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Freelance marketplaces are theoretically brilliant because they can bring you work from the four corners of the Earth. But the global, anonymous nature of the network also has downsides. Most significantly – it’s incredibly easy to create a fake profile, engage a gaggle of freelancers and then disappear with a clutch of free work.
The following should ring alarm bells:
Upwork and their ilk have systems designed to protect both the freelancer and the client, but you can render them useless by contravening their terms. Whenever possible, work within the rules of your chosen marketplace – it’s for your own good!
Jobs on freelance marketplaces might be abundant, but they can also be terribly paid. The global nature of freelance marketplaces is wonderful in many ways, and it works brilliantly for many freelancers and clients, but the system generally favours people who have a lower cost of living.
We’ve put together a list of freelance job sites that can actually pay well – of course you still need to proceed with caution, but we’ve heard good things about these ones.
A large proportion of gigs posted on freelance marketplaces are low-value and low-prestige. These jobs might be great fodder for the newbie, but they’re no good for anyone wanting to build a profile or challenge themselves.
What kind of client uses oDesk, Upwork, Guru and Freelancer.com? Typical clients using these services are:
So while you might find a very rewarding job with a genuine family-run business, you may have to dodge a lot of bullets first.
Freelance marketplaces reward your devotion. You do a few projects, get some badges to add to your profile, receive some nice feedback and you feel like you’re succeeding. You now find it easier to win the low-value, low-prestige jobs, and can spend less time writing proposals and more time earning $12 an hour.
But, if you build your reputation on Upwork or Guru, your reputation is confined to that service. The credentials you amass on someone else’s network are very hard to transfer. Sure, you can add those projects to your portfolio, and copy and paste the feedback, but ultimately your eggs are all in someone else’s basket.
If you build your reputation in the real world, it’ll grow legs and carry you far. If you do great work for a local business, other people will hear about it. Instead of getting referrals from some other SEO/spammer/conman, you’ll be getting calls from reputable businesses keen to pay you a fair price for valued work.
Why not invest time in creating your own web presence? If you can create an Upwork profile, you can definitely create a website. Make your own online marketing funnel and free yourself from the grubby mitts of the freelance marketplaces.
What if your freelance marketplace goes bust? Or starts charging you fees? Or bans you for life? These are more good reasons for ensuring your profile (and the value you’ve built from it) isn’t confined to just one marketplace.
You could create your own small business website in minutes using (amongst others):
Our article “Generate leads for your small business – the ultimate checklist” gives you a great summary of all the ways you can find new customers. Give it a look – you may not have thought of some of them!