After Bidvine, where next?
I recently experienced firsthand the sometimes transient nature of online subscription services, and the lurching feeling of disappointment and frustration when a personal or professional account profile you've put some effort into building up suddenly disappears.
The service in question is/was Bidvine, an online marketplace for creative, freelance service providers - freelance web and graphic design in my case - and those looking to hire them. I discovered Bidvine whilst looking for ways to supplement my usual source of new work engagements - word of mouth and colleague recommendations. The pandemic, and the contraction and enfeeblement of many businesses that it has caused, has dented my ability to rely on this normally trustworthy supplyline, so aside from redesigning and repackaging my own freelance design services in the form of two shiny new websites, I realised I needed to be more proactive in raising my profile in the freelance marketplace generally, and after some research, Bidvine seemed like as good a place to start as any.
Bidvine was a perfect fit for me as it provided a ready showcase for the sorts of services I was selling - web design, graphic design, copywriting, SEO, etc - a steady stream of new jobs coming online, and didn't demand a big upfront financial commitment before you were able to put it to use and start contacting potential new contacts for real. Their business model was based on a fee per actual, live contact made with a potential new client, with a package of free contacts for all new subscribers.
Hell yeah, I thought. So I spent quality time building up my pro profile complete with project descriptions, portfolio samples and client testimonials, though the latter could only be added by the actual clients rather than me uploading ones I already had. This made complete sense of course, otherwise I or any other service provider could have added any old rubbish and pretended they were authentic, so top marks to Bidvine for that. The trouble was, however much a client loves you and what you did/do for them, they tend to be busy on other stuff when you come cap in hand asking for them to remember yet again how pleased they were with your work in a couple of pithy paragraphs by next Tuesday please. I'm lucky in having an array of lovely people as my clients past and present, so I was able to marshal them sucessfully and eventually compiled an impressive list of quality testimonials to help entice the Bidviniati to my charms. i
It took time and effort, but it was paying off handsomely with a steady tricke of new leads, new job tenders and the promise of more to come as my profile gained authority and credibility and the whole thing snowballed beautifully. And then I woke up one morning, went to check my overnight Bidvine activity and saw this page. Bidvine was kaput, gone into administration and/or bought out by Bark, and worse, all my account information and that of countless others was presumably trashed. I could only stare at the screen morosely and wonder at how happy the Bidvine owners and backers must have been at what was obviously a stealth buyout, and spit blood at how shabbily all us hapless Bidvine account holders had been treated - no recourse, no apology, no porting of our accounts info over to the new platform in any shape or form, and no way to get it all back.
Now, I don't really blame Bark for this, it's just the way of the world in business, especially online. I have had a net gain in terms of new contacts made, and I'm not actually out of pocket by very much, which is a mercy. But it does mean, if I want to keep plugged into the online freelance marketplace I have to find another service provider I can get on with as well as I did with Bidvine. Bark itself is the first and most obvious candidate, but they demand a significant upfront payment of other £300, with generaly only average reviews of the value of their service, and no way of getting any of that back if the platorm really doesn't agree with me.
So, this is my jumping off point for researching and picking and choosing from what is no doubt a multiplicity of other online design freelancer marketplace services, I just need to find the time and patience to start from scratch, and hope my clients don't mind me coming cap in hand once again to ask for those two or three pithy paragraphs by next Tuesday please.
Watch this apace for updates if you can keep your eyes open long enough!
UPDATE: Quite by chance, minutes after posting the above article, I discovered a button on the Bark site that allowed you to import your client reviews from your old Bidvine site! Huzzah!