Friday, November 28, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Freelancehomewriters.com

Even if you're not a natural cynic, like me, a good rule to follow if you're a writer is "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Case in point: Freelancehomewriters.com, a website that promises easy money for your writing.

"Why not stay home and get paid for typing on your computer?" the website asks. Freelance Home Writers are needed immediately to make blog posts for up to $15 per hour, write "simple articles" for up to $45 per hour, and write fiction or nonfiction stories for $450 per tale! It's "A Great Job even if you're not a 'natural born writer.'"

Let's say I'm Jane Everywriter, and I'm intrigued by the possibility of getting paid for my scribbling. Or maybe I'm Joe CouchPotato, and I'm excited by the prospect of making money by sitting on my butt. Hey, I wrote a few papers in high school. All I have to do Get Started Now is to provide Freelancehomewriters.com with my first name and email address.

I'm whisked to the job description page, where I learn that "Thousands of smart people just like you are are [sic] already brining [sic] in an easy $1,000, $2,000...even as much as $5,000 every single week just by doing this easy writing in their spare time...and now it's your turn!" I'm so excited now I can hardly stand it. With bated breath and pounding pulse I read down the page...websites are starving for content...I can make as much as $10,000 a year writing as few as 3 articles a day...yes, yes...the jobs come to me...I don't have to have a resume or writing credits...Oh boy! Oh crap. I'm at the bottom of the page and I still haven't found out how to access this fantastic opportunity. So I click the "Complete Registration" button.

And I discover there's a catch.

This wonderful world of easy writing money can be mine...for a small fee. A $2.95 Special Risk Free Trial Membership Fee, to be exact (normally $69.95), which gives me access to the Freelance Home Writers system for 7 whole days. There's also a monthly membership fee of $47.00--hmmm, a bit more than I bargained for, but as the website reminds me, just a fraction of the boodle I can make with this wonderful system. And hey, if I'm not happy, I can cancel anytime. I'm going to do it. Yes I am. I'm going to take the plunge. Just have to heave myself off the couch and get my credit card. And a bag of chips.

Writers, don't fall for this. Freelancehomewriters.com is the writers' version of the familiar work-at-home schemes that are the subject of warnings from the FTC and the BBB. These schemes tempt you with promises of easy money, but require you to spend money first in order to access their "systems" or receive their kits. Much of the time, the materials or leads you are given are substandard, or the company misrepresents the demand for whatever business you're supposed to be establishing, or it's not revealed that there are substantial additional costs. Consumers have lost thousands of dollars to these schemes.

Freelancehomewriters.com isn't the only website of its kind. There are others--some more subtle, some more crude. Cultivate your inner cynic, and never trust anyone who offers you an "easy" way to sell your writing.

(If you get as far into the site as I did, and try to leave, a little "STOP! DON'T GO YET! message box appears on your screen. If you click it, another little box implores you not to leave empty handed, and offers to send you a "make money success kit" for FREE! Yes, delivered to your door absolutely FREE [you pay only shipping and handling]. What a deal.)

19 comments:

Inkpot said...

I get emails for this and other similar places everyday. Much as I would like to believe there are places out there wanting to pay me thousands for my blog posts, I don't think they are going to contact me through spam, so they all end up in my rubbish bin. Thanks for this warning Victoria.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's sad that there are scam artists & there always will be. This kind of warning should be on every writer's list in North America. In fact, I'll post it on my blog.

Thanks, Victoria.

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

I've seen theses ads in different shapes and forms for years. Before the internet became the big buzz, there were ads in the back of magazines about stuffing envelops for lots of money etc. Catch was, you had to go market those companies yourself, and yes, pay money for the privilege.

Don't think so. Think i'll write my blogs for my own blog site.

Appreciate the heads up Victoria. Thanks.

Cheers

Patricia A. Guthrie

green_knight said...

Ah yes, the old 'too good to be true' test.

I'm subscribed to a photography site that does something similar. For £2.95 a month. They put up a two-year-old listing, and I checked out those markets (some of which are still going) and decided it was worth my time to not have to surf the net for hours to get the same information. I'm getting a much better idea of what markets are out there and where to look for them, and I don't begrudge the (very small) sum.

So, in general, I am not against the concept of people selling information. The one you mention, though, is closely related (down to the annoying 'don't go' message) to one I stumbled across recently, which was equally alarming.

Marian said...

"And because these business are too busy doing other things..."

Too busy to hire or maintain a real advertising department?

