Don't lie when you're looking for freelance writing work, whether you're advertising your services or responding to the ad of a prospective client. It's common sense, right? Yet freelance writers lie all the time.
Now I'm not suggesting you lie, but I'd like to look at some of the more common types of lies I've seen from writers and why you should never consider it, no matter how bad things get.
Lie #1: Fibbing About Your Educational Background
One particular case comes to mind (won't name names) where a freelance writer lied about having a degree in a specialty area. In truth, they were only pursuing that degree. They were called out publicly by someone and responded by continuing to lie -- saying they never told potential clients they had the degree yet (while there was also public proof that they in fact had).
That wasn't the first time I came across this lie. When I was working in the nonprofit world, an employee was let go from the organization I worked for because they lied about the exact same thing (said they had a degree when they actually hadn't finished the coursework yet). Don't do it. You'll get caught. And when you do, that's a serious credibility killer.
Lie #2: Claiming to be a "Native English Speaker" When You're Clearly Not
Look, you may not like that some clients only want to work with native English speakers. You may not think it's fair, especially if you feel you're a better writer. But it's not always about writing ability. It's also about legal protection. A client knows they may be better protected legally if they hire a writer from the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. Better yet, they may be looking for a writer in their own specific country (the safest move, even if not necessary).
Think of it this way. If copyright law is different in your country than in the US where the client is, you might legally be able to rip off someone else's article (although you'd still be an unethical shmuck). However, that client would still be breaking the law by publishing that article. If they stuck to hiring a writer from an area covered by the same or similar laws, they might have legal recourse against that writer if they're sued later. If they hire a writer who lied about being a native English speaker or about where they live, then they may be shit outta luck.
Even when it does revolve around language skills alone, it's a reasonable request. Even if you're a fantastic writer in the English language, you have to remember that most ESL folks are not. Why would any client who's targeting an English speaking audience want to wade through a murky swamp of applications and samples from ESL writers who frankly suck just because there might be a gem in there? It makes more sense business-wise for them to narrow the field up front. Yes, some native English speakers can't write. But the client wants to better their odds, and native English speakers are still a safer bet.
Lie #3: Sending False Samples
Okay. This kind of lie from writers royally pisses me off. They don't only lie to prospective clients, but they're blatant thieves as well. What they'll do is simply hijack someone else's writing (sometimes from a book or print magazine so the client won't find it via Copyscape and it will appear to be unique) and call it their own. It would be like me trying to sell a dilapidated crap shack by taking someone on a tour of your nice little McMansion.
The clients are usually completely duped, at least until they get to see the writer's real work. Then they're shocked by the differences and left with unusable garbage. Not a pretty picture (although it does make the rest of us look better).
Remember that everything you do online has the potential to be permanent. A lie now could cause irreparable damage to your career. Things may get tough sometimes, but there's a better solution. Put in some hard work. So even though I can't believe I had to say it in the first place, I'm going to say it again. Freelance writers: don't lie!
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.
Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
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