Chances are you have heard about these famous job sites like Upwork, Elance (recently acquired by Upwork), Freelancer, Fiverr, and even Craigslist, Flexjobs or Linkedin. If you are just starting out or struggling with finding consistent brilliance of work, these are going to look very appealing. But, are they really worth for you even if you are really struggling with making money freelancing?
From the outside, these sites look very appealing. Just look at those potential clients you could be working with! But, at a second look, these freelance sites are going to hinder your freelance business, especially if you are just starting out.
Freelancing is hard, especially if you are looking to build an initial client base. So, when work is slow, why not turn to a marketplace full of potential work?
From a personal standpoint, I thought the same thing when I first started freelancing. Back in high school, I signed up for these websites, pretty much all of them. I have to admit I was afraid some less known websites might be scam. In spite of that, I created profiles and started building project after project. So eventually I did land into my first project and after completing it, I made a very little amount of money in a pretty reasonable amount of time; I felt pretty great. So I had just to stick with it and turn this into a steady flow income. Right? Wrong! I was so wrong!
By spending so much time on these websites, I essentially put on the brakes on growing as a freelancer. Sure, I was getting some sort of experience from these “real” projects, but in the end, I was just wasting more time than anything else. I mean I spent weeks, possibly even months trying to find the right site for me, setting up a profile, and reaching 100% by taking skill tests to try to prove my experience.
The icing on the cake is these sites take a percentage of all of your earnings. So, you can say “bye” to that ten dollars off for that one hundred dollar logo you just did. But here’s the worst part. In the end, those clients aren’t even yours. They are customers to the website. These people know it’s an overpopulated website, full of unqualified freelancers, trying to underbid each other.
So, should freelancers use these job building websites?
Absolutely not. Not if you want to build a thriving career for yourself online. There is maybe 1% of people that are actually making some sort of living off of these websites and those people are going to say that these websites are gold mines. But would you be proud of being a 1% of running a profile on other company’s website? If so, then this article is not for you. But, if you are in this for the long game, if you are ready to be taken seriously as a freelancer and you want to build a serious business that you can be proud of, then keep reading further!
The sooner you start building an actual business around your skills and start promoting yourself as a professional, the sooner you are going to start having clients knocking at your door. Your goal should be to build a real business around what you like to do. If you want to build a fulfilling career, then you need to avoid the job sites and start investing all of your time in yourself and in building real client relationships. Focus on building a brand around yourself.
If you are struggling with standing out online as a freelancer, find one-two things that you enjoy doing and what you can actually help people with and start creating content around that and clients will start noticing you. You can create case studies with the work you have already done, you can share tips on what you know and do tutorials, you can talk about your experiences on your blog or simply write about the challenges you have overcome. Just be human and the possibilities are really endless.
Running a successful freelance business isn’t about listing as many projects as you can, it’s about listing the right projects. These are the types of projects that really excite you and motivate you to wake up every day, the ones that you hope will grow in the right direction.
Creating content and building a brand around yourself is certainly going to take a lot more time but who said this was going to be easy? Who said doing what you love and making a living off of it was going to be a breeze? By making a name and putting yourself out there, you are making your own luck. You are building opportunities for yourself and the projects and the time you invest in yourself today can be what brings in client work tomorrow and for years to come.
So, would you rather be bidding for peanuts or doing work that you enjoy and that you can be proud of?
These are my personal thoughts based on my own experiences with using freelance job building websites. I do honestly believe that you will be tremendously better off if you invest in yourself rather than other companies’ websites.
I hope the information I shared in this article will help you stay strong and not invest your time into the wrong things because your time is precious and you can’t get that back once you spend it. So, spend it wisely!
What do you think about freelance websites? Have you ever used them? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts and experiences.