Odesk was my very first introduction to the world of freelance writing. Lured by the promise of being able to make “easy” money through freelance writing anywhere in the world, I quickly jumped headfirst into building a profile and applying for jobs. However, after only a couple of months of working, I began to develop negative feelings towards the entire freelance bidding system.
What’s a bid site?
Many freelance writers make their living on bid sites such as Odesk, Elance and Freelancer. As opposed to having to search for and pitch clients, bid sites harness the power of crowd sourcing in providing a sort of one stop shop both for those looking for freelance jobs or those looking for freelance workers. On the bid sites, an employer posts a job and freelancers are allowed to send in an application for that job.
However, there are many issues that come up for those who use bid sites. Here are the ones that tick me off the most:
5 Reasons Why I hate Bid Sites Like Odesk and Elance
It’s ridiculously difficult to find decent paying jobs
One of my biggest issues with freelance bid sites is the lack of decent paying jobs on offer. From a cursory look at the biggest bid sites, the vast majority of the freelance writing jobs are paid at 1 cent per word or less – far below the Editorial Freelance Association average rate of 20 cents per word for non-specified writing. While on occasion there are jobs that offer a livable wage, these are so rare that many freelancers can spend weeks scouring the offerings and not find a decent paying job that suits them.
A warped reality of freelance writing rates
People who frequent these bid sites often begin to gain a warped reality of the rates offered within the freelance writing marketplace. You’ll find many writers truly believing that the “going rates” for good freelance writing is 1 cent per word, when in reality there are many freelance writing gigs that pay far more than these low-balling rates. Even worse, these freelancers then tell OTHER freelancers that they shouldn’t expect more, continuing the “low pay” mentality. The truth is, the rates offered by many clients outside of the bid sites are far higher than those who use those bid sites to find cheap labour, although they’ll never let you know that fun little fact.
Too many restrictions
Many of the bid sites have certain restrictions that limit you from achieving your optimal earnings potential. For example on Elance the free account is limited to 20 bids per month and you can only submit bids in one particular area. If you decide that you want to change your area of expertise, then you have to wait a month to be eligible to apply for jobs in another area. While not all bid sites are as limited as Elance, the restrictions placed on those who use bid sites make it a lot more difficult to make a decent wage.
Too much competition
The fact that almost anyone can qualify to compete for one of the listed gigs means that there is often a huge amount of competition for each job. Some gigs have 50, 80, and even 100 applicants fighting for the same job as you. Sometimes, those who’re offering the gigs may be so overwhelmed that they simply cannot go through all of the applicants listed, or simply go through the first few applicants. This means that not only do you lose out, but the person offering the job may also get warped view of the level of quality that freelance writers offer.
Clients are difficult to work with
I’ve found that clients on bid sites are among the most difficult to work with. One of my most memorable experiences was with one client that wrote me a letter spelling out how horrible my article was. When I politely told her that I would be leaving the team, she told me that I was one of their best writers! Many of the clients are looking only for cheap work and make demands which are totally unreasonable for the price that they are offering. However, they get away with it because of the fact that there are enough good writers who are willing to meet their requirements and pay.
While bid sites do offer genuine advantages for many freelancers, the truth is that successfully getting a steady stream of decent paying jobs from these sites is often difficult to maintain. While these types of sites can prove to be very useful for those who may need some quick work, or those who’re willing to search for the decent paying jobs, for many people it simply isn’t worth it.
Do you have a long term bid site success story? Or are you like me and have a seething hatred for bid sites? Let me know in the comments section below.
“Disclaimer – I fully appreciate that bid sites like Odesk and Elance serve an integral part of the freelance market. Many freelance writers such as myself started out their careers on these sites. There are some that do make a decent living from these sites. That, however, doesn’t make me hate them any less.”