"they will gladly pay YOU top-dollar for writing simple articles, blog posts, and even fiction and non-fiction short stories...for them!"

What is a non-fiction short story? The kicker, though, is when the website declares in big red letters :

"These Companies Don't Care Who You Are, Where You Live, Or Your Level Of Education"

because apparently these blog posts and non-fictional short stories are so simple that "an 8-year-old child could do them..." Right. Get paid thousands for something an eight-year-old could do. Even without the monthly membership fee and the typos/odd punctuation on the website, this would reek of fishiness.

I also tried to navigate away from the website and got a popup complete with a ticking clock to show me how long I had to accept their offer (35 minutes). I'm going to let the clock run out to see what happens. Maybe a little icon of a bomb will explode.

Thanks for the post, Victoria. The website was an entertaining find.

Younghee-jin said...

I'm so glad I get to read this. I really need money to pay for balance in school. I'll sure remember not to fall for something like this.

Thanks a lot for the warning. I really need it.

Katharine Swan said...

I blogged about this one, too:

http://www.katharineswan.com/2008/11/freelancehomewriterscom-just-another.html

Very similar to Freelance Work Exchange and GoFreelance.com. Remember how members on those sites were finding it difficult or impossible to cancel their membership? The possibility that this site is the same way is just another reason why not to fall for it!

Anonymous said...

If we can get all the news from the best writers in the business for free, who would need to pay someone a fortune to write it? Anyone who falls for a scheme like this is a sap. If you sign up for this, you deserve to be ripped off.

Michele said...

Hi folks,

I was just "presented" with this rubbish as well. It's too bad we as serioius writers have to weed through this kind of crap to find a decent place to write and maybe be paid a little for our efforts.

I know of a couple of sites that are actually pretty decent. The pay is minute, but if you actually can promote and build up a following to draw the numbers to your site, they can be pretty lucrative.

One such site is triond.com. Triond pays a small portion of the ad revenues for posts.

I have been posting my poetry there for a couple of months and have got to the point where I'm hitting about $3.00/month for my traffic. Keep in mind that I started from scratch with no website, no blog and 0 traffic flow.

I know a few writers who started out the way that I did and are now making a decent little income on Triond.

Another site which pays a little more is today.com. An old family friend just turned me on to them and I signed up yesterday. He made $135.00 last month blogging there. They pay $1 for the first 100 word or more post/day, plus $2.00 for every thousand page hits that your blog receives. Plus, after one month they have the option to assess your performance and adjust your pay to a higher level, if they choose to do so. They also offer referral bonuses. If you refer someone, they stick around awhile and blog at least 10 posts, you get the bonus.

The front page looks a little cheesy but they have some pretty nice themes for your blogs.

I write every day, so I figured I will give it a try. What have I got to lose, but a few words that I was probably going to waste somewhere else anyway, right?

I wish you all hope, health, and happiness in your search.

Sincerely,
Michele Cameron Drew

Henie said...

Yet another Writer Beware great!

Phew! So glad to have confirmation that these are indeed scams before my curiosity got the better of me...thanks again!

Can anyone shed light on Helium.com? I am curious.

Catherine S. said...

What is the appeal in writing three articles a day for $10,000 annually?

I would sincerely hope anyone producing 15 articles a week (I assume the writer is taking weekends off)is making, at the very least, $50,000 per year. I was writing three a day for a newspaper back in the 1980s and making just under $30,000, those with more experience were in the high $30,000s to low $50,000s, non-union. Surely the pay rate has increased in two decades.

Anonymous said...

Catherine above wrote: "I was writing three a day for a newspaper back in the 1980s and making just under $30,000," -- I was making that (in £ rate) as a news editor on a UK paper (owned by Gannet, US) last year! Now I'm branching out as a freelance and noticed a lot of those 'pay us' sites which usually come via google ads - I guess there are would-be con merchants in every industry!!

Tammi Straz said...

I received an email from these charming fellows after posting an ad on craigslist for writing work... Not my smoothest move I will admit, moving on. I had already come up against this beast of a scammeroonie, hence emailed all those that had been notified, including the sender, just how much of a scam this was... Approximately 5 minutes after their corporate attack puppy was on me, swearing and abusing me for calling this "excellent service" a scam. Beware the attack puppies!!

Rebekah said...

Thank u for this warning...it's very helpful for others fr stepping into that hole of a scam website.

HappyForNoDamnReason said...

