Reporting — 05 November 2015

A new startup has launched a new marketplace for freelancers: FreeLancePortals.  With eLance shutting down, it is the view of the backers of FreeLancePortals that the freelance market for programmers, writers, data scientists, lawyers, and other professionals needs another competitor.

The top-paying freelance market eLance has been shutdown and folded into Upwork. That has left tens of thousands of freelancers with no place to market their skills. Upwork was built from oDesk, which is known as a low-paying market for offshore freelancers.  That is the main reason that FreeLancePortals was started as entrepeneurs see an opportunity to fill that void.

The way these markets work is a client posts a requirement.  Freelancers write proposals with bids and earn points based upon feedback from other work.  Then the client picks a freelancer.  The portal takes a commission, which is typically 10%. FreeLancePortals will charge a flat $10 fee per project.  That is a huge selling point for them.  They say, “We are here to make a living, not a killing.”

Having been stranded like this, high earners on eLance have had to look for work on other sites.  High earners generally avoid Freelancer.com as that company located in Australia generally pays low Asian billing rates.

The Disappearance of the Permanent Job

Working freelance is the way of the future say some industry analysts.  However this type of work is not for everyone as it requires agressive marketing and a willingness to suffer setbacks.  Not all people have this personality or ability.

A freelancer can make a good living if they work hard and do quality work.  It can take a couple of years to build up a following.  So it is difficult to get started.

One problem in this market is competition from Asia, in particular India.  The Indian freelance market is rife with fraud and very low billing rates.  Their marketing people spam freelance marketplaces with proposals offering to work for $4 per hour.  Quality clients have learned to avoid those types of proposals.  A company who wants a website, whitepaper, or blog post that reflects well on their business will hire a quality writer.  Those who hire the lowest-bidder often find the have to pay another freelance to correct the errors of the first.

 

How to be Successful as a Freelance Writer

Here we look at how to be successful as a freelance writer.  You can also work as a freelancer programmer, lawyer, designer, or other.  But marketing to those markets is slightly different than the freelance writing market.

The key to being a success in the freelance market is not to bid too low and specialize in one type of writing, like IT (tech), proposals, or PR (public relations). A high billing rate shows the client that you are a quality freelancer. Also learn to avoid fradulent, illegal, and low-paying clients.  You should probably stick to the US market, as Europe pays lower rates with some exceptions and Asia pays very low rates.  Other good markets for quality writers who write in English are Israel, Russia, and the UK.  Canada pays lower rates than the USA.  German clients do not put out many requests for proposals. Occasionally you can find good work in France or Belgium.  While these are generalizations, they come from an extensive survey of writers.  You can find high-paying work in, say, Estonia, but on average they will pay far less that the USA.

To avoid fraudulent or low-paying customers pay attention to warning signs that tell you what kind of client you are dealing with. For example, in the freelance writing category, among the warning signs that the client is an SEO writing mill, whose goal is to churn out copy to attract search engines and not actual readers, are:

  • Don’t respond to proposals with the word “urgent” in it.
  • Avoid proposals that have spelling errors.
  • Avoid clients who set a high budget like $10,000, which is just bait and switch.
  • If someone wants to chat with you on Skype but the say they are too busy to talk on audio then they are posing as an American while actually writing to you from, probably, India.
  • Don’t take work requesting that you post reviews to Amazon.com.  Amazon is suing people for doing that.
  • Never give away free samples.  It violates the policy of some freelance markets.
  • Avoid any project that says your work will be checked for plagiarism by Copyscape.  That client is used to working with writers who commit plagiarism.  So they are going to pay high rates to quality writers.
  • For whatever reasons, these markets pay low rates:  Australia and The Netherlands.
  • Never look for work in Kenya.
  • While the Indian market is rife with fraud, occasionally you will find someone there who is looking for quality work.  But just look for the warning signs to know which client is honest and which is just writing SEO filler.
  • Arab countries sometimes pay good rates, but not usually.
  • Don’t offer to help someone with their thesis.  That is unethical.
  • Face it, the Chinese operate in a different way than the Westerner.  You will find that a Chinese client will not voice any complaint until it is time to pay.  So they do not communicate well. Then you can find yourself having worked for free.  The portal should have some kind of escrow mechanism so that the client needs to put up funds up front.  Plus there must be some dispute resolution process, with an arbitrator.

These are just a few tips to help you be successful in the freelance marketplace.  Sign up for FreeLancePortals.  The freelance market needs that kind of startup enthusiasm and backing to help clients find freelancers and freelancers find clients and to avoid an Amazon.com type of monopoly, with one website dominating the market.

In the declining job market in the USA for the middle class, working for yourself is a good option. So there is ample room for multiple freelance marketplaces.  Do not spread yourself too thin on too many sites as it takes a demonstrated work history on the freelance market to make it easy for you to find work.

 

 

 

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. It will indeed take some enthusiasm and a lot of hard work, whether you’re starting a freelance site or just starting out as a freelancer. Thank you for your support.

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