How to Protect Yourself as a Writer

There are a number of important ways you can protect yourself as a writer in order to have a profitable career – without getting your work stolen, and getting properly paid for it. These tips should help even new writers protect themselves.

1. Use a Recognized Freelance Marketplace

When looking for writing assignments, use sites like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com and Freelancer.com. They are very strict about their terms of service and the working conditions at the time. You should not give your personal information to anyone. Everything should be done through the interface so it can all be tracked.

2. Protect Your Best Work

Once you decide you want to work as a freelance writer, you can create a portfolio site of your best work. If you use WordPress, you can lock your content using a password so not everyone will be able to see it and steal it (a crime known as plagiarism). Some unscrupulous people might still try, but granting access on a per-case basis can slow them down.

3. Don?t Do Customized Work

New writers eager for their first freelance gigs will often fall for this scam. The person posting the assignment is basically trying to get free content and will usually not hire anyone.

4. Check the Client Reviews

Scammers will post a lot of listings but not hire a lot of people. IF you see the hire ratio is low, skip them.

5. Don?t Give Away Too Much Information during a Consultation

Sometimes a client would like to talk to you on the phone or via Skype. The temptation is to really show off what you know. Unfortunately, it usually means giving the person a lot of ideas that they will never pay for if you don?t get given the contract.

That being the case, use any consultation as a fact-finding mission only, to discover more about what the client really wants. Make it clear you can help (if you can), but don?t give away all the answers.

6. Get a Tax ID Number

A tax ID number means you won?t have to hand out your social security number when you want to invoice people and get paid.

7. Incorporate as an LLC

LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. This means that if anyone sues you, they are suing your company, not you personally, and therefore they can?t take everything you own.

8. Set Up a Business Bank Account

Once you have your tax ID and LLC set up, you can open a business bank account. Put all the money you earn from your writing into that account. It will help you keep track of everything on your taxes.

9. Set Up a PayPal Business Account

PayPal is one of the easiest ways to get paid online. It also has excellent free tools for running a business, such as invoicing clients and following up on any missing payments. Many of the freelance marketplaces use PayPal for buying and selling services. A business account will allow you to process much larger financial transactions, such as in the thousands of dollars.

10. Create a Great Profile at Each Freelance Site

Make sure it is error free and designed to impress.

11. Create Boilerplate Contracts

Create boilerplate contracts you can use as templates when taking on new projects for clients. Typical contracts you should have at the ready in case they don?t are:

* Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
* Non-compete agreement
* Copyright assignment
* Work for hire agreement

12. Protect your Contact Information

In these days of identity theft, be cautious about who you are dealing with and how much information you are giving them. Consider using a free Gmail address for all your freelance work so you can see the assignments coming in but won?t need to worry about people knowing your regular email address and sending you spam, or trying it as your username at popular websites.

Tom Ofori
 

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