I recently signed up on Upwork.com, which is a great resource where freelancers are able to connect with business leaders and get paid for jobs while also growing their work portfolios. It has been a tremendously helpful tool as I’ve picked up a couple of freelance gigs here and there.

Click here to see my profile

I have learned one very important lesson in my short time as a member, which I wanted to be sure to share.

Applying for a freelance job

On Upwork, clients will post job opportunities with a basic description of the service type with which they are looking for assistance. As a freelancer looks through the lists of job opportunities, they are able to send proposals offering their services with a price, sample of work, and timeline attached. The client is then able to decide to accept or reject the proposal offer.

One of my first proposal requests I sent was to someone who was offering $5 for each 1,000 word article based around the topic of their choice. That’s a small amount in the writing world, but at this point I’ve been more interested in gaining the experience necessary to later qualify for the higher profile writing opportunities.

I submitted a brief, but professional, proposal outlining my previous work experience and sent one of my 1,000 word writing samples.

Later that day, I received a note back saying my proposal had been received and they sent me the offer to work with them. I accepted.

The Problem

 

Once I had accepted the offer, I soon received the details of my assignment. The client wanted me to write two 1,000 word reviews about a couple of backpacks being sold on Amazon. He wanted me to portray myself as a geeky outdoorsman who loved these backpacks. His request was that I write a positive review reflecting on how much I liked the backpacks and how useful they are for my outdoor adventures. I had one day to complete the assignment.

Initially, I felt like this could be an easy writing gig. I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, camping, target shooting, etc. I mean, who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows over a fire and making s’mores?

As I thought about it though, the ethics of writing a positive review for a product I haven’t used was a problem for me. I decided to do some research on this assignment to see what my options were.

My Findings

 

As I researched, I found an article about a company who was sued for posting fake reviews about their services. (http://business.time.com/2013/07/23/alleged-fake-online-review-spammers-get-taken-to-court/)

This obviously reinforced my concerns about this assignment. I was not comfortable with starting off my writing career sharing false information.

I sent a message to the client and respectfully declined the assignment. I was bummed to miss out on the chance to grow my portfolio, but I am grateful for my ability to research and learn about things as I go.

I highly recommend always doing your due diligence when working with anyone or trying something new.

I’m glad I didn’t figure this out after the fact, which could have led to legal ramifications.

Lessons learned.