If you’re just stepping in, you can gather the first part of this here. Moving on.
I’m on the site as an editor and writer, so the kinds of jobs I bid on are blog posts, copywriting, product reviews, and research tasks. The coolest jobs are the rewrites, where you’re given a story and told to redo it using your own words. They’re pretty easy, but they usually come on batches of ten, and after doing the same thing four times, your brain becomes jaded. It’s hard not to make the tenth article much worse than the first.
You can improve your chances of winning bids by paying the $20 fee to become a gold member. You pay it once a month, and it increases your shots at getting business. You can also choose your jobs carefully so that your toiling is worth it. For example, some jobs offer $30 to do four reviews, while others pay $30 for 25 articles. the word count and complexity vary, but 4 vs 25 … do the math. I’ve seen jobs for as much as $2500, but these are usually longterm jobs spanning several months, while the $30 jobs are for two or three days.
Some tasks are really hard. Yesterday I did 6 blogs in 3 hours and earned just $6, then did 10 rewrites in 4 hours and was paid $10. It’s hard not to pluck out your hair sometimes. But I have a good strategy, I’m pretty well organised, and I love to write, so I look at the words and think hmm, not bad. It helps that I love this work enough to do it for free. As a professional writer, it seems dumb to be writing critiques on the coolness of Nokia, just to be paid in pennies, but the pennies add up, and you’d be surprised how much fun you can have poking fun at the torch on a China phone.
I started by saying Kenyans on Freelancer, because I’ve seen lots of Kenyan flags there. When you register on the site, it uses your IP to figure out where you are, and then every time you bid, a little flag sits next to your name to tell people where you’re from. It helps because some clients like workers from specific countries. It could be primal loyalty, or it could be the ability to bid $30, who knows. But I’ve nosed around the Kenyan profiles, and they’re winning quite a few bids, so I think we’re making a name for ourselves.
Freelancer isn’t just for writers. There are thousands of jobs for IT people, architects, designers, anyone really. And it’s really easy to register. Just get on the site, key in your email, choose a good user name, and start your work. Choosing a user name can be hard because the common ones are taken, but you can go with your initials, your first and last names, your childhood nickname, or a description of what you do. You might want to avoid things like Bigbrotherdownstairs or Sexyxyz unless you’re bidding for jobs as an adult worker. If the name you choose is taken, the page will keep refreshing until you get a free name, in which case you could go with Susan365 or something like that.
Word of warning: some people on the site use it to subcontract. They’ve been on GAF for longer and they have more reviews, so they apply for jobs, win, then pimp the jobs to new workers at a fraction of the price. You won’t realise this is happening unless you’re curious, nosy, or have a lot of time on your hands, and they generally target n00bs who don’t know any better. On one hand, you get jobs that you may not have access to because you lack reviews, but on the other hand, why give someone credit for your skill?
Some workers bid online then subcontract the work offline, which is okay. But when you’re all working on the site, nobody cares if your green, pink or yellow. You know each other by user names, and you can’t even tell one’s sex. So the playing ground is equal. You should try your luck and bid, not piggy back off others.
One way to avoid the ride is to sniff around a little. When someone posts a job, look at their profile to see if they’ve just won a bid on the same job elsewhere. A person may bid $30 then offer you the same job for $15. Also, if you possibly can, avoid getting jobs from people in your industry. For example, as a writer, I try to bid on jobs posted by the IT crowd. If I bid on work from a writer, it’s possible she’s being paid for the same job somewhere else.
Another important thing is don’t do too much work for a client who hasn’t awarded you a bid. They may say they’re trial exercises, but it’s possible they’re using your work for free. Writing one or two sample articles is reasonable as part of a bid, but when you’re doing a few days worth of work, and the employer isn’t proving that they plan to pay, it’s time to get worried.
I haven’t been on the site very long and I’m far from the $100 mark – it takes time to get known. When I lost my first bid, I ignored the site for ten days. I decided I just couldn’t hack it. But then I came back, made a new bid, and landed my first job in minutes! The client said he picked me because he liked my English.
I was lucky – I lost only three bids before I won my first one. I’ve won a couple more, but I still lose bids daily, and it can get depsyching. But I pick my own hours and choose jobs and clients. I can do some work offline, and still bring in food for my baby. All at the cost of a month’s fee at Zuku. If you ask me, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through www.threeceebee.com.