A friend, Betty, was looking for a freelance graphic designer to help her with the second generation of her small business website; unfortunately, the two design contacts I gave her weren’t able to help out. Before asking me for additional recommendations, Betty sought out one of the most popular internet freelance bidding sites. The winning bidder offered to create a logo for $100.
It was, quite simply, a disaster:
- The winning bidder had a great-looking portfolio, but the first designs he sent her were garbage.
- After another round of garbage, she became suspicious that the logos in his portfolio weren’t even his creations.
- He was based in Yemen. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’re taking your chances with an overseas vendor.)
- Betty wasted a lot of time and energy, and is no closer to having a logo than she was 2 weeks ago.
As a client, she experienced exactly what I could have predicted. I tried to be gentle about saying, “Gee, Betty, what did you expect for $100?”
So, how can this client perspective help freelancers improve their business? I’m not going to say, “Never use freelance bidding sites,” because that’s between you, your bank account, and your deity of choice. But it is certainly an argument to be mindful of a couple of things:
- You’re competing on price, not talent.
- You’re competing against an unknown volume of people—and market logic dictates that the better the project, the larger the volume.
- You may be competing against people who are unscrupulous, and put things in their portfolios that aren’t their own original work in order to win.
- Even if you win, you may lose. I don’t feel sorry for the “winning” bidder, but he didn’t get paid a cent for whatever time he spent on it, since Betty rejected his work.
If you want to make money freelancing, you need to get beyond bidding sites and their ugly cousins, the content mills. You can find freelance jobs that go beyond “the real minimum wage,” but it takes a little work, ingenuity and persistence. For starters, head to Jenn Mattern’s great suggestions in a post this week for those freelancers interested in Moving Beyond Penny Per Word Writing Gigs. Read it, and heed it.
In the comments: What’s been your experience, as a freelancer or as a client, with freelance bidding sites?
Image courtesy of Jasmaine Mathews.