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, their work hours when it comes to getting payed in money. Some odd balls even think it unnecessary to work for money, because it is art they love. And they work for the love of art and not money.

All is just so stupid, really. In the big scheme if things, they are being used by those who make them work for pennies. For silly money. And sometimes for free. The people really earning money, are companies or individuals who look for freelancers, pay them badly, and then make the real money. Many small businesses who would never consider working for such bad pay.

I wonder why so many freelancing people on freelance websites, allow themselves to be fooled. Why would any person work for maybe a week, for just 5$. It just doesn’t make sense, right.
Freelance websites

And it happens again and again. Take freelancing websites for instance, such websites like UpworkFreelancer, Elance, Guru and Fiverr.  I admit I actually have an account with Freelancer, Guru and Upwork. The worst with these sites – they allow bidding. So it’s quite easy to understand. But first, why do I have accounts with these Freelance websites then? One of my clients – whom I never got via Upwork I may add –  asked if I could register with Upwork. Simply so the client could use their payment solutions. This way they would be able to pay my invoices, on delivery. And I wouldn’t have to wait 30 days. Said and done, I signed up, Pay on delivery.

Fiverr admittedly allow you the seller to place your own price, and buyers will see your profile and ask for an offer. So in that sense there is no bidding frenzy on Fiverr, like it is at Freelancer and Upwork. You don´t have to sit and bid, which is much better. And the PRO account on Fiverr will hopefully help some. I know some who actually get decent pay on these sites. Just feels like a mystery each time.

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

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

So one year later, after my client asked me to set up my account, I got to sign up with Upwork instead. Totally desillusioned I tried them all once again to see if there was any freelance gigs out there. And it was. PLENTY! And 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, comic artist 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$ as decent cash. But when I read that even Americans in the USA and people in the UK, England and Europe and probably my country Sweden as well, sit and work for these stupid amounts, I just… well it’s really bad for business. depressing evolution. Price dumping at its worst.

In Sweden, my town Stockholm, for 5$, 5£ or 5€ you might get a coffee and a cookie. 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 assurem 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 sometimes rather your enemy, until they all change their business plan: not allowing bidding, and allow work for pennies.

There are a few freelance websites that might like you to earn decent. But if the whole apparatus is built on bidding, and no offer is too low to be considered bad, it’s bidding for work. There will always be someone who work for less.

And it seems as if Fiverr PRO account have some effect, in helping creators to stand out a bit. HAving been vetted as professionals by Fiverr itself.


Stefan Lindblad


2 thoughts on “Freelance sites freelancers worst enemy? 

  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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