To Bid or Not To Bid: A Concise Guide On Marketplaces For Developers

to bid or not to bid

Where do junior developers find their work?

After finding out that your coding skills already allow earning some money, most people start completing some mini orders they’ve got through the word of mouth. Having gained some experience, they face the next choice. What to choose — the convenient and regular office highway or the tricky but still unbelievably alluring freelance path? Those who’ve made their choice long ago know perfectly well that freelancers don’t look for jobs chaotically: most of the time, they register on the websites called marketplaces where the possibility to find a job up to your demand is much higher. 

Two types of marketplaces

Independent contractors showcase their portfolios on freelance marketplaces, and the entrepreneurs (their potential employers) seek available hands for their projects. That’s the general gist. Depending on the internal procedure, all such marketplaces fall into two major categories. At bidding marketplaces, you compete to win the job (client’s offer) — sometimes agreeing on dire financial conditions to beat the competitors because the system is predominantly money-centered, not skill-centered. 

Not long ago, bidding platforms were the only available variant for freelancers searching for jobs online. But with the development of the gig economy, new non-bidding alternatives have appeared. At non-bidding (vetting) marketplaces, the developers are being pre-checked (before getting registered, they pass a few proficiency tests). Subsequently, vetting marketplaces offer them jobs according to their time/money demands and tech stack, arrange job interviews, and monitor client relations, trying to evade all bottlenecks and resolve as many troubles as possible. 

Interested? Read on. Let’s bite in deeper! 

Bidding platforms

What we see on bidding marketplaces is a so-called reverse auction. Sellers (developers) compete to win the contract, while buyers (clients) choose the most appropriate candidates (for the “classical” auctions, it’s mostly vice versa, hence the “reverse” part). Money is the king here along with reviews, and the skills are often secondary: the less you charge, the more chances you have to get the job and make your bid win. Will you earn enough? I don’t think so. 

bidding auction

How does it work?

  • Having registered on the service, freelancers pass some basic proficiency test(s), and the businesses undergo verification procedures. Afterward, they gain full access to all the possibilities of the marketplace.
  • To apply for the job, registered freelancers bid for it (name their prices and compete with each other). The competition is time-consuming and stressful since all the participants constantly lower their rates to win.
  • The client reviews all the bids, examines all the freelancers’ profiles, explores their online credentials, and chooses the most suitable for them. 
  • All the interactions occur between clients and freelancers directly. They don’t involve any third parties. The client support on the bidding marketplaces is often poor or absent. 
  • The website takes a fee for its service (see our previous article on that).

Now that we’ve done with the general overview let’s analyze the flaws and benefits of this kind.

Pros of bidding platforms

  • Low entry threshold: there are no specific live hard/soft skill tests for developers, just register and start;
  • High chances to kick-start your career: developers build up their portfolio right from the start, getting the first experience without any proficiency restrictions;
  • Even the beginners will find their clients: bidding platforms are trendy, and the demand there is constantly high — clients come there in search of the cheap workforce;
  • Newbies and pros are competing for bids on equal terms. Contractors don’t expect any credentials: they just want their tickets to be closed ASAP.

Cons of bidding platforms

  • Anyone can dump you when there’s no customer care. With a great number of chances to get a job comes an equally great number of chances to get cheated.
  • No screening — much trouble. You can’t tell a good client from a bad one. What are their objectives? How do they treat employees? Will your communication be a merry float or a complete disaster? Questions are everywhere, answers are unclear.
  • You have to waste a lot of time completing profiles and supplying info to enlarge the possibility of employment. 
  • A decent bid is hard to write. Faceless templates significantly reduce your chances of hiring. 
  • Bidding marketplaces take substantial commissions from both sides. E.g., Upwork charges 20% of your first $500 earned, Fiverr’s charge is just the same.

Bidding platform examples: Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr

However, freelancers who don’t want to sell themselves for absurdly low prices do have another choice. Those who quit Upwork tired and desperate of the price race can seriously consider leaving the world of freelance — but there’s one more kind of marketplace that can bring stability and decent income with no need of haphazard downplay. 

