My Worst Experience as a Freelance Writer

This is a guest post by Ambika Choudhary Mahajan.

My worst experience as a freelance writer left a real bad taste in the mouth! More so, because ‘wrong’ things happened to me for no fault of mine!

As a freelance writer, I took up writing assignments on various freelancing sites at the beginning of my career. I worked at odesk,, iFreelance, ScriptLance, Elance and many other freelancing sites. I also got paid for writing some blogs at sites like (undoubtedly, one of the best platforms), b5media, SocialSpark, ReviewMe, Flixya and Sponzai.

Out of all these sites I have tried and worked for, my worst experience came from this particular site which I would not like to name here.

I am sharing my terrible experience with you here because I would not want any fellow freelance writers to be duped of their hard earned money or be taken for a ride at any of such sites.

So please friends, learn from the mistakes I made and be more careful in future.

Image Credit : FreelanceFolder

Strange rules

To begin with, this site I’m talking of does not allow freelancers to withdraw amounts less than $40 from their account.

Further, they deduct their commission from the freelancer’s account at the time of awarding him the project. The commission is $5 for projects upto $250 (I am not too sure about that now, since I stopped working for them long back). And $25 for projects involving $250-$800.

Supposing, I have $50 lying in my account with the site and my bid for a $30 project gets accepted. $5 will get deducted from my balance the moment my bid gets accepted. Similarly, if the amount of project awarded is $300, the amount deducted would be $25.

When I worked at this site, my career as a freelance writer was just getting started, and I was willing to take up small assignments also- hoping that would help improve my ratings at that particular site and thus eventually help me bag more orders (perhaps, bigger ones also) from the site concerned. I did a couple of orders for them for $30 and $40 each.

How they cheated me?

After having completed 3- 4 projects at the site, I had about $160 lying in my account. I withdrew $80 and left $80 in my account because I simply did not need the money. How I regret not having withdrawn the entire amount at that time!

Soon thereafter, my proposal for writing an eBook on male health supplements for $350 was accepted out of 33 proposals! I was thrilled because it was a lot of money from ONE single project! More so because I had just about started as a freelance writer and took it as a good omen, blissfully unaware of what lay is store for me! Also because I had been chosen to work on the project out of so many bidders- I thought I was finally getting my due.

$25 was deducted from my account immediately, and my balance fell to $55. I did not seem to mind that because I was waiting with bated breath to hear from the Norwegian who had floated the proposal for the book.

A week passed without any activity. The client just did not get into touch with me. Soon, a month passed. No news at all.

Meanwhile, another of my proposals submitted earlier for rewriting news for an Indian news agency for $400 also get accepted.

Another $25 gone.

My balance fell to $30.

I waited and waited but never got to heard from any of these two clients after almost 2 months also. I wrote to their “Dispute Redressal Cell” repeatedly but never got a reply.

The smartest thing, meanwhile, was that my balance had fallen to $30, and that was less than the minimum amount I could withdraw ($40).

As I had started getting lots of work from other, better sites, I had no more time to waste to pursue the matter. And I was too annoyed at having lost my hard earned money for no fault of mine to ever bid for any of their projects ever again.

I could only thank my stars for having already withdrawn $80. Who knows- they could have robbed me of that money as well if I had not withdrawn it in time??

This, till date, was my worst experience as a freelance writer.

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About Ambika Choudhary Mahajan

This is a guest post by Ambika Choudhary Mahajan- a freelance writer, eBook author & blogger. Know more about her by logging on to her site: AmbikaWrites


  1. Enstine says:

    Hi Ambika,
    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Looks like something fishy is happening at the background. Can you tell us the name of this platform. It’s good to stay away from such

  2. Raaj Trambadia says:

    Hi Ambika. This is kinda strange! I mean, your money gets deducted when your proposal is accepted? So the platform is DAMN SURE that there’s not gonna be any issue in ANY projects being done? That’s totally wrong. If you could reveal the name of the platform, would be much better.

    All the best for your future endeavors though! Cheers

  3. Hi Ambika,

    It is too bad on the website’s side that they deduct fees before a successful deal. And they should have refunded the amount to you if the deal failed. A freelancer gets charged just to accept a project! it should be a fraud website. Please tell the name of the site so that other writers won’t experience the trouble you gone through….

