I used freelance bidding sites a few times over the past 15 years. Freelance writing is a competitive, feast or famine career choice, and auction sites can look attractive during those “famine” periods. To be honest, I’ve never had much success with these types of sites. Sure, I’ve found work here and there. For me, freelance bidding sites aren’t the place to look for well-paying, long-term clients.
But this is just my experience. While I don’t recommend using these types of sites, I would recommend doing your research before signing up.
If you’re new to freelancing, I’ll explain what a freelance bidding site is and how they work.
There are sites such as Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and guru.com where you can bid on projects. You can search for them online as “freelance bidding sites,” “freelance marketplaces,” and “freelance auction sites.” All bidding sites require registration, and you’ll have to fill out a profile so potential clients can see information about you before considering your bid. After you sign up and fill in the necessary details, you can begin searching for and bidding on relevant projects. However, it’s not as cut and dry as all that. All auction sites have rules and protocols.
In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you should know before you sign up for a freelance bidding site. Again, this is all based on my personal experience with auction places. As with all websites available for freelancers, it’s best to do your due diligence before joining.
I don’t do well with bidding sites because I’m not willing to put in the time or lower my rates enough to land enough work to make it work. Hopefully, my experience can help you to make an informed decision, and understand how it all works.
Things to Know Before Using Freelance Bidding Sites
Be prepared to price yourself low
Even though I’m an experienced freelance writer, I have no success bidding with my usual rate. The only times I had landed clients via bidding sites was when I drastically lowered my rates – and I only did so because there was the potential for a lot more work with a better rate. There are plenty of freelancers who are willing to go low, real low. No matter how low you bid, there’s always someone who can go lower. Mind you; a low rate doesn’t guarantee a gig either. Clients look at ratings, experience, and other things.
Oh, and P.S., the bidding site may take a percentage of your earnings in payment. So if you do go low, keep that in mind – and make yourself aware of all terms up front. On the other hand, you’re not as likely to get stiffed. The client is required to pay the bidding site in advance so you won’t get stiffed for all your hard work.
Prior experience doesn’t matter – Ratings do
If you’re an experienced freelancer, you can’t enter into the bidding process thinking your experience will guarantee plenty of work. Clients who use bidding sites are less focused on outside experience as they are on the ratings you receive from your bidding site projects. Regardless of how well you did outside of those sites, it’s difficult for a beginner to find steady work there. Once you begin to land clients and they rate your projects, you’ll find more work. On the few occasions, I tried these places; I always left before getting to the “regular client” phase because I don’t have the patience. I did have a few one-off clients but not at the rate of pay or type of work I’d like to see on a regular basis.
One of the reasons freelance bidding sites are notorious for low paying gigs is because you’re competing with freelancers from around the globe. There’s a lower cost of living for someone in, say, India, than there is here in the U.S. The global market also has some bearing on the amount of competition you have when applying for jobs.
Avoid putting out money
There’s no reason to put out money to join or participate at an auction site. Some auction sites will recommend you pay to take tests to prove you know how to design or know how to write. You might also be encouraged to spend money, so your bids appear on top of the bidding pool (along with all the other people who paid for a better vantage point) or to add bells and whistles to your bids and bios. You should never have to pay anything to find work, even with freelance bidding sites.
Your time is better spent elsewhere
I don’t use freelance bidding sites because the low rates don’t make up for all the time spent. You have to invest a lot of time to find appropriate jobs, for example. Even though you’ll receive recommendations, the suggestions often fall short – and many times they’re wrong altogether. One place kept sending me to programming jobs even though there was nothing in my settings to suggest I wanted these types of jobs. There are so many jobs added to these sites each day that you’re spending the bulk of your time searching and bidding. Plus, for each job that looks attractive, you’ll want to research the client to make sure they’re not difficult to work with or request refunds all the time. Moreover, it can take a week for an auction to end, and more time after that for a client to make a decision. So unless you have a steady stream of work, you’re going to be doing a lot of waiting.
Many clients focus on cheap labor instead of quality work
When I tried bidding sites, I did so under the impression that my clients would appreciate my years of experience and command of the English language. I found they were more interested in getting a lot of work done for peanut wages in an unreasonable amount of time. That isn’t the case with everyone, but I found this especially to be true for those clients who needed bulk work.
Freelance bidding sites aren’t my cup of tea
I’ll be honest, here. I don’t use bidding sites because I’m not willing to put in the time or lower my rates. That doesn’t mean no one makes it work – some freelancers use these sites regularly. (I don’t know any or I’d share their experiences here.) Hopefully, my experience can help you to make an informed decision, and understand how it works.
If you’re a freelancer who knows how to make bidding sites work for you, we’d love to know your secret. Feel free to share in the comments here or on the social networks.