–Do Not Do That Guru Unless You Do It Well

In this series, we personally test traditional online freelance marketplaces to share first-hand experiences and honest assessments of marketplaces and resulting jobs, as many freelance writers turn to these outlets to find writing gigs. You can read all the posts in the series here.

I have a very short update this week.

Very short.

So short that I am going to fill much of it up with mysterious sentences

and white space.

But it's not my fault this update is so short. It's the fault of


Like the now ruinous Elance, is a bidding site. It does not have secret spy gear to install in your computer so you can be treated like an employee but taxed and benefited like a contractor so I thought I'd give it a try for a review.

Like Elance, gives you a certain number of bidding opportunities for free and more access to gigs with a paid membership. I wasn't about to pay for a membership so I just tried to bid on some specialty work in the financial industry.

No one wanted me.

While I'd been able to get between .10 and .30 per word on Elance before they forgot what it meant to be an independent contractor, hirers seemed to think that just .05 per word was pushing it. That means I've been bidding off and on for months and gotten no bites.

But Something Changed

I hadn't actually planned to write an update on this week because I really have nothing to report. But yesterday I got invited to bid on a project and thought, "Finally, my luck is changing!" And boy was it.

The Invitation

I was cordially invited to bid on an editing/rewriting project with a budget of less than $250. Okay, nothing special there--until you open the attached Word doc that you are supposed to rewrite/edit for less than $250...


So far, 14 bidders have felt that this is completely reasonable. WTF?

Come back next Friday ready for a spirited discussion because that's when we're going to talk about how low ballers, content mills and cheap writers are helping your freelance writing business--no, not by giving you crappy, monotonous work--by simply existing.

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Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express,, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

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11 thoughts on “–Do Not Do That Guru Unless You Do It Well”

  1. Interesting experience on this one. I’ve had people get upset with me because we used to post Elance jobs that met our requirements, but not Guru, because they swore that’s where the good gigs are. Hopefully others will share some broader experiences with them so we can get a better feel if this is a Guru market mentality or if you were just unlucky enough to hit one louse after another.

  2. Incredible. I’m just discovering these freelancing sites, and hadn’t heard of Thanks for the update, though, so I won’t have to waste my time. Scary that so many people are willing to not only submit to, but welcome that kind of abuse.

  3. I am never ceased to be amazed at some of the expectations out there. Yo, I am sure you can appreciate, with you being FINRA licensed – I have 30+ years in insurance and am licensed as a Life/Health agent.

    I have seen ads specifiying insurance experience and when I research them, I find they want to pay the equivalent of half a cent (or worse) per word for that experience. It has me invoking John McEnroe-“You cannot be serious!”

  4. I used to work a little bit on Guru. Made enough editing some golf manuals to buy a membership. But it wasn’t worth it. I lucked out on finding that one client, had 2-3 jobs & then it became too much of a pain to do it for the money.

    I’m now back at the basic level & have yet to find another decent paying job. I hardly even look there.

    And don’t get me started on elance. The jobs I wanted to bid on required way too many connections or tokens or whatever they call it — no way a free member could apply for the (very few) decent gigs.

    If I were doing more work on those sites, I totally would have applied for Jennifer’s mentoring program. But I didn’t really qualify. (But Jennifer, if you ever take on someone who’s working a lot of hours in other low-paying stuff, so much that it’s hard to market yourself out of it, I would go for it. I work so many hours it’s tough to find the time to market myself for better paying stuff. It’s a nasty cycle and I really want to get out of it.)

  5. It’s a bit disheartening to see sites that once were truly supportive of freelancers move away from that original intention. Your post about Elance made up my mind once and for all that I didn’t need to go there to get work. (Thanks for saving me the time and energy in creating a profile.)

    I’ve looked at Guru now and then, but again, never committed. I just wasn’t sold on the bidding idea, especially after looking over what was being offered. Although I did start a profile at Guru, it never went live.

    For fun, I recently test-drove a Twitter app that allows you to search for keyword strings. I used “need a freelance writer,” and “looking for a writer.” I wanted to see what shows up in Twitter regarding potential writing work. Well, perhaps not surprisingly, the things that showed up were jobs posted on boards like Elance, Odesk, Guru and others. Of all the possibilities that materialized, only one was worth looking at. It was on a bidding site and already had 34 bids – and over a week left on the bidding cycle. No thanks.

    I think the business writing market is like job hunting. The best ones aren’t advertised – it’s who you know and who you can get to know that gets you where you want to go.

  6. I actually came across a posting on Elance (or maybe it was Guru, can’t remember) yesterday through another site. I never had much luck with any of the bidding sites and gave them up fairly quickly a couple of years ago. But I was appalled by the directions for bidding. It asked that you be a writer in the Philippines or elsewhere out the U.S. so that you can charge a lower hourly rate. That’s sad and offensive to every writer around the globe, especially in those markets where they’re simply happy to get a piece of the pie. I’d like to believe that writers in or out of the U.S. refused to fall for crap like this, but I know we all gotta pay the rent, so to speak. It makes me so irritated that I hope the lister receives zero bids and is forced to do the work him/herself. But I doubt that will happen. It’s a vicious cycle and I wonder where or when it will end, if ever. I can only control my reaction to situations like that, but I hope each and every writer feels they deserve better than statements like that from the lister.

    Because we do…

    • Fortunately many writers there and elsewhere don’t play the “bottom of the barrel” game. They know their value, and they charge in line with equally qualified writers in the US, UK, etc. Cost of living might be lower, but they’re smart enough to target the better markets still. They can earn more and live like kings rather than working from crumbs just to earn enough to get by. Good business sense is the same no matter where you live.

  7. Oh boy, do we have a story about Guru. After being with them for 5 years and a top 50 ranked vendor we got booted through no fault of our own. Talking to is like talking to a brick wall. It is obvious they are all about their own bottom line these days. So sad to see them go from quality first to cash first.

    Read our detailed review on our Cyber Sprocket Labs site.

  8. I’ve been both an employer and freelancer on Guru and as an employer, I will never hire from this site again. the work was awful and Guru is so unethical it’s ridiculous. The work submitted by the freelancer I hired was very unprofessional and amateur. I was not issued a refund and found out that the freelancer has the power to “block” negative feedback, so that only good reviews are posted on their profiles.

  9. I have no problem with the freelancer they are very decent, My issues lies with Guru. Their payment platform raises issue 2 times out of 3 , despite showing a message payment was not successful they still charge the money to your bank account as many times as you tries to pay them out. They received the money and cancel it out instead of paying it to the free lancer causing hefty bank charges. When asked about the customer service, it is non existing . They washed their hand of any situation, have no sort of customer service and act according to their own decision with total disregards for any furhter problem they may have, As client I suggest you stay away from them


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