The other day, during a conversation with Freelancer.com's Philippine Country Manager, Jorge Azurin, he articulated a very interesting insight regarding online freelancing marketplaces like Freelancer.com:
Don't shoot the messenger.
I've heard a lot of my freelancer friends say that any serious freelancer should avoid jobs from these freelancing marketplaces like the plague. When I asked why, they said that employers who go to these sites are not concerned with quality. Instead, they're only after getting the most amount of work done at the least price possible.
"It can seem that there is a constant drumbeat in the world for lower prices, and it is easy to hear only that loud drum," says Hunt Big Sales consultant Tom Searcy. "But you can use your own choices to learn a lot about premiums and preferences to develop new offerings for your customers."
He adds: "Whatever the product: Some customers are clearly willing to pay much more for what are arguably incremental differences in product, service and experience."
So how do you raise your prices? Tom gives three rules, which I've posted below:
Ask. When considering premium-priced offers, talk to your customers who are on the higher end of your value spectrum. Those are the people who have already demonstrated a willingness to consider components of value beyond price.
Test. Market testing is a science for very big companies, but for your company it may be just as simple as trying something and seeing what the reaction is.
Measure. Always compare past performance to new performance to see if there has been an impact on volume, margin, satisfaction, and acceptance.
Going back to the issue of freelancing marketplaces like Freelancer.com - while there is a surplus of people willing to sell themselves dirt-cheap for their services on these platforms, you don't have to go that route. Show how valuable you are, price yourself accordingly - and explain, explain, explain if you must.
Some of the successful ones on the site managed to raise their prices by gathering testimonials from other employers. Of course, they made the sacrifice of pricing themselves lower than they were actually worth until they received a substantial number of recommendations and a high rating. While this is an option, you can also ask an employer you met outside the site to hire you through the platform and give you a testimonial after the job is done. This way, you have the best of both worlds: you can command high prices on the platform, as well as for clients you meet outside the site.
Will you burn the mall because the customers who go in ask for a discount? No. The same goes for Freelancer.com and online jobs marketplaces. The platform is merely that - a place where employers and freelancers meet. It's people who ultimately dictate how the game will be played. So know your value, dictate your price, and utilize the features of the platform to your advantage (such as the security of payment the website provides, among other things.)
Allow me to say that I understand perfectly well the typical freelancer's problems.
Even before I started working for Freelancer.com, the world's largest online freelancing marketplace, as the company's Asia Regional PR Director, I've done my fair share of freelance work and dealt with a number of clients.
I've also seen how it works from the other side of the fence: I've collaborated with freelancers on different projects and I know how fun or difficult it could get to work with a freelancer.
There's no dearth of horror stories on freelancers doing a lousy job, but this time I'd like to tackle a more pressing issue: employers who think they can get away with treating their freelancers terribly.
Here's a piece of advice for employers who hire freelancers: have some humanity and pay your freelancers properly, and on time. Most especially, full-time freelancers.
Freelancers may do it for the love, but as an employer, we need to understand that a freelancer also has to pay his bills. They don't just magically whip out stuff from nowhere and give it to us - it takes time, talent, and resources to get a particular job done.
From an outsider's point of view, a freelancer may seem to be delivering such a brainless, menial task, but it takes a true expert to comprehend that you need pure skill to make something look so elegantly executed.
When we cheat our freelancer by paying less than what he deserves, or by delaying the payment for days while piling excuses upon excuses, we show how thankless we are by depriving them for the good job they delivered.
And what do employers get when the good ones are finally out of the game? They will have to deal with those who deliver substandard work.
Employers, if you're not willing to treat your freelancers well because you don't believe in respecting other people, then at least do it because you know it will eventually be bad for your business too.
And if that doesn't convince you to change, then be prepared to deal with sucky results from the not-so-good ones next time.
I believe it takes a certain skills set to become a business-savvy entrepreneur - and a lot of freelancers out there barely survive just because they do not possess the talent necessary to grow their business (or assert themselves.)
This lack of knowledge subjects them to abuse from employers - mistreatment which a poor freelancer will likely ignore, hoping that the amount of abuse is inversely proportional to the rewards they will get in the end (whether it be monetary or network-wise.)
Whenever I talk to a newbie freelancer (or even a professional freelancer at that), I always encourage them to ask their employer to register on Freelancer.com and get hired by their employer through our platform.
And that's not just because I work for the company - it's because, truth be told, Freelancer.com has a number of features that make sure freelancers will get paid for the work they do.
With Freelancer.com's Milestone Payments feature, a freelancer can ask an employer to deposit the money to an escrow-like system before the freelancer works on a particular project. The beauty of this feature is that an employer can't withdraw the money he deposited unless the freelancer releases the money back to the employer. And should the freelancer and employer end up vilely disagreeing on some details of a project they're working on, they can always elect to have Freelancer.com's Disputes Resolution team to resolve the issue.
If you're a freelancer reading this, why don't you put that Hire Me button on your website now? Unless of course, you want to suffer through the same hell you've experienced charging your employer once the project is done.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.