How to stay safe on freelance jobs websites in 2018

Whether you are sending a proposal or quote to a freelance job/task that meets your expert skills, or you’ve received a direct message from a person or business in relation to your skills and a possible long-term job opportunity, here are some tips, from experience, on how to stay safe and be sure that the job is actually genuine and not a scam in 2018 and beyond.

PeoplePerHour, the online freelance market, reckons self-employment in the UK and the US is currently growing at an average rate of more than 3 per cent. Based on official labour market statistics, PeoplePerHour predicts self-employment will grow at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent over the next five years in the UK and at 3.2 per cent in the US.

Work from home

One of the things that is making freelancing more popular and attractive to people is the ease of doing it, possibly from home like so many do as self-employed remote workers/freelancers/entrepreneurs. If you have an internet connection, familiar with the internet and a computer, there’ll always be something you can do online for money.

But for some people becoming self-employed is scary, especially if you are quitting your regular job to freelance.  Maybe you had a temporary position or you’ve been made redundant and need to find a new regular income, as soon as possible, but freelancing is growing rapidly.


The decline in jobs opportunities in the marketplace, with proper part or full-time contracts and not 0-Hour contracts popular here in the UK, people are having to resort to freelancing to a certain extent.

Having now been freelancing as Virtuadmin for nearly 5 years now, there are some things, as I said, from experience that I would like to share with you and help you to stay safe when freelancing, offering your skills and services through freelancing websites. 

There are many jobs sites out there online today, where you can offer your skills and expertise at a fraction of the cost of your competitors, to businesses or those requiring that skill as a one-off.  This again is due to the advancement of the internet; the ease of connectivity to the internet from within your own home enables you to network, chatting with people about what it is you do.   Then gain contracts, either short or long-term and build up your online reputation. 

Freelancing Tips to Stay Safe

Here are some tips to protect yourself, and to be sure that the job is genuine and that you are going to get paid for your professional services.

  • If you are messaged directly on a freelance platform from someone, for example claiming that you have been selected, after an in-depth profile review, for a live chat on any platform.  This is another bit of experience gained this year by Virtuadmin.  Approached on the Truelancer freelance jobs website, we were told exactly that.  Our profile had been researched and approved for an interview and therefore Live Chat on Google Hangouts.  You can read more about this in the post “Are Freelancers the new prey for money laundering scammers?”
  • Any job description or task that has the job description posted as an attachment, rather than the description in the ‘Description’ or ‘Job description’ portion of the freelance vacancy, then this looks suspicious. Why? Well, if the job is genuine, why put it as an attachment, such as a PDF document for you to read what the job entails?
  • Check out the buyer profile of your service.  Have they completed projects on this particular freelancer site before?  Is their feedback good from previous sellers that this buyer has worked with?  This is another way to check that it isn’t just a fleeting scam by someone, that they and the job vacancy is genuine.
  • Make sure that the platform you are work through enables the job funds to be paid for in advance, and then held securely until you and your client are both happy with the job provided to them and therefore your funds are released to your, within of course their terms and conditions.  Had a job in our early freelancing days when someone needed a video transcription urgently.  It had a strong accent but needed it to be done ASAP.  Eager to earn good feedback we got on with the transcription, only to find the website in question, didn’t require the buyer of your service to pay for the task in advance.  Therefore, he got a completely free transcription and the freelance website concerned did not intervene between buyer and us as the freelancers because they claimed the same as they cannot make a freelancer do a job they don’t want to do but thought they could or didn’t want to do, they can’t make a buyer pay for a job, even though I could prove that Virtuadmin had completed the work.
  • If approached by someone to guest post on your website or blog, check them or their organisation they represent.  Although this isn’t directly connected to using freelance job websites, as a freelancer you may have set-up a website or blog to get your services known in your particular niche area of expertise.
    Why check them out?  I had an instance a while back, where I received an email asking to put a personalised guest blog post around our niche on our website, and in return could we link to them as the authours, obviously referencing them and therefore creating a backlink.  I initially agreed, then after receiving the article, a few more emails back and forth and then just before I hit publish I researched them.  They were only our biggest competitor in the virtual assistant/transcription outsourcing world.  I have gone into more depth about this in a post back in May 2017, which you can read it here “Guest Posting and Link Building: My Warning“.

We are sharing these tips with you our fellow freelancers so that you do get paid for your hard work, and that you do not get scammed, or fall for jobs that seem entirely genuine, even as an attachment to a job.  These tips are for you to take onboard, bear in mind, not just for 2018, but beyond and for always whilst you have a freelance career, whatever service you provide virtually, through freelance jobs websites.