  4. Hey Ambika

    I know which website you are talking about. I was a member there once upon a time. Such incident happened to me once but after I behaved very rudely with their support department, the $25 deducted was sent back to my account 🙂 Its a harsh world out there!

    Move on to other freelancing websites. Good luck.

  5. I am really feeling you should expose the name of that website. People much know about such cheaters. There is no meaning in deducting the charges until you receive the money from the clients. Thanks for sharing this article.

  6. It is very bad for website’s side that they deduct fees before a successful deal. Sorry to listen to about your bad encounter. Looks like something rubbish is occurring at the qualifications. Can you tell us the name of this foundation. It’s excellent to keep away from such.

  7. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says:

    Hi Raaj, Chitra, Priya, Nasser & Bhushan,
    Thanks for reading this!
    I would not mind sharing the name of the site with any of you personally. My intention here was not to bring a bad name to that particular platform but to WARN my friends to think twice before beginning to accept freelancing assignments from a new source, so that they do not have to feel sorry later.
    Its is better NOT to get any work than to work and not get paid for it.

  8. I see no reason why you are naming those who did it you.

  9. Nicholle Olores says:

    Sounds like you have a serious experience in freelancing but I think it is a lesson for you now. Every circumstances that we have in life brings a lesson in order for us to realize.

  10. Hi Ambika,

    Well i believe contributing the online freelancing sites are worst rather than we can directly work of the blog owner where we can get direct payments without any deduction. And to be honest i never tried any online freelancing sites and i don’t wanted too.

    Am happy with direct contacts and i get so many contracts directly… thanks for the tips

  11. yeah it is so rude of them. they take it just as business but for us it is damn cunning. so be prepared to be one good professional leaving those hard times behind because not only you most of us have experienced such problems. they are really rude. good luck

  12. Sorry to read about your loss here. But also many thanks for sharing this with us. I think you should have named the company because it would be more helpful for freelancers in finding a fraud service.

    After reading your story, it looks like there is a possibility of getting cheated everywhere and we should be very careful especially in online jobs.

  13. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says:

    Hi Sarvesh,
    Working with a freelancing site can be good if you can get your payment funded by an escrow- that ensures you will not be duped by your ‘contacts’ after you have delivered them what you promised.
    I dont paying a small amount as commission if I am sure to get paid at the end of the project.
    Some clients start picking faults and throwing tantrums after getting the work done- and working through a site protects you form anything of that sort.
    Hope you agree.

  14. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says:

    For all those readers who are keen to know the name of the site where I was cheated of some hard earned money at the beginning of my freelance career, the name of the site is:
    Regret having worked with them till date. 🙁

  15. gina valley says:

    That’s terrible! Dishonesty is so rampant and depressing.

  16. Akos Fintor says:

    Hey Ambika,

    Sorry to hear that you got “burnt”.
    Have tried working through Odesk?
    I used hire there for article writing, content creating.

    I wish you to the best

  17. Oh dear thats so strange that they cost you for accepting the project and deal isn’t done fully. Thats not a good service or network then to work. Thanks for your info. and name of the company. BTW Happy Diwali to you. Have a great day ((Hugs))

  18. I’m very sorry to hear, online deals are always a headache.

    I’m not a pessimist but frankly this is what I thought as I was reading through your experience. Had you not withdrawn those $80 in the first place, you could have left with $110 because it wouldn’t have fallen back to below $30. Or you should have gone to withdraw everything.

    My point here is (please excuse me, but I really don’t mean to offend you in anyway) there are so many fraud cases online, being extra careful has become mandatory. In fact, I really appreciate you putting your case out in the open to spread awareness among your peers. That’s a great thing to do!

    Another great thing is that you moved on with it quick rather than sulking and I was glad to read that you were happy to at least withdraw $80 in the first place. We really need such positivity around here.

    Again, I really did not mean to offend you at all (my sincere apologies, if I have). I feel really sorry for you. Good luck with your career 🙂


  19. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says:

    Hi Aditya,
    Thanks for stopping by to read.
    One bad experience is all you need at times to make you wiser and to be able to avoid many many traps in future.
    I HAD to move on, because work had started pouring in by the time I realized I’d been tricked. It was better to let go of a small amount than to waste precious time by crying over what had already been lost.
    I left those $80 in my account because I felt it would make it easier for me to pay off the commission to on future projects. Had I not left those $80 in my account, I might have erred elsewhere (and, may be, lost much more than $80). I am, infact, thankful to the site for having taught me not to trust others easily.
    $80 is not too big an amount to lose, when it teaches you such valuable lessons! 🙂
    I am a diehard optimist and I see a silver lining in the darkest of clouds.
    Thanks for your best wishes. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors as well! (Y)

    • The good thing is you picked up a positive lesson.

