Many new freelancers are advised to use job bidding websites such as Elance, oDesk and Guru to secure clients. While this advice could be beneficial, it is not always the best choice. Using these websites has a number of pros and cons.
New freelancers should examine all the possible outcomes before moving forward. The following is a list of the most common pros and cons:
- Get your first clients: If you’re a new freelancer, job bidding sites are a good place to find clients. After all, you can go straight to the client and don’t have to wait for clients to find you. No marketing knowledge is necessary. All you need is a complete profile and a well-written bid. Once jobs are completed, collect positive testimonials and use them to help build your professional reputation.
- Build a portfolio: Those in creative fields can use work completed on job bidding sites to build a portfolio which can be used to attract future clients.
- Secure payment: Job bidding websites have systems in place to guarantee users get paid for the hours they work. This removes one of the biggest stressors freelancers face.
- Extra money: Job bidding websites are good places to earn extra money which can be used to supplement income when your main freelancing business is slow.
- Career stopgap: People in-between jobs or those switching careers can use the jobs they do on job bidding websites to gain experience and keep their resumes up-to-date.
- Foreign competition: Job bidding websites accept users from around the world. This means American and Canadian workers are competing against those working in third-world countries. Foreign workers generally are able to accept a much lower wage than North American workers. Their lower bids are attractive to clients who make their decision based on bid price alone.
- Not enough work: Although job postings often mention the number of hours per week a freelancer would be working, these are rarely accurate. Freelancers should expect one fourth to a half of the hours listed. They also should expect to repeatedly have to ask for new assignments. No one likes to have to beg for work, but that’s usually the situation.
- Not getting paid what you’re worth: Because of foreign competition and also because freelancers are independent contractors, the majority of clients prefer to pay less than minimum wage. A smart freelancer knows how to weed through these posts but it takes time and practice.
- Difficult securing clients: Securing clients on job bidding sites is as difficult, perhaps more so, than finding a traditional job. Part of it is clients’ resistance to pay a living wage, but the even larger problem is that the vast majority of jobs posted on job bidding sites are never filled. Also, freelancers should expect that the majority of the clients who contact them will never be heard from again. A very small percentage of bids will turn into a job.
- Red flags: Job bidding sites are full of scams and unscrupulous clients. It takes time for a freelancer to learn to spot these postings. Some red flags include clients requesting unpaid samples, those requiring you must be available to answer their emails or phone calls immediately, and clients who are unclear about what their project entails.
What has your experience been with job bidding sites?