A little tip from a sideline geek: when a website such as FreelanceHomeWriters.com throws pop-ups at you:

1. Never (and I mean NEVER) click on ANYTHING inside the pop-up window. Not even things that say "Cancel" or "Close This Window" or such. Instead, click on the little button with the 'X' [i.e. the one you would normally click to close a window] (in MS Windows its the button at the upper right corner of the window -- on the Mac, the "Are you sure you want to navigate away fro this page?" pop-up probably won't have a close button, but in this case it's ok to hit the OK button. Otherwise, it's the little red button at the upper left corner of the window)
2. You can completely defeat such pop-ups by turning off JavaScript. Here's how to do that:
-- FireFox: Open the "Tools" menu (at the top right of the browser window) and select "Options..." (at the bottom of the menu list). Click on the "Content" icon and then un-check JavaScript (NOT Java), and then click the OK button. After you free yourself from the "evil" website, be sure to go back to Options and turn JavaScript back on [because most websites need JavaScript to function properly]
-- Internet Explorer [IE]: It's a bit more involved to turn scripting off and on with IE, but here goes:
Find and open the "Tools" menu (in IE 7 it's in the vicinity of the upper-left corner -- next to the little gear) and select "Internet Options". Click on the "Security" tab (at the top of the Internet Options window -- second from the left), then click the "Custom level..." button. In the "Security Settings - Internet Zone" window there is a "Settings" box with a vertical scroll bar. Use the scroll bar to scroll down to "Scripting" (2nd to last list heading), and under the "Active scripting" item, click Disable and then click the OK button. Click "Yes" on the Warning! message ("Are you sure you want to change the settings for this zone?"). Click OK to close the Internet Options window. After you free yourself from the "evil" website, be sure to go back to "Internet Options" and turn JavaScript back on [because most websites need JavaScript to function properly].

This is a technique that you can use for ANY website that throws pop-ups at you, and even in some cases where other problems show up when visiting a particular website (more than likely they didn't write the JavaScript code properly). In such a case, just turn off JavaScript, close the website, and then turn JavaScript back on.

Sometimes a noxious site will give up if you just click the Close button on the first few pop-ups. But, if it keeps throwing pop-ups at you (porn sites are notorious for that), then turning off JavaScript will usually do the trick.

Steve said...

I'm surprised at the negative feedback on this site. To be honest, I'm glad I didn't see these comments before I'd signed up for the offer.

I'm a student and I joined about 6 weeks ago to earn some extra cash through writing. I wasn't naive enough to think I was going to make this a fulltime day job, but I thought it was worth a shot.

I'm writing approximately 3-4 articles a day now, probably taking me around 1-2 hours, and it's making me between $100-$150 a week. Sure, it's not the thousands stated, but for me it's pretty easy money, and beats serving fries to make a bit of extra cash!

DotB said...

This makes me so tired. As one who has been laid off and has been searcing for a new job..these "offers" get so incredibly tiresome. I am looking for JOB POSTINGS. NOT sales pitches. and expecially not subversive, hidden sales pitches. I SO want a job and I am thoroughly exhasted from weeding through these pseudo-jobs.
sigh..
best wishes to all.

Anonymous said...

Because of being disabled I try to earn extra money through home work, such as writing and web design. I recently saw an ad posted on CraigsList for freelance writers in my area offering jobs writing about the area and local happenings. Since I have lived in the area all of my life and have written numerous articles for the travel industry about the Sedona/Flagstaff Arizona area I thought this would be a good opportunity. I answered the ad. With-in a day I received a reply directing me to the frrelancehomewriters.com web site. I immediately saw it was a scam in two respects.

1) There was no job being offered and the ad was a bait and switch tactic.
2) There are many freelance sites on the net which do not charge a fee as this site does. If you are going to pay for an agent that is one thing but this is not an agency.

I investigated the company starting with Internic’s WhoIs and learned the URL is registered with a company in the Bahamas which hides all ownership information. I checked the BBB and found hundreds of complaints against them. Unfortunately, because the web site registrar is located in the Bahamas, US governmental agencies do not have the authority to order the registrar to provide the site owner’s name, address and all contact information.

Basically, this company is hiding. Why? Because they are a scam operation. Do NOT be taken in by these frauds. I was not, but I am sure there are many desperate people who will be, especially in these hard times. BTW, I did report the listing to CraigsList, received a follow-up e-mail, and gave them the details. ALL of their postings have been deleted and the IP Address logged and banned. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

What got me worried was that fact that there were so many spelling errors and typos on their own sales pitch page!