PPH Premium Accounts launching soon

August 7, 2008

Despite the current economic conditions, the summer months are proving to be buzzing with activity, with many small businesses looking to outsource more and more projects to PPH providers.

Alongside with the growth of the past few months have also naturally come a few challenges for PPH:

1. Providers who frequently win smaller projects (<£150) would like to see the minimum commission fee (£15) drop.
2. Highest earning Providers are now earning considerable amounts through PPH, hence they would like to see the 10% PPH commission rate drop.
3. Buyers have difficulty in finding providers with the relevant skills in each category, because a large number of providers are subscribed to most categories.
4. Buyers get a large number of bids for their projects but in some cases, the bids are coming from providers who do not have any of the necessary skills for the job at hand (at least on their profiles).

Taking everything into account, we have decided to introduce Premium accounts for PPH Providers later this month. This basically will enable PPH Providers to upgrade their membership to a ‘Gold’ or ‘Platinum’ monthly plan to suit their individual needs. Premium accounts will be subject to lower commission fees (both % and minimum commission) for a very small monthly subscription.

In addition, the Providers that would like to remain on the free, standard membership will continue to be subject to the current commission structure, but with some restrictions on the number of free bids they can place each month and the number of project categories they can bid on. More details on the different membeship plans below:

  Standard GOLD PLATINUM 
Monthly Fee Free £7.95 £14.95
Monthly Credit allowance  3 20 80
Additional credits (per bundle of 10)  £5.95 £4.95 £4.95
Service Categories 1 2 Unlimited 
Max No. skills listed in profile 10 15 20
Profile listing 
Hosted portfolio  2Mb – 5 files 10Mb – 10 files 20Mb – 20 files
Additional service categories  £5.95/mo £3.95/mo Free
Service (Commisison Fee)  10.00% 8.50% 7.50%
Minimum service (Commission Fee) £15.00 £10.00 £10.00
       
Project Value Credits/bid
Less than £250 1    
£250 – £500 2    
> £500 3    

We hope you agree that this change will be beneficial for all: more flexibility for Providers, better quality bids and profiles for Buyers (and hence more work for everyone) and any monthly subscription fees generated will be used by PPH to increase the marketing activities and bring even more Buyers and projects to the site.

We would like to get your feedback on the proposed changescontact us through the site or simply leave a comment on the blog with your thoughts.

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22 Responses to “PPH Premium Accounts launching soon”

  1. Vladimir Says:

    Hi, this is a great offer! Good conditions, espessially the possibility of the opportunity to get the commissions while having a free account.

  2. james Says:

    So reading this and the mail you sent, what you are actually saying is that if people want to use your service, and despite your own commission taken on won projects, you would like more funds!!

    Let’s make no mistake a standard “free” membership allows for only 3 bids per month. If as you claim everyone os doing so well of your site, 3 bids is useless so everyone winds up paying a monthly fee!!

    Well done PPH you have just created a new revenue stream that is pretty much guaranteed. Credit Crunch, What Credit Crunch???!!!!!!

  3. Rob C Says:

    I think this is definitely a good move – projects being flooded with a massive number of bids (90+ in some cases) is a bad situation for everyone; as a provider I’m frustrated that my own well-thought out bid ends up buried under the volume of other bids, and when I’ve been a buyer on the site, the number of poorly thought out (and as mentioned above, usually badly suited) bids received is extremely irritating.

    This looks like a great mechanism for ensuring that everyone carefully selects which projects they put in for, to the benefit of both sides of the table.

    I’m also a big fan of your commission reduction idea 😉

    Good thinking folks!

  4. Mark Woolf Says:

    It is very difficult to leave a meaningful comment unless we know more about your operation. For example,
    1. how much do you charge buyers?
    2. how many providers do you currently have by category on your books? This information would be needed to give us some idea of the chances of regular/ semi-regular/occasional/rare work.

    On the face of it, there would not seem to be sufficient incentive to up-grade to a paying membership, certainly unless your providers know a little more on the lines of the above.


  5. I don’t care for these changes, largely because they move the source of PPH’s revenue stream from the buyer to the provider. As it stands now, all of PPH’s income comes from connecting Buyers and Providers.

    Moving to a subscription-based model changes that. With a subscription-based model you no longer have to link Buyers and Providers in order to make a profit. If necessary you can simply rely on the Provider subscriptions for your base income.

