- Websites digging for free content. This pitch usually starts out with "New website focusing on blah blah looking for content writers. Can you write about blah blah? Then contact us. As we are just starting, there is no pay but we can help you get exposure." Exposure is a good thing to writers, but realistically you have a better chance at getting meaningful exposure by standing naked in front of a picture window. It is also very likely you will be the only one who views that "content." Well, you and the friends you send it to through Facebook, not unlike a certain blog you all love to read. I know it sounds great, you might get discovered by The Huffington Post, but it's not going to happen. Trust me. I fell for this once. For exactly two days I wrote some posts about the Blackhawks who happened to be on a road trip in Atlanta. They ended up here. There is no longer a hockey team in Atlanta and, as you can see from that page, the collective blog posts on that website dried up years ago.
- College Kids Looking for Term papers. The headline of the ad is usually "Need help with term paper" and the detailed listing spells out the truth. "I have a term paper due Friday on The War of 1812. Looking for sample papers or ideas on what to write." Please don't send anything to this person. Make them figure it out on their own. Remember when you had to go to a library, open a card catalog, find books by subject, write down the Dewey Decimal number then find their location on the shelves and hope they were actually in the library. Now you can just google it? Or use Wikipedia. If a student can't even do that, we should be helping them. They are not going to make it when they get out of school. However, I am not against either pointing them to the Wikipedia page on the War of 1812 or sending them a factually inaccurate paper about the war of 1812 (no it was not about the spelling of the word color/colour).
- People with Ideas looking for someone to do all the work. "I have a great idea and I just need someone to write it down for me." What this person wants you to do is to write their story for them so they don't have to. Nothing good will come of this. If they can't sit down to write what they think is a great story, they probably do not have a great story. Trust me, I've had lots of ideas that I thought would make a good book or story that quickly unraveled as soon as I wrote them. Plus, if it goes badly it will be your fault, not the fault of the guy with the bad idea.
- Write fake reviews. This pitch usually asks if you have a Yelp or Amazon account and are willing to write reviews for ten bucks each. I used to like Yelp. It was a great way to learn a little bit about a place I had never been to before. After all of the news about Yelp's business practices, I don't really trust it anymore. And clearly, people are getting paid to write what is most likely a fake review of a place. It's not only Yelp, though, and I have seen requests for Amazon reviews, google reviews, just about any site out there. This is just shadiness defined.
- Really crazy, whacked out people posting random shit. These are my favorite but I don't see as many of these in the Writing gigs section as I used to, but below are a few real examples. They are damn funny.
1.) Lure said dragon away from Grand Rapids to a more rural area.
2.) Force said dragon to land in rural area.
3.) Slay said dragon in whatever way you see fit.
No Pay, dragon slaying is it's own reward.
Please note that I am not talking about the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.