest easy since you will be able to make a direct client connection with them. Otherwise, it would be smart to stay alert when it comes to unusual requests and questionable behaviors. Remember: always pay close heed to your instincts - especially when they sense that something isn't quite right.

Search for recognizable company listings
Both big and small companies tend to use and outsource freelancers nowadays to finish their short-term and long-term projects. So, whenever the opportunity arises, try to focus on freelance listings from recognizable and readily verifiable companies. Although a lot of regular people also hire freelancers, it would be riskier to work with them unless you use a third-party website. Fortunately, websites like Elance.com and Guru.com provide safe payment options along with other security measures that freelancers can use after getting hired for work online. These features can reduce the overall risk of working for lesser-known people and companies.

Use agreements and contracts for work
Think about it: whenever you work with people you have personally met, you never think twice about giving a work statement or formal quote along with a contract that details your agreement. Well, why don't you do the same thing for online work? Just because your work entails the use of the Internet doesn't mean that regular business practices should be ignored. Having your online client agree to a work statement and contract can help you a lot in future misunderstandings. Plus, you will be able to protect the interests of your business to a tee. Doing this will give you the client's proper contact information, as well, including his phone number and mailing address.

What You Shouldn't Do:

As mentioned earlier, legitimate freelance work does exist out there and the World Wide Web is a great resource to find such opportunities. However, a lot of scams also exist, including jobs that simply aren't worth it and clients who take their time making payments or don't pay at all. So, how can you sift through these different opportunities properly to find legitimate freelance work? Usually, this has a lot to do with the things that you SHOULDN'T do. Well, here is a list of things to avoid, so you can stay on the right track while looking for great freelance opportunities online.

Allow direct fund deposits to your bank account
When looking for freelance work, you shouldn't allow hirers to deposit funds to your personal bank account right away, most of all if you are working with an unfamiliar company or person. Be especially cautious if he asks you to complete a form before giving awarding you the job.

Apply to listings that are vague
Job websites, most of all those that don't require payments for job postings, will usually include listings with little information on the job. Take heed of listings that don't come with detailed project descriptions or proper company names. You should also be wary of listings that claim they need freelancers and give you an email address to contact for more information. Some of these opportunities are unethical or illegal, or a mere method to gather personal information for illegal use.

Give clients personal information
There is hardly ever a reason to give out personal information to clients, especially your personal bank account information, before getting the project awarded to you and signing a contract. Companies are allowed to ask for a W-9 form completion for their IRS record and tax requirements, but this should only be done after you win the project and have been properly hired, as well.

Pay for work opportunities
You shouldn't have to pay anyone in order to avail of freelance work opportunities. Project and job websites, like Guru.com, may charge membership fees to view their available projects, but they also have free low-level memberships available. Plus, websites like this provide a certain service level for fees, including hirer legitimacy verification. They also provide safe payment options and various other features made to help out professional freelancers.

Reply to no-pay, revenue-share or low-pay opportunities
Sadly, a lot of job listings out there will come from people and companies who want free or cheap work. This isn't unethical or illegal, but some legitimate clients out there simply pay low, while others take time with payments. There are also some clients who are too demanding despite their bad payment schemes.

The same goes for freelance projects with revenue-sharing opportunities. In such cases, you won't get any guarantees of payment whatsoever for your completed work. This may even become more frustrating if you don't have any control over profit management or money earnings. Plus, if there aren't any tracking capabilities for the intake of revenue, or if you don't have much access to it, the chances of you finding out how much of the money you actually deserve to get are also next to nil.

Be wary of freelance listings that provide "experience", "portfolio-building" abilities, or "revenue shares in a start-up company" for your work, too. Although working for free can be a great way for you to get work references and samples, you might want to search for these opportunities through companies or people that you actually know in person instead.

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Comments
 
tracy
May 17, 2011 - 3:09 pm
talking about checking out only known freelance sites you have nicely compiled a list of trusted sites that others should check out. Try checking out your local paper, often they have sections where people write articles, its worth checking out. I also agree its nice to know who you are working for and if that company is legit and won't scam you.
 
caroline
May 15, 2011 - 6:33 pm
Remember that your work is actually worth something, take pride in it and don't let people lowball you. Listen to your gut, if something doesn't feel right then theres probably good reason for that.
 
 
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