Bidding Sites for Freelance Writing: Is It Even Possible to Find Good Clients?

bidding sites for freelance writing
Is it worth the frustration of bidding for freelance jobs?
Image: Pixabay

Last week, you may remember that I covered a few bidding sites for freelance writing. The three main ones that I’ve come across are Freelancer.com, Elance and Guru. There used to be ODesk but that merged with Elance last year.

Bidding sites for freelance writing are on option for finding clients, quickly. At least, that’s the view. But is it really possible to find good clients on them?

I really think this depends on the bidding site, and the time you’re willing to put into them.

Take a Look Through Projects Carefully

I would recommend a new freelance writer looks through some of the projects on the site. You should have a minimum rate already in mind, and you may find projects that suit that minimum rate. Keep in mind that you’re unlikely to find projects that pay as well as finding your own private clients.

People posting projects on bidding sites for freelance writing are looking for the typical, “quick” SEO stuff. What does that mean? They’re looking for people to do minimal research and just churn out articles for a low price. There’s not much value in the content, and it’s design to just create a backlink or two to another site.

Is that something you really want to get involved in?

Building Up Your Portfolio

I used bidding sites for freelance writing when I was starting out. I did it has a way, along with content mills, to build a portfolio of content.

It’s important to check the terms of any project listing to find out if you can do this. Some clients will outright state that the work is not to be used in any way. This includes using it as samples. Others will give you permission to use as a sample.

You could do something similar to what I suggested yesterday with content mills. Take the content and write something on the same topics, using the research you’ve done. You can post that online under your own name to share as your own sample.

However, there are better ways at getting samples. You could find a business and offer one free piece of work in return for a byline and testimonial. A local charity could be a great business to get in touch with for this.

Is There an Escrow System?

bidding sites for freelance writing
What’s the risk of not getting paid on bidding sites for freelance writing?
Image: ThinkStock

There are a lot of negative points about some bidding sites for freelance writers. One of the main ones is the lack of payment after writers have completed the work. I’ve had it happen on Freelance.com, and others have too.

It’s important to check for an escrow system on any site that you choose to use. Make sure the client has to put the money for the project into the account from the start. That money is then released once you complete the project. It’s not a risk for either of you! If you don’t complete the project, the client can request that money back.

There’s also usually a dispute service when escrow payments are involved. These use an individual from the bidding site to determine who should get the money.

Taking Clients Off the Site

As you build up your trust with a client on bidding sites for freelance writing, you could consider taking the work off the site. Check the Terms and Conditions of any site first. You could find your account is banned by doing this.

There are more freedoms working outside of a bidding site. But there are also more risks. You need to make sure you’ve found a client who does pay for the work.

From my experience using bidding sites for freelance writing jobs, it isn’t possible to find great paying clients. However, it depends on your definition of great paying clients. It’s all relative!

What do you think about bidding sites for freelance writing jobs? Are they something you’d ever try, or are you like me and in the mind that they’re just not worth it?

Do you need a reminder about my reviews for the three main bidding sites? Here’s my weekly roundup from last week, which covers Freelancer.com, Elance and Guru.

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19 thoughts on “Bidding Sites for Freelance Writing: Is It Even Possible to Find Good Clients?

  1. When I first obtained writing clients, I didn’t use the bidding sites to gain access to them – mainly because I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t work with the clients off-site.

    I did then what I do now, I schmoozed my way into the good graces of wonderfully paying clients. Nothing works better than networking, IMHO and it works offline as well as on.

    Back then, I had a system called an “Open PO” which basically meant that they paid me $250 up front via purchase order. At that time, I wrote articles for $50 @ 500 words.

    Once the Freelance sites sprouted and writers began writing for $2 @ 500 words – I thought it would be harder to find new clients.

    That wasn’t the case – thank goodness, but I don’t need to freelance write any longer so all is well with the world. 🙂

    1. I’m glad to hear that the bidding sites and content mills didn’t cause problems for finding new clients, Bonnie. And I’m glad to hear you no longer need to freelance write. 🙂 Thanks for your insight.

  2. Yes, I agree it to bits. I have also faced the problems with payments a lot of times. Freelancer.com hasn’t worked very well for me. Haven’t got any work assignments from it yet. What all work I have done till now has been because of mouth marketing and email awareness.

    1. Be proud that your networking and email awareness is paying off 🙂 It’s great that you could go straight into working with private clients.

    1. If you have the time and the motivation right now, I’d seriously consider it. Feel free to browse through other topics on the blog to decide whether it’s something really for you.

  3. Alexandria,

    These sites seem so competitive. I went over to Guru the other day after reading your post and felt so intimidated. 🙂 There were pros this, degrees that, that it seemed as if I’d be buried by the competition.

    Is it hard to target specific people that you want to work for or do you just throw your hat in the pile. Seems as if you can’t be selective in what you choose to do, but then again, I’m not experienced with these sites.

    1. It is a really competitive business, and I’ve found Guru and Elance harder to get projects than Freelancer. But then the projects have been worth more, so it makes sense.

      The trick is to make yourself stand out from everyone else. It’s not necessarily about the degree, but the experience. Do you have writing samples that you can share when you post your project proposals? Something else that makes you stand out?

      I find I’m more successful when the projects are newer. Those that have been around for a couple of days get too many freelancers bidding, and the clients aren’t likely to go through all proposals; just those that are tried and tested freelancers on the site 🙂

  4. Great way to build up your portfolio when you are first starting out. Nice to hear from Bonnie that the bidding sites do not prevent the possibility of being able to earn more than $10 per article.

    Great write up Alexandria. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Victoria. Yes, I was happy to hear Bonnie’s comment about the sites not preventing the ability to earn more than $10 per piece.

  5. If I were freelancing through the sites you mention I probably wouldn’t have ever thought I’d not get paid. I’m sure there are security processes in place to ensure fairness but the risk is still there (more so if you work with private clients with whom you don’t have a relationship or payment agreement). These kinds of reviews open up your eyes to the potential risks as well as rewards. Thanks.

    1. It didn’t occur to me until the first time it happened. I tried Freelancer.com’s dispute system but they had a round about way of saying it wasn’t their fault and they weren’t going to do anything about it…yada yada…When I work with private clients, I make sure I get 50% up front and the rest upon completion. Those who are willing to pay 50% upfront aren’t likely to go running off with the rest of it.

    1. I hear you! It is a ridiculously low rate, especially in the developed world. In the developing world though, it works out quite well I think.

  6. This is helpful information for anyone wanting to go this route or for someone who is having trouble finding clients. I totally understand how these sites can be beneficial for writer and buyer though.

    1. Thanks, Crystal. I think the sites can also help people develop their marketing skills to branch out on their own. We all have to start somewhere. 🙂

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