Starting out on a marketplace like Upwork makes a ton of sense. But the reality is, these platforms are not built to support your long term success.
Many successful freelancers in creative consulting spaces get their start on marketplace platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Because of the high volume of clients looking for quick and effective creative services across disciplines like email marketing, logo design, video and animation work, or UX/UI and website design, Upwork is a new-client treasure trove.
While many successful freelancers get their start on platforms like these, it won’t take long to realize that the long term success of your business depends on graduating from marketplace platforms.
Starting out on a marketplace like Upwork makes a ton of sense. You’ve likely just left a stable job, and the lure of tons of hungry clients is just too good to pass up. But the reality is, these platforms are not built to support your long term success.
The business model of these marketplaces relies on high volumes of projects flowing through the platform. In reality, that means the more freelancers they have competing for more jobs, the better. Anyone who’s taken a freshman economics course knows about supply and demand - when there’s more supply (in this case, of freelance talent), typically the price of the work is driven down. The result? Working on these platforms long-term can feel like a race to the bottom, trying to outprice other professionals who offer similar services.
In fact, in a 2017 interview with Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie, podcast host James Altucher calls Freelancer.com the “Ebay of Jobs” because of the sheer volume of cheap labor you can find on the site. For clients, marketplaces offer the promise of bringing any small business idea to life with ease. But the freelancers supplying that expertise get the short end of the stick.
This isn’t to say you can’t be successful long term on freelancer marketplace platforms. In fact, there are tons of influencers touting and teaching their Upwork success. But these people are the exception, not the rule.
Conclusion? Starting out on freelance marketplaces is a good move. But not evolving past them risks business stasis or worse, decline in the long term.