Freelance bid sites. I’m not going to name names, but if you have been hunting for writing jobs online, you have likely run into these sites at least occasionally. The set-up is simple: these sites allow employers to come in and post jobs. Then they graciously permit writers to come in and place “bids” on these projects. In the end, the employer gets to pick a writer to work on the project.

These sites, run like ebay auctions, are a bit controversial in the writing world. Some writers make money by bidding on and completing projects while others hate these sites. I have to admit I shudder whenever freelance bid sites are even mentioned. And it’s not because I don’t know what I’m talking about – I have tried these sites and have watched with a sinking feeling as the cost of a project dropped lower and lower and lower, so that the writer eventually being “awarded” the project was paid peanuts for his or her work. Bleah.

The problem with these sites is that they skew power so much in favor of the employer. Few sites, for example, will take disciplinary action against an employer who does not pay, because it is the employers who are bringing in the money. Plus, the entire set up of these sites is, to my mind, somewhat insulting. These projects are doled out and writers must scramble to bid on them so that one lucky writer can be “awarded” the project (after pushing the writing rate through the floor). If you live in North America, you are generally competing with writers from places with much lower living costs, so you will be outbid virtually every time. It’s not a great way to boost your confidence or your sense of self-worth.

Plus, you have no control over setting your rates since other writers are on the site with lower bids. This takes away your bargaining power  to negotiate for better rates. Sure, you are competing with other writers (and their rates) when you apply for a job, but in that situation the employer is not given a set up that expressly encourages him or her to look at the bottom line and compare writers primarily by how inexpensive they are. Freelance bid sites seem designed to make employers think that writers are virtually dispensable — “I can always go back to that site and get another, cheaper writer.” That doesn’t encourage anyone to take writers seriously. You don’t see attorneys scrambling to offer their clients the lowest rates. And sure, you might compare a few contractors if you want to renovate your home, but you have to do the footwork. You’re not encouraged to go with the cheapest contractor online.

The way I see it (and you are free to disagree) is that these sites devalue writing, suggesting that writers are a dime a dozen and can even be made to fight each other over a few low-paying gigs. A number of these sites even charge you money to allow you to place bids, which just heaps insult on injury.  

At some point, every writer wanting to make cash has to decide whether or not to try one of these sites. If you decide to give these a try, research carefully what your rights are if you are not paid and at least select a site that does not charge you fees. Bid on a few projects while continuing to find jobs in other ways and please be careful out there.

 

1) http://working.canada.com/atlantic/index.html — Another general job board for Canadians.

 

2) http://www.classefind.com/search_category.php?cat=50 – This site allows you to search classified job ads across Canada.

 

3) http://www.jobrapido.co.uk/ — A general UK job search site, usually featuring a good range of writing jobs.

 

4) http://www.abanet.org/hr/ — The American Bar Association sometimes has a need for editors, reporters, and marketers.

 

5) http://www.apa.org/jobs/homepage.html –The American Psychological Association regularly posts editor jobs on their web site.

 

6) http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/about.html — Arcadia publishing sometimes lists jobs opportunities and always has internships available.

 

7) http://www.augsburgfortress.org/company/employ.jsp — Augsburg Fortress has internships and job opportunities for writers and marketing professionals.

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