Freelancing websites are often cited as great platform to acquire new projects and clients for individuals and agencies. No doubt, such platforms can be a starting point for new freelance workers. However, my experience has not been great with such freelancing websites.
Am I a failure as a freelancer? No, not at all. I get enough work to keep me busy without having to make much of an effort. However, I have always been interested in exploring freelancing portals such as Elance and Freelancer.
On a freelancing website, clients post their projects along with their budget. Popular freelancing sites get a lot of new projects listed every day. So there is always plenty of projects in various work areas such as web development, graphic designing and content writing. If you go just by the number of projects, it can be overwhelming at first glance.
Freelance workers have the option to go through the project requirements and express their interest in taking over the project. As a freelancer, you have to place a competitive bid or estimated cost along with your expertise when trying to impress the client. So far so good.
Why do I not like these freelancing websites? Maybe, because I have been a miserable failure on these platforms. Partly, yes.
1. Too much of competition
Freelancing websites have too much of competition. Many freelancers do not care about the scope of the project and bid ridiculously low amounts. How can you create a unique design and template for just $100? It takes hours and hours of coding to create a perfect template for content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla.
2. Projects with low budget
Many projects listed on freelancing websites have very low budget. How does the client know that the project would cost under $500 when they are smart enough to include a huge list of “must-have” features in their project description? Client are not willing to pay the right amount even when it will take the freelancer a lot of hard work.
3. It’s a simple project
Smart clients make sure to mention—after using 500 words to describe their project—that it is a very simple one. “You just need to make changes to the CSS stylesheet files.” Okay, so where did the process of creating a design go? Some might need a private-area on their website with unique features. Yet, the project is a fairly straightforward one. If you know it is very easy, why don’t you do it yourself?
Here’s an excerpt from a project description on a popular freelancing site.
The websites are all very straigthforward. They are mainly the archive of personal stuff such as drawings (public) and photos (private, login required).
4. No hiring at all
Many projects are closed without hiring. Why? The client probably didn’t find a right person/agency to outsource the work. Maybe, their budget wasn’t enough for turning their fancy features into codes and then making that into a website. It can be irritating to see that the project that you spent 15-30 minutes figuring out and placing a detailed bid was closed by the client after being open for a day or two.
5. Estimate not realistic
Okay, this one is one of the best reason for rejecting a bid. The project might not provide enough details for arriving at an estimated cost, but the client can always reject it saying the estimate is way too high.
If I am going to do all the lifting and cleaning, how does the client know that the bid is unrealistic? I might be a talented coder or designer worth my weight in gold. The client can still reject my bid saying it’s outrageously high without considering my qualification and value that I can provide.
Do you have a different opinion about freelancing websites? Have you been able to get plenty of work? Have you been paid enough for projects that you acquired through freelancing websites? I would love to hear your experience and opinion.