Online Job Board
Scam or Not: Not a Scam
Realistic for Income: Not for most people
Overall Rating: 7/10
In general, freelancing is an approach where you earn money by selling your skills. For example, freelance writers often end up writing content for websites, while freelance editors might end up editing books or helping to proofread college essays. Freelancing itself is a huge field and it certainly does offer the potential to earn money.
Essentially, Freelancer acts as a giant job board, allowing freelancers to interact with people wanting to hire them (and vice versa). This is particularly powerful as finding clients can be one of the most difficult things about freelancing. The nature of the site means that it caters for freelancers and people with projects.
However, this Freelancer review is just going to focus on the implications of the site for people trying to freelance. After all, if you were trying to make money from Freelancer that’s the approach you would take.
So, is Freelancer worth your time?
When you first join Freelancer as a worker, you get asked for which skills you have from a range of categories, including the ones below.
Those categories are then further broken down into a range of subcategories, which get quite specific. For example, here are some of the subcategories under Writing & Content:
In total, you get to select 20 different skills, although what you choose will depend on what skills you actually have. After that, you have the option of adding a payment method to your account. Doing so gives you bonuses, although you can skip the step.
Freelancer offers a range of plans depending on what you want and what you need. The simplest is their free plan and it goes up from there. You can see the different tiers and what they involve in the image below.
Getting a free trial of the plus version is pretty nice, but most options do involve paying, so this is something to take into account.
That brings me to the main part of Freelancer, the jobs.
Essentially, the site acts as a large jobs forum, allowing people to post a huge variety of different tasks that they need completed. Sometimes those tasks might be small, such as writing a 500-word article or editing someone’s document. However, other tasks can be much more extensive and involve an ongoing commitment.
At the same time, the amount you can earn from a given job can vary extensively.
For example, two jobs that were up when I wrote this article were the following:
Now… this is where it gets complicated.
The idea is to pick jobs that are interested in and then apply for them. For example, the image below offers details on one project from the site:
Essentially, members make bids on jobs. So, they say how fast they can complete it and how much they would charge. In this case, 14 people have bid on the project, with an average bid of $47 (which is quite a bit higher than the creator wants to pay). Additionally, there is still almost a week left on the project.
In fact, based on the timing, I suspect the project has only been up for 1 hour and has attracted 14 bids within that short space of time. Some of the bids look like this:
To earn money through Freelancer, you have to win bids and actually get projects. In many cases, this is pretty difficult, because there is a large amount of competition.
Nevertheless, there are various things you can do to improve your chances. For example, you can sponsor your bid (which costs). Doing this pushes it to the top of this list, which means the project manager will see it first.
You can also take various exams on the site that prove you are skilled in different areas. Additionally, you can work on increasing your reputation through the site. The higher your reputation, the better chance you have of winning projects.
One final thing is that you can submit a portfolio with your bid. Exactly what is in your portfolio will depend on the type of freelancing you are working on. For example, a freelance writer who specializes in websites might have articles to go on blogs, while someone specialize in professional writing might have reports.
Benefits and Advantages
The two biggest advantages of Freelancer are the sheer number of jobs and the amount of versatility. The site boasts that more than 8 million total jobs have been posted on Freelancer, which honestly, doesn’t seem surprising.
The site also covers an extensive range of skills. So, you could probably find at least some jobs on there that you could do regardless of your skill set.
Additionally, Freelancer acts as a broker between you and a potential employer. This dramatically helps to decrease your risk. For example, freelancing often involves getting payment after the order is completed. Often, you have no guarantee that the person will pay you. Likewise, clients can sometimes be unrealistic in their demands, which also makes it difficult to get money that you are owed.
Going through Freelancer helps to get around this because they have systems in place to reduce the risk for all parties.
At the same time, you have the ability to see feedback about employers. That can give you a good indication of whether an employer will be good to work with or not. In the example I gave above, the employer had 5 stars, but he only had one review.
This would make me pretty hesitant about doing a project with him. Nevertheless, as his project is on the small size (a 400-word article), the risk for the freelancer is low, which is probably one reason why he is getting a lot of bids anyway.
Freelancer will also email you about offers that meet your skills, although those emails can be turned off.
