These days, freelancing or gig working has become a way of life and there's nothing wrong with capitalizing on this. In fact, many e-commerce experts recommend writing ebooks about blogging, creating prompts for social media posts, and anything else that encourages engagement. However, there are many, just like any other content contributor, who feel the need to charge for information that anyone can access for free.
It's Just Business...Nothing Personal
No one said being business was fair, meaning there are some loopholes where the only thing the average consumer can do is charge it to the game. If you look hard enough, you can find job leads anywhere online. The thing is that when you look often enough, you'll find many job leads are incomplete, old, or rehashed. Now, if you're paying - either one-time or monthly - this can hurt because your competition is greater.
Nothing Wrong with Healthy Competition?
If you have more than a couple of streaming services outside of the standard Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO Max, you know what I'm talking about. It takes a minute to figure out that some of your paid streaming channels offer the exact same ish. Unless your channel caters to a specific genre, like PBS docs or movies that go back to Mary Worth, chances are super-strong that you're paying for more than you actually need.
Back when your only source for finding regular work was the Sunday (and maybe Wednesday or Thursday) newspapers, this isn't much different. That's why experts recommended networking or going directly to the source or targeting a specific industry as opposed to wading through the rubbish. One suggestion is to try specific terms on different search engines outside of Google. The other is to watch for weak links.
Faux Experts are a Waste of Time
Nowadays, the "online experts" are a dime a dozen, if not less. It's not about bashing but using lazy or conniving ways to earn $2 but eventually lose their reputation. Here are a couple of real examples -
A few years ago, I joined a few LinkedIn writing groups with little traction. That's to be expected because many of us are introverts that are too busy writing, recovering from writer's block, or planning our much-needed vacation. However, there was one name of a content writer I'd seen in numerous online publications and groups. One day, I'd gotten a message that he'd written an ebook about the business of content writing.
To be fair, this is iffy because companies open and close almost weekly and a person has to be in the mix to learn who's doing what. So to write and publish a book with leads is kind of a time waster. I was still somewhat new to the hustle and this guy seemed reputable so I splurged a whole five dollars. The book went over the content writing basics but the formatting could've been better.
Overall, it was a decent effort but the setup is what sucked. For some reason, this writer chose a PDF format that had limited usage. Meaning that if you read this book 3-5 times, you'd have to buy another one if you wanted to refer back. I also believed this book was protected from saving or printing pages. Not sure if this guy's still around but hopefully, he's learned not to do this for future works.
Check out these scammy sites
The other example is more recent and unfortunately, I'm seeing this often. New engagement blogs or social media pages disguised as job leads. While I honestly don't remember the writer's name in the above account, I'm calling out the culprits here. Both the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors (IAPWE) and Doughnut have used not-so-nice tactics to build their reader base through email marketing.
While the former actually has writing leads, they start by advertising themselves as a hiring principal via LinkedIn. Then you're prompted to pay every month to see ads posted in follow.it and several sites that use a different advertising model. Doughnut also uses LinkedIn to gain followers for what looks like an email promotion.
I joined over a month ago and have seen zero jobs or leads in their mailings but a lot of articles that some would classify as clickbait. While the latter cost me zero, it's the idea of having to see this after giving my email a thorough cleaning.
Finally, I've used Flexjobs with mixed results. I know of many reputable sites that publish articles with discount codes and sing their praises as filler content. The best thing I can say is they have great resources and some unique leads but others, not so much.
Now, as I'm typing I realize that a paying member may be posting Flexjobs leads on their free site. Not pointing fingers but it could be a possibility. However, from a cheap butt like me, there's nothing wrong with sharing something good.