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Possible client asking for free "trial" work

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
1 of 26

Hello all you good people.

See if this is familiar to you:


A client invites you to interview for a job, so you respond with interest. 

Then they tell you that your portfolio doesn't contain exactly what they're looking for (which is true) and ask for some trial work to show you can do what they need. You point out that Upwork will kick the job positing off if they see you've done this and are not offering any payment at all but they insist they need to do it to make sure you can do the work (the job is for a fairly decent amount of money).

So you spend two afternoons putting the trial piece of writing together, wedging it between other jobs. 

Then you notice they're interviewing another 14 people. You start wondering if they're asking for free trial work off every other interviewee, perhpas getting all of you to do all the work for free, but you hold back bdecause you'd like to get the job and you're a trusting sort of person (or a damned needy freelance writer who needs whatever work they can get...)

You submit your work, they tell you they will get back to you the next day, but they dont, so you chase them up and they say they have concerns about it and ask for some revisions. You say okay but you're tied up today and won't be able to get them to them till Monday. They say they want them for Sunday. 

Now. I want the job, looks good, good pay for it. But I am now seriously irritiated that I've spent four or five hours working for free and they expect me to now work over the weekend on revisions on the off chance they're going to hire me.

14 people interviewed. You'd think they would be able to make a decision based on my initial submissions. I pointed out it was a draft (didn't point out that I wasn't going to jump through hoops for no money and that when you ask for free, you get drafts not finished copy particularly when the project, if it were to be done right, would require a lot of tooing and froing between myself and the client), that if they hired me, we would work togheter on a finished version, and that the project would require a lot of team work and revisions for a final version (it's an educational game - if you've ever worked in games, you'll know that there are multiple revisions on dialogue and storyline, as is right).

I am seriously beginning to think this is a scam from the client. has anyone else experienced anything like this?

I am tempted to report the whole thing to Upwork, but for fear of losing a possible gig that will pay all my bills this month and look good on my portfolio (too many projects in the games market end up never seeing the llight of day...). 

So if I did report it, would that mean the hirer would be shut out of upwork and all links to me and other interviewees? Or that it would be clear that I had reported it? 

Community Guru
Irene B Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
2 of 26

I would not communicate with them but report them as asking for free work...You could use the piece you wrote for your portfolio

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
3 of 26

I wouldn't use draft material as part of my portfolio - I only use finished work, usually when it's visible inside a game.

But I have a plan now...

Community Guru
Hasmik V Member Since: Aug 12, 2017
4 of 26


Do you still have doubts that it's a scam? Believe me, no scammers make their job look bad, they do everything to make you want that particular job, else they won't be able to scam anyone. 

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
5 of 26

I'm not sure it's a scam in terms of them trying to get money or bank details out of me, they have a verified payment. Maybe I'm just venting. So many previous clients and possibles have asked for free work and , when I've explained that they will ge their job post removed if Upwork see their request for free tril work, they understand and post a minimal fee of a few dollars. This one didn't seem inclined to do so.

Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
6 of 26

Hi Neil,


I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Please know that requesting for the unpaid sample or test work is not allowed on Upwork. In the future, it would be best to report these clients to our Customer Support Team, or you can flag the job for us to review it by clicking on the "Flag as inappropriate" link located at the upper right of the job posting and our team will review it and take action on any violations of the ToS. 

~ Bojan
Active Member
Muhammad Faisal K Member Since: Jun 19, 2018
7 of 26

What will be consequences for that client if he proof to be guilty of asking unpaid test.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
8 of 26

Muhammad Faisal K wrote:

What will be consequences for that client if he proof to be guilty of asking unpaid test.

The job post is taken down and the client sent a polite reminder

Active Member
Amanda A Member Since: Mar 15, 2021
9 of 26

Please tell me how to report a client who is expecting free writing 'prior to making a decision.'

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 26

re: "Please tell me how to report a client who is expecting free writing 'prior to making a decision.'"


In the top right hand of the job posting screen there is a "Flag as inappropriate" link button.

Or there is a "Flag as inappropriate" option under the "Three Dots" icon.


Select that. There is a specific option for reporting clients who ask for free work.