People Per Hour: An Online Marketplace For Freelancers

Being a freelancer means doing a bit of everything. Accounts before breakfast, emails in the morning, quotes in the afternoon and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have time left in the evening to do the actual work that you get paid for! As your wear all of these different hats, it’s surprisingly difficult to find time to source new work. Cold calling businesses, sending out mailers and attending networking events take up crucial time that most freelancers simply can’t afford to lose!

People Per Hour offers a solution that makes it quick and easy to get in touch with new clients who are actively seeking your services. Describing itself as a ‘global marketplace’, the website has played a vital role in my success as a freelance copywriter, and – by following a few guidelines – could do the same for you.

What Is People Per Hour?

In 2006, graduate Xenios Thrasyvoulou had a great idea for a website that connected skilled individuals with the business that needed their services. Then, the website allowed companies to list job descriptions that virtual assistants could ‘bid’ on. In just six months, was rebranded People Per Hour, covering 30 different services from accountancy to administration.

Since its launch, People Per Hour has grown to become one of the most popular places on the web for freelancers to find new work. According to the People Per Hour Economy page, there are more than 200,000 freelancers and 79,390 clients on the site. The jobs posted to date are worth an estimated £52,922,681 – a figure that is growing all the time.

In part, People Per Hour is so successful because it’s easy to use for freelancers and clients alike.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Clients list projects along with estimated budgets.
  2. Freelancers ‘bid’ on the project, detailing their skills and fee.
  3. The client selects an applicant and awards the job.
  4. Once the job is done, People Per Hour sends an automated invoice to the client, taking a small fee from the freelancer’s overall pay.

People Per Hour & Me

My own experience with People Per Hour started in 2010, once the website was already well established. As an English graduate and part-time writer for magazines and websites, it was only natural to bolster my income by getting involved in copywriting. Of course, I faced the same problem as every other freelancer – getting that all-important first job.

There was no editor here, nobody to turn around and tell me that the work was rubbish. Being freelance meant that the responsibility was all mine. Clients needed absolute confidence that I could deliver what they wanted and, as yet, I had no evidence that I could supply.

So how did I overcome that rather inconvenient obstacle? I found People Per Hour and, with a bit of hard work, got some of my earliest clients as a freelance copywriter.

3 Ways To Win Work On People Per Hour

When I first visited People Per Hour, it all seemed so easy. Place a bid, win the work and get paid! Of course, there are thousands of other freelancers with the same idea, vying for the same work. As a novice young copywriter, how did I make myself the chosen candidate for those first few positions?

I built a good profile, carefully selected the bids that I placed, and spent time writing bids that were tailored to the client in question.

1. Create An Attractive Profile

I was once asked to appear on a local radio station as part of an interview about People Per Hour and why more and more people are choosing to go freelance. As part of this interview, I was asked what the most useful feature of the website was. After some thought, I decided that the profile page is where it all happens.

People Per Hour profile pages allow you to summarise the work that you do, complete skills tests and upload samples of work. Make sure that you have all of these things in place before you start bidding for work. Most clients look at this profile page as the first measure of how suitable you are for the position, and gaps on your profile are the equivalent of gaps in your employment history – a bad sign for any employer!

2. Find Jobs That Are Right For Your Skills

Since the website was founded, People Per Hour has worked on a free model where freelancers receive a certain number of ‘bid credits’ per month. Once these bids have been used up, you can purchase more for a small fee, or wait until they are refreshed.

More recently, People Per Hour introduced the ability to see which other freelancers have placed bids on a certain job. Out of professional curiosity, I often check through these to get a feel for other people’s skills and profiles. More than anything else, I find people bidding for work that simply doesn’t suit their skills. If the number of bids per month is limited, why would a self-proclaimed accounting expert place a bid for a copywriter job? Doesn’t this mean that he is struggling to win bids in his chosen field?

You will have the best chances of winning work if you aim to be selective with the bids that you place. Consider the nature of the work and how it fits with your skills and experience and how relevant your profile page is to the task at hand.

3. Write A Great Bid

Once you’ve found the right job, it’s time to write a bid! This is the part that comes with practice, but there are few things you should consider as you start writing.

Despite the nature of the word ‘bid’, People Per Hour isn’t really about offering the lowest possible price. Most educated clients understand that if you pay peanuts, you get inexperienced freelancers! According to People Per Hour, around 89% of winning bids are in the middle price range.

I once placed a bid for some work where the client’s maximum budget was £200. I explained, politely but clearly, how I could do it for £300 and do it ten times better. I won that job, reassuring me that People Per Hour isn’t all about bargain basement work.

Instead of going for a low bid, focus your attention on who you are and what you do. Whether you are an IT developer, an administrative assistant or a writer, bid with your skills, not your fee. Most people find it difficult to sing their own praises, but the reality is that your competing freelancers will work hard to sound great.

If you are fairly inexperienced, honesty can sometimes be the best policy. Explain that you can do the job for less money as an opportunity to get started, or would be happy to go the extra mile to convince the client of your talent. The bigger a freelancer gets, the longer things take. Why not compete on speed if you can’t compete on experience?

4. Win The Work, Do The Work

At a time when my existing clients keep me largely away from People Per Hour, it’s been interesting to look back on those early days and how crucial the website was in getting my business off the ground. In preparation for this article, I was asked if there was one piece of advice that I would give to a new freelancer just getting started with a website like People Per Hour.

My answer was ‘Win The Work, Do The Work’. But don’t just do the work. Do it better. Do it on time. Do it early. Do it with such diligence, such enthusiasm and such commitment that once you have your first project, they quite simply never stop.