How to Make Good Money on Freelance Bidding Sites

Carol Tice

Stephanie Mojica

Stephanie Mojica

By Stephanie Mojica

I’m not one to knock legitimate writing opportunities. And yes, those “content mills” like Demand Media Studios, Bright Hub, and Break Studios will pay you on time for rather formulaic writing work.

But what if you’re a slow writer, don’t believe in content mills, or are simply sick of churning out article after article?

What if you have some great writing samples (either print or online) and are ready to focus on quality rather than quantity while earning the money you truly deserve?

Job bidding sites like Guru and oDesk have given me even more economic and creative opportunities than mills, especially as a blogger and book editor. It literally is like an eBay for writers and all types of work-from-home professionals.

I have garnered numerous clients on bidding sites for press release writing, environmental blog writing, horoscope writing, financial blog writing, divorce blog writing, book editing, and publicity campaigns.

Like any site, once you learn the system you can and will succeed. If you take the right action steps, it’s not a matter of if you will succeed but when.

Good rates are possible on the bidding sites. I have consistently made at least $90 an hour and usually $150 to $300 an hour devoting my time to writing clients I’ve found on Guru.

If you have a resume and a few writing clips to show potential clients, you can do the same. My tips:

Bid only on jobs that pay what you’re worth. This is extremely important. So many writers give in to deprivation thinking. Twelve-step groups like Underearners Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, and Workaholics Anonymous are full of writers with financial problems. Believe me, I personally know this. Part of the problem is that so many writers think it’s not “spiritual” or “creative” to ask for a great wage, I eventually discovered through working with author and life coach Sheri Kaye Hoff.

Set a goal of how many bids you will make per day. It’s a sheer numbers game, my friend. The more bids you get out there — especially at first when you have little or no client feedback posted online — the better you will do.

I’ve competed for jobs listed in online ads with 1,000 people. On Guru and oDesk, I’ve often been the only bidder or one out of three, five, six, 10, or 20. I’ve seen projects that I haven’t bid on with identical odds.

I wish you the best of luck in your journey to financial freedom and creative prosperity.

Have you used bidding sites? Share your experience in the comments below.

Stephanie Mojica, a writing and business prosperity coach, blogs at “Hot Freelance Writing Secrets” and is the author of several eBooks including“5 Business Prosperity Secrets.” Her credits include The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Virginian-Pilot, Louisville Magazine,, and



  1. Kiesha

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve never heard of Guru – so thanks, I’m definitely going to register. I’m getting started with oDesk – but let me tell you about – another great freelance bidding site and the best part is that they pay you in British pounds, which is a little over $1.50 for every US $1.00.
    You have to keep bidding, just like the others, but the key is just as you mentioned, to bid on jobs that will pay what you’re worth.
    Now… off to Guru… 😀

    • Stephanie Mojica


      Thanks for the comment and the tip! I will definitely let people know about and good luck on Guru and oDesk!


  2. Susan

    Do bidding sites usually charge a fee to be a member or eligible to bid?

    • Stephanie Mojica


      No…you can get a free account but will be limited in how many bids you can make a month. Also, keep in mind that the profile attached to your account whether free or paid serves as a permanent (if you wish!) online resume and portfolio. I, Carol, and others have been hired for jobs just by people seeing our bidding site profiles.

      Good luck!


  3. Carol Tice

    Tell you about another strategy for Elance and Guru…I call it “Lurk, don’t work.”

    A while back someone told me about Guru so I signed up, because they said it was going to be somehow different and better than Elance and all the rest. I soon realized it wasn’t much different…but I couldn’t figure out how to get my profile off. So it just stayed there. I never did anything for them.

    About 2 years later, I got an interview call to possibly ghost a CEO’s book, because — you guessed it — they saw my Guru profile. Companies do troll those sites and look for writers, and then contact them off the site…so one possible reason to at least set up a profile.

    @Keisha…bad news on that exchange rate — that’s UNfavorable to US workers, not favorable! The dollar is weak against the pound right now — it used to be $1 was worth about 1 British pound. It’s great if you’re in the UK though!

    • Kiesha

      I’m not sure I’m understanding how it’s UNfavorable, all of the bids are in pounds, so when I won a bid for 110, when I got paid, it came out to nearly $200 US after PayPal converted it – I thought that was great…

      • Carol Tice

        Kiesha — Sorry, my mistake. I see we’re weak against the Canadian dollar – 1 to 1, but strong against the pound (stronger than the Euro even). So yes, if you bid $110 GBP it would come out to like $171 US. Math definitely was not my strong suit…how I ended up in writing!

  4. Hajra

    I did join Elance a few months back but I really didn’t get a hang of how things work there. This article might help!
    Thanks a lot for the information.

  5. Laurie Boris

    I’ve been wanting to move into higher paying work, and this sounds like great advice. What Carol said about lurking worked for me… I had an account on ifreelance that wasn’t going anywhere, so I abandoned it. But then I got an e-mail from a client who found a writing sample I posted on my profile and decided to hire me on the spot. He’s become my best client. I know this was probably a bit of a fluke, but maybe I’ll try that with Odesk and guru as well. Thank you, Stephanie!

    • Carol Tice

      My sense is it’s not a fluke, Laurie. Companies definitely scan profiles on these big sites to look for writers, and then hire them off the site.

  6. James

    Great post, Stephanie! I’ve been eagerly anticipating this subject.

