Work from home.
Spend more time with family.
Sounds inviting, right?
Inspired to live a more lucrative lifestyle, you have finally decided to join the work from home bandwagon. Welcome aboard! What a great time to dive into the freelancing world. It's a growing market and there are lots of opportunities available online.
BUT, don't put your hopes up too high. I must warn you that freelancing is NOT GOING TO BE EASY and job opportunities in the freelance marketplace are not always what they seem to be. For every legitimate job posted online, there are also jobs that are fake! Scammers are getting more creative nowadays. And they prey on newbie freelancers with little to no knowledge about the freelance industry.
Having been in the freelancing industry for over 5 years, spotting dubious clients has become a no-brainer to me. I have experienced working with a variety of clients. And I've learned how to be selective and be wary of projects that are just not worth the hassle and waste of time.
If you're a newbie freelancer, you may want to be careful when applying for jobs online. I am sharing with you the most common RED FLAGS to watch out for when looking for jobs online, specifically on Upwork.
1. PHISHING guise as SHORTENED URLS/LINKS
You have a job invitation and you're excited! The client is asking you to click an obscured link and download something. DO NOT DO IT.
Be wary of job posts that contain obscured/shortened URLs and ask you to download a fishy software or document. This may redirect you to a login page that looks like a legit (Upwork, Gmail, Paypal etc) account but is actually NOT. It's probably just a copy of a login screen that aims to steal your username & password. So be careful on clicking obscure links like these:
Legit clients post actual URLs and not the covered ones like the above links.
So don't click unknown and suspicious links. And don't enter your login credentials on unfamiliar sites.
2. PAYMENT FOR SOMETHING (REGISTRATION FEE/SOFTWARE TO USE)
A company offers you a job but you need to pay for a software or registration fee to get started. This DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Whatever reasons they may tell you, you should never ever send money to a prospective employer.
Legitimate companies don’t ask for money. If you’re asked to pay for something, beware.
3. EASY CAPTCHA WORK
SKIP it. It's not real work. It's actually used to automate SPAMMING.
4. FREE SAMPLES
Don't do samples unless paid.
5. TO MANY PEOPLE BEING INTERVIEWED BUT ZERO HIRE
Don't trust employers who send out too many invites, accept a lot of interviewees but hire no one.
They are just probably marketing something or just splits a project up into smaller ones and gives it as test projects to all applicants, thus gets the output for free.
So, check the number of people being interviewed against the number of people hired. If it doesn't add up then just move on to the next one.
6. PAYMENT METHOD NOT VERIFIED
Clients with an unverified payment method are either first-time Upwork users or scammers. You can give first-time users a chance but be very careful. Never start working until the client's payment method is settled.
Personally, I don't apply to jobs with no verified payment method. Freelancing is already a gamble, don't make it more difficult by working with clients who have no capacity to pay. Not worth the hassle.
7. VAGUE JOB DESCRIPTION
Good clients can clearly state what they want, what qualification they require, their payment policy and the project duration upfront. If a client just beats around the bush and doesn't clearly state the above things, don't bother applying.
8. LARGE QUALIFICATIONS, DEMANDING JOB but RIDICULOUSLY TINY BUDGET
These are job postings from clients with unrealistic expectations that pay PEANUTS. They will give you too many responsibilities, require too many skills but will pay you for a few bucks only. Not worth it.
You should know your worth.
9. SEND IDs
Don't send IDs or other personal documents. These can be used to empty your account and steal your identity.
Only verify your Upwork profile directly through the platform. Never send out personal IDs/documents directly to a prospective employer.
10. SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Job listings that require no skills, give easy work and promise to pay a ridiculously big sum of money. No business in their right mind would actually provide that. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. STAY AWAY.
Before diving into something, READ & RESEARCH first. Before applying for a job post online, read the job description in its entirety and check the client's history. You will easily notice if something is not right.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCT and use your COMMON SENSE. If you feel that something is off then SKIP and move on to the next one. It will save you a lot of time and from a lot of stress.
Remember, you have skills to offer. The competition may seem fierce but it is possible to make money from freelancing, you just need to learn how freelancing works and filter the bad apples. Be vigilant and think twice when red flags show up. Freelancing is rewarding but can be scary if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Good luck and be careful out there!