    On the surface, your new model appears to follow that of eLance, with extremely restricted free memberships. If you must go to a subscription-based model, which I do not consider a good idea, I would recommend looking more closely at GetaFreelancer than eLance.

    Your current projection would allow a free member (who is paying more in commission) to apply for at most three projects a month. This is a serious disincentive to new Providers. On GetaFreelancer I can apply to 25 jobs a mont h on my free membership, where eLance allows only 3 bids on small projects. Rentacoder has no limits that I know of, while oDesk limits vary from five to twenty bids per week depending on feedback.

    One problem I see with this is that new Providers are more likely to use more bids than seasoned Providers, because they don’t have work yet. This is penalizing the newcomer much more than it is rewarding the experienced Provider. At the very least I would recommend an increase in bid points to 10 for the free membership so that people on that membership level have a chance to work within the system and then decide to buy a membership.

    As it is, the system you have proposed is working more toward the negative than the positive. It feels like you are penalizing free members more than rewarding paid members.

    This approach is more likely to reduce than increase Provider loyalty.

  6. Mario A Says:

    For well established providers this is good but what about new starters. I was monitoring this website to learn how it works and to see the possibilities of becoming a freelancer. I think this has killed the main scope now.

    I think the main aim in doing this is for this website to make more money. The above is all excuses although I have to give credit that propably Buyers where having a lot of biders with not enough knowledge. I am sure that there are other better ways of proving skills then by locking down the website with a monthly fee.

    I so no great thinking in this.

  7. Roger Cook Says:

    I basically think this is ok – I also use elance and the combination of monthly and project fee is a bit of a pain but something I factor into my price etc – biggest pain at the moment with elance is being paid in USD which halve in value by the time you get it in sterling.

    I do agree with the comment re new providers – having just been in this phase you do make a lot of bids as (a) you have no profile and (b) you’re learning how to calibrate bids:projects. So why not allow a 3 month start up phase with a higher volume of activity?

    My biggest gripe with the elance process is the number of projects that get posted and nothing ever happens again – so you use up time and money bidding on what may well not really exist

  8. Steve Nicolle Says:

    Like the above, I’ve been monitoring the site and am seriously disappointed by this development. Are there similar plans to charge buyers a monthly fee? Frankly some of the projects I’ve seen posted are simply derisory in terms of what’s been asked and what’s expected for the budgets described – surely it would be better to discourage that kind of project by introducing fees for buyers than providers.
    And in terms of wading through lots of responses to projects – I think the serious provider will always stand out from the crowd by submitting a more comprehensive, well thought out and results-oriented proposal.
    One of my main beefs with the system proposed is not just the number of bids allowed, but the number of service categories – only 1 for free is bad enough, but only 2 for Gold – that’s unacceptable. Particularly since buyers don’t really seem to pay serious attention to the categories when posting. I’ve seen lots of projects posted that should be in my categories, but are completely misplaced – so even though I have the skills and experience to bid, under the new system I wouldn’t be able to.
    Please reconsider this change – if need be raise the basic commission – at least it’s a clear and simple structure that might discourage buyers from posting projects on the ‘cheap’.

  9. Pete Says:

    Not sure. This site is already creating very poor people. Now you’re asking those poor people to pay for the privilege.

  10. Koenraad Debedts Says:

    Funny thing, as always, pay

    No thank you, I have enough regular clients

  11. Paul Says:

    This is about PPH realising that currently income is based upon the number of projects posted rather than the number of providers. Since the number of providers far exceeds the number of posted projects, the new structure switches that position earning money from people who until now haven’t been paying anything when their bid is not accepted.

    So now PPH make money from people bidding and from people having accepted bids. So on the face of it this changes PPHs income stream dramatically.

    Most of my bids aren’t accepted, so now I have to balance the cost of making bids (via the subscription) against the reduced commission fees. Clearly a certain level of success is required to make it worthwhile, while currently there’s no need to be concerned if a buyer buys or not.

    People who aren’t successful will start losing out and I guess disappear.

    I don’t think it matters too much about how many bids a buyers gets – it’s hardly difficult to choose. I usually don’t bother bidding if there are a lot of other bids.

    I wonder how PPH will handle pulled projects – they will have to reimburse credits to all the providers who have made a bid..