Non-bidding platforms

Contrary to bidding platforms, non-bidding (vetting) marketplaces are more skill-oriented. It means the key criterion for choosing suitable developers is their skillset, and the competition goes in the field of time/result. Money also matters, but it’s much more important for freelancers to get the job done than to compete for a lesser rate. 

Lemon.io is an iconic example of such a platform. We’ve been a marketplace for vetted developers since the start in 2015. Back then, we called ourselves Coding Ninjas and worked with a very narrow pool of Ukrainian developers (mainly our friends and friends of friends) specifying on WordPress. Now, we’ve constantly been expanding the pool of developers and opening new professional horizons. In 2021, we started hiring developers from Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Since March 2022, we’re hiring specialists from 18 more European countries. Let me recite the list in full. 

Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Moldova, Albania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Cyprus, Andorra, and Malta!

Ugh!

How does it work at Lemon.io?

  • Freelancers register on the website (fill in the form and upload the CV);
  • We verify their professional networks, language proficiency, communication/troubleshooting, and programming skills;
  • Those who pass become a part of the platform pool and get the “Available” status;
  • Our Sales team qualifies the client, collects all the data on their project, and hands them to the Matching department;
  • The Matching department selects an appropriate freelancer according to the knowledge/skills/experience specifications;
  • Our Sales specialists arrange the freelancer/client interview to discuss all the pertaining matters;
  • The Customer Care department resolves all the possible troubles of your interactions with the client.
web developer at work

Specialization of the vetting platforms

Frequently, too broad a target audience isn’t as helpful as it seems. Narrowing it down gives at least one concrete advantage. That’s a better selection mechanism I’m talking about. How’s it useful for a marketplace? If a marketplace is unspecialized, it means one can hire both web developers and web designers, artists, and copy editors there. Is it good? Not quite.

Entrepreneurs prefer a narrow focus: they address vetting platforms that are aces in their field. So do professionals: if you’re a web developer, you’re not interested in any random bazaars where your possible clients are constantly distracted with information noize. Below is a shortlist of specialized marketplaces just to illustrate the idea.

Lemon.io — software/web development

99Designs — graphic and web design

nDash — content writing

ClearVoice — content marketing

Pros of vetting platforms (e.g. Lemon.io, wink-wink)

  • You don’t need to sell yourself. Matching and Sales departments will do their job perfectly well;
  • You’ll surely get a match: the specialists register your tech stack and contact you as soon as it’s needed;
  • You don’t compete for a vacancy: we offer one dev for each project. We consider your preferences (domain, time zone, weekly hours) and match them with clients’ wishes, trying to arrange a perfect match (and we’re good at it!)
  • Forget about bids and downplays: with vetting, your rate is your rate, and it’s protected;
  • All the payments are guaranteed — we won’t cheat you (yes, you sign the contract);
  • The marketplace guarantees a smooth working process for both sides without any trace of micromanagement. Our native app helps you with the essentials (short reports and billing). You’re free to use any other assisting tools — we don’t micromanage anything but are always ready to help;
  • The Customer Success/Support departments are real and active. Any troubles? Call them. They will surely give you a hand!

Cons of vetting platforms 

  • The vetting process takes time, so be ready to spend it on tests. Every test helps the platform filter out the unskilled and defines the best possible clients for you. As many skills you have, as many tasks you can fulfill.
  • After a marketplace vets you, you stick to its rules and deadlines. You’d better don’t violate them unless you strongly want to change affiliation.
  • Most vetting platforms prefer strong middles and seniors to junior coders. Don’t hold a grudge against them: it’s the most efficient way to avoid subsequent troubles with clients unsatisfied by product quality.
  • Predominantly, vetting platforms specialize in finding professionals for long-term projects. If your vision of the ideal work presupposes frequent changes, you’d probably want to take a closer look at bidding marketplaces.

Now that you know much more about different marketplaces, you’re free to choose the one that suits you best. We, at Lemon.io, are always open for new skillful devs — and never let them stew on the benches, losing skills. Make your bid on the yellow field — and we’ll vet you ASAP.