Are Bidding Websites Good for Freelancers to Use?

Is “bid” a dirty word? If so, no one told me until I had already started the dirty task of bidding. Now, people ask me all the time: Are those bidding websites (e.g., oDesk, Project4Hire and Elance) legit?

Seasoned writers often look down their noses at me and say in a snarky tone, “You bid on jobs?” And writers who are just getting started ask me if these sites are scams.

Yes, they are legit. Yes, I bid. And no, there is no scam. In this post, I’ll share my reasons for liking bidding sites.

A Common Objection to Bidding Sites

Let’s start out with a common objection to bidding sites.

But don’t they take some of your money? Yes. They do. And don’t I have to compete with providers from all over the world who are able and willing to work for less? Yes. I do.

I have still managed to earn thousands of dollars from jobs I’ve found through these sites.

Would I have made thousands of dollars without them? Maybe. Lots of freelancers are successful without bidding on jobs. I certainly have many clients whom I have found outside of these sites who pay me lots of money to write for them.

Why I Bother to Bid

So why do I bother with bidding on projects? For many reasons:

  • To me, the convenience is worth the cost. When I am low on work, job searching becomes fast and efficient via these sites.
  • I love not having to send my CV all over the universe. I have a profile built within these sites, complete with my education, experience, employers, and samples of work. So, I don’t have to send that information over and over and over and over…
  • These sites afford me some privacy. People are able to check me out and offer me work without ever knowing any of my personal information. Some freelancers don’t even use their names. (I’ve always wanted to be known as Spiderwoman.)
  • These sites allow potential employers to find me based on search terms. For example, I specialize in Christian writing, so if someone is searching for a Christian article writer, he or she could search for “Christian writer” and find me, a heck-of-a-lot faster than if he or she tried to find me through Google alone. I love it when I hear that someone found me by searching for a specific niche. Similarly, if someone needed a WordPress expert, or a Viral Marketing genius, he or she could type in those search terms and stumble onto the perfect provider. Again, much faster than Google.
  • The tests. Okay, this will prove my total dorkdom once and for all, but I am grateful for skill tests. These tests prevent me from having to prove my skills over and over to new employers. Just because I am a grammar nerd does not mean that I want to take grammar tests for the rest of my life. I take one test on each site and then I’m done. Potential employers can check out my score and determine whether or not I’m smart enough to hire.
  • What really matters is, of course, the money. In one way or another, these sites guarantee payment. Some employ an escrow account, and I don’t even start work until I see that the money is in the bank. Others require a credit card from an employer, and guarantee payment if freelancers log hours through their site. Invoicing is usually done within the systems, and payments just seem to happen. If you’ve ever been stiffed for a job, then you can imagine what a comfort this must be. Or, maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but I’m still waiting for some payments from 2005–they should be here any day now.

More Objections to Bidding Sites Rebutted

Seasoned freelancers often tell me that they don’t use bidding sites because “bidding on jobs degrades the integrity of the profession.” While this might be true, I’m not going to walk up to a construction contractor and tell him or her that he or she is degrading the integrity of his or her profession. I am afraid that bidding on jobs might be a reality of our current world.

I also hear this one a lot too: “Employers who go through these sites are looking for cheap work, not quality work.” While this may be true some of the time, it is certainly not the rule. Via these sites, I have worked with dozens of upstanding clients who have paid me a fair wage, and appreciated my expertise.

Don’t Be Afraid to Bid

My intent here is not to sell you on these sites. In fact, if you choose not to use their services, then it might be better for me.

I just wanted to set the record straight once and for all. I want to defend myself, and I want to prevent other beginning freelancers from fearing these opportunities.

These sites can be a valuable resource for freelancers who find the services worth the cost. Whether or not freelancers need to use these sites, whether or not they choose to, they should at least not reprimand those of us who do “bid.”

What About You?

Do you use bidding sites to find jobs? Share your experiences in the comments.