People Per Hour: How to succeed as a freelance

People Per Hour

For those who don’t know, People Per Hour is a freelancing site that boasts around 4 million users, both employers and those hawking a variety of skills and services. I joined the site just before Christmas and thought I’d give you the benefit of my experience – particularly to those few on Twitter who contacted me recently and said they are yet to receive a job from the site.

There are two ways for freelancers to get work on the PPH site:

Bid on jobs

The first is to bid on jobs offered by employers. They post requests and freelancers say what they can offer and for how much. I’ve had little success going down this route (1 job in three months), but I have to admit that I haven’t tried terribly hard. The average number of bids appears to be around 15-30 which strikes me as bad odds, so I’ve opted for posting hourlies instead.

Post an hourly

An hourly highlights a service you offer as an individual freelancer. For instance, one of mine states: “I can write an engaging 500-600 word article or blog post for £10”. People visiting the site can choose to buy it and it’s the easiest way, I think, to get work. On PPH you can find a range of skills offered in this way from digital art, copywriting and web design to administrative and virtual PA services. This approach works for me and I’ve received longer term jobs following the purchase of a single hourly .

What does People Per Hour charge?

PPH charge 15% for the first £175 you earn in a month and after that 3.5% (both excluding VAT). Transfers of your hard earned money can receive a further 1.9% charge if it goes to PayPal but is free if it goes direct to your bank account.

You can choose to have your hourly featured (advertised) for 7 days or have your bid placed at the top of the queue for around £10.00. While some may baulk at this additional cost, it has worked for me.

Ratings on PPH

As with most freelancing sites, your work is rated 1-5 stars. Customer ratings add to your overall rating – PPH recently changed this to a Cert rating which, the higher you go, should mean you get more work (in other words, you become a trusted supplier). I’ve been there since December and I’m already on Cert 4 (out of 6).

How to increase your chances of success on People Per Hour

While this is not meant to be a promo for the site, I like People Per Hour because it’s simple to use and, so far, has been successful for me. That doesn’t mean work is going to drop like confetti into your lap – you have to put in the effort, and sometimes the money, to make it work for you.

  1. Write a good profile that gets straight to the point. While what you have done in the past may seem more important, try to concentrate on what you can provide. To use a time worn cliché: What are you bringing to the table?
  2. Have some samples. Provide customers with a selection of your work. Make sure it is of good quality and error free. If you are a writer put up 5 or 6 blog posts. If you’re a designer add jpegs of your work.
  3. Consider promoting your hourly. Yes, it’s an extra expense. No, it isn’t a con. When I first began it was tempting to sit there and just wait for the work to come rolling in. Unfortunately, no freelancing site works that way. I began to get work when I featured my hourly.
  4. If you land a job do it well and do it on time, no matter how small it is. Do I need to add anything to that? It’s obvious, right?
  5. Communicate. Some customers will give you all the details you need to complete a job, others may require a little prompting. Don’t try to use the force to complete a job, it rarely works. Ask for more details or clarification.
  6. Be customer focussed. If you get it wrong, offer to put it right and do so quickly. I have got it wrong once when a customer said what I’d written was too flippant for her audience. I swallowed my pride and rewrote completely and have since had 7 further jobs from the same customer.
  7. Be prepared to research and write on any subject. This week my brain hurts because I’ve had to write on currency transfers in China (which I know nothing about) and have just received an order for 4 blog posts on e-greeting cards (which I know even less about).
  8. Don’t sell yourself cheap. It may seem like a good idea to offer rock bottom prices to get yourself going. Resist the temptation – most people will equate low price with low quality work. Charge a reasonable price. If an employer expects you to work for peanuts then they are not worth your time.
  9. Be reliable. Here’s the good news: There are plenty of unreliable people out there, check some of the reviews on the site. If you provide a good service and bring it in on time and at the right price, customers will choose you again and again.
  10. Be patient. For the first couple of months I found the work patchy even after paying to feature my hourly. The work is now starting to build quite nicely. I have a good selection of 5 star reviews and a body of recent work with which to impress prospective clients. I’m not earning ga-zillions but I’m doing alright.

I’ll end this post with a gratuitous plug for PPH. If you click here you can go enrol and see if it works out for you. I wish you every success.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, please take the time to leave a comment below on any aspect of freelancing. We’d be interested to hear what you have to say.

9 thoughts on “People Per Hour: How to succeed as a freelance

  1. Helpful article, thanks. Have thought about freelancing but not sure I’ve got the confidence to put myself out there.

  2. Great post! I use PPH a lot as a freelance writer too, but I’ve actually had more luck on bidding for jobs than with hourlies – maybe I should consider featuring one or two of them to get the ball rolling!

    1. Thanks Claire, have just landed one job that I was asked to bid on, so going wooot! woot! around the room. Would be interesting to know what your top tips for bidding were (unless you don’t want to give away your state secrets).

      1. Excellent! Well done 🙂

        I think the thing that has been most beneficial is my marketing background to be honest. Whenever I bid if there’s an opportunity to offer some advice or insight into another area of their project from a marketing perspective then I will do. The fact that I see the bigger picture shows them that I fully understand the requirements of the brief.

        I’m also quite lucky in that my background is a mixture of tech writing and writing about the beauty/health industry. It’s a strange combination but a lot of the projects on there at the moment closely match my background.

        How did you get PPH to pick up your blog post?

      2. Thanks Claire. Normally tweet it a couple of times with @peopleperhour in the text and they pick up on it.

  3. I’ve often thought about freelancing but wasn’t sure where to start, so this has given me a few ideas! Thanks!

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