Freelance sites freelancers worst enemy? 

The worst enemy,  professionally and as a hobby, for any aspiring freelancing artist, illustrator and designer, are their own selves. This simply because they constantly risk undervaluing themselves. For instance their work hours when it comes to getting payed. Some people, odd balls really, think it is unnecessary to work for money, because it is art they love, and art they create.

All is so stupid, really. In the big scheme if things they are being used, fooled by these people and companies when working for pennies. coffee money. The people who do make money on the freelance sites are companies and individuals looking for freelancers, pay them badly and then make the real money on their work.

I wonder why so many freelancers looking for gigs on freelance websites accept being fooled. Why would any person work for a day, an hour or a week or months even for just $5. It just doesn’t make sense, right.
Freelance websites

And it happens again and again. Stay away from these freelancing websites  UpworkFreelancer, Elance, Guru and Fiverr.  I admit I actually have an account with Freelancer, Guru and Upwork. One of the worst with these sites is, they allow bidding. But why do I have accounts a Freelance website then?  Simply because one of my clients – whom I never got via Upwork I may add –  asked if I could register with Upwork, making it easier for them to have all their freelancers at one place, and pay them quicker. That is what they said anyway, to be the reason. This way they would be able to pay my invoices the same day I sent in my work to them. This way I wouldn’t have to wait 30 days. Said and done, I signed up, And get payed more or less on delivery.

Fiverr admittedly allow you the seller to place your own price, and buyers will see your profile and ask for an offer. But that really is more for show. You don´t have to only sit and bid, which is much better in theory but doesnt work on Fiverr or the other sites in reality. The whole busines model is built on bidding so it speaks against itself to set a fee and wait for offers. I did try it out, and I was approached by highly unprofessional people only trying to make me work for less than my set prices. So much for setting your own prices. And the PRO account on Fiverr is ridiculous. I tried to register for a Fiverr PRO account, because a Swedish illustrator told me he got better pay when it said in his profile he was a Fiverr PRO member. So, said and done I register to get my PRO account badge but was after a feww weeks denied PRO status. Now, that was so ridiculous, considering the type of professional work I have done and clients I have for decades.I gace Fiverr a finger and laughed on my own. And started to delete my account. And never looked back.

In 2015, during summer months in June, July and august, it was rather slow business for me, it always is during June and July. It’s when Swedish companies shuts down and go on vacation. Industrial vacations once refered to in Sweden.

So I thought, I could try these sites out one more time: Freelancer, Guru. I was chocked. And logged out.

So one year later my oversea client asked me to set up my account with Upwork. I figured, while here on Upwork, lets give it a go. How bad can it be. Totally desillusioned I tried them all once again to see if there was any freelance gigs out there. And it was. PLENTY! It was as bad as it were the year before. Rubbish money. Insulting really.

One self publishing writer and publisher of webcomics at Upwork offered any Illustrator to draw his/her webcomics, for $5. Read that again: $5. Insulting.

I can understand when struggling freelancers from less rich countries in let say Asia, consider $5 decent cash. But when I read that Americans, people in the UK, England and Europe sit and work for these stupid money offered, I just got angry. Price dumping at its worst.

In my town Stockholm, for $5, 5£ or 5€ you might get a coffee and a tiny cookie ata cafe, your local coffeeshop. . Before you have declared taxes.

Who is fooling who here. Reason Upwork, Guru, Freelancer and Fiverr consider it great business, is because they see the total earnings they do, not how little people are being payed, but their own gross, profit. They earn their fees, percentages as a total income, revenue. Similar to Amazon allowing sellers and creators via Createspace using their services. And Guru even sell tests to Freelancers, tests they claim will show your good at what you do. Like a diploma. Stupid.

So really, they don’t care how little you earn for all the hours you put down. They don’t care if your starving and getting fooled. But rest assure there is no chance they themselves would work a week for 5$, or even an hour for just 5$.

So, freelance websites are not necessarily your friend, but rather your enemy. Until they all change their business model: not allowing bidding and dont allow work for pennies.


Stefan Lindblad


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  1. Letting business owners dictate to you what your value is makes no sense. We all have overhead insurance, utility and other costs. Only we can value our work. In the United States the graphic designer has been devalued to the point of poverty level wages.

    1. Hi David, Yes, I am all with you on this. I never let anyone dictate what my work is valued. I am all for negotiating, but never a take it or leave it kind of approach. In a way the designers decreased hourly rates and fixed rates, is devalued, in some cases, by freelance marketplace websites, such as those mentioned. But also on the regular market, where people make the classic Cold Calls, like we always have. There are too many people destroying the market by dumping prices. I hate price dumping. These freelance marketplace websites , some of them, had a rumour of being really good. But then something happened. Today I see these sites onlye like a one gig a year thing. thats when a decent buyer like to buy a design and illustration service, and both value each others work. And are ready to pay for it.

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