For anyone who isn’t clear, a ‘freelance marketplace’ is sort of like an online job board, where clients post one-off or long-term jobs and freelancers send a proposal to each client individually.
I first heard about the freelance marketplace midway through my post-uni supply chain job and immediately pictured myself in the infamous beach-writing scenario.
I applied that day.
And got rejected within 24 hours.
Well, that was it. I don’t have enough experience, I will leave it to the experts.
Then, one year later. Midway across the world (Vietnam to be precise) I bump into friend-of-a-friend who is just about finishing her travels.
We were out for pizza (experiencing the true Vietnamese cuisine) and she mentions her work freelancing, and it turns out she is on that very same marketplace!
Granted, she has much more experience, but this friend-of-a-friend-cum-guru encouraged me that I probably could do it.
A month later, after cutting my travels short and moving to Australia early (thanks, Corona) I was applying for ‘normal’ roles (in analytics, and definitely not freelancing) when my mind wandered back to that marketplace.
Having literally nothing to lose, I went back to my profile and put a bit more effort into it.
24 hours later I wake my very unimpressed boyfriend up “omg they accepted me!!!!” and there began my journey to freelance.
Anyone who knows these freelance marketplaces knows the – ahem – quality of many of the jobs on there. My first job paid $10 per article, which I accepted because it was writing about a topic that I loved.
This client became long-term, and gave me the stepping stone to charging what I was actually worth, and as instructed by aforementioned guru.
Selling myself out and accepting low-paid work to get a foot in the door is something I would never recommend to anyone, but, unfortunately, it is the expected reality in many industries.
Anyway, the holy grail of the early freelancer is the 5* reviews, which is what I really needed, rather than the $10 per article.
So, with a couple of 5* reviews to build myself some credibility, and enough pieces to build myself a portfolio, the freelance marketplace allowed me to actually earn a living for something I loved doing.
The marketplace itself offers many perks. They do all your invoicing for you, make sure the client pays, reward you for doing well and let you vet potential clients before sending them a proposal.
Although these are all great, the main benefit is the abundance of work on these sites. There is no way I would have had the time to cold-pitch even 1% of the clients that there are on these sites, and god knows what percentage of those would have led to actual work (with no portfolio, I might add).
That said, it is not without its drawbacks.
For every 1 client with a great job, there are 5 more wanting an expert developer with 10 years experience, 5 languages and a PhD in intergalactic travel, for $5 an hour.
Not only does this make the good clients harder to find, but it makes the competition on the good jobs much more fierce.
This is the reason that so many freelancers get sick of it. Not so much the fact that lower-quality jobs exist, but that there are people willing to do this type of work for such a low price.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the hypocrisy of this statement – did I not just say that my first job paid a measly $10?
I get it. But, due to the volume of freelancers and the nature of the marketplace, this is one of your only options as a beginner.
Although necessary, this was my first red flag of freelance marketplaces.
After connecting with a few clients from my website, rather than from a marketplace, I have realised that I much prefer these types of relationships.
Although freelance marketplaces offer a fantastic stepping stone, ease of use and payment protection, the saturation of low-quality clients has ultimately put me off.
So, I have recently decided to move away from the marketplace that I started on (hence the blog) and I am very much enjoying where I’m at for now.
All thanks to guru, you know who you are x