Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guru's new premium bids - good for freelance writers? seems to be on some sort of makeover kick. New ranking system (grrrrr!), new website appearance (sometimes? or is it my laptop acting up?), and now a new option for placing bids.

From my brief exposure to Elance, I'm thinking I saw this same option on Elance - where you could spend more of your bids (or, connects in that case) to make your proposal stand out a bit. A premium bid will be shown above the others (kind of like on eBay when you pay a little extra).

Guru's also doing something new as far as showing who else has bid on a project. Info shown includes how much they've made in the past 12 months and their customer acquisition rate.

My initial reaction is, "Well, Guru is privately held - it's their business, so whatever they want to do."

But I also wonder what's at the heart of all these changes on Guru.

One thing I always appreciated about Guru was that bids were "blind" - meaning you had no idea what other writers were bidding. While that's still technically true, you can certainly do a little bit of sleuthing to find out what a pro has charged in the past. (Not that I will -- I'm too busy for that! But the last thing many writers need is one more way to get hung up on the questions about pricing rather than just jumping in!)

For me, it was enough before to know how many other writers had bid on a project. I don't really want to know their names - and don't especially want them to see mine. Not that it's necessarily a private matter - but to me it kind of spurs on a sense of competition (and not in a good way).

I'm of the mind that there are MORE than enough writing gigs out there. What's required is a systematic and sustained effort to get them. In fact, my bidding system has gotten so easy that I don't even do all of my own bidding anymore - one of my assistants does it for me.

But, I'm picturing someone just starting out on Guru. They go to place a bid and once they see all these details about the other writers going for the gig, they get intimidated, go into panic mode, and spend all their bids on a very few jobs. They spend all their bids in a week or two (when under the old system, they would have lasted all month), and end up buying more --- if they don't get frustrated and quit first.

I've been asked whether using those premium bids is worth it.

In a word: possibly.

If you find a gig that seems to have been created just for you. It's the gig of your dreams, and you know you'll be great... then MAYBE it's worth a premium bid - just because yours will come up first on the list. But, be prepared to pay a hefty price (bid-wise), especially if your quality score (under the new ranking system) isn't super high. For instance, you could end up spending a whopping 12 bids on one gig. Do this a few times a day, and you'll be out of bids in a week.

And therein lies my greatest concern for you: getting writing gigs is often a numbers game as you start out. I recommend placing five bids a day, five days a week (assuming you find that many projects that are a good fit --- and I've always been able to). With those numbers, the 100 bid allotment lasts all month, and you'll have more work than you can even do on your own.

So, should you use premium bids? Maybe. But count the cost. And stay in constant, committed, forward motion - don't give up!

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