Freelance websites (success stories? thoughts?)

  • Has anyone had any experience with websites for freelancers? Just signed up to upwork, but nearly every budget is ridiculous for the work advertised, such as 4 fully colored illustrations for $45 and it seems people are actually bidding for those jobs. I'm sure Will must have a video about that somewhere, but in the meantime, has anyone found any great projects from upwork or similar websites or it is a minefield of terrible clients?

    (also to add that the website takes 20% of the fee...)

  • Hi hired quite a few freelancers on Upwork working as AD...and some for my own business too (the one that did my website, for example).
    Conclusion: I would never offer my services as a freelancer on Upwork. I have a private profile there as copywriter, funny enough, but I've only bid for jobs once or twice (I thought it would be a way to practice some writing).
    There's nothing wrong with Upwork per se, and while both quality and prices are all over the spectrum there are skilled freelancers there, doing good work for a fraction of the Western World fees. BUT - if you offer work on Upwork you are targeting a client group that is mostly concerned with budgets AND you are competing on pricing with people who live in India, China, Philippines, Eastern Europe and loads of other countries where the cost of living is very low. If you live in Europe or US you simply cannot win a race based on pricing and you cannot make that a defining element of your business.
    That's why I also react coldly to people that ask for your "fees" or "how much would it cost to do x..." in the first contact. It may turn out to be an awesome opportunity but my first reaction is: "if that is your main concern, then you're probably looking in the wrong place...".
    That said, there is definitely a place for people in the upper range of budgets on Upwork too, and I've hired a few of those through the portal too - but it depends on the kind of service and I'm not sure illustration is a good one.

  • Well, yea. It's pretty much a minefield of terrible clients. But there's no denying that there are a few respectable ones as well.
    There are a lot of bad things to say about those websites. I guess the biggest argument against them is that they take down the value of the whole market when people are willing to work for so little. But there's not much to do about it in the global economy. Someone from Thailand is able to make a living for way less than someone from the UK, no matter where they provide their services, so us rich westerners just have to make up for it with skills.

    I'm on one of those websites, and even though I get most of my work elsewhere now, I do get a good client from there every once in a while. Those 20% they take seems unfair, but it's really similar to having an agent taking a percentage. Those 20% is what you pay for having someone else doing the marketing for you.
    I joined it when I was a complete newbie, and I've been treating it as my education. Instead of paying for an education (that I can't afford), I get paid for it, even if it isn't much. I've dealt with the worst clients imaginable, and have made very few good contacts, but it has taught me a lot about the business and how to deal with clients. Now that I'm a bit more established, the clients I get seems like a dream,and I know that I'll probably get even better ones in the future.
    So, for making a decent living (living in the west) I wouldn't recommend it. For some first hand experience on dealing with clients and finishing projects and all that, it could be a valuable source for getting into it. But don't sell out. There are a lot of cheap and terrible clients, but there are still a few good ones, and some in between.

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