The gig economy is in full swing. Anyone with a marketable skill can provide services virtually around the world. But, freelancing can be a boon or a bane. A boon in the fact that you own your time, do what you love, and dictate your rates. A bane in the sense that you can you can waste your time, and if you’re not careful, get scammed.

Other pitfalls include taking on too many projects, not getting paid for your work or dealing with unreasonable clients. If you are new to freelancing, learn from this list of freelance job websites to avoid.

Craigslist

Despite its organized directory of listings, Craigslist can sometimes be a shady place to find freelance work. On this platform, there’s no way to verify potential clients. This decreases your chances of getting paid, or utilizing your skills on legitimate work.

Furthermore, there are a lot of strange people on Craigslist. Vague and seemingly innocuous postings that advertise, “Looking for a female assistant”, might really be code for “looking for a female assistant to be inappropriate with.” If you’re serious about making a career out of freelancing, Craigslist should not be your first place to look. That said, there are some diamond-in-the-rough listings if you know what you’re looking for. This freelance job website is best scouted through once you’ve learned the in’s and out’s of freelancing.

Content Mills

Content mills are freelance job websites to avoid, because companies that use them expect to get cheap writers. They assume that they can find someone to write an article at a rate of $15 per 1000 word article, and other ridiculously low payouts for the effort required. These freelance job websites are called “content mills,” because writers continually churn out articles (as much as 5 to 7 per day), while getting paid a pittance of a salary.

The reason why content mills pay so low might be because their business model is not profitable. Here are some content mills to avoid, and if you’re still not convinced, here are some content mill horror stories.

Freelancer Bid Sites

Bid sites include many big names you might have heard of, such as Upwork, Elance or Freelancer.com. When you look for jobs on bid sites, you are competing with other freelancers on price over quality. The winning bid tends to be the lowest, so you lose out to the freelancer who can afford to offer their services for a lower rate.

Sometimes, bid sites even ask you to pay for credits so that you can bid on more jobs. When you do get considered for a gig, beware of the type of clients who ask for a free article first. As with any service, there are upsides and downsides. The important thing is to pursue opportunities, especially those included on this list of freelance job websites to avoid, with both eyes open.

Revenue Share “Opportunities”

There are some companies that don’t have the budget to cover a freelancer’s services. So instead, they offer a share of revenue as compensation. Beware of these type of job posts! You may come across a job posting, advertising something like “Looking for a writer. Budget: 50% of site revenue.” You might then check out their website, only to find that it has a low pagerank, or has an unprofessional design. These types of people will try to get you to work for nothing. Don’t trust someone that promises you a high rate based upon numbers you are not privy too!

All in all, trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you’re always looking out for warning signs when considering opportunities on this list of freelance job websites to avoid. Always insist on a legally binding contract that includes the name of the client, scope of the work, and payment milestones. And lastly, leave a paper trail so that if you need to take legal action, you have evidence.
What would you add to this list of freelance websites to avoid?