If you're not familiar with contract bid sites such as Elance.com, they are simple to understand. Basically, I like to describe them as an "Ebay for services." A potential employer posts a project, and providers (such as freelance writers) bid on finishing the project, highlighting their qualifications.
Writers tend to have various opinions about these kinds of bid sites. I've encountered many people who have no interest in using them, and hold that the wages are awful. On the other hand, my personal experience with them has been positive. I never dip below my set fee structure, and still usually find one or two projects a month who are willing to pay what I ask. One thing that seems to draw me to them is how quickly I can pick up work to fill out my schedule. Often, when a writer applies for freelance jobs through freelance writing job lists and other resources, you wait weeks or even a month or two for a project to begin. Bid sites generally feature quck turnaround.
If you are a beginning freelancer, I feel that bid sites are a good place to start. What is your experience with them?