There are tons of bidding sites out there for freelancers, but probably the most commonly used site is Elance. Elance isn’t just for writers – it is also for programmers, photographers, virtual assistants, and more. I know many writers that use this site successfully. I also know writers who want nothing to do with the site.
I personally do use Elance, and have had generally good experiences. The bad experiences I have had were not really Elance’s fault; they were due to bad clients, and you get that anywhere, not just with bidding sites. So why do some people hate it?
The biggest con people talk about is the low pay. When you participate on a bidding site, you’re competing with other writers – many based in foreign countries where pay expectation is not as high – to get the job, and the client picks the person with the best pitch. I’m not going to lie – price is a big factor to the majority of clients. However, I’ve found that if you’re willing to bid on a number of project and shift through the crap, you can find people who aren’t primarily concerned with price. They want quality too.
I can’t argue that it’s easy to get started on Elance. My recommendation is to look for a project that you’re EXTREMELY qualified to write. Usually, this will be a job that is very niche-specific. Upload a ton of samples of your work and offer free revisions, should they need them. Don’t be afraid to really sell yourself.
Elance is a lot of pressure, because one bad client can give you an unfair rating, which makes your entire rating drop drastically. Yes, you can respond, but most potential clients don’t look at the whole picture – they just glance at the numerical value of your rating. So, with Elance, every i has to be dotted and t has to be crossed. I’m sure you do that anyway, but you have to be SUPER careful with a project on Elance.
Once you build up a good rating with just a few projects, you don’t have to necessarily bid really low to get a project. Yes, there will be some people who will always hire the $1 per article writers from other countries, but there are also plenty of clients who will hire the best writer for the job, even if the price is a bit higher. These clients tend to expect a lot, but are also extremely loyal. When you work through Elance escrow, you also never have to worry about them disappearing and not paying your for your work.
Though I do have to caution you that Elance takes a chunk. A big chunk. Every time you get paid, there’s a bite out of your money, even if you have a professiona (ie, not free) subscription. The good news is that you can get your money directly deposited into your bank account, though they also have a paypal option. Keep in mind, though, that paypal takes its own chunks out of your money.
So, let’s sum it up:
The Pros of Elance:
- You can test it out for free and monthly subscriptions are very affordable.
- It’s a place to find long-term clients.
- You can use the escrow service to you don’t have to worry about getting paid.
- There are plenty of high-paying jobs to be had.
- You can deposit the money directly into your bank account (or use PayPal).
The Cons of Elance:
- One bad, unfair rating can make it hard to get future work from others.
- They take a huge percentage of your earnings, so you have to account for that in your bid.
- You have to shift through a lot of jobs where clients will only hire people with VERY low bids.
Overall, I think that Elance and other bidding sites are at leat worth a shot. Through this site, I’ve found at least 5 long-term high-playing jobs, as well as a number of repeat clients.
Do you use bidding sites? Why or why not? Share your experiences with a comment!
Image via Elance.com.