There is a very simple answer; You don’t.
This is not a job where the boss has to tell you he’s closing down, and pays you off. This is a business in which you take all the risk.
You join, and maybe use your personal email account, maybe have to give an address, and that information can be sold to any and everyone waveing a few bills.
You join, and write. You work. You post. Maybe the item is published, maybe it is not. Maybe it is rejected, maybe it is stolen.
Your item is published and you don’t know if you will be paid for it, or ripped off. You don’t know when you are paid by ‘hits’ if the site is honest about how many people viewed your item.
If you are paid that first time, there is no guarantee you will be paid the second time.
There is no guarantee that the site will not go down, taking all your work with it, and owing you money.
You can’t know.
All you can do is check the age of the site, and may make the assumption that since it has been up ten years it is legitimate. Ha! Look at the lifespan of Expertscolumn. It’s been around a long time, ripping off writers.
All you can do is protect yourself.
Keep copies of your items is one way. Having a private blog is another. You post on the private blog and limit access to just you. Use a different name on the private blog or when you join a site. In this way, if the site doesn’t pay you, your alias will contact it and claim that it has the copyright, and the item must be taken down.
For example, suppose you posted an item on your private blog in December 2016. You are on a site and publish that item in January 2017. The site locks you out or doesn’t pay. That is when you make the entire blog, or just that one item public, and demand that the site take your item. The date is clear. It was published on your blog first.
Opening a private blog is easy and you pick a name for it, dress it up if you want, and use it as your storeroom. You post there, then on the site.
When you post on an ify site you post things that don’t mean much to you. It could be an observation on a current event, it could be a recipe, it could be anything that is not you doing two hours of research before writing.
As I’ve said before, don’t take that first payment as proof of anything. The biggest scams pay that first redemption, then no more.
Limit your writing.
Let us suppose the redemption is $5.00. You put in for $5.00. You don’t post again until you get the payment. When you get the payment you post again, and see what happens. If it seems that your hits are ‘stuck’ so that you sit at $2.34 for two days, don’t post again. The site is a rip. If you want to prove it, as I said before, you log onto the site as a visitor and read your work. That counts as a hit because if you live in India and are logging on through a proxy in Germany and if necessary, using some nick you just made up, and view your writing, that must be a hit.
If it doesn’t register, stop writing.
Don’t keep going and going like the energiser bunny expecting you’ll reach the pay out. No. You write again after you are paid, and then, only to reach the threshold.
Some sites are slow payers. You put in for a redemption in January, and the payment arrives in February. Okay. You’ve gotten paid, so write. Reach the threshold, put in, and stop. In this way, if you aren’t paid it is one payment, not five.
Often do a search ‘Sitename+Scam’.
Bubblews was flagged a year before it went down. How anyone could say; “They owed me $700 when Bubblews went down”, is a sign of shame. The most one could say is; “They owed me $50,” meaning it was only one redemption they were cheated out of.
The fact is, many people will create a site as a rip-off. They will get hundres of members. They will pay everyone that first time, getting thousands of members. And then, they stop paying this portion, then that portion.
They are making thousands of dollars off of Advertisements and paying hundreds, until such time, the complaints reach the ears of the advertisers.
Then, they close the site, take the money and run.
No, you can’t know if a site is legitimate.