Freelance Writer’s Job Boards: 3 Examples to Identify Cheap ‘n Nasty Clients

what to look for to avoid cheap and nasty freelance writing clients

This was first posted on my Facebook learning group.

Freelance writing job boards, aka content mills, are often used by cheap ‘n nasty people looking to pay exceptionally low rates for content. Very often, job postings on these platforms by potential clients are:

  • For the sole purpose of finding out how much writers charge, but they are not ready to hire anyone.
  • To get content written at ridiculously low prices.

Most often, freelance writing job boards are used by people who don’t really understand the value of content. Therefore, they’ll attempt to get the lowest charging writers.

These are the clients best left for writers who will never be top earners and are content with working for next to nothing. (If you find yourself in the position of “cheap writer”, you may need to change the way you think so that you can get better paying clients.)

Once you’ve been at it a while, you’ll start identifying common tell-tale signs of what to look for so you don’t waste your time applying for those jobs.

Example #1: Review in exchange for cheap content

Screenshot of a real job post on Upwork.

In this job post, the client baits writers by offering a 5 star review in exchange for a cheap amount. The client also says it’s a “trial” job, so that the cheap amount sounds better.

“Quick” article job is manipulative to make the writer think that the offered amount is OK because it’s a “quick” job.

Example #2: Inconsistencies in job posting

Screenshot of a real job post on Upwork.

Here’s another suspicious job post.


  1. The client is looking for an “expert” writer, but
  2. Can hardly write properly himself, plus
  3. Does not provide much detail (always a clue as to the quality of a client; when they take pride in their business, they will be a lot more specific. You want to aim for clients who are a lot more specific than this one), plus
  4. The only tag word used is “writing” which tells me that this client does not understand the value of writing = low paying.
  5. Payment is unverified and nothing has been paid by this client (this is not always a symptom that the client is cheap ‘n nasty, but together with all the other little signs, it confirms that this client is either not legit, or a low paying client).

Example #3: Manipulation to justify cheap

Screenshot of a real job post on Upwork.

This client attempts to manipulate writers with the word “quick” in the job title, thinking that $5 for 600 words is justified if it’s a “quick” job.

But on closer inspection, the client gets very specific and demanding (the writer must be detail oriented and the work must be done in 48 hours) about this “quick” job which is not going to be so “quick” after all…

In addition, right at the end, the client further attempts to use another common manipulative tactic to lure the writer, by saying that there may be more work if this project goes well, and whenever clients say this, what it really means is, “I don’t want to pay you what you’re worth for what I am looking for right now, so if I tell you that there may be more work after this, maybe then you will put your heart and soul and blood, sweat and tears into writing this one for me at $5 for 600 words, but you’ll never hear from me again. Stoopid writer.”

Learn how to get better paying clients by joining my Facebook learning group.


Posted by Claire Carradice

Claire Carradice is a freelance writer specialising in SEO blog posts and case studies for the digital marketing, business, SEO and HR/recruitment industries. She coaches fellow freelance writers to market themselves better and build strong businesses around content.

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