The Truth about Online Job Sites like – Part I

Updated: May 31st, 2013

Editor’s Note: This review of is over three years old, and we’ve received a lot of negative feedback about in the years since then…our present stance is ‘caveat emptor’…..we would advise caution to anyone considering using at the present time.

Many freelance writers flock to online job sites to find and apply for jobs. One of those sites is Last year I took the plunge and signed up with them. My first project was to write 15 blogs for a financial markets website. My accounting degree came in handy for this assignment. It was quite an experience from start to finish. Here’s part one of my review of was established in 1998 as “A number of spin-off sites were consolidated as in 2000.” The goal of the website was to provide a place for people who wanted to moonlight to supplement their regular income. In less than one year, the website attracted 50,000 users. launched in 2004 and has been going strong as the largest marketplace for freelancers. They are only one of many online job sites on the internet.

What we like is a great site if you’re beginning a freelance writing career. The free membership offers a lot for beginners. You can upload a resume, samples of your work, list your skills, create a bio, upload your picture, and so much more.

Once you sign up with, you’ll start to receive notifications about projects. Your success depends on how well you build your profile. You can receive one or two a day; it depends on what the employer is looking for. Plus, it’s up to you how many projects you receive and accept.

If you have no idea how to create a bid or proposal, don’t sweat it. provide samples of a bid and proposal. Some online job sites may not provide this information. At least you’ll have a guide for future reference.

As far as online job sites goes,’s bidding process is easy. When you receive a project notification or invitation, you click on SUBMIT, enter your dollar amount, click a few boxes (answer questions), and create and submit your bid. It’s that easy. When you receive an assignment, you can either accept or reject it.

What we don’t like

Unfortunately, there’s a down side. Freelancers pay a lot of fees just to get paid. By the time you deduct the fees, a $100 project could drop to $88! Then again, it’s how you look at it. If it only takes you 15 minutes to finish a project, $88 is not bad. It’s all a matter of perception.

It would be nice if sent an email making you aware that the system is having technical difficulties. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to bid on a project and you keep getting kicked out of the system. A message will be posted in the MY ADMIN section on the right hand side. If you’re a freelancer looking for work, chances are you’ll go straight to your project notifications and ignore the message.

Online job sites are a great way to make extra cash or jump start your writing career. You could develop very valuable contacts. You’ll also learn a lot about being “your own boss.” It takes discipline and organization to be a freelance writer. Chances are you’ll have many writing assignments; you’ll need to keep track of them.

Stay tuned for part two of my review of I’ll be discussing’s fees and “tips and tricks” for


Did you sign up Do you like it? Why or why not?1

About Amandah Blackwell 198 Articles

Amandah Blackwell is a creative, freelance and ghost writer for industries that include but are not limited to the arts & entertainment, travel, publishing, real estate, pets, personal and professional development, and much more.

Amandah's personal writing projects include screenplays, teleplays, YA, non-fiction, short stories, and poetry. 

You can find more of her writing at,, and

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  1. I’ve been both the employer and the freelancer on this site.

    It’s disappointing the illustration competition is largely dishonest about their talent and so they underbid. Then the employer finds out they can’t handle the project and get frustrated with the site. We’ve had clients tell us illustrators send samples that are stolen from other sites. It’s hard to be patient and understanding bidders when you pay an annual fee and your competition is a bunch of fraudsters.

    Then I was the employer and tried to have a portfolio site created. The designer used a free plug in instead of creating the galleries the way a professional would have. So I got to experience what it felt like to be one of these mislead employers who in the end feels scammed. I even tried to get back the remaining 20% in escrow- the freelancer immediately requested arbitration and Guru gave them the rest of the money.

    The lack of accountability is destroying the credibility of the site. I did learn that if a freelancer has a lot of clients but only a few feedback responses it means they are choosing NOT to show you all the feedback.Red flag.

  2. As an employer, I have tried to use Guru. First, let me say that I have 25+ years as an IT professional, so I have a major background in the industry. I found a lot of amateurs on the site with no professional skills. I wanted a fully rigged human model and the freelancers couldn’t get the rigging and model right. After more than 6 months working with three freelancers doing the same model project, I didn’t get one worth animating. These amateurs have no understanding of Testing. My team was frustrated with the continuous untested submissions. Each time they claimed that the had finished and asked for money.

    The other thing a user of Guru should be aware of is that Guru will interfere with your management of the freelancer. I got stung when freelancer lied about being completed and filed a grievence when I was not in the country. Guru sent me an email demanding a response in three days, which I could not do for obvious reasons. (the funny thing was that I responded 1 hour after their rediculous deadline and they didn’t care.) At the deadline they sent an email saying they found in favour of the freelancer and gave him the remaining 10% which I held back for completion, stating their action was legal and irrevocable and unappealable. I would say Guru is also quite amatuerish and they need to learn a bit about customer service and business performance.

    In addition, I found falsified and/or missing feedback attached to the freelancers I used. This concerned me.

    I did have one of my freelancers kick off the Guru site because one of his other employers complained. It totally recked my engagement with the freelancer and Guru offered no consideration of the issue they created for me and the likely loss of investment made by progress payments.

    Be careful who you hire because many can’t read a specification, many are trying to sell you on flakey skills, and Guru only gives the buyer beware statements as support.

    • Hello Vickery – thank you for taking the time to contribute your comments. Your experience and feedback is very valuable and I hope will help anyone else who is considering using Guru, or similar outsourcing sites.

      I had a similar experience using Elance and it cost us $1000 to learn a hard lesson about properly setting up expectations, specifications, requirements, milestones, and results……now I generally tell anyone who asks my advice about using freelancers through sites like Guru, oDesk, and Elance to be very, very cautious and to demand to see references (and to check them thoroughly!).

  3. I used Guru for the first time and I used it as an employer. I do not like that there is no contact number listed and that no customer service is availble. I had to look up the company through their web page ownership. I called the number and every single person in the company is a Voice mail. it also seems as if the calls are being rerouted overseas. they have a weired ring to it once the call is placed, but yet it is suppose to be located in PA????????? I am concerned becuase they have my money in an account and it wont let me pay my freelancer or refund my money so Ican pay him some other way.

    • Hi Yvonne,

      Thanks for your comments – seems to have gone way downhill since we reviewed them three years ago…..I’ve added a note to the top of this post to advise people that may not be a good resource at this time.

      I sincerely hope it turns out well for you…..thanks for sharing your experience with them, it will no doubt help others to read this.

  4. @Yvonne… I’m sorry to hear you’ve had difficulty with I signed up with them a few years ago; however, much has changed since the time I used the site. Some freelancers won’t even use,, and other sites like them because it makes more sense to build their freelance writing business via social media. Some use direct mail, cold calling and emailing, networking groups, and other offline marketing techniques.

    If you’re need of a freelance writer, you may want to post an advertisement on freelance sites such as JournalismJobs. This way you’ll receive serious inquiries and you can deal directly with the freelancer.

  5. Hi all,

    We agree that we have a lot of room for improvement and we have a lot of exciting changes coming this year! Have you checked out our new freelancer profiles and (for employers) “Services Search”? We have also lessened the fees freelancers pay per-project. Would love to hear thoughts.

    Yvonne, our phone number and other contact info is listed on the “Contact Us” page on Guru…we’d be happy to hear from you.

    • Hello Anna – thanks for stopping by and sharing your update……it sounds like you’re making positive changes…..brava!

      I will post an item in our writer’s forum to see if someone is willing to give a try for a few months and then follow up with a more current review.

      Good luck with your efforts!

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