These days, a good number of people are engaging in freelance writing. Surely it can be a great way to make extra money, but unfortunately too many writers are not aware of the ethics involved in such work. Here are a few basic business ethics that need to be kept in mind as a freelance writer.
Writers make a very big deal of plagiarism or the stealing of other writer’s work. Plagiarism is wrong, but in the real world, it can be very hard to spot. Plagiarism is the outright theft of another writer’s work and putting your name on it. Taking an article somebody else wrote, changing a few words and passing it off as your own without their permission is downright unethical. You should never simply copy someone else’s work and say it is your own.
Using an article somebody else wrote as an inspiration or a source for your work is perfectly fine as long as you don’t copy it. If you want to say the same thing as somebody else but say it in a completely different way that is not plagiarism that is called writing. Also it is always a good idea to refer to the inspiration or source for your writing. It makes you look better, and shows that you are honest.
Respect for others
The ethical professional treats all clients and other freelancers with respect and fairness. This means not to charge different clients different fees according to what the “traffic will bear”, divulging confidentiality or speaking badly of or spreading rumors about another client or freelancer. If for example, someone asks what you think about another person’s abilities and you are not impressed by that person’s work or approach, it is better to say nothing or make a suggestion of someone “I am more familiar with.”
The best approach that will pay off, in the long run, is to recommend a colleague well-versed and well-prepared in that area. Both the client and your partner will always remember you for your honesty and help. I also believe that “what goes around, comes around” so your good deed will eventually multiply in your favor.
If you are writing a nonfiction work such as an article or a report you should always refer to the source of your information. In online work, the best practice is to put links to the source of your article if it is an online source. If it is a non-online source such as a book, refer to the name of the work and the author.
Using material without attribution is wrong, and it also destroys your credibility. Listing the sources will make you look honest and ethical. As an author, and as a person, ethics should always guide your life.