Okay, I admit it. I look at the freelance writing job ads on Craigslist. While many of them offer ridiculous terms or are just flat out scams, I have actually found some petty decent gigs there, too. The trick to making it worthwhile is to avid spending too much of your valuable time separating the good from the not-so-good.
I, for instance, used to spend 15 or 20 minutes poring over each ad, trying to decide whether it was a) legitimate, and b) worth my time.
I solved the problem by developing a short list of phrases that I look for in freelance writing job ads. The second I see one, I'm out of there and on to other prospects.
1. Gain exposure. This means that you get a byline and very little else. And please don't fall for this one even if you are a new writer looking for your first clips. There are better ways to get clips that will impress editors more. Look at it this way. Having your name written on the wall of the sleaziest bathroom in town is exposure, but probably not the type you're looking for.
2. Student or intern preferred. This innocuous sounding little phrase all but guarantees that you will be unpaid or grossly underpaid for your expertise. Leave these jobs to the students and interns and apply for gigs that are seeking (and are willing to pay for) professional freelance writers.
3. No experience necessary. Make no mistake about it, the people who post these freelance writing job ads want experience. They just don't want to have to pay for that experience, hence the disclaimer.
4. Write about anything you like. I've gotten some pretty sweet deals from editors over the years, but I've never had one offer to pay me for writing about anything I wanted to. These gigs usually involve income share or revenue share. You write your heart out and end up getting a few tenths of a cent for each page view. Unless one of your articles really takes off and goes viral, it's a heck of a lot of work for some pretty small rewards.
5. Must be able to write multiple articles per day. This one adds insult to injury. You'll probably only get paid a couple of bucks per article, AND you'll be so busy churning out work for this company that you won't have time to look for a better gig.
Do you look at online freelance writing job ads? If so, what are the phrases you hate to see?