People Per Hour (and similar websites) are full of clients who need one-off jobs to be completed quickly. We currently advertise our technical blogging services on the site. But the rates are often poor, so care is needed when you first start freelancing, particularly when there are service fees to over.

Using marketplaces like People Per Hour can be a great way to make connections. We built our technical writing business using it, and we’ve made many great contacts that we continue to work with today.

After three months on the site, I certainly learned a lot about how much technical blogging work I could handle, 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 for technical content writing projects.

Let's talk

Need a freelance technical blogger?

Let's talk

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 content writing, SEO copywriting, 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 acted as a People Per Hour client, as well as a freelance technical blogger, 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 bad mistake.

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 enjoyable.

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. With technical blogging, we sometimes get asked to turn things around the same day, which is difficult.

It’s best to be upfront about time constraints in your proposal, or when talking with the client pre-approval.

It can be impossible to leave time to do chores, walk the dog and have a life if you are not honest about your availability. 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 blogging assignment on People Per Hour.

6. Beware of Subcontracting

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

The more people you bring in to help you, 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 must be able to leave honest feedback, too. 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 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 to come through. People Per Hour has improved this. But watch out for payments in other currencies. You be be charged fees for exchange and withdrawals.

This is slightly better since the People Per Hour wallet came in, but it can still add up.

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. If you don’t, the best case scenario is that your account will be closed and you won’t find any more work through the site.

Lots of technical blogging 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.

This has happened to me a few times. I’ve written a very good technical blog for a client, only for them to reject it – and use it anyway.

In fact, there’s nothing to stop a client asking each bidder to write a different test piece, then never accepting a bid at all.

Bidders who work in graphic and web design also have plenty of horror stories to tell. Free samples and test pieces are submitted one day, then 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!

Let's talk

Need a freelance technical blogger?

Let's talk
The following two tabs change content below.
Claire Broadley is a freelance technical blogger for Red Robot Media. Hire Claire to write your business blog or technical user guides.