Relying on Job Bidding Sites to Find Freelance Work Puts Control of Your Freelance Career in Someone Else’s Hands
Since you’re reading this article, I probably don’t have to sell you on why freelancing is important.
(For those of you who may have accidentally stumbled in, traditional on-staff work puts all of your income and livelihood entirely in someone ELSE’s control. That’s a pretty dangerous place to be.)
Whether freelancing full-time or on the side, freelancing lets you boost your income, control your schedule, clients, and workload, not to mention working when and where you want to.
…As long as you’re doing it right.
…And many new or struggling freelancers definitely aren’t.
I don’t blame them: Upwork (and Fiverr and Freelancer.com and others) sure seem like a great solution. “It’s so easy! People need freelance help and they post the projects on the site — then all I have to do is pick from the projects, reach out to them, and do the work!”
And yeah, that does sound easy.
If only it actually worked that way.
Here’s how it really works:
Someone needs help, so they post a description of a project. You, the freelancer, then have to spend time (for free) putting together the best proposal you possibly can.
But also, because you’re competing against numerous other freelancers, you have to decrease your standard rate to remain competitive.
Remember, too, that people posting projects on these sites are, by and large, not looking for the best of the best — they’re looking for the best they can get for the cheapest they can get them.
So, best case scenario, you end up getting work for much less than your standard rate. (When you could, instead, be filling that time with work at your standard rate — or more — for roughly the same amount of outreach effort.)
Worst case — and far more likely simply because of the ratio of freelancers to projects — you waste a lot of time putting together proposals that don’t even get work.
And that’s not even to talk about the horror stories I’ve heard from people who’ve been held hostage on projects by clients who make threats about posting a bad review. Or that fact that you don’t get to actually partner with the client as an equal; you have to work strictly as a producer.
You’ve started a freelance business to control your income and your schedule…and on these job bidding sites you’re controlled by who and when projects are posted and whether or not they choose you. You’re still giving up control.
It’s a lot like that TV show, The Bachelor. When you’re the bachelor and you get to choose from among 25 fabulous women, the ratio is reeeeeally great for you. But when you’re one of the 25 women competing for one guy, it’s lousy.
If you want steady, predictable success as a freelancer, you need to flip the ratio.
Instead of being one among dozens (or more!) of freelancers going after one project, you need to make it so that there’s one YOU fielding multiple opportunities.
And you do that with a proven, repeatable, scalable system of outreach. No, I don’t mean those terrible copy-and-paste, one-size-fits-all pitches that most freelancers send — I mean the kinds of value-based pitches that consistently get potential clients *thanking* our students for sending them.
When YOU are in control of the opportunities, you are in control of your income and your workload. Want to make more? Dial up your outreach. Want to take a little break or scale it back for a while? Dial it down.
This is also, importantly, why dry spells and “feast or famine” cycles are NOT inevitable for freelancers.
The freelancers who experience dry spells are the ones who are waiting for clients to find them or hoping for projects to pop up on sites like Upwork.
But when you are consistently reaching out (which, by the way, gets faster and easier the more you do it), you consistently have work and income flowing in.
Dry spells happen for freelancers who are at someone else’s mercy.
One more quick thing: I posted about this on Instagram and a woman replied saying, essentially, “UpWork was great for starting my career and I use it to get fill-in work on slow weeks.”
As I replied, sure, some people get lucky. But, imagine if she’d been able to *start out* her career (and continue) not having to wait for people to post work, not having to bid against other people, setting her own rates and timelines, and being able to be a true partner for her clients instead of a producer?
Freelancing is about being free — about controlling your own income, schedule, and work. The way to do that is by using a proven, repeatable, scalable system for finding and landing high-paying clients…not by giving up control to Upwork.
Last Updated on December 27, 2022 by Craig Galo