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What are bid-for-work sites

I’m sure most of you know what type of websites I am talking about but for the uninitiated or those who have always found work without having to resort to them I’ll precis what they are.

Bid-for-work sites or ‘bidfer’ sites are businesses who set up a web presence offering companies looking to outsource work to advertise projects on the site, for freelancers to bid for the projects and on completion facilitate the payment for which they take a percentage.

There are quite a few of these companies out there probably the most recognisable names being Freelancer, Elance, oDesk, People-Per-Hour, vWorker and probably some I am totally unaware of.

I am not in any way saying these companies are not genuine or that the concept is not a real attempt at providing a quality service; unfortunately a number of them have developed into breeding grounds for companies to prey on the vulnerable which has led to a major devaluing of the written word.  I can only speak for the writing sector of these sites I have not delved anywhere else other than selling on Ebay but that is a story for another day.

My time with the freelance sites

Of course on the back of these websites the real scammers have moved in enticing people to join fictitious Bid-for-work sites for payment, I know I’ve been there.

Yet again the vulnerable and naive are being given another arena to be exploited by the unscrupulous and evil.  Well now that’s off my chest let’s move on.

I have worked personally through Freelancer and Elance; I did register with a site, People-Per-Hour, but I was never successful with a bid on a project there so I let it drift.

I discovered them via a UK website ‘Money Saving Expert‘ run by Martin Lewis who has become legendary in his own lifetime as a battler for the rights of the consumer in the UK; anything to do with saving or earning the consumer a ‘£’, sorry for those state side I don’t think he does it for the $, can be found on the site, including working from home.

Having followed the links I signed up at Freelancer and on searching through all the different job sectors found that writing was probably one of the few skill crossovers I had in my experience.  So without further ado in I dove.

The rat race

I think it’s at this point, and I make no excuses it was all new to me, that you lose focus of where you are or what you are trying to achieve.  You get drawn into the bidding rat race.  Freelancer allows you 30+ bids a month before you have to pay so is probably one of the most generous ‘bidfer’ sites.  Personally I was in a bad place in my life and could see my job disappearing rapidly.

There are a lot of projects posted on Freelancer for writing jobs, some are excellently worded and very professional some are the complete opposite.  The inherent theme of the poorly written or unreasonably recompensed seems to be “quality researched articles”; these are usually required in a time frame only possible if you are friendly with Doc Brown from ‘Back to the Future’.

You will see phrases like; –

  • “must be able to deliver 3 or 5 or even 10 quality articles a day,” or
  • “‘Must’ 24hrs deadlines or no pay MIN capability to handle 4 x 500 or 2000 words in 24hrs” this for $2 for 500 words, or
  • “write, submit 450 word articles – Need you to write 15 articles at least 400 words and submit them ezinearticles.com” pay $2 an article and only if Ezinearticles accept them.
For a good one go to

Not only does he pay $1 for 500 words there are no milestones paid which he justifies on the grounds of his reviews, both of them, with an average of 4.4 out of 5.

I could write a book on these projects but I digress, I now find them humorous to read especially when they take such an authoritarian voice.

My work day

But I digress, when you first start on these sites you get drawn in;

  • you start off by searching the writing jobs in areas where you feel you have the best chance of gleaning some work
  • you then spend hours looking through every job posting
  • you then find one you want to bid on and end up undercutting an already poor price
  • you then find yourself looking at other people’s bids and find them undercutting your poor bid
  • then if you are extremely lucky the bidding closes and your bid is not accepted, yes I said not
  • if you are lucky, you win the project, write the articles, receive the payment and wonder why you have just worked for less $’s than you give your children for pocket-money.  But you won a project!
  • if you are unlucky the project owner never bothers with the job again; whether they’ve outsourced it somewhere else or just lost interest you never know because eventually it just gets closed down by Freelancer and your bid disappears and no one says why.
The move to Elance
I moved to Elance at the suggestion of one of my employers and found it was better.  The writing seemed to attract a bit more money and the projects generally were on the whole reasonable.  The only negative there other than what my newly acquired knowledge tells me about the rates was that you only had 10 bids a month or you had to pay to upgrade for more bids.
I also found with Elance that when projects passed their closing date but were never awarded just sat there and sat there using up your bids.  I queried this with Elance who in a nutshell suggested that you needed to check the feedback left on the project poster previously before bidding; but when so many project posters were new to the website that was practically impossible to do.

I agree with Monica’s comments in the Linkedin group ‘Freelance Web Writers’ discussion topic( linked below) the standards are dropping and more and more of the type of poorer projects are appearing within their website.  I had also noticed a marked increase in jobs coming from Elance whether this was because of the posting of poorer quality projects or not I don’t know.

Summing up

I found that I spent more time looking through job offers and creating bids than I ever did writing, it just sucks you in.  I wrote for some nice people, some who paid me reasonably some who didn’t.  What they have given me though is experience especially in SEO and I have learnt about many different subjects some of which I would not own up to.

I, despite the experience and knowledge I have gained from being a member on these sites, will also be pulling the plug on them soon.

I stress again this is not about the companies per-se but those nasty people who use them to exploit others; whether they could be better policed, I know not, maybe the subject for another blog.  I did mention to one client that I wanted to move from spinning and re-writing articles to writing articles when asked what rate I would charge for 500 words, I said $7.50, the reply was “You’ll never get that much on this site”.

Below is a link for an excellent discussion started by Anita on working through these types of sites with some good information and insights.