Freelance Jobboards – Are They Worth?
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There are quite a lot busy online freelance project exchanges these days. Aimed to meet providers with buyers and eventually benefit during the process, we'll probably see them growing and deviating. So, when and what are they good for? What should be kept in mind and shall we be afraid of traps and underhand?
When and why?
The dry times which everyone of us experience at a times may be a great ground to take a look. Since a nice diversity of projects is a being gathered, you can find work in your field as long as you use a computer to do it.
You can chose the most appealing projects to bid at and contact clients you'd never know about. It goes even better as physical boundaries and even timezones don't matter much – not a problem to work with people who live in different parts of the globe. A real international and cosmopolitan feel which is nice if you wish to be judged by your skills instead of skin tone, religion, ethnicity or even education. You could (or not) get paid more for your services than you usually do, due the different standards. For the business-minded amongst us it is also a chance not to declare some incomes by proxing the money flows.
It could be inspiring to contact the different people, to browse projects you've never know about and look at the new trends at their genesis. You'd always see something new for you.
Probably the best part of it are the contacts. Once the job is well done, you get an individual or a company who knows (at least partly) what you can do and thrusts you. Which in many cases lead to more work which you don't have to competite for and you have more room to negotiate.
Also check the pros and cons in the Is freelancing right for me? article.
Mines along the way?!
Probably the most significant problem with the most common project exchanges is the way they advertise themselves. This may sound weird but take a look „Outsource abroad and lower your expenses“. Outsource, abroad, cheap... what would be the first thing that pops in your mind? A shoe factory in what is being called „the third world“ filled with exhausted children which don't get paid or secured? Quality anyone? What kind kind of mentality does it take to build your product/brand/business over something cheap (the cheaper, the better)?
Works like a magnet for dodgers. Shady ethics, hidden work and people disappearing when the job is done are always just around the corner. Of course not all clients are like that, but you'd better be extra careful. Don't rely entirely on your luck – it is a natter of time to face a buyer like that and most of freelancers who operate there have such an experience. This causes of the fair and skilled freelancers to quit as soon as they have another choice, which also disappoints the fair clients when they face the dishonesty amongst the freelancers left. Period.
Different websites have different policy. It's best to try several until you find a place that suits you best.
We'd be happy to know your favourites. Share your experience. The next problem are the cultural differences and backgrounds. Even in the therms of globalisation people have different cultures, mental backgrounds and mediascapes they are used to. This goes especially for the graphic design and copyrighting projects. A client may see what he needs as something obvious, but the for the freelancer the obvious could be something completely different because of the different mediascape. The result is often a client, blaming the „unskilled“ designer and a designer puzzled about what the hell the client does not like in his nice work, a lot of revisions and time loss which also means lost money for both. Mediocre results that look nice but do not have the desired impact over the audience are the most common outcome even if the provider is really a pro and did his/her best. Generally hiring a designer who lives on a different continent could lead to something really creative and „never seen before“ which hits the spot and makes the project unique, but this requires client's open mind, enough freedom for the designer and mutual trust which usually is not the case.
People often worry about unintentionally offending a person with a different culture by saying something unproper. This is not a big matter if at least one is flexible or have some experience with the culture of the other. Take some care though.
Along with the communication issues comes the confusion and misunderstanding.
Most of the clients have little or no management or presentation skills. Clients know (or think so) what they want and some of them don't bother (or are able) to explain it well enough and give a good brief. As a result a freelancer can really do his best... In a wrong direction.
Languages could also be a problem if both a buyer and seller lack enough fluency in the language they use to communicate but it is quite rare.
The freelance project exchanges have their hazards, but are a usable way to get more work.