How One Writer Ditched Crappy Bid Sites for Better Writing Jobs

How to Ditch Bid Sites for Better Writing Jobs. Makealivingwriting.comAre you sick of slaving away on bid sites for anonymous clients, no bylines, barely making any money? Wondering if better writing jobs are even out there?

If you’re feeling stuck and think your goal for freelance success is just a fool’s game, you’re not alone.

Believe me, I know what it’s like.

I worked my tail off on bid sites for $1 per 500-word article my first year of freelancing. You read that right…One…Measly…Dollar…Per…Article. I earned a whopping $2K for the whole year.

The crazy thing: I thought I was doing well. In reality, I was clueless.

So if you think bid sites are your ticket for freelance success, please, for the love of all that is Holy, get that idea out of your head.

Want to learn how to ditch bidding sites for better paying writing jobs? Here’s how:

Recognize that groveling gets you nowhere

There’s a dark side to bid sites for freelancers in search of writing jobs. Lots of clients are casting lines on bid sites hoping to catch you and reel you in.

If you’re an eager freelancer, you might fall for it, hook, line, and sinker.

Bid sites talk a good game and promise ample opportunity. But they’re not as quick to tell you that you’d have to work a million hours just to pay your electric bill.

Here’s an example of a typical bid site project:

Ditch Bid Sites for Better Writing Jobs

A rush job for a couple 500-word blog posts…with less than 24-hour turn-around time…for a whopping $20 to $30.

It’s the kind of garbage writing jobs most bid sites offer. If you’re groveling on bid sites for more work just to make ends meet, recognize it’s a dead end.

Beware of the vacuum effect

I’ve been freelancing for five years and began with bidding sites. So, I get it. When you’re new to freelancing, it’s easy to latch on to the first place that promises to pay you for writing.

Here’s the problem: Most bid sites and writing websites aren’t going to help you move up and earn more. In fact, they’re more often a time suck that requires you to:

  • Set up a profile
  • Build a portfolio of work
  • Complete a probationary period to reduce fees you pay per gig
  • Get client comments and feedback
  • Earn points to rank higher than other freelancers
  • Compete against a global workforce with many writers willing to write for cheap

Invest that much up-front time in a bidding site, and it’s easy to get sucked in. Before you know it, you’re giving away your time, expertise, and bylines for pennies. Once a bid site sucks you in, and you make a little money, it’s easy to find yourself coming back for more…and it’s not worth it.

6 steps to break free from bid sites

So how do you break free from bid sites and find freelance writing jobs that pay pro rates?

It’s not as hard as you might think. Wait, what?

If you depend on extra income from your bid-site writing jobs, you’re probably wondering how that’s possible. I know I sure did. (To be completely honest, I still work a couple of bid-site gigs, but I’m preparing for a complete exodus in 2019.)

If you really want to break free, you need to change the way you look for writing jobs. Here’s how:

  1. Stop sifting through bid sites and job boards hoping to find a cash-cow client, well-paying writing jobs, or the Holy Grail of gigs. Go on a bid site and job board fast. And follow the next steps to find better clients.
  2. Define your niche. Pick an industry you want to write about or one you already know something about. You’ll ramp up your freelance writing career faster and be more appealing to prospects when you’re the writer for their industry.
  3. Find prospects in your niche including businesses, magazines, trade publications, websites, and agencies. Study the sites and publications, and get contact info for editors and marketing directors.
  4. Send query letters and letters of introduction to land story assignments or copywriting gigs. Pitch and keep on pitching until you’re fully booked.
  5. Set a process goal for pitching. You’re can’t control assignments or rejections, but you can control the number of pitches you send out. For example: Set a process goal to send out three query letters or LOIs per day. That’s 21 week, 84 a month.
  6. Keep going. You’ll get some rejections, sure, but it’s a numbers game that comes with the territory. Eventually rejections will start yielding opportunities…better-paying opportunities (as in blogging that pays $100 to $500 per post, magazine assignments that pay $1 per word, and copywriting gigs that pay $1,000-plus for case studies and white papers) The more ‘no’ responses you receive, the closer you’ll be a ‘yes’.

That’s how you ditch bidding sites for better paying writing jobs. You with me in 2019? Let’s do this.

Are you ready to ditch bid sites for better writing jobs? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss.

Beth Casey is a B2B writer living in Maine. She writes about business, digital marketing, health, and technology

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23 comments on “How One Writer Ditched Crappy Bid Sites for Better Writing Jobs
  1. Nicholas says:

    I am encouraged by this post to ditch biding sites and source for real freelance writing job.

    • Beth Casey says:

      Hi Nicholas,

      I’m so glad to hear that. As writers, all the work we put into writing a piece including research, drafting, editing, and etc., it’s worth far more to the client than what most bid sites are offering. I received an email from one the other day offering me $10 for a 1,000-word piece. Seriously? I don’t think so. Best wishes on your writing journey, and remember to keep on pitching and you’ll get there. 😉

  2. Shubham says:

    Very good article with very useful information. I also got stuck in the bidding sites and burned out. I needed to find a way to get paid what I’m worth.
    Thanks
    Shubhamgarg

    • Beth Casey says:

      Thanks, Shubham. It’s easy to get burned out on bidding sites and content mills. After all, as freelancers, we are trying to make a living with our writing and low-paying gigs are holding us back. Best wishes on your journey to freelance success!

