As a professional freelancer, you’ll sometimes find yourself with a piece of content that your client refused to buy. When a client doesn't pay for their content, it remains the property of the freelancer, and the freelancer is free to do whatever he or she wants with that content.

Who Steals Content?

People that want fresh content for their websites and don't want to pay for that content often steal content from other popular websites. Some people even use scrapers to grab new content as it’s made available. Other individuals may post extremely low-paying orders on content sites to get custom content, then tell the writer it needs extensive work or is, in fact, plagiarized. The client in this scenario knows that if they list enough problems with the content they received that the writer will drop it rather than continue working on it. 


Then, all the client has to do is cancel the order and use the original content that they copied prior to sending out the revision request. This results in the client getting free content. What the client assumes is that the freelancer writer saved no copies of the article, blog post or website they wrote and has no intention of ever using that content for anything. Once they have their stolen content, they are free to cancel the order and place a new one with the same money.

Since unscrupulous clients often use these tactics to get free content, all freelance writers should always save copies of their work. This is because all content is valuable even if the original client refused to purchase it.

How Do I Know if My Client Is Trying to Get Free Content?

You really don’t know if the client’s revision requests are legitimate or fake. Freelancers aren’t mindreaders, which means you’ll have to judge revision requests on a case by case basis. With that being said, if the client says that the content is plagiarized or a duplicate of other work, and you checked this yourself, either prior to submitting it to your client or after they sent it back for a revision, and all checkers came back with 100 percent plagiarism-free, there’s a good chance this client is stealing content. Not to mention, if all your checkers came back with 100 percent unique content, you can’t change anything because you don’t know what to change. The only thing you can do is drop it, and your unscrupulous client knows this.

The second type of red-flag revision request is one that contains a lot of changes, even to the point where it’s a 100 percent rewrite. Under no circumstances should any freelancer perform a 100 percent rewrite. This indicates that there was either something wrong with the client’s directions or a miscommunication between the writer and client or the client and their client. If you believe a 100 percent revision is legit, the client needs to be willing to pay for the new work, especially if the rewrite changes the scope of the article or involves changing topics. The other scenario is that the client dreamed up all these changes in order to force the freelancer to drop the article. Once the article is dropped, the client does not have to pay. All they have to do is take the version they copied and post it on their website. 

Use It as an Example of Your Work

The easiest way to deal with unpaid for content is to use it as an example of the content you can provide. Most professional freelance writers do not have time to create examples. Therefore, unpaid content is a great way to build your portfolio so that clients can see the type of work you do. If you primarily freelance on content mill sites, you can just post an excerpt of the content to your profile.  Most content mills allow for examples and even have a specific section for examples. If you work from your own website, you can create a page of examples in your various industries. However, before you post the content, make sure to remove any identifying information about the client that ordered the content. This means that you need to remove the city, company name, and names of people and any phone numbers. Once the content is no longer specific to your original client, you can post it.

Shop It to Your Other Clients

If you have other clients that you think can use the content, shop it. In this scenario, you would still remove all identifying information that points to a specific client, including company names, cities, phone numbers and backlinks. Then, you’d simply email your other clients who may be able to use that content to see if they want it.

Sell It on Your Website as Prewritten Content

If you own a website for your freelancing business, you can sell your unpurchased content as prewritten content. In order for this to work, the content has to be evergreen and useful for a variety of clients. To help ensure you can always sell unpurchased content, it’s a good idea to only take topic ideas that you can use as well as the client that says they need the content. In this scenario, you’d do your best to give the original client the content they need, according to their directions, but you also need to write the content in such a way that it also meets your needs and is up to your specifications in case you have to resell it.


Sell It on a Content Platform that Sells Prewritten Content

If you don’t have a website or can’t use the content as an example of your work, there are prewritten content sites out there where you can post your work for sale. These sites include Content VendorArticle BlizzardConstant Content and BKA Content.

Send It Out as a Guest Post

If you can’t seem to sell the content anywhere and it provides valuable information for an industry, you can look for websites that accept guest posts on the topic of the article or in the industry. The best-case scenario is that you already have a working relationship with one or more bloggers or websites that accepts guest posts. Then, you ensure that the unsold content meets the guest post guidelines and submit it. The benefit of using your unsold content as a guest post is that you can get a byline and a link back to your website, which may help drive traffic and increase your pool of private clients.

What Happens if My Client Uses Content They Didn’t Pay For

If the client that refused to purchase the content uses it anyway and you happen to catch it on their website, you can write a message to the website owner and request that they either provide you with credit for the post or issue a DMCA takedown notice. To be polite, you may just simply tell the website owner that they have content that is your property and request that they remove it from their website. This may not work. However, most website owners and management companies do pay attention to DMCA takedown notices.