I often hear from freelancers that they don’t mind certain freelance eBidding sites for finding work. They recognise they are not the be all and end all of finding work. But then go on to advocate for them as a great starting point for a self employment journey.
I’ve freelanced for the last 8 years and run the Freelance Jungle for almost as long. I hesitate to encourage new freelancers onto freelance eBidding sites. If you are choosing to go down this route, it’s important to be in possession of all the facts. It can be a choice that influences your freelance journey to the negative if you step in without knowing what you’ll encounter.
So here are a few things to help you make an informed decision when it comes to using freelance eBidding sites in your hunt for projects.
Australia is an expensive place to live
Australians make some of the best freelance rates in the world. And why shouldn’t we? We do after all have two cities in Sydney and Melbourne in the top ten of most expensive cities in the world. Sydney is in the top 3. Australia is the most expensive place to live in the world.
We pay high rent, mortgages, travel expenses and things like food. We also have equipment costs, education and more to factor in. Then there is super, insurance, tax and associated costs.
These costs have to be covered by the work we do.
Freelance eBidding sites bring together people from around the world to compete for the same projects. It becomes problematic because Australia’s cost of living is 219% higher than India.
Private childcare at preschool level in Bangkok, Thailand is just under $300 dollars Australian for the month. The same level of care costs starts at $1,126 in Melbourne.
To live to a comparable standard of living, it costs you $4,300 to rent in Barcelona in Spain and meet costs for a month. In Sydney, that figure is $7,300. Freelancers in Barcelona pay an average of 58% less for their rent and 40% less in costs as a general rule.
At some point, it becomes incredibly difficult to compete. It’s not the fault of other countries they are cheaper. It’s the reality. But it is akin to being the best at three legged races and finding yourself competing in a marathon.
Long term, that’s not a smart strategy because you’ll be putting effort into asking for jobs that you’re unlikely to receive.
It encourages pricing cringe
Humans are funny little creatures. We like to think we’re more aware than we usually are. Take intersection frequency for example. Intersection frequency is when we see something often enough, we start to think it’s more pervasive than it actually is.
A classic example of interaction frequency is playing the car spotting game with the kids on a road trip. If the kids are looking for blue cars, you as the driver will be more mindful and see more blue cars when driving. The influence can last for weeks.
Spending time on freelance eBidding sites and in close proximity to cheaper and large variations in price can influence your pricing. If you are always the more expensive bidder, you may start to feel over-priced. Self confidence wise, this is a bad place to be.
Pricing your services is one of the hardest things to work out. Not to mention raising prices as your business matures. By starting your career in an environment where you feel expensive, it may influence your ability to raise prices later.
Besides, to be profitable you need to know what it costs you to sit in your chair. You have to calculate the prices that cover your costs and make you a living wage. Then grow your pricing to include re-investing in your business and save and so on.
If you start from a position where your business is not covering costs, you’ve got a much further way to go to be profitable and viable long term. You have to charge based on what it costs you to conduct business. You don’t get that opportunity when the pricing is set by a lower paying market.
Clients value relationship
When you work on a project with a client, you need to know you can do it effectively. Personality, skill and reliability are far more important to project success than the price.
Being able to work with someone, do your best work and then hand it over to the client on time and to specification means less headaches. It makes for a better client experience.
We need to educate our clients to the benefits of a broader focus when choosing freelance talent. We can’t expect to do that if we keep supporting the “best price wins” bidding model.
When we lower the price, we lower our expectations. I’ve met clients that use the phrase “you get what you pay for” after they come to me to fix what the last person has done. Our clients are learning some hard lessons and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine you’re a time pressed agency, small business owner or startup founder. They have an enormous workload. Wasting time trying to correct work and additional project management hours can cost a lot more brain space. If you’re as busy as most of these people are, they don’t have time to keep re-checking and cross-checking work. They simply want it done.
So respect your clients enough to realise they too value relationship. That they want quality work and that good communication counts. Make time for this level of customer care by charging appropriately.
A great way to remember what’s important in client work is to listen to this address by Neil Gaiman on the 3 things creative people need to succeed.
With low pay comes high stress
Another issue with lower paying freelance eBidding sites is that you have to work more jobs to ends meet. This in turn increases the stress. The stress then can impact the work you do.
When we’re under stress, we’re more sensitive to feedback. It could be seen as criticism as opposed to genuine feedback from the client. Stress increases the likelihood of making mistakes and errors.
If we’ve got a full plate, important things such as self care such as exercise, eating well and sleep are often the first thing to fall off the TO DO list. This in turn creates even more problems.
When we invite overwork, our brain doesn’t receive enough time to reboot, allow for creativity or rest. In a short while, this can impair our thinking. It can also start to train that stress feeling to be acute and expected. Once we enter that stage, we’re far more susceptible to ill-health and mental health conditions.
Many freelancers choose this life for greater freedom and a better lifestyle. Don’t undo those intentions by pricing in a way that invites overwork and too much stress.
Nothing is ever truly gone on the internet
Imagine you’ve got a great client that’s agreed to a retainer that will help you relax about having to chase gigs. Now imagine that before they sign on the dotted line, they find your previous, much lower paying projects on a freelance eBidding site.
Our clients check their options. Some of those options may be the cheaper sites. Or you may be unlucky enough for your previous projects to come up in your client’s innocuous Google search.
It’s not only the price from previous work that may weaken your chances at receiving that tasty retainer. It may be that you cheapen the quality of your work in the client’s eyes. So even if they agree to your new rates, it may cause them to scrutinise the quality of the work much more, making them harder to service.
Having a past history that sets you up to fail in potential freelance jobs isn’t helpful.
Be proud of your freelance efforts
Knowing your skills and what you want out of freelancing is the cornerstone to making good choices.
Want more advice on how you should price yourself for the win?
Have a listen to Kylie Travers as she talks about discovering your value and worth.
Check out Brook McCarthy’s blog on raising your prices and keeping it classy.
Pop yourself in for a coaching session with me and let’s workshop finding leads together.
Start your freelance career off on the right foot with the official Freelance Jungle Trek. It’s full of ideas on how to grow your freelance business in those critical early stages.
And jump on into the official Facebook group for the Freelance Jungle and ask other Australian freelancers for advice.