Freelancing while Quarantined

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    J. Nielsen
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    I searched the forums and notice that it has been some time since the topic of Freelancing has come up, and the market has certainly changed in that time. Personally I have spent the last couple months navigating some of the Freelancing sites and trying to keep myself busy since firms are still navigating how to hire designers to work-from-home. I write this so that others might glean something of what is going on in the job market and know that there are avenues other than the traditional go-work-in-an-office model, but understand that there are downsides.

    Below are the sites I have searched, signed up for and dealt with as well as my personal experiences interacting on the sites. I have listed the good with the bad do not personally endorse any of them. This is simply my experience of the last few months, If this helps you, great. If not, that is OK too.

    Upwork.com (formerly Elance.com)- This is currently the most used freelance site on the web. There are a lot of Landscape Design related gigs and an equal amount of competition for them. This site is all about hustle. More time is spent writing proposals and selling than actually working. It is also where clients are looking for filet mignon on a hamburger budget. That said, I have seen more potential jobs actually pay out than the other sites listed. freelancers are paying 20% for use of the site, but they are getting escrow service, payment protection and arbitration services. Communication services are also provided in the form of onsite e-mail/messaging and 1:1 video chat services, though one downside I do see is that the clients are horrible communicators. they will post up gigs, then never respond to proposals, or you go through the interview process and never hear anything again. Think of your proposals as fire-and-forget missiles and be happily surprised if you get a response, but do not lose sleep if you don’t.

    Fiverr.com – This is an interesting site that only does prepackaged gigs. Designers must come up with a packaged deal with a set price that is then published for potential buyers to sort through and hire designers directly. The site is well run, with accurate analytics and tutorials. While I see a lot of window shopping on my packages, I have yet to be approached. I do get a fair amount of approaches from foreign designers that want to work a deal to set up proxy accounts on Upwork to tap into the US-only gig market.

    PeoplePerHour.com – This is a site primarily for UK based jobs, but there are a fair number of gigs that come up that it is worth considering. the site has provisions for both submitting proposals as well as selling packaged contented created by the freelancer, essentially combining the aspects of Upwork and Fiverr. The site is clean and easy to navigate, although I have been approach for gigs that turned out to be attempted scams or jobs that are well outside of my skill-set.

    Toptal.com – this is a site that designers have to apply to by submitting a resume. I did and was informed that they had no demand or gigs that met with my skillset. They are primarily for UI/UX coders and designers in the digital realm.

    Freelancer.com – This site has a fair number of Landscape Design related gigs and is set up similar to Upwork. In the end,I spent very little time on this site as I found the platform to be very glitchy and in my view, not very secure, while they were requiring sensitive information. Freelancers pay 20% of their take in service fees. I am not confident in their security protocols in order to secure sensitive information, so I passed on this site.

    The one common denominator amongst all these sites is the need to hustle. It is not as simple as putting up a portfolio and saying that you are available. Be ready to write a lot of proposals and hear nothing back. I am responding to 6-8 RFP’s per week across multiple sites and sometimes do not get a response. Then, like last week, I get four separate interview requests in 2 days on gigs that I never sent proposals on. Get behind the plow and find a site that works for you.

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