      Just one question – Have you intentionally revealed to me or did you just spill it out by mistake? Because if it was unintentional, you can be extra careful online.
      Just remember – When you’re online – BE CAREFUL 24/7

      My best wishes,


  20. Had a similar expirience with Freelancer. When I started my freelancing career I applied to both Elance and Freelancer. Never got any job on Freelancer and stopped visiting that site….1 year later I got a mail saying how some client contacted me to offer me a job. Once I accepted the job Freelancer decided to take $20 from me (even though I had nothing on my account) so I was in minus. Anyway, I contacted the client to start the job,never got any answer, so I decided to forget about that slow, boring and pushy site….few weeks later they I got a mail from Freelancer (again)saying how I have to pay those $20 or else(or they’re gonna close my account on Freelancer). Couldn’t care less about it..
    Now, I am working on Elance (for the last 10 months) and I am in the top 400 in writing-translation category among 130,000 other writers. I have 5 STARS rating, lot’s of clients and great feedback.
    Other thing I never liked about Freelancer is the “speed” of that site..It was so slow (at least for me) and this really pissed me every time.
    I have tried some other platforms such as ODESK and GURU (or something like that) but I am so used to Elance simplicity, design and service that I don’t see any other site dethroning it any time soon.
    Oh, by the way, I started a blog few days ago at www. askkarine. wordpress. com where I will be sharing my thoughts on Parenting, Pregnancy,SEO,Entrepreneurship, Food…the blog is still fresh and I am working on design but I hope I will reach the popularity of iTechCode, one day:)

  21. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says:

    Hi Karine,
    Good to know that you’ve been doing well of late!
    I hope other readers will realize (after confirmations from you and Chitra) that I am telling the truth, without any intentions of bringing a bad name to anyone.
    I have done some great work on Elance too, and had an excellent rating there (5 stars after 30 projects and handling more than $10k worth of business) – but you can not trust them blindly either.
    A client once approached me to write a weight loss book for him on Elance (he sent me an invite)- It was a $800 project and I was supposed to deliver the book in 6 weeks. The client was so determined to get the job done from me that he gave me 2 weeks to wind up my existing projects after I declined the invite saying that I was too busy to accept any more work. Seeing $800 coming from one single project, I did not accept any more work for the next 4 weeks.
    Now, the project was funded by an escrow as well. 2 weeks into the project and after showing him the initial draft of the book, the client “REJECTED” my work saying it was trash and not upto the mark.
    He scrapped the project as well. As I approached the Dispute Redressal system, I was asked to attend a conference call where the client would be present too at a said date and time.
    Since $800 is big money in our currency, I was there for the call but the client refused to turn up. This happened twice. I hope you understand that the client not turning up is NOT MY FAULT.
    After that, I got a notification that to pursue the matter further, I’d have to pay $250 or $300 (I dont remember the exact amount). Obviously, I had to give up.
    I wasted one complete month. It was a terrible blow to my self esteem, and at the end of it, the client left derogatory remarks and a rating of 0.2 for me. That brought my overall rating to 4.6! 🙁
    So, as I have mentioned in my guest post “5 mistakes freelance writers should avoid” at my friend Hamza Shiekh’s blog (, NEVER put all your eggs in one basket.
    Even if you are getting lots of work from Elance, ONE bad experience could ruin it all- and you would not want to start from a scratch once again!
    Keep on exploring other options as well. Maintain good relations with your regular clients, so that they can approach you directly. Explore other sites and offline sources as well.

    Wishing you all the best!! 🙂

  22. It is really very important to share things which can protect others, i believe this is a great way to ensure even others are not going in a wrong way. Great post. Thank you for sharing.

  23. What has happened to you at freelancer was really bad because I can understand the hardwork & expectations of writer when they are writing creative work.

    However Ambika your experience is valuable as everyone can learn a lot from it.

    Thanks for sharing your experinece