After a couple of months, I was spending more time on these websites than doing what a writer is supposed to do: write, promote and network.
Even though I only bid on projects I was suited for, I wasn't getting jobs and it was time to figure out why:
-First, the competition is tough: I was competing with 2,412 other “French experts” registered on Elance.
-Second, the competition is unbalanced: Individual freelancers have to compete against group of 5 to 10 freelancers (sometimes more) working together, and sometimes you're even bidding against entire companies.
-Third, location really does matter: Freelancers living in developing countries are working for lower wages than others. How can a freelance writer living in Switzerland compete against one in China or India?
-Fourth, the figures speak for themselves: For instance, Elance states that on June 8, 2010, its 2,412 French experts have earned $38,714.00 from projects completed in the last 6 months. That means if you are one of them, you have earned $16 in half a year. Worth the time and effort? Maybe not.
Anyhow, I have learned my lesson and I am going back to basics:
1- I spend limited time on bidding websites for freelancers (less than half an hour per week).
2- I am registered with only two of them: Elance.com for the English speaking market and Codeur.com for the French one.
3- I spend much more time on my own writing projects.
Bidding websites for freelancers might be useful for a beginning writer, but they should not be your only point of entry into the market.
What is your opinion of bidding websites?
Veronique is a French expat writer. She launched her portable career in 2009 when she founded Writer Forever. She is an experienced expat and has spent 10 years of living outside France (Norway, Sri Lanka and now the U.S.). She blogs at Expat Forever.