Are freelancer bidding sites worth your time? (Part 2)

Last week, I began an experiment on the bidding site, I bid using my stated parameters without considering whether the client’s budget range was high or low. Here are the results:

Bid 1: Minimum budget to be completed in 1 day
     My bid – $30 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 2: Minimum budget plus $5 in 2 days
     My bid – $255 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 3: Minimum budget plus $10 in 3 days
     My bid – $40 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 4: Average bid plus $5 in 1 day :
     My bid – $52 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 5: Average bid plus $10 in 2 days
     My bid – $65 | Accepted bid – $45 in 1 day (39 completed projects)
Bid 6: Average bid plus $15 in 3 days
     My bid – $73 | Accepted bid – $49 in 2 days (2181 completed projects)
Bid 7: Average bid plus $20 in 4 days
     My bid – $63 | Accepted bid – $40 in 2 days (86 completed projects)
Bid 8: Maximum budget less $10 in 1 day
     My bid – $240 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 9: Maximum budget less $5 in 2 days
     My bid – $655 | Accepted bid – none
Bid 10: Maximum budget in 3 days (a branding package)
     My bid – E18 per hour | Accepted bid – E12 per hour (43 completed projects)

To summarize:

  • To date, of the 10 bids, only 4 “closed”, with the other 6 “frozen”.
  • The 3 winning bids ranged from $40-$49 to be completed in 1 or 2 days; and a E12 per hour winning bid for a branding package
  • 2 of the winning bidders are teams of designers, both from Pakistan and the other 2 are individuals (Australia and Romania)
  • Only the last winning bidder held a standard (free) membership. The rest are premium members which means they can bid on 50 or more projects
  • All the winning bids (and almost everyone who bid) were generic, probably copy-pasted
  • I didn’t win any bids unless one of those frozen projects decide in “my favor”


You might have more success at this than I did if you’re willing to:
  • create a logo in 1 or 2 days for around $45
  • get a premium membership (starts at $4.95 a month) – so you can bid on more than 10 projects a month

If you’re doing it to build a portfolio and gain some experience go ahead. However, I still think going pro-bono and working for friends, family and local businesses will be a more rewarding experience. Also, once you start increasing your bid amount, you’re likely to be less successful at winning projects. I noticed that those who have long been at the site with thousands of projects completed, have steadily maintained an average bid of $45 for logo design. So I suggest marketing yourself elsewhere once you’ve done a few 45-dollar logos.

If the majority of my design career were spent on bidding, I imagine myself coming to resent it. To start with, yes. To keep at it,  not worth it. What do you think?

  • June 15th, 2012 /

6 Comments to “Are freelancer bidding sites worth your time? (Part 2)”

  1. Alan says:

    Hey I really love your posts, would like to share a experience I had. I’ve done spec but my business is more direct clients.

    I don’t want to take sides here. By the grace of God I’ve been able to pull off just enough revenue every month to remain content. I don’t really work for the money but chose queries based on level of challenge. Still I get a decent $1700-1800 per week.

    My bad experience started when I got a referral from one of these contest sites, where I had a dream run. The client wanted graphics for a mobile application. Around 100-150 different elements. All was well until it came to the rate. I was comfortable enough to ask him his budget. To my shock he quoted $ 60. Any how I stated that even for the usual logo we charge $700.

    After negotiating for a while, I decided to go forward since I liked his idea for the app. Nevertheless. It’s been a month, have transferred the final files all 150 of them, along with their source files in Illustrator under a week.

    But he demanded more and more revisions. It’s been a month and we have generated close to 500 files, he keeps giving deadlines. Even when we submit before that he seeks more variations. He said he wanted the files or the money back. After a whole months time, he has approved the final files. I’m thinking of transferring 3 times the amount, just to show him how much it effort is actually put by designers.

    I’m thinking the problem started because, the designers worldwide are downgraded by the sheer low price of these contest sites. For your information, the client is not from a third world country. Their company is established in one of the most stable economies in Europe.

    Also ironical is he didn’t even bother to see my portfolio before the project began. All these companies that ‘crowdsourcing’ see designers as people in sweatshops generating products like a supply line in a factory. They don’t want relationships or see designers as personalities.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Grace Oris says:

    Hi Alan. Thanks for sharing. I’m surprised you still took on the project but well, no help for it now.

    Some designers say, and I have to agree, that clients with the lowest budgets tend to be the most demanding and least professional.

    It’s a sad state we’re in now, that designers aren’t much respected like most professionals and yes, one big reason are low price rates. On a positive note, such sites attract those clients we don’t want to work with anyway.

  3. chris says:

    seems worse than 99designs,this sites ruining design industry

  4. Stef says:

    Hello Grace,
    I just discovered your interesting blog. I am a Graphic Designer who have been in and out-of-the-market for a while, having done other things, and I was considering (even if a bit reluctantly) to try with such sites… But having read your posts, I need to thank you for your words and advice. Even if I tried to participate in a couple of contests years ago, also in order to refresh my skills, I had always been puzzled by the really low participate/win ratios I saw in most profiles, so perhaps I’ll find different ways 🙂

  5. Topher says:

    Hi Grace,

    Glad to have directed to your post. I’ve been on 99designs for about 2 years now, won 19 out of 91 contests and earned 16k on site and 8k+ on follow ups. As of now I’m only using it for 1-to-1 projects and haven’t been on a contest for 2 months now because of follow up projects from my previously won contest. Now I feel like not getting to anymore contest because often it can be so disappointing not to win when comparing my much better design to those chosen as winning designs. And sometimes I see winning designs incorporated with some of my entries design elements.

    Recently I though of signing in on a bidding site like, but still there are this consequences and I thought it would pretty much be the same being on 99designs with minor differences.

    I’ve been looking for pros and cons of getting a project to contests or bidding sites but I can’t find any. Maybe you have some insights with regards to this.

    Regards from Baguio

  6. Grace Oris says:

    Hi Topher,

    Thanks for the comment. Good to hear you’ve had follow-up projects after the contest 🙂

    I can’t say there are much pros in contest or bidding sites. If you count it as a pro to gain some experience, maybe, but there are other and better ways of gaining experience. Thing is, sites like these are where most clients go to get cheap labor and usually, they aren’t the sort of clients you’d really like to work with anyway. The clients you want to keep are those who respect you and your work and know the value of your time. They don’t see you merely as one among ten thousands who are willing to work for cheap, or none at all.

    I suggest you stay clear of bidding and spec sites. There are clients and projects to be found in other places 🙂