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.)
Below are just a couple complaints I found after only a short time of searching.
janc5 (frustrated) : I registered for this site today but after filling in my credit card details I received a message "your card number does not connect to my billing address" I resubmitted 4 times and got the same message. Then I received a call from my credit card provider informing me that 4 transaction had been put through to them and were they legit. I told them that only 3 were legit. They are sending me dispute forms to fill in. Why did I not get access to the site if my payment went through? If you can't give me access I want my money debited back to my credit card. Please respond tonight otherwise I will take this further as it could be fraud it it happens to everyone who submits their credit card details. Are you a scam or are you real and this is a genuine mistake. Please email me to access the site tonight. My name is Jan Cleland and my email is xxxxxx 02:15, 1 May 2008 (PDT)
janc5 (frustrated) : I log into your site and registered my name and email address and then put in my credit card details and when i clicked on the button activate payment i got a message saying "your address does not match your credit card number". I did this 4 times and each time received the same response and did not get put through to the site. I then received a call from my credit card provider and they advised that 4 transactions had gone through to you. Please provide me with details so I can get into the site as I have paid for it 4 times. Also please debit back the extra payments I made. My name is Jan and my email is xxxxxx If I dont hear from you i will be lodging disputes with my credit card holder to get all my money refunded. 02:10, 1 May 2008 (PDT)
J Stubblefield (frustrated) : I signed up, my credit card info was taken and then after only 7 days my credit card was charged another $49.95. There is never anyplace to login to get more info on writing jobs and the only emails I get regarding any jobs sends me back to the same Freelance-Work at Home website to "get started" again. I would suggest that you by pass this company all together. They also do not reply to emails that I have found yet. J Stubblefield 08:17, 2 June 2008 (PDT)
fastwriter13 (frustrated) : These are the worst kind of internet thieves. Preying on people looking to make extra money in these troubled times. When I agreed to pay the $2.95 for the 7 day trial period, I discovered the next day that they had charged me $97.00. And, of course, they never returned my calls or emails. . I have filed formal charges with several law enforcement agencies. Run, Run, Run