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Using Guru.com for Your Freelance Business


Today we’re sharing part two of our series on using Guru.com to jump start your freelancing business.  If you need to catch up, check out yesterday’s post on Finding Those First Few Freelancing Clients. 

A Few Ins and Outs of Guru.com 

Sites like Guru.com are a bit controversial with certain freelancers.  For one thing, all of the competition really drives down the price that employers have to pay to get work.  This really, really sticks in some people’s craws.  Tamara and I are very clear on how this can work against the individual freelancer, and we don’t see Guru.com as a long-term solution to finding work. 

Remember, however, that our goal was to make some money right away.    We were both unemployed and trying to start a business as inexpensively as was realistically possible.  Tamara’s husband had taken on a second job, and mine was not above reminding me that the heat bill was about to triple as the temperature dropped outside.  While querying magazines with article ideas pays more money in the long run, you also have to do a lot of waiting and hoping. 

In my previous attempt at freelance writing, I had a Guru.com account; and I knew from that experience that it could pay for itself very quickly.  I explained how it worked to Tamara, and we decided to set up a profile in the Writing/Editing/Translation category.   

If you’re just getting started, you might want to opt for a three-month subscription; but we jumped right into the deep end and paid for a year-long subscription.  We also chose the more expensive route of becoming a “Vendor,” as we thought it might open us up to more opportunities than the Basic or Guru levels.  In retrospect, I’m not totally sure that it made a difference, but it made us feel more professional if nothing else. 

Getting the Gig 

At this point, we’ve had a lot of success getting jobs.  I suspect one of the reasons for this is because I have some pretty decent “published clips” that I’ve been able to include with bids to show an example of my style and to prove that my writing has been deemed worthy of publication in the past.  On the other hand, I don’t think you absolutely need published clips in order to be hired in this particular venue.   

Another advantage was that Tamara and I have done a really wide variety of writing and editing in the past – everything from editing e-books to writing catalog copy to ghost writing SEO-optimized articles on subjects ranging from bloodhounds to dating.  Throw in our combined blogging experience, two academic backgrounds, and that sarcastic underground zine I wrote for; and we feel pretty confident working in a number of styles and voices. Take a look through your own files and see what types of pieces you could use as samples.  Compare those with the jobs being offered, and you might find the perfect fit. 

Getting Paid 

According to Guru.com, you are only permitted to accept payment through your account with them.  You will occasionally run across employers who find you through Guru.com but then contact you through your personal email and want to hire you outside of the confines of the site.  My understanding is that you are not supposed to do this at all.  If you choose to . . . well, I don’t know what would happen.  I suppose you might get your account revoked or something if Guru.com found out.  Also, you have less recourse if the employer doesn’t cough up the money after you’ve submitted the work.   

There is an option of using a “Safe Pay Escrow” account to protect yourself.  To do this, you request that the employer put the agreed-upon fee into an escrow account up front, to be paid once you’ve submitted the work.  This means you’re more likely to actually see the money in the end.  This is a great idea, although I admit Tamara and I haven’t used it yet – mostly out of fear of coming across as being difficult to work with.  After being seriously burned by one employer (who had no payment or rating history), we will definitely be considering it in the future. 

Getting Feedback 

As I mentioned yesterday, Guru.com allows for you and the employer to rate one another once a transaction has been completed.  This system isn’t perfect, but it is fairly helpful.  Employers will not only have their ratings listed, but you will also be able to see how much they’ve paid out through Guru.com.  One with a good rating who has paid out a lot of money is likely to be a good risk.  Employers with no rating or history of payments (let alone a low rating) are more of a gamble.   

As you complete more projects, you will be rated, too.  Just like the employers, a higher rating and level of earnings show that you are dependable.  The more jobs you get, the more jobs you get!  Tamara and I work very hard to protect our rating by staying in close contact with employers during their projects and paying close attention to the quality of everything we submit.  

Obviously, this is just a basic run-down of how you can use Guru.com to supplement your freelancing income.  As I said, Tamara and I don’t see it as our long-term method for developing a client roster.  On the other hand, it has been the perfect stop-gap measure for a couple of women who needed not only to pay the bills, but also to have a tangible reward for our efforts.  When you own your own business, there is no more tangible reward than a check with a couple of zeros on it!

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    On October 3rd, 2007 at 2:47 am, Angie said:

    What freelancing sites are recommended where you don’t have to pay upfront, like Guru?

    On October 3rd, 2007 at 3:40 am, Lorna Doone Brewer said:

    Angie - This is a great question, and I’ve been spending some time trying to find the best free resources. I’ve got a start on the list, but I think there’s still some research to do.

    If any of our readers have suggestions, please email them to us at berrybreweradmin@gmail.com so we can review them, too.

    Hopefully I’ll have a post about this very topic to share with everyone next week!

    On October 6th, 2007 at 11:33 pm, Freelance Graphic Designer said:

    I’ve used it before and haven’t found it to be a good source of leads.

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