My misadventures on gig platforms
We’ve all heard the story. A creator goes on a platform like Upwork, LinkedIn ProFinder or Fiverr and starts offering their services. After accepting gigs on the platform, they raise their rates and now make six-figure incomes.
Are these platforms actually beneficial to bringing in more clients? I, a freelancer who’s on the hunt for more steady, high-paying clients, didn’t have firsthand experience with these platforms.
Upwork, which reportedly has more than 16 million freelancers, was my top pick. Despite other freelancers warnings that it was a race to the bottom, I decided to give it a try.
A few weeks later, I landed a high-paying client and have a call with another potential client… neither of which I landed via Upwork. I was eager to set up a profile and start working with clients. However, as I scrolled through the gigs on the platform, I found myself repeatedly marking gigs as being too low in pay. Other freelancers have raised the alarm, too.
After watching freelancers lose it over Contently’s decision to impose a fee on their freelance earnings, I started thinking about the whether these platforms really have freelancers’ best interest at heart. Why are low paying gigs allowed on the platform? Who screens for quality control? And why do platforms take hefty fees from freelancers rather than clients who have the capital to spend? Are bidding nature of these platforms driving down the cost of freelance services?
At first, the fees Upwork charges per gig took me aback at first, but I get it. They’re a business. Other platforms skim off the top of freelance payments, too, including Fiverr. On the other hand, freelancers already have costs (equipment, health insurance, travel, research, etc.) to consider when taking on assignments. Any fees these platforms charge should be built into their fee, thus driving up the costs for clients seeking service providers.
For me, the last straw with Upwork was when I took a blogging assessment, which did in hopes of increasing client trust, and received a ‘meh’ score. Me! A freelance writer who runs her own blog, writes blogs and articles for other clients, and has a journalism degree under her belt. The test closed out before I could finish it. I deleted my account, and set up a new one on Fiverr to advertise my B2B content writing and freelance writer consulting.
For what it’s worth, I think some platforms cater better to freelancers who are just starting out while others are for more seasoned veterans. For people looking to build up their portfolio, they can be a great place to connect with clients, build their skill set from the ground up and earn trust through reviews.
Though Contently reversed its decision to charge a freelancers for their payments. Here lately, I’ve had better luck with LinkedIn. It’s the perfect place to connect with other professionals (mostly) for free and potentially find freelance work through LinkedIn ProFinder or via your own network. Even so, LinkedIn ProFinder lacks payment processing that the others have. Regardless of the platform, proceed with caution.
What are your thoughts on freelance platforms? Are you okay with their fees? Have they connected you with lucrative clients? Share your experience in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.