People Per Hour (and similar websites) are full of clients who need one-off jobs to be completed quickly.

The rates are often poor, so care is needed.

But it’s a great way to make connections.

After three months on the site, I certainly learned a lot about being over-worked and under-paid, and I very quickly became pretty proficient at project management. I’ve now been using People Per Hour for four years, and I’ve been in their top 10 numerous times.

If you need a business content writer, or a technical writer, you can hire me today!

By far the most common question we’re asked is this: how do you make money on People Per Hour? Here are a few tips that might help you get started.

1. Get Some Freelancing Experience

Before you begin bidding on People Per Hour or other freelancing sites, get some experience elsewhere. You will be asked to provide examples of your work, whether it’s copywriting, technical writing, SEO writing, design, research – whatever. Prove you can do what you say.

It helps to do a little work for friends before you begin. Ask them to post recommendations on your profile to confirm what you’ve done, and put examples in the Portfolio area of the site.

Be honest with yourself: if you have no experience, you will really struggle to get started.

2. Set Your Rates Properly

It takes a while to find your price point, as it will be different to the price you charge elsewhere.

You may well need to cut your rate, especially in the beginning.

Sit down with a pen and paper and factor in all your costs (tax, fees, subscriptions, and so on) so you have an absolute minimum in mind.

Remember that People Per Hour also deduct a service fee, and you have to pay to bid. Given that the average rate of bid acceptance is one per every 14 bids, you must budget carefully.

Having been a client advertising on People Per Hour as well as a freelancer, I can guarantee you this: any client with reasonable standards will not pick a bid that is exceptionally low. A client worth working for will not ask you to produce 500 words for £2. Yes, these jobs appear – don’t waste a bid on them. Don’t waste time complaining and ranting at the client, either. They don’t care what you think! Move on and bid on something else.

You will probably find that you cannot charge megabucks on a site like People Per Hour, but think carefully before you undervalue yourself to such an extent that you are competing with people who are not qualified. The last thing you need is a £600 job that should be paying you £1,500. You will have no motivation to complete it, and when a better job comes along, your £600 job will feel like a really unpleasant, hard slog.

3. Prep a Good Bid

Some jobs on People Per Hour can receive 20, 30 or 40 bids within a few hours. No client has time to read an essay from each of those people, so don’t waste your time writing one.

Generic bids are a massive turn-off, and so are bids that are not proof-read or don’t address the job specifics. Bids full of links require the client to go looking for a reason to choose you. Why would they do that?

Tip: Write a concise bid which showcases your talents, and tailor it to the job description. Address any concerns or points upfront. Keep it friendly and professional. We’ve paid over the average for a freelancer because their bid was keen, specific and well-written, and we felt we had something in common with them, which always makes work more fun!

4. Don’t Ask For Clarification

The Clarification Board is a little area at the bottom of each job page on People Per Hour.

It’s supposedly there for freelancers to ask for more information on a job. It’s usually used by freelancers to place ‘soft bids’ or promote their own profiles. This is supposedly a no-no, but it happens a lot.

Guess what: the Clarification Board isn’t the place for questions!

No client will hire you off the back of a question. By delaying your bid, you are wasting your time, and you’re missing out on a valuable chance to get a bid in early (see below).

Place your bid – address any queries there. Offer different prices for different specifics. A client wants to know what you can do and how much you can do it for: if you waste their time by dithering over small details, they will be far less likely to hire you.

5. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Clients may accept bids weeks after you put your proposal in. This is always tough, since you get no warning of acceptance. It’s best to be upfront about time constraints in your proposal, or when talking with the client pre-approval.

It can be difficult to leave time to do chores, walk the dog and have a life if you are not honest about time. Be clear, and overestimate the time you need. Google Calendar is a great tool for blocking out time and seeing exactly how much rest you are giving yourself.

Tip: I recommend you give yourself 20% leeway when estimating how much time (and money) you need to complete a contract on People Per Hour.

6. Beware of Subcontracting

We have worked with wonderful freelance writers, but we were almost certainly lucky. Freelancers can be flaky.

The more people you bring in, the more you are open to people being late, making excuses and wrecking your reputation.

Have a good think about whether you’re ready to be a project manager. It is not easy, especially if you are busy already. Managing people is not everyone’s idea of fun. You know your abilities. You know the standard you expect. If you don’t know anyone who shares that standard, think carefully before you rely on them.

If you hire through People Per Hour, you have to leave feedback. How honest could you really be? Could you sack someone who submitted late three times in a row? If you wouldn’t have the heart, it’s probably better just to work on your own. There is nothing like taking on a job yourself and completing it to your own standards, and you get to keep all the money.

7. Bid Early, Bid Quick

The People Per Hour website is updated daily, from the early morning right through until the evening. Jobs appear in fits and starts throughout the day, and you can scan back through several days’ jobs if you wish.

This may be a little controversial, but I’d advise not bidding on old jobs. Bidding early on a job is the best way to get noticed, especially if your bid is on the lengthy side.

Keep your eye on the People Per Hour site for fresh work, and bid as soon as you can. If you happen to be online outside normal office hours, regularly check the site and bid early on anything new that appears: there’s less competition then.

8. Monitor Payments Closely

In general, it takes a few days for each withdrawal. People Per Hour has improved this. But watch out for payments in other currencies.

If the job is not in your local currency, you will get hit with the exchange rate, plus a fee for withdrawal. This strikes me as being very unfair, but them’s the rules.

Tip: To keep it simple, stick with jobs in your own currency and withdraw cash via BACS. It’s fast, and free.

9. Leave Jobs Open

Once you find a client (or a freelancer) through People Per Hour, you must continue to use the site as an intermediary ‘forever’. 

I’m not sure how enforceable this is in a court of law. But I highly advise that you continue to work through People Per Hour. The best case scenario is that your account will be closed and you won’t find any more work through the site.

Lots of clients have told me it’s inconvenient, and I understand why, but circumventing the site violates their terms and conditions. If the client complains, remind them that you’ll be penalised – not them.

Remember: always create a new proposal for a new piece of work, and get the client to raise a deposit.

10. Free Samples: Just Say NO!

Clients might ask you do to free samples for them – ‘just to check you’re on the right lines’. They then decide you’re not the right candidate, but not before they’ve posted your free article up on their website.

There’s nothing to stop a client asking each bidder to write for free, then never accepting a bid at all.

Bidders who work in graphic and web design have plenty of horror stories to tell. Free samples and test pieces are submitted one day and mercilessly ripped off the next. If you’re a designer, you may even find your work on a stock photo site with no contract to protect you. Ouch.

If all you do is write test pieces or create free logos, how are you ever going to make money? You could spend days writing and designing for nothing. What’s your time worth? Never, ever work for free!

Don’t forget: If you need a business writer, hire me today!

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Claire Broadley is a technical author, blogger and copywriter.

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