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Friday, May 12, 2006

Guru and Elance: Are They Worth It For Writers?

I've been doing some reassessment of the way that I spend my time - and something's gotta give. Last July I signed up with Elance. I very quickly realised that if I wanted to have a shot at any decent jobs, I needed to move up from the basic level. As I had a bit of money in the bank, I decided the risk was worth it. I upgraded (at a cost of about $25 a quarter) to the next level - for which I received the princely (NOT) total of three free leads a month. Anything over that, I would have to pay extra for. OK, I thought, I'll give it a go. What did I get from that signup - zip, zilch, nada, bupkes (can you tell I like that phrase?). I was invited to bid on one project, bid on a couple more, but mostly couldn't believe how low some people were willing to bid for a skilled writing job. I mean, 100 SEO-optimized articles for $100 - come on!

I cancelled my Elance membership and moved on to Guru. Straight away I liked the setup better. I had to spend more time setting up my profile and resume, but the project notifications system worked well (with daily update emails) and there seemed more guarantees that you would get paid. Furthermore, for the about $80 a year (the exchange rate worked in my favour), I got 100 leads a month and MUCH better projects to bid on. The way the jobs are presented is better, with a lot more detail in most cases - and the site layout it good.

I've had some success with Guru (a couple of leads that turned into small jobs), but I noticed a few things.First, many of the jobs were the same as the ones posted on Elance. Second, there were still people expecting a lot of work for not very much money. Third, it was still almost as hard to convert a project invitation into actual paid work.

I've paid for Guru, so I'll keep my subscription going till it runs out in December, but I won't be renewing. The time I spend trawling through the job listings could be better spent on craigslist - another good source of job leads - or developing my website, which is where a lot of enquiries are coming from these days. Looks like my promotional activities have paid off.

So that's my take on Guru, Elance and work exchanges in general. Unless someone can point me to one that works, I'm not going to pay for leads any more. After all, one of my best opportunities has come from blogging here at WritingUp. I know how I'd rather spend my time.

Thanks for reading.

PS. I'm thinking of a new description for this blog when submitting it to blog directories. See what you think: Take two tbsp of freelance writing advice, add one tsp of SEO, one tsp of WAHM and a sprinkle of creative writing. Mix together to create Sharon Hurley Hall's WritingUp blog.

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