I Tried To Make Money on Freelancer.com and Didn’t Succeed

When you think you’ve found a shortcut, reality steps in and teaches you a lesson.

Interracial couple at a restaurant with laptop opened. The woman leans on man’s shoulder. Fairy lights in the distance.
Interracial couple at a restaurant with laptop opened. The woman leans on man’s shoulder. Fairy lights in the distance.
“Hey babe, I found this freelancing platform where work is abundant!”, or so they thought. — Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

How it works

On the “Jobs” page, you can filter jobs by elements such as keyword, location, budget or language. You seek out gigs that look appealing to you. In order to get the gig, you need to place a bid with the rates you’re willing to accept, and a short proposal. Placing a bid with a proposal is a zero guarantee that you will get it.

Getting the first client

To become more “credible” and reliable-looking to clients, you’re going to need reviews. To get reviews, you’re going to need clients. Getting the first client without any reviews is a challenge. It took me weeks to get mine. Every day, I spent anything from one up to three hours scouting and bidding on jobs, so far without any luck.

Upgrading my profile

When success failed to happen, I looked at my “competitors”. They had gathered multiple reference, and added several Freelancer.com “certifications”. Certifications are multiple-choice exams that are added to your profile as a badge once you pass them. The only catch: you have to pay to take the tests in order to get a certification.

Screenshot of Freelancer.com US English certification exams. Level one starts at $5, level 2 at $10, level 3 at $15.
Screenshot of Freelancer.com US English certification exams. Level one starts at $5, level 2 at $10, level 3 at $15.
Price indication of Freelancer.com certification exams. — Screenshot by author.

Upgrading my membership

Signing up for an account is free and automatically subscribes you to a free membership. Free members get 8 bids (or chances to apply for jobs) per month. A new bid is granted to you at an interval of every 90 hours. But, bidding on a project ≠ getting it.

The first gig

More bids = more chances of getting a gig. My first one was proofreading a website that was translated into English for a total $30. Easy money, I thought. But no.

Time and money spent vs. proceeds gained

Proceeds:

  • $30 from one project.

Investments

Time:

  • 30 hours over the course of one week for the project itself.
    Totaling: 60 hours
  • $4.95 for an upgrade from the Free to Basic Freelancer membership to get access to 50 bids per month
    Totaling: $39.95

My verdict

With time it would be possible to build up your reputation and get access to higher paid gigs, but I won’t be doing this on Freelancer. Why?

  • Lack of trustworthiness of users. I noticed there are many fake profiles. People posing to be from another country to increase their chances of getting work, or translating agencies posing as individuals. They eat up a gig, and further distribute on Freelancer, or to people elsewhere as an intermediary. Because this one “person” can handle various client demands (such as language fluency in 8 different languages), they get the job. And do it at a rate that wouldn’t make it sustainable or worthwhile for me to spend my time on.
  • Reliability. My client transferred a timely payment, but there seems to be no fully secure system in place that penalizes clients that vanish in thin air once you hand over the work, disappear off the platform and re-register under a new account to repeat their actions.

Written by

Writing my way to progress. Topics: personal growth, life lessons, tooling & (failed) ventures.

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