How to Succeed as a Freelancer on 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.

The Drunken Copywriter

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 offers instead.

Post an Offer

An offer highlights a service you are able to provide 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 .

People Per Hour Charges

PPH used to charge 15% for the first £175 you earned 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. This was all pretty good.

Unfortunately, they changed this about a year and a bit ago. They now charge 20% for the first £250 with one particular customer, 7.5% over £250 and under £5,000 and 3.5% for anything over £5,000. Understand this is per customer not your total revenue. So if you have a business where you are always getting new customers, you are always going to be charged 20%. I have just three customers where the total amount of revenue over the years has reached £5,000.

When the change happened, my charges went from about 7% a month up to about 14%. I’m not quite sure I’ve forgiven them yet.

You can also 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 worked for me at the start of my time on PPH. I haven’t had to use it since the first year.

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 on the site or about 8 years now and am a 5 star rated supplier.

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 (despite their increased fees) 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.

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

If you are looking to start as a freelancer and want a reasonably safe place to start and find customers, People Per Hour is a decent choice. The charging structure is a little on the high side but that’s largely due to lack of competition in the industry at the moment.