    Can you comment on the free vs. paid version of Guru? I have used the free version for the last month or so, with no success. So last night I paid for a month of the Guru plus to see if that would help me land more gigs. If I can get a gig that will pay for my monthly subscription, I’ll sign up next month too. Does it really make a difference to be put at the top of the list of all the bidders? The only real advantage I see is getting 100 bid points (or whatever they call them) per month, rather than just 10.

    • Stephanie Mojica

      Hi James,

      Actually, I only briefly used the free version of Guru. It seems to me that you can get at least a little work using the free version which is great when you’re first starting out. I paid for my entire year’s subscription in just two assignments, but as always your mileage may vary.

      If you plan to bid a lot I would consider trying a paid account. Getting to the top of the bidding list isn’t just determined by whether or not you paid; it is determined by how many assignments you’ve successfully completed on Guru.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  7. George

    I have a presence on ODesk, Guru and somewhere else that has escaped my memory to date; however, nothing has ever come of any of it. I think the lack of earnings, work, etc. is due to my misunderstanding of the process.

    Stephanie, your article here has opened my eyes to a greater appreciation of what I might be able to expect from these sights. As I’m typing this, I’m also reviewing Guru to see some examples of what others have done, and it’s a learning experience I should have gone through much earlier.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work.

  8. Carol

    Thank you, Carol, for having this site. You have many followers!

    How successful has anyone been using LinkedIn? I have nibbles, but no takers. I am re-starting my freelancing career. Right now I am freelancing for a GLBT newspaper. No it doesn’t pay well, but these articles coming out will be current clips–something I have not had. The editor is an acquaintance.

    It’s vital to realize our borders or limitations and work beyond them. As a former newspaper reporter, I learned to write quickly and did not do re-writes. I’m out of practice (novels move slowly), and so my actual hourly rate (what I’m paid ./. by the number of hours) is nowhere near what I want. I am interested in many different topics, so future articles and will be in different areas. Carol

    • Carol Tice

      Hi other Carol —

      You don’t say what exactly you’re trying to do on LinkedIn, but I’ll guess connecting with prospective freelance writing clients?

      I’ve had several successes there, I’d say in 3 ways — from people simply reading my profile and calling me with assignments (including an editor at a Fortune 500 company!), from proactively sending messages to people who’ve read my profile (viewable in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” sidebar), and from targeting full-time job ads on LinkedIn of publications or companies I spot that I’d like to write for, and pitching my freelancing services.

      Be sure to stuff your LinkedIn profile with key words for the type of writing for which you want to get hired — makes it easier for editors to find you searching the site.

      Here’s more about how to use LinkedIn to get gigs.

    • Stephanie Mojica

      Hi both Carols,

      I haven’t used LinkedIn extensively (I have a profile on there) but keep hearing about people’s good luck there. Perhaps I should devote more time to using it!


  9. Robert

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for a very helpful post. I’ve long considered using bidding sites like Guru and Elance, but they just seem like a race to the bottom when it comes to rates, and therefore not much better than content mills. So I was encouraged to see that you’re consistently making at least $90 an hour.

    I’m wondering, though, how you found enough jobs that pay this well. I did a quick scan of writing jobs on Guru and Elance. Out of 100 job postings on Guru, the vast majority paid less than $250; only three paid more than $1,000. On Elance, only one job out of 100 paid more than $1,000.

    Are you able to complete most jobs in about three hours or less, which is how you can make $90 an hour? Or, if I were to check these sites daily, would I see enough $1,000+ jobs to make the numbers game worthwhile? It seems that, even with samples, you’d always lose out to those members with a record of earnings and positive feedback. Do you have to take on a lot of underpaid assignments to get the credibility to go after the big jobs?

    Thanks again—I look forward to your comments.


    • Stephanie Mojica

      Most jobs take me two hours or less to complete; you have to consistently put bids in the pipeline.

      Also, I recently grabbed a new client from Guru who pays $200 per 400-word blog post.

      I write a lot about personal finance, so I think this helps. Most of the $1,000+ jobs are for ghostwriters and technical writers which I can “technically” do but would rather not get involved in such a heavy project.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  10. Howard Baldwin

    I went on based on this article, and if you can find $90/hour jobs, good luck. Even the one I investigated that had a rational budget turned out to be looking for 1000s of articles. I like Carol Tice’s comment about being found serendipitously, but I’m not going to make it a habit to check this site out.

    Ever since I’ve been freelancing, I’ve had a six-figure income, and I just don’t see how sites like this are going to sustain that. The best way to get clients is still word-of-mouth. Tell your friends you’re freelancing. Check out alumni groups for places you’ve worked on LinkedIn.

    • Carol Tice

      I personally never saw how it would bring in more than I was making other ways, Howard — I’m with you. But I do occasionally hear from people such as Stephanie who seem to have figured out the system. I wanted to include her point of view because different types of marketing work for different folks.

      There are many ways to find clients. Especially for writers who are new, Elance or Guru might be a place to find better-quality clients than writing for mills gets you — could be a move-up strategy. But it’s definitely time-consuming to bid — it’s sort of on the order of responding to online job ads, except as Stephanie points out, usually you’re competing against fewer people.

      • Stephanie Mojica

        I definitely agree here…Guru and oDesk and the like are not for everyone and it does require some “weeding.” I was talking to a coaching client today and we discussed that keywords like “native English speakers” are great ways to avoid the pennies/few dollars for articles employers on there.
        Like anything else, it takes time and patience.


  11. Ron - Sales Copy Writing

    I will have to say, when writers are offering their services for peanuts, it is really HARD to make some good money over there.

    More so for an non-native writer…You guessed it…I am an Indian of course…


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