If you’re a freelancer, chances are you’ve heard of freelance bidding sites. To name a few: oDesk, Elance, Guru, 99Designs, and even Craigslist. In a nutshell these type of sites connect client projects to freelancers. You set up an account and bid on or apply to the projects that appeal to you most. There are a plethora of different projects to choose from, making the concept very appealing for many freelance designers, developers, writers, and more.
Of course these sites seem pretty great, but in reality, they will only hinder your freelance business – especially for those just getting started.
These sites may appear to offer a lot of potential work, but unfortunately it’s a market driven by price – with freelancers competing for who can offer the cheapest service, rather than the best.
My intent is not to lead you away from these sites, but to share with you my personal experience, and that there are far better things you should spend your time on.
If you’re just getting started or are a seasonal freelancer, these job bidding sites may work well for you. However, if you plan on growing a successful freelance business, then avoid bidding sites and pay attention to what I have to share in this post.
Should freelancers use bidding sites?
I get it – it’s hard to build that initial client base when you’re getting started. And if work is slow, why not turn to a marketplace full of potential work?
When I started my freelance business before graduating high school, I bounced around a few of these sites, setting up my account and bidding on project after project.
After completing my first project I felt great! I made a little bit of money in a short amount of time, so now I just had to stick with it and turn this into steady income!
Oh was I wrong.
By spending so much time on these bidding sites, I was ultimately hindering my freelance business.
I was wasting too much time finding the right site, setting up an account and reaching “100%”, verifying my bank account, taking “skill” tests to prove my experience, trying to obtain good reviews, and the list could go on. It’s kind of ridiculous how these sites almost force you to spend so much time on them in order to “better” your chances at landing projects.
Of course these sites also take a percentage of everything you earn, but that’s not even the worst part. In the end, these “clients” aren’t even your clients. They’re customers to the site – prospects that know these sites are overpopulated with new and unqualified freelancers looking to underbid each other.
So, should freelancers use bidding sites? Absolutely not!
Any real client worth having should hire you based on your past work and the value you have to offer; not based on the lowest bid they receive. If you run your business efficiently, you should have no issues with finding real clients, getting referrals, and getting paid what you’re worth.
What successful freelancers do instead with their time
If you insist on using bidding sites, I at least advise you to try and limit your time there so you can focus on building a real platform for yourself and your freelance business.
You’re not a commodity, but a solution to your client’s problems. The sooner you start building and promoting your freelance business, the sooner clients will be knocking at your door looking to pay what you’re worth. If you keep going back to those bidding sites looking for poor quality work, you’ll fall into a rut, always depending on a intermediary. You should be driving your own sales, earning your own income, and growing real client relationships as any real business should.
Running a successful freelance business isn’t just about landing as many projects as possible. Rather, it’s about landing the right type of projects – the type of projects you can get that allow you to reach your goals and actually grow your freelance business.
If you can start marketing your freelance business sooner – the better! Marketing benefits your freelance brand, and you don’t want to miss out on the possible opportunities it will generate. Not only will your marketing efforts lead to new client work, but what you may do today could be what brings in a new freelance project that lasts for years.
Find what works best for you, what you like to do, and what yields the best results; and whatever it is, do it regularly, efficiently, and always keep your business standards.
So, would you rather spend hours bidding for numerous low compensating projects, or actually build a successful freelance business of your own that you can be proud of?
I want to hear from you
What’s your take on freelance bidding sites? Do you disagree and think they are a wonderful thing for freelancers?
Share your experience and thoughts in the comments below!