    Overall I’m not sure how it will affect me. There’s going to be a cut-off point where providers have to earn at least £X per month to benefit from the changes. In reality most of the current providers may not be making that magic figure and be paying more.

    At the end of the day, the change is intended to earn PPH more income and that will come at the expense of less successful providers.

    Paul

  12. Edward Moss Says:

    Well, here we go again!

    I’ve seen it all before.

    What started out as essentially a very good and unique idea is going the way of all the others.

    Up the Swanee without a paddle.

    Sorry guys, you’re sacking the knowledgeable personnel manager and putting a completely dysfunctional HR department in instead (if you get my drift, although all HR depts are dysfuntinal, but that’s another story).

    Stupid Gold, Silver, Bronze, Wooden, Concrete levels, credits, set limits, confusing terms and conditions, premium accounts, basic accounts, Selfridge accounts, monthly usage, weekly usage, upgrades, downgrade, sidegrades – all silly terms – all quantified and qualifed by twee and stupid excuses for so doing because t is claimed “people want” (what people in their right mind would want this system you propose?). Absolute nonsense the lot of it.

    “It’s beneficial for all” (except for the providers of course) i.e. “Its better for PPH’s profitability”
    “Better quality and bids” (er, what’s wrong at the moment, let the customer decide)- i.e. “There’s a great meaningless statement we can make”
    “More work for everyone” (er, yes, a jolly good USP, even if it is Cloud Cuckoo Land, completely unsubstianted and uuntrue). i.e. “We have to say that coz it looks good”

    I don’t decry anyone making a living and a profit – PPH has been a wonderful invention.

    But now, it appears greed is setting in, as the goose has laid the golden egg.

    But geese have a short life.

    I’ve supported you since you started the site. In fact, I got wind of it when I was working at DWPand though “what a great idea”. The commission has crept up – OK, can handle that by not bidding for £20 jobs. More competition for bids has since the inception – fair enough, I just ensure that I bid for jobs I know I can do and ones I know match my area of expertise.

    Sorry guys, you’re going to kill this one stone dead. It won’t appeal to people trying to simply earn extra income (who will drop out) and it will become the job board for full timers. Regulars will drop out and you’ll actually start to lose the expetise base.

    If you are going ahead with this barnpot fee structure, please let me know as soon as possible so I can start my own eplacement scheme on the basis of your original idea – i.e. the simple matching of creative suppliers to customers for a fee.

    Don’t lose it guys. It would be a great shame.

  13. Richard Says:

    Will freelancers now be called ‘subscriptionlancers’?
    (tongue in cheek?)

  14. Deepa Says:

    Guys!, i really hate to say this, but

    You just came up with a perfect strategy to chase independent providers out of PPH

    my 2 cents as independent freelancer.

    A How about allowing the buyers to present a standard set of questions which can be answered by genuine providers of that area only. This should eliminate most of the bogus bids.

    B 3 bids per month for one category is practically useless. And the category restriction add insult to the injury.

    C Providers will act more responsibly if you would release the category restriction, and instead enforce a 5 bid per week restriction. I hope asking for 1 bid per working day (Monday – Friday ) is not too much.

  15. Ann Sonya Says:

    I’m not sure the minimum monthly sub of £7.95 and the 1.5% reduction in commission adds up to any benefit at all – for novice online bidders like me, especially on smaller jobs (it adds up for PPH, we can see)… What I mean is:
    a monthly bid success rate of say one smaller job at say £150 – for new providers, who opt for the minimum (‘Gold’) sub – works out as follows:
    12.75 plus 7.95 = £20.70 to PPH & £5.70 less net gain for providers than the existing pay plan. Moreover, the new plan brings increased stress to new providers – from the ‘treadmill’ strategy’ = have to stay on board once they commit with payment, to try and improve earnings potential with more bids, more work … not helpful nor encouraging nor friendly for new providers.
    I don’t know what is really causing PPH to make this decision to notch up lots of subs dosh from bidders… but there are fast track milking smells from the dairy – so I bid to stay free…
    Good luck to those of us who take our talents elesewhere.

  16. Kate Naylor Says:

    A difficult situation. I can see why it is a problem for buyers having to trawl through loads of inappropriate bids. I also agree that the commission fees can feel a bit painful under some circumstances.

    But it’s a shame that us well-behaved freelancers, who only bid carefully on relevant projects that we’re capable of undertaking, have to be penalised for the actions of the piss takers!

