So the news with freelance work is that there is virtually a hundred sites for every type of work out there. From website design to graphic design, SEO consulting to article outsourcing. So how do you know who is legitimate and who is not. Well, if you're like me, you go and try them yourself in a trial-and-error type process. I'm a writer, so I will write one article and then see if I get paid. Most legitimate companies will ask you to fill out a W-9, but you should know what that means - you're working off a 1099 for the year and you need to save money out of your checks to for taxes. Aside from this, there are three things you need to look for: credibility, payment schedule and rate, and word of mouth referrals or testimonies.
It's difficult to discern is a company has a good reputation or not, but the easiest way is to look for the name of the company followed by the words "scam" in order to get a good idea of whether or not that company pays and has a reputable staff or not. It's one thing to sign up for a "bid" site (which I hate), it's quite another to sign up for a regular site that pays (in my case) per article, but has a horrible staff and never pays on time. So far, I have been lucky to only run into one site that doesn't pay - Review Stream. I wrote one review for them, it was published and then I never heard from them again. Aside from this, they don't ask for any information regarding how you would like to be paid and they definitely don't ask for your Paypal e-mail, which is a dead give away after you sign up for a site (unless they pay by paper check, which they will normally state outright). Other sites to look out for are ones that never really tell you what you will be doing or even what they sell. Finally, unless you're looking into getting into Avon, Mark, or Mary Kay, you should never have to pay a company to hire you. Period.
Companies that provide you with a W-9 or the link to a W-9 are asking you for tax information so that they can file for their business expenses at the end of the quarter or year. While this might make a company look like they are just after your social to steal your identity, if you've done your Google research as outlined in the previous paragraph, then you should all ready know if a company is reputable or not. Newer companies might be harder to find information on and sometimes it's best to just let other people figure out the good and bad before you dive in head first - especially if you're worried about identity theft. Filling out a W-9 signifies that you are an independent contractor, which means you will be dishing out taxes at the end of the year - so just be aware of that and don't say I didn't warn you. Most companies require this form filled out in its entirety and returned before they will begin issuing payments.
Aside from that, getting paid through online and work at home companies has actually been more beneficial for me than working a normal job where you get paid biweekly or twice a month. I have three outlets I use and I get paid every Sunday, on the 6th and the 21st, and as soon as I complete 20,000 words (around every 7 - 10 days, not business days). This means that however little I make, I am still getting paid on a weekly basis and I make anywhere from a minimum of $200 a week to upwards of $500 or $600 a week, depending on what I can crank out and what I can find available. Aside from this, You Data pays me my savings trickle every Friday.
Finally, word of mouth and personal referrals or experiences ties in with what was first explained above about a company's credibility. Being able to search for reviews or information about a site from other people's personal experiences can really help you out and help you to understand what kind of site you're getting into. Keep in mind that people and opinions vary greatly and only you can make the decision to dive in or opt out. The only links I provide on this site are ones that I have made money from myself or sites that I know pay. I don't work with sites where you bid in order to catch a job (usually) because the market there is so competitive, plus there is always a deadline and I'm not interested in those. Finally, bidding markets are extremely tough because if you're a professional at what you do, someone is always there ready to bid the minimum - and it sucks, I won't lie.
If you have questions about a site, a company, or a scheme you've come across recently, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment. Work at home is a legitimate job, regardless of whether you're looking to be there full-time or want a little extra each month to pay a bill or just save for Christmas. While it's true that you won't get rich and you still have to work, let me back all of this up with one statement: No one makes something for nothing.
Unless you work through internet marketing, have an e-book, or rely purely on site traffic to get paid through click ads or other means, you will be doing something to set everything up. In fact, all of those scenarios require initial set-up and two of the three require a significant amount of money or time in investment.
Look for subsequent posts on work at home outlets - I have several. I get no type of referral kick backs or anything for providing this information and, if anything, a new person signing up and working for these sites is taking money away from me. I do it because I know what it's like when you're in panic mode, have no job, and/or no one has the desire or need for your skills. It sucks. The end.