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Why Freelance Work Websites Have Become A Terrible Bargain Bazaar

12 March 2019 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Temping

Why freelance sites are failing

Leaping into the world freelancing can be one of the scariest decisions anyone can make, trading the comfort of an assured monthly salary to live, work and earn a living all on your own steam. It's an admirable decision, and a road less travelled for a reason, with plenty of pitfalls along the way. The make or break of any freelancing career is sourcing and retaining client work.

New freelancers are turning to popular freelance websites to source client work which was great at first, but these platforms are starting to sour the experience for both freelancers and clients of late. There is a growing trend moving towards a push for cheaper services and negotiating solely on price, that is creating an alarming race to the bottom.

Freelance sites sending the wrong message

If you have a look at any of the popular freelance sites they often look at recruiting businesses to use their service to "save money" and get things done cheaper and faster. Freelancers, if used strategically, can provide brands with the freedom to spend within their budget and still get tasks done promptly and at a high standard of quality. However, the constant fixation on price has many clients expecting a cheap source of labour where they can haggle and often treat freelancers as expendable when compared to how they would treat a private freelancer, merely because they have a range of offers to choose from. 

While it may be seen as a free market for services both freelancers and clients, need to be honest about their expectations and find matches that suit both parties. There are many clients looking for quality work, they're looking for volume at the cheapest rate, clients like these cannot be reasoned with, and your value and skill mean very little, the price is the only factor.

Try not to spend to much time negotiating with these clients, there are plenty of freelancers who will, but you need to know your worth, rather focus on ones that are willing to match your rate and you can build a long lasting relationship based on quality work.

Freelance bidding is a race to the bottom

If clients are only worried about getting the most work done for their spend trying to compete with a global market of cheap labour is going to be an exercise that will cost you more in the long run. You will always be outbid by some freelancer in India or another country where they are willing to work for $3 - $5 an hour, and there's simply nothing you can do about that. If the client prefers that, it's their choice, and you need to cut your losses and move on.

You also need to remember to factor in opportunity costs, the time it took you to win that client and do the work you could have spent sourcing a better job and working at a higher rate per hour.

Top clients don't use freelance sites

The chance of the marketing manager of big brands or startups looking at freelance sites for work is slim, they are looking for your assistance that you can be assured of. If you're worthwhile and it makes sense, brands can be very accommodating, they are of course business people. To augment your freelance work from these sites you should also tap into other forms of lead generation such as:

Cold calling

Don't be shy to DM, email or even call businesses you come into contact with and that you think may require your expertise, give them a brief introduction and an offer to collaborate on a trial period. Perhaps offer an enticing introductory offer to get your foot in the door and build your relationship from there.

Referral network

It goes without saying, in the freelance world, clients are your best marketing tool. Speak to clients you work with or have worked with and ask them for introductions and referrals it never hurts to let people know you're available for work, you will be the first person they think of when they need the service you offer.


I realise blogging may seem outdated and a weird way to source work but it does work and helps you set yourself apart from your competitors. Blogging helps put your name out there and also gives you a creative outlet to showcase your work, insights and expertise. 


Ensure that you optimize your LinkedIn profile for your freelance niche and use the keywords that people are most likely to use when looking for your services with Linkedin's internal search. Post regularly and give updates on work you're doing and create content around insights you may find or want to share, add marketing managers of brands you want to work with and start growing a broader network to broadcast towards.

Freelance sites don't help you build a reputation

When you centre all your attention and effort into sourcing work from these freelance platforms, you often neglect opportunities in other areas. Instead of focusing on work you can get from social media sites or spending time building your online reputation. Freelance sites want to keep you dependent on them for work, and this can make freelancers desperate especially during those thinner times which will come around. This will eventually lead you to compete on price to grab a few scraps of work.

Combine freelance sites with private work

If you're already using freelance sites and built up a solid track record, by all means, I encourage you to keep using the service to source projects and build long term client relationships. Learn to source work from your referral network or contacting brands you would like to work with you'll be surprised at the responses you get especially if you have your site where you can showcase your portfolio. Having your site will also provide you with a sandbox to be creative and show that you can build traffic and prove you're an authority in your field. 

More prominent brands who work with freelancers are always looking for those who are leaders or an expert in their fields.

Free yourself from the new rat race

The internet has made it easier to source and find clients online but it's becoming a more competitive and cutthroat landscape and differentiating yourself and showcasing your value is essential. Freelance sites are still a valuable source of leads, and you can still make a success your time spent bidding for jobs, but learn to pick clients that suit your skill set and who share your affinity for quality over quantity.

If you're going to make a success of this freelance gig you're going to have to market yourself and your skillset and create long term relationships with clients, brands and businesses. This network and your growing portfolio are what will help keep the money coming in and the lights on longer than chasing the next project will. 

Tell us your story

Have you started doing freelance work? How have freelance sites helped you? Are there any sites you feel are a better option for high-quality freelance work? Drop us a comment and let us know.

Are you looking for a local freelancer?

Freelancers make the odd job easier; getting an expert to render various services for a fraction of the cost can be a great way to spend your budget instead of full-time staff. If you need expert advice on multiple tasks, then check out freelancers listed with us.

Are you looking for local freelance work?

Create your free business listing on nichemarket. The more information you provide about your business, the easier it will be for your customers to find you online. 

Registering with nichemarket is easy; all you will need to do is head over to our sign up form and follow the instructions. If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles.

Contact us

If you want to know more about freelancing, don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us

Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on freelancing.

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