Falling Prey to a Writing Scam: IAPWE
Typically, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
And that was certainly the case for me when I applied as a freelance writer for the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors (IAPWE). It sounded good at the time; I was looking for remote writing work and this Craigslist ad seemed just the ticket.
(Note to self: don't job hunt on Craigslist unless you want to be a delivery driver - there are too many scams out there.)
The application process was easy. In hindsight, it was a little too easy and that honestly should have tipped me off. As I recall they didn't even ask for my resume, just my name and email. To prove myself as a writer, they also wanted a sample of my work - which I was all too happy to pass along.
And then I didn't hear anything for a month. Usually, one can assume that the hiring company decided to pass on your application for more experienced candidates and that's what I assumed had happened. Until I received an email today from Amy Wilkerson, informing me that my application had been accepted and hence I was instructed to create a profile on IAPWE's website.
So far, so good. I went ahead and did that... and here's where it got weird: in order to access the writing resources, job board, and member sections I needed to subscribe to a paid account. I'm sorry, what? I was under the impression that I had been hired on as a writer...
And then it clicked. This company is an "association" - so it's a membership club. Typically though, you join an association because the benefits of being part of the in-group outweighs the cost and I wasn't seeing anything of the sort on IAPWE. The job board hadn't been updated in several days and none of the jobs available were even in my wheelhouse. The writing resources offered were also all tools and ideas that I could easily access to free, elsewhere on the internet.
My Next Steps...
Unfortunately, I had gone ahead and subscribed to the paid version because I really wanted to see if there would be any true benefit to having this access. Since there wasn't I immediately decided to cancel my subscription - which is not easy. First there's a form to fill out and then (according to a few other bloggers who went through this ordeal) Amy will and confirm that you want to cancel.
I decided to bypass that entirely and went straight into my Paypal account to cancel the recurring payment. This cut me off almost right away from the paid access on IAPWE. (If you signed up via Paypal, I suggest this tactic because it worked right away.)
Here's the million dollar question: Is IAPWE really a writing scam?
Yes and no.
No, because after a bit of research it is a company that has been around for quite a while and does offer members access to writing jobs - even if those jobs aren't the best ones out there. They do post a lot of helpful blog articles on bettering yourself as a writer...but that's the extent of their helpfulness.
Yes, and this is because they do not tell applicants up front about the cost of joining to get access to these writing jobs. From the beginning, I was under the impression that I was being hired to write for IAPWE - not use them as a middleman for actual writing jobs.
Fortunately there are a ton of FREE platforms that offer access to writing and editing jobs - Upwork and Fiverr being two of the most well known. I also recommend joining a local writing group or a Facebook group for writing jobs, since many of those options will be vetted more carefully.
You can also do what I'm doing and start a blog, because there are countless ways to make money blogging with the use of affiliate marketing and sponsors.
Self-publishing on platforms like Amazon's Kindle Direct, Google, Netgalley, and iBook are also options if you've written a short novel or a collection of poetry. You can find my novella Anything But Monochrome on Kindle Direct for only $9.99.
No matter how you look at it, writing is often a thankless job that does not pay what it should for the time, research, and effort involved in creating a good piece of content, but hopefully a little bit of Googling (and this blog post!) will help you avoid writing scams like IAPWE. I got duped so you don't have to.
Have you ever fallen for a job scam? How did you react and what steps did you take to get out of it? Let me know in the comments.