Today, we’re going to do our best to answer some questions left by Susan Payton from Sparkplugging’s own Marketing Eggspert blog. She is interested to know how we use Guru.com, as she can tell from our monthly freelance income reports that we get a fair amount of business through that bidding site.
Here’s what Susan had to say:
“Wow, you guys do a lot from Guru! Are you Guru Vendors? I just signed up as one (gulp. $250 is a lot of $$)! I’d like to learn more about how you use Guru to get jobs and beat the cheapies that bid on projects (as I’m sure your readers would too).”
Choosing to be Guru Vendors
To answer her first question, yes, we are at the vendor level on guru. We decided the first time that we signed up (we’ve now renewed for a second year), that we were going to take ourselves seriously as a business, and that was one way we did so. Susan’s right, as the $250 was a bit of a pill to swallow, but we made $10,000 through Guru in our first year, so that was a pretty good return on investment.
Fortunately for us, we were able to afford the enrollment fee at the time. If someone else can’t then it could still be worthwhile to sign up at the basic level. Of course, you’ll be competing with even more freelancers, and a lot of them are probably bidding really, really low because, hey, they didn’t even have enough money to get a vendor account – they’re obviously strapped, and a couple of bucks for an article sounds great.
How We Use Guru.com
It’s probably safe to say that we look at guru.com as sort of a “necessary evil.” I know, that’s a little harsh, but we are plenty annoyed that they take such a big percentage of our pay, in addition to the annual fee. Not only that, but if the client pays with a credit card, the freelancer has to eat the service charge. I still can’t figure out how that’s fair.
On the other hand, it’s been one of the best places for us to go to find new clients. I will admit, however, that when we’re busy, bidding on jobs on guru.com quickly gets pushed to the backburner.
I don’t know that there are any special tricks to how we bid for jobs. Tamara does it more often than I, but each of us tends to bid on jobs we find personally appealing. For example, she’s more interested in ad copy than I am, and I’m more interested in environmental topics than she is. We each have templates created that we use to bid for certain types of jobs. However, we personalize every single one that we send out.
That means that we pay attention to what the potential client has asked about, and we address those issues. This gets mixed in with our usual spiel that says something like, “my bid of $50 for this article represents a very reasonable rate of 0.07 per word.” We bid based on the job description and on what we think we should get paid. Then we usually lower it a bit.
Beating “The Cheapies”
Tamara did an experiment a few months ago in which she bid what she really felt she should get for jobs, and we didn’t get a single bite. So, we do bid lower than we would like. We don’t bid ridiculously low, however. There are no $5 articles for us.
That was not always the case, though. When we first started our business, we were just desperate for clients. Any amount of money coming in was proof that we could do this thing. We did some dirt-cheap projects in the beginning. As we did the projects however, two things happened.
1. We got really sick of selling our time for so little.
2. Our ranking kept improving on guru.com.
Both of these factors played into us getting more money for jobs. First of all, we started asking for it. Secondly, clients began to realize we were worth it. Our client feedback rating averages five stars, and we work to keep it that way. As of today, we are ranked at number 43 in the Writing/Editing/Translation section of Guru.
I suspect that the third thing that helped us along was presenting ourselves as professionals. We have a pretty good profile on Guru, although I suspect it could be better. We also have a link to our Berry-Brewer web site, which we happen to think looks pretty professional.
Any More Questions about Guru.com?
We’re really enjoying posting our freelance income reports each month. We think it’s useful to our readers, and it really gives us another way to be accountable for our work. It’s great fun to watch the numbers from month to month. As it turns out, those are also the posts that seem to spur our readers to ask questions. If you have any more questions about Guru or how we use it, feel free to ask in the comments.