In general, the concept is to build a reputation through the site. As you do that, it will make it easier to get the jobs where the competition is considerably higher. For example, you see some members on Freelancer with reputations like this:
For people who have developed this type of reputation, getting work can be pretty easy. Realistically, Freelancer does provide a great opportunity to find clients, especially if you freelance in a field that is pretty hard to advertise for.
Issues with Freelancer
Without a doubt, Freelancer is complicated and it can easily be overwhelming.
The huge number of jobs on there is an advantage in many ways, but it is also challenging and time-consuming to sort through them and figure out which ones apply to you.
However, as I’ve worked on this Freelancer review, I’ve noticed that by far, the biggest issue is competition. Freelancer might host a large number of jobs at any given time but it also hosts many different people looking for work. This means that jobs can have dozens of bids within minutes of being posted.
When a job has been up for a while, the number of bidders can often get excessive.
Now in some cases, the person who posted the project might be hiring more than one person, but even so, the high number of bids makes it challenging to actually get a job.
Another issue is that Freelancer can end up costing you money over time rather than helping you make it. After all, you will need to make a lot of bids to get jobs, especially early on. This means that you will probably need to get one of the paid accounts.
Most of the paid memberships aren’t especially expensive, but this does add up, especially if you don’t win jobs very often.
Finally, Freelancer does offer a decent amount of protection but you are still at the mercy of clients a little bit, especially early on. Realistically, your reputation plays a huge role in the jobs you can get on the site and it is still fairly easy for a client to leave bad feedback even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
Likewise, the amount of work that a client wants you to do for the money they are paying can be excessive but once you’ve accepted a project, your options are limited.
How Realistic is it as a Money Making Tool?
As a program, Freelancer does work well. It offers a way to find work in an area that is often difficult to get started in.
However, being successful in Freelancer takes a lot of time and dedication. For example, you might find yourself applying for dozens of different jobs before you even get accepted for one (which means you’ll probably have to use a paid membership). One of the best ways to do this is simply to work for little money. So, you might be getting underpaid, but you’ll be developing a reputation.
Over time, if you work at it, you could get to the point where you have a strong enough reputation to get the jobs that you actually want.
If you manage to develop a decent reputation on the site, then it can potentially be a powerful way of finding clients and making money. After all, there are so many jobs to choose from and the Freelancer system does act as a buffer against clients being unreasonable or not paying.
I have one acquaintance who did use Freelancer to find clients as a freelance writer. She said that the amount of work required to get even one client was insanely high and she never got to the point of winning projects consistently.
In her case, Freelancer was still worth the effort, because it gave her connections and leads in her industry, which opened up other doors later on.
One final thing to consider is skills.
As I mentioned before, freelancing basically involves selling your skills. The specific projects available to you and the amount of competition varies widely depending on how common your skills are.
For example, here are the only two projects available under the skill Astrophysics.
The competition here is much lower, as there are fewer members experienced in the field.
Another example is skills in 3D Animation. For this skill, there are more jobs to pick from, but the competition still remains lower than for a more general skill (like content writing).
In general, I’d say that Freelancer could be realistic if you have a skill that is at least somewhat unusual or if you are exceptionally good at your skill set.
If neither of those criteria apply to you, then Freelancer is probably an unrealistic approach for earning money.
My Personal Freelancer Review
I like the concept of Freelancer, but the site suffers from too much competition. Most people would end up spending a lot of time on there and not making a whole lot of progress.
If like many members, you are interested in Freelancer because you are (or want to be) a freelance writer, then there’s an alternative approach.
Freelance writing is great in theory, especially as websites do need writers. However, the competition makes the industry extremely difficult to break into. A more powerful approach is to write for yourself.
In particular, you can make money by building a website and using that as a tool. If you’re already a writer, then you even have an advantage right from the very beginning.
A particularly powerful approach for achieving this is called affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing lets you promote products from other companies and earn a commission.
Like freelancing, it can take time to get started with affiliate marketing, but you have more control over your success. There is a range of approaches that you can take to get traffic to your site and to rank in search engines while freelancing mostly relies on constantly trying until you get lucky with jobs and/or clients.
If you’re interested in the concept of affiliate marketing or want to know more, one of the best places to get started is Wealthy Affiliate. This training site offers a wealth of knowledge along with a supportive community.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to compete with that community. In fact, members work on making money in a wide range of niches which often have little to do with the niches of other members.