- Part I

I've been a member of for a couple of years now. Guru advertises itself as "The largest online marketplace for freelance talent." Freelancers such as myself pay a moderate fee to belong to Guru and post our resume, profile, and skills online. Employers post jobs and freelancers bid on the projects that interest us. The site isn't just for writers--there's graphic design, programming, illustration, engineering, photography, legal, accounting, fashion, sales, etc.

When I joined 2+ years ago, the site was a goldmine. I wasn't yet sure of my skills and was willing to work cheap. I got to work on some great projects and made some lasting contacts.  Lately though, Guru hasn't been panning out for me and I've been thinking that I'd let my membership expire in September.

For one thing, the quality of the writing jobs posted has gone downhill. The last year has seen a glut of keyword writing projects, which is basically when an employer hands you 30 keywords for SEO (search engine optimization) and they don't care if you use the words in complete sentences or in any way that makes sense. They're just trying to up their site's rating. I've never worked on one of these projects and don't want to.  They're considered rather sleazy in the writing world.

Then there are the employers who think writing skills are apparently one step up from flinging mud. The job postings from these people read something along the lines of "This is an extremely easy project for anyone with a brain." Riiiiight. I really want to work for you.

 But the most discouraging part is the prices employers are willing to pay and even worse, that freelancers are willing to work for. It's common to see a job posted that asks for twenty 300-500 word articles, all original content and turning over all rights, for $5/article.  And people are bidding on these things! I can't begin to imagine how they're turning a profit.

I have been bidding my little heart out these last 6 weeks, making one last run at Guru to see if it's worth hanging on.  It's understood I have to bid lower than my normal rates, but even at what I consider deep discount prices, I'm not getting work. Someone needed an article about cats, for God's sake, and I didn't get the job. And I bid as low as I could.  I've bid on probably 4 jobs a week for 6 weeks and got zero offers. Zip. I figured it was time to go.  

Continued tomorrow in Part II...