I think it is important to start this off with a disclaimer. I was an active participant and user of oDesk, an online freelance marketplace. However, I also feel that freelance marketplace’s can create a trap for many freelancer’s.
Lack of Personal responsibility
Being a freelancer generally means that you have made the decision to be self employed. Self employment means that you are a business owner. As a business owner, you inherently agree to accept certain risks. These include the possibility of not getting paid for work, having times when there is no work (with no one to blame but yourself) and needing to market your services. All too often when you are active in a freelance marketplace, you are blaming others for your own shortcomings. Now this isn’t to say that everyone who utilizes freelance marketplaces has this mentality, however, a freelance marketplace can breed that mentality.
Creating A Safety Zone
All too often people who sign up on freelance sites take advantage of signing up on multiple sites and posting for jobs on all of them on a regular basis. They feel this is the best way to create a steady stream of income. This is certainly a valid thought, and in fact, you have to market yourself to every potential client when you submit a bid. But, whatever happened to stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks that you would normally take as a business owner?
If a freelancer continues to depend on only freelance marketplaces to get all of their income, they stand a great chance of seriously limiting their income potential. Since I am a freelance writer, I would like to focus on this one aspect of freelancing for the purpose of this article.
Freelance writers have so many opportunities to break out of their own comfort zones and take control of their destiny. Site like Wikinut, Xomba (and hundreds of others) allow you to write online and have more control of your income. Granted, it takes some time to get yourself established, just like it does with any other business venture, but in the long run, you are taking control of your own destiny. You and only you can control what you are making each month.
Issues with Freelance Marketplaces
If you go to nearly any freelance marketplace forum you are likely to be greeted with users who are unhappy about any number of things – some of the most common are:
- I have no experience so I can’t get my first job – This is a crock of nonsense – Every person who has ever signed up on a freelance site started out with no experience. You need to be creative, you need to write good cover letters and you need to sell yourself. If you don’t have experience on the freelance site you are signed up for, tap into your past experience by asking for references from former employers and co-workers and have them provide you recommendations on LinkedIn. Include this in your profile on a freelance marketplace.
- Buyers are not willing to pay me what I’m worth – It’s important to keep something in mind. Buyers are looking out for their bottom line. If your services are worth more than the next person’s then you (and only you) must convince the buyer of this fact. Perhaps this is done through a quality guarantee or other “hook” that you use to sell your service, remember, you need to be different than your competition. Buyer are not going to pay you what you think you are worth if they can’t get a grip on why you set your rates where they are. You cannot compete on rates, you must compete on quality and service.
There is little doubt that freelance marketplaces have created a safe-haven for many freelance writers and others who are new to freelancing. Freelance Marketplaces can help you get started however, they can also make you complacent. Don’t become a victim and depend solely on freelance marketplaces to gain experience. Take control of your future and your business and do not use freelance marketplaces as the be all and end all.