Upwork. Freelancer. Fiverr. If you’re a freelancer, chances are you have worked with several freelance job marketplaces to find contract jobs.
Freelancing platforms are an easy way to find gigs online—or so they seem. While I’ve discovered gig work and clients on Upwork, Freelancer, and GetCraft in the first few months, I’ve realized that you can land bigger and more meaningful projects outside these marketplaces.
Moving away from freelancing platforms—or at least limiting your exposure to them—is usually a good idea. This article will examine why you should look away from Upwork, Freelancer, and other freelancing platforms.
You spend too much time sending proposals.
Creating proposals and landing a project is the easy part. Wrong. The first few weeks of working on a freelance platform can be stressful for new freelancers who are often overwhelmed. You could spend hours searching for relevant jobs and writing a compelling proposal. But your time is better spent working directly with clients.
In my experience, freelancing platforms have become a poor choice for new freelancers. The competition is fiercer than ever, and many jobs are scams. Instead, look for opportunities through social media, job search sites, and your network.
You compete with other freelancers.
Most freelance platforms target clients, leaving freelancers competing with thousands of others for the same projects. While this may seem minor, it encourages freelancers to lower their values to land projects.
I believe freelancing is about nurturing relationships and supporting others. Competing for plum projects on freelancing platforms can be draining. I recommend you ease your way out of Upwork, Freelancer, or whatever marketplaces you’ve joined and shift to working directly with clients.
You lose money to platform fees.
Freelancing platforms are often free to use. But these platforms make money from the fees their members pay. These include monthly membership fees, transaction or bank fees, and project fees. These fees can quickly add up when working on multiple or large-scale projects.
Again, working directly with clients rather than through the supposed convenience of a platform is vital.
You often work on short-term projects.
Most freelance platforms offer short-term projects or one-off jobs that last days or weeks. Freelancers often use short-term projects to build a portfolio or gain experience. But this method will likely produce less meaningful work and low earnings. In the long term, you spend more time searching for new gigs to work on.
Consider looking for retainer or longer-term clients you can work with for at least three months. Having a select number of retainers—rather than dozens of one-off jobs—under your belt is likelier to impress prospective customers.
Working through an online freelancing platform can be hit or miss. Although they provide a variety of opportunities for freelancers, these websites don’t always give the best experience.
If working in these marketplaces feels like a grind, consider shifting to other options. As you exit freelancing platforms, ask yourself these three questions: Do you have a reliable income stream? Do you have a steady client base? Do you have control over your fees? If you can answer ‘yes’ to all three, you’re ready to work with clients through more traditional channels and build your business.