Freelance Job Sites: Are They Worth It For You?

July 8, 2016

Chances are you’ve heard of freelance job sites like Upwork, Elance, Freelancer, 99designs, Fiverr, and even Craigslist.

And if you’re starting out or struggling at all with finding consistent work with your freelancing, then these sites are going to look very appealing.

But, are these freelance job sites worth it for you? Even if you’re struggling to make money freelancing?

From the outside looking in, these job sites are going to look pretty darn good. I mean, look at all of the potential clients you could be working with, right?!

REALITY CHECK! These freelance sites are only going to hinder your freelance business.

I get it – it’s hard to build that initial client base when first starting out. And if work is slow, why not turn to a “marketplace” full of potential work?

When I started freelancing after high school, I bounced around these job sites, setting up profiles, and bidding project after project.

After completing my first project – I can't lie – I felt great! I made a little bit of money in a reasonable amount of time, so now I just had to stick with it and turn this into a steady flow of income, right?

Wrong! Oh was I wrong…

By spending so much time on these job sites, I was essentially putting the brakes on my growth as a freelancer.

Yes, I was gaining some sort of experience from a “real” project. But in the end, I was wasting time more than anything else.

I spent weeks – months even – trying to find the right site for me, setting up an account and reaching a profile of “100%”, verifying my bank account, taking “skill” tests to prove my experience, trying to obtain good reviews, and the list of this garbage goes on and on.

Of course these job sites also take a percentage of your earnings, that’s only logical for them. I get that and it’s expected. Say goodbye to that $10 off that $100 logo you just designed.

The worst part is, these “clients” aren’t even your clients. They’re customers to the site you’re using. These "clients" know these job sites are overpopulated with new and unqualified freelancers who are looking to underbid each other.

Should freelancers use job bidding sites? Should you use job bidding sites?

Absolutely not!

Not if you want to build a thriving creative business for yourself.

There’s maybe 1% of people that make a living off these sites, and they’d say they’re a gold-mine. But let's be real, will you be proud of making it as the 1% running a profile on another company’s platform?

What can you do with your time instead of using these freelance job sites?

The sooner you start building an actual business out of your design skills and promoting yourself as a professional, the sooner clients will come knocking on your door.

Again, your goal should be to build a business and promoting what you do.

If you want to have a fulfilling career as a creative, avoid job sites and put more value in building real client relationships.

Focus on building a brand around yourself.

Need help on standing out online? I did a video on that: How To Stand Out Online as a Freelance Graphic Designer

Find the one or two things you enjoy and can help people with. Then start producing content in some form around that, and clients will come to you.

Need some ideas for how to promote what you do?

The possibilities to stand out and promote your freelance graphic design business are endless.

Running a successful freelance graphic design business isn’t about landing as many projects as possible. It’s about landing the right project. The type of projects that excite you and can allow you to grow in the right direction. That should be the end goal at least.

Creating content and building a brand around what you’re doing certainly takes more time and effort. But who said this was easy? Since when was doing what you love for a living been a breeze?

By making a name for yourself and putting yourself out there, you make your own luck, which will land you more opportunities.

Not only will these long term efforts land you real client projects of your own, but what you may do today could bring in new freelance work in the years to come – projects that’ll last longer than a couple of days work. Not to mention, you’ll get paid a heck of a lot more!

So, would you rather spend hours bidding for peanuts OR actually work towards a career you can be proud of?

That’s my thoughts from my own experience as a freelance graphic designer using bidding sites. I honestly believe that you’ll be tremendously better off if you invest in yourself rather than those job sites.

I hope this helps encourage you to stay strong, and not invest your time into the wrong things, because your time is precious. You can’t get that back once you’ve spent it. Your time is your life. It’s your greatest asset, so spend it wisely.

See my latest work and more on Instagram @BrentGalloway