Monday, July 14, 2008

Is Craigslist a Good Place for Freelance Writing Jobs?

No. It’s a terrible place for freelance writing jobs. I think there was a time when it was a legitimate place for people to post their writing projects and open positions. And, there are still a few who use it for that purpose. Unfortunately, it has been so crowded by scams and people seeking writers to work for free that it's no longer a worthwhile place to go for writing gigs.

Hey, you may be thinking, I found a great job there! Maybe you did once. But think about this- how many ads did you go through before you got it? A hundred? Two hundred? Your time is more valuable than that. You could have been doing paid work during all those hours instead of applying to scam after scam.

The temptation to apply to Craigslist ads can be overwhelming, though. There are a number of interesting freelancing sites that occasionally post freelance writing jobs, and I will run into Craigslist ads there. I also frequent a freelance writing board and Craigslist ads sometimes rear their ugly heads there too. I advocate ignoring Craigslist completely, but every once in a while I will apply to one of these on the off chance that it's legit. It never is.

The key, I think, is to simply look away. Sure, the gig sounds great, but chances are that it’s not. They say it’s for an established site, but let’s face it- it won’t be. But the pay sounds great! I have to apply! The last one that I applied to sounded great too. They asked me to write for the site for free for two weeks after which time they would evaluate my work and decide whether they wanted to pay me the rate they had advertised. Unfortunately, that kind of scam has become the norm on Craigslist these days.

Another common scam is advertising a great rate, an interesting project, and then telling each person who applies that they have to sign up as a member of their site or forum and hang around there to wait for word on the project. Yeah. Obviously these ads are simply intended to get their traffic up and there is no job.

Instead of the constant disappointment of Craigslist, take a look at Media Bistro and Journalism Jobs. Both are much more likely to have real projects and positions posted.


Kimberly said...

Hi L. Shepard,

I found my first consistent, well paying client on Craigs List quickly - but haven't found another decent writing gig on there since! What you are saying is dead on. I have Media Bistro and some of the other sites you've metioned bookmarked, but I haven't used them in a while. I have been focusing a lot more on marketing and promoting my business on my own. Some companies don't advertise like that. Still, I'll have to start checking these sites out again from time to time.

Amy said...

I found one of my best clients on craigslist, but I don't spend a lot of time surfing job boards. I've had more luck pitching clients on my own than responding to job ads. I've posted a few positions on craigslist, and I got nearly a thousand responses the first day, so I know that even for the decent jobs it is a shot in the dark whether the job poster will ever even bother reading a writer's response. No one hiring someone has time to go through that many responses; if they did, they'd probably be doing the writing themselves!!

L. Shepherd said...

That's so true- I've heard several times that the legit jobs get so many responses that they can't even read them all and just choose one of the first to apply. It must be hard as a Craigslist poster to even deal with the onslaught. Thanks for the job poster's perspective!

Amy said...

It wasn't fun, getting all those responses. I was completely overwhelmed and only read maybe a dozen before finding someone who I felt was good enough. I didn't respond to every email, which I know a lot of freelance writers think is rude, but oh well. It would have taken ten days, and I didn't have ten days.

I swore to myself I'd never post another job ad. Luckily now I know enough people I can just email and say "Hey, I have this job. Do you want it?"

But I'm sort of glad I did have that experience, because now I don't really give it much thought if I don't hear back about an ad I respond to. I used to wonder why I got no response to a job I thought I was perfect for, mostly because CL's system sucks and sometimes the messages don't go through on those anonymous email address thingies. No I just think "Oh well. They probably got bombarded with people." Especially now that so many jobs are picked up and linked to by blogs for writers.

Catherine L. Tully said...

I totally agree--Craigslist is a waste of time for writers....