    Even if you’re new to freelancing, you shouldn’t be bidding for projects that you can’t do. Practising your skills on someone else’s business just isn’t on. If you don’t have the basic skills you need to go freelance, get them first.

    I’m racking my brains for a way to prevent freelancers – experienced or not – from bidding madly and driving buyers nuts. Easier said than done. But it strikes me that a monthly subscription might deter them. Perhaps the fact that it’s free to bid, willy nilly, encourages mickey-taking?

    Personally I’m happy to pay either a fee or commission on projects. But having to pay both would be a great disappointment.

    Otherwise, this is the best freelancer site I’ve come across – in fact it is the only one I use these days. The rest are either full of ridicuously low-priced projects, or charge too much, or are just too busy with too many bids posted to be worth applying for. I’ve recommended PPH to several people in the last few months and would love to keep doing so.

    I hope you manage to sort something out. This is a great place. Now and again I get a lovely project via PPH. I’d like it to stay great!

    😉 Kate

  17. Simos Says:

    Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to provide us with valuable feedback so far – it’s important for us to hear your thoughts so please do continue to send us your comments on this and any ideas that you might have that could help us improve.

    Please rest assured that we do take all you comments, negative and positive, on board and all the feedback we get is really helping us shape the site.

  18. Catherine Says:

    Is there any plans to make buyers monthly fee. It would be a great disappointment to have to pay a monthly fee.

    You mention providers bidding for a lot of projects and yes I agree this can be annoying, however I have also noticed an increase in buyers never even accepting a bid.

    Just to make this straight you are asking providers to pay £14.95 per month to have 80 bids and in some instances if the provider bids on the wrong peoples projects, the provider could end up wasting several if not all of their allowance and in turn £14.95.

    Come on you have a fantastic website and tool for freelancers so why spoil it, if you have to make changes to increase your income their must be a fairer way to do it.

  19. Lorraine Says:

    I have only bid on jobs within my areas of expertise, but of those jobs, the vast majority have never been assigned to a bidder. It seems a little unfair to be expected to pay in advance for bidding on projects that are never awarded.

    Will we be re-imbursed if jobs haven’t been awarded after a set period of time from the closing date?

  20. Tia Lush Says:

    I have to agree with the majority of comments here.

    You currently have a very good website and fee structure – it makes your service stand out from the rest of the crowd, one of the main reasons I chose to use your service above the others. If you go ahead with this new membership system you will be just like the rest. A real pity as I will be reluctant to use your service if that happens.

    Yes it must be annoying for buyers to get poor and irrelevant bids, but it’s easy enough to press ‘delete’ if need be.

    You say that you want to raise the level of quality bids by creating the new membership packages. When what is actually going to happen is that you can still submit poor quality bids, but now you will have to pay for the privilege. Who wins here? Not the Buyer or the Provider.

    Please reconsider implementing this. There must be another way for you to make money without resorting to ripping off your freelancer user base.

  21. Edward Moss Says:

    Well Simos. Over to you.
    As someone who has experience of qualitative research in both the public and private sectors, it seems when discussing this premium account idea, “lead” and “balloon” come to mind!
    I have shown your proposal to a business guru lecturer friend of mine from Leeds University. His comments were:
    1. The current PPH site is an outstanding model for matching skills to those people requiring them in a most ethical and credible manner.
    2. The site profit geretation at time of transaction at project agreement is actually the best for ensuring jobs are undertaken. The element of speculation is taken out on behalf of suppliers and you the site owners will get paid once the project goes ahead.
    3.The new structure proposed is actually unworkable, and will completely purge the talent pool of a raft of disaffeted creatives.
    4. A site called BizReef works in a similar manner to what you are proposing here, with bid payments upfront. It has turned into a hotch potch forum where the majority of projects are from students who can’t read, write or communicate [possibly the vast majority of students] and just want writers to bid to write their theses. It has the credibility of a shoe box and the only people winning are the site owners.
    5. 14 out of 19 comments are cold to the idea – that’s 74% against.

    Don’t do a Mugabe on this.

    Regards
    Ed

  22. Paul Says:

    In this scheme, how does PPH propose to deal with buyers that

    1) Have projects pulled by PPH for whatever reason
    2) Never accept a bid from the providers for a project

    Many buyers just seem never to actually accept bids and in your new plan, providers are paying for the privilege of bidding on projects that don’t go forward.


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