  3. Terry Schwinghammer says:

    This is funny. I was already turned down by a bid site. And it was posted on JournalismJobs.com!

    • Beth Casey says:

      Hi Terry,

      I did a quick check on the site Journalism Jobs and here’s what I found – not much. The website states that it began by former Washington Post copy editor, Dan Rohn. However, I can’t seem to find a copy editor or any info in a basic web search or LinkedIn search for ‘Dan’. That seems odd to me. He should be out there somewhere. So, if it were me, I would be very wary/cautious about using this website. I’m not suggesting that it’s a mill or anything. It could be perfectly legit, but it sends a big, fat, red flag to me that I can’t find the founder anywhere in a basic search.

  4. Hello Beth,

    This is a practical post a new freelance writer must read. It’s difficult for a new freelance writer who’s looking for jobs.

    The illusion is that there’s plenty of jobs on bid sites. The problem is that these sites encourage low pay rather than high quality work.

    A freelance writer who wants to improve their work should stay away from these sites.

    • Beth Casey says:

      Hi Olumide, I completely agree with you about the mill sites. Yes, there are tons of ‘jobs’ listed there, but the sad reality is that, as Carol Tice has often mentioned, it’s a bid to the bottom. It’s easy for newbie writers who’ve never published before or even gotten their first paid gig, to get sucked into the vacuum of the mills and bidding sites and then think that groveling is the answer. It’s not.

      Another thing with these sites is that the ‘clients’ who are looking to pay writers subpar, is that you get what you pay for and that means ‘writing’ that is equally sub-par, which then leads these clients to seek out other desperate writers to re-write poorly written content for equally poor rates. If you can help it, and you usually can, run away from these opportunities. They won’t lead you anywhere but down.

  5. Great article, Beth! You’re sooo right – I remember working for less than $10 per 500-word post. It’s grueling work, and the risk of burn-out is incredibly high. Bid sites are a terrible trap that many new writers fall into – but with more people like you speaking out about them, I think one day there won’t be any naive new writers sucked into the bid-site trap.
    Thanks for the good advice!

    • Beth Casey says:

      Thank you for the comment and encouragement, Brylee. I hope you’re right … that writers at all levels will see the truth behind these sites and seek out better opportunities instead. Time is valuable. Don’t waste it for chump change. 😉

  6. Marc Hayot says:

    I believe that the class would help me out a lot, however I do not have the funds right now for the class.

    • Beth Casey says:

      Hi Marc,

      I can understand that. I would recommend gleaning what you can from Carol’s plentiful and awesome free resources for now. When you are in a better place, and assuming it is open for new members again, I’d recommend considering a Den membership. That’s one of the things I’ve finally taken advantage of and I’m glad I did. There are tons of free bootcamps, a forum, and other resources that come with the membership and I only pay $25/month for it. It’s worth it when you are able to do it. Best wishes and keep pushing forward. #WritersWrite!

  7. Paul Uduk says:

    I really enjoyed this posting especially the advice to write three LOLs per day, which translates to 21 per week and 84 per month.Imagine you scale that up to 10 per day! Thanks for this advice and I’m going to implement it starting tomorrow. Incidentally, the idea can work in all other domains such as training, speaking, coaching to mention three.

  8. Just like Beth, I found my niche: lay language health communications. I write BOTH B2B and B2C, which is how I went from decent trade mags to women’s mags and then beyond print. It is ALWAYS hard to turn down ridiculous fees, especially getting started. But at least learn what to toss out immediately and do so bit by bit. Thanks! (BTW: I designed and wrote my site!)

  9. Geri Spieler says:

    You always have the best advice and encouragement to stay with it and go for real money.

    I’ve been a loyal fan of Make a Living Writing for several years. I also got stuck in the bidding sites and burned out. I needed to find a way to get paid what I’m worth. I finally did last May. Now I’m writing for the site on a regular basis and so glad I took the plunge even though I was intimidated at first. Thank you, Beth, and thank you, Carol, for sharing this excellent advice. It works.

    • Beth Casey says:

      Thank you, Geri, for the wonderful comment and congratulations on the website job you landed. That’s awesome news! I agree, Carol’s website always offers some of the best advice I’ve come across. Love it!

  10. Marc Hayot says:

    I work for a content mill and am looking for better paying jobs out there. I just don’t know where to look.

  11. Anthony says:

    Im ready! Im a new blogger and looking for work in the financial nice

    • Beth Casey says:

      Hi Anthony, That sounds great! I wish you all the best. Carol offers great advice that really helped me launch my career from ho-hum to professional and her advice can help you, too.