Freelancing has opened the doors to working freedom. It gave us the flexibility to schedule our work endeavors whenever and wherever we are. We just need our trusty laptop and a stable Internet connection. And we are on business!
But then, finding your first clients is not an easy task. How will people trust you to do what they've asked for? How do we get clients? Is this hopeless?
And this hopelessness leads to desperation. In return, this desperation has victimized first-time freelancers by unscrupulous individuals. It’s a scary world. The question is, how do you protect yourself from scammers? How do you know if a freelancing gig is legitimate?
Yes, this is the very first step. It's time to visit the company's website. Check out what are the services they provide. It will not only help you in understanding them for the interview but also signal some red flags just in case.
If the company looks outstanding, this should not be taken at face value. Try searching the company with + "scam" in Google. The Internet is a powerful tool and sometimes it can show up results if they have scammed other freelancers.
Also, check their client profile. Check their ratings and reviews. Some clients may not have that much written on this page (and some may be fully blank), but then, it's a sign to be cautious. Good clients have a way to pay their contractors stated and pretty much stellar feedbacks.
Some scammers provide very vague project descriptions in their job post. It's their way to squeeze out more from you when you start to work for them.
Ask them what exactly do they need to be done? You don't want to be surprised when they need so much from you with that measly pay. Or better yet, your contract should stipulate what exactly is required of you and an additional charge when these add-ons pop up.
"Work for 2 hours per day and earn $5000 by just clicking links!" If it were this easy, everyone would be so rich by now. If something is too good to be true, it usually is.
Practice your judgment. A job posting paying ridiculously high amounts per hour, per page, or per insert-what-they’ve-tasked-you-to-do without any client history might be a scam. Better ward off from such postings.
You might wonder why some of your supposed clients ask for payment before being contracted? You're right! They shouldn't.
One rampant scam is a supposed company selling their software before you can work for them. Wire transfer the amount, and they will send it to you to start. Does it even make sense? No legitimate company will ask you to pay them first to work for them.
Other scammers lure freelancers for the promise of future profit. They paint you a picture of exponential growth and partnership percentages. But the catch is, you don't receive any payment for your services today?
Well, it might take off. We wouldn't know. But I mean, nothing? Come on!
Requiring sample work might be reasonable to assess one's capabilities. But swindlers take advantage of new freelancers by requiring "Spec work" before they hire you.
And this is not even just sample work. They actually ask you to do complete tasks as if you are employed already, except it's for free. After getting what they want, guess what? They won't hire you. But why is your work on their website? Hmmm.
Some ask for ideas and then let you elaborate further. Only to find out that they've used your idea except implemented by a different person.
If you have a portfolio or a personal website, it's best to just lead them there. As for your ideas, don't divulge every single detail. Better yet, you can ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement for it. You don't to be victimized by giving your services for free.
After everything has been said and done, why do you feel this uneasy feeling? Even if something seems legit, check the feel of the overall job to be and your boss.
Are you comfortable with your new boss? What is their take on your working hours? Are they output oriented?
With that, make sure to be clear at the very start. You will be working your precious hours. It's best to get to know them and ask questions. At the end of the day, you don't want to be serving a client from hell. *gulps*
Good luck with your freelancing stints!