When you’re flipping through ads in search of someone who will pay you to blog (and believe me, those clients are out there), it’s sometimes tough to tell who is genuinely looking for good bloggers and who’s trying to scam you out of a few free posts. So how can you tell the difference? There are no hard and fast rules, unfortunately. Still, there are a few indicators to tell you whether someone’s on the up-and-up.
A good ad should ask for published work. They might allow unpublished samples (posts you’ve written “on spec”), but primarily they should want to see content you’ve written posted online. They’re looking for this to find out whether you are an experienced writer, as well as to judge your style and skill level. If they’re asking you to create something new for the application process, they may be trying to scam free content out of you.
Of course, sometimes a reputable client will ask you to write something new to see if you can fit in with their website’s style. If you do decide to write a sample for the application, be sure to politely remind the client that the work is copyrighted to you, and that you don’t give them permission to use the work unless they pay you for it. Then keep an eye on the site over the next few months to be sure they aren’t using your content for free.
Of course your client isn’t going to have your skill when it comes to writing – that’s what they need you for! A good ad doesn’t need to be flawless or well-phrased, but it should be clear about what the position entails, what is required of the ideal candidate, and how to contact the client. I personally feel that good ads include links to the site they want a writer for, if it’s online. That lets you see who you’re dealing with, as well as helping you tailor your application to their needs.
In short, a good client will provide as much information as possible in the ad, because he’s trying to find the blogger best suited to his needs. He has nothing to hide from you, so no information is missing.
I look for payment before I look at anything else in an ad. Beware of phrases like “we will pay you with exposure,” “we will pay you when we start making money,” or “you will receive a share of ad revenue.” You don’t necessarily have to avoid these jobs, but you don’t have to take them either. There are plenty of blogging gigs out there that will pay a reasonable fee to professional bloggers.
Often, the payment issue isn’t addressed in the ad. This doesn’t mean they don’t plan to pay you. If you like the ad, apply for the job and see what happens. When they respond, then you can start to discuss the money question.