Thanks to online talent platforms like Fiverr, it's now easier than ever to outsource work. For less than twenty bucks, you can find a writer, designer or editor. It's convenient if you're hiring, but it's frustrating for workers who earn their living this way. Here's how you can compete with sites that offer cheap work.
Focus on Value, Not Price
Usually, the biggest draw to paying more for something is value. As a freelancer competing with cheap work, value is what you should focus on.
If you don't have one already, come up with a clear mission statement — or as WorkflowMAX calls it, a "value statement." Either way, it's about defining the qualities that give your business or product value. WorkflowMAX writes:
You client needs to understand what you offer is more awesome, and will offer superb benefits to their company for years to come. Hence, you are priced accordingly. You don't want to be in a business competing on price...Instead, you need to offer a more unique experience or service - your value proposition.
Of course, saying you have value isn't enough. You want to show it, too. Do this by being professional when you communicate with the client. If you're used to freelancing, you probably already know how to do this. But if you don't, we have solid advice on how being humble, kind and calm can benefit your professional life.
Beyond presenting yourself as professional, make sure you have examples of your past work to prove your abilities.
Offer Examples Of Your Work
Even if you lack experience, you can create a portfolio that proves your skills. This might be a blog, an actual portfolio of your design concepts, a demo reel or a selection of GitHub projects. Whatever the medium, make sure it includes your most high-quality work.
Writing Thoughts offers some advice specific to writers, but it can really apply to any industry:
Make sure that the writing on your blog is also professional. Even if your blog is a personal one, unrelated to your professional writing, prospects will find it and use it to judge your ability. Some clients will also look at your social media participation.
Speaking of social media, "branding" is a big part of the professional world these days, too.
Get Your Name Out There
It's important, especially if you're an independent contractor or freelancer, to promote yourself and your work.
You might produce quality work, and there might be clients out there who appreciate quality enough to hire you immediately. But if they can't find you, how can they ask you for a bid?
The term "branding" might make your cringe a little, but you can do it without being sleazy. A few tips:
- Make sure you have an online portfolio.
- Build a network of people who support your ideas.
- Respond and engage on social media.
Overall, it's about letting people know what you offer.
Again, what you offer should be better than what's available on the cheaper online platforms. So it's important to know what you're up against.
Learn More About Talent Platforms
Take the time to review some of these popular sites. Check out what users are producing. Many times, they also offer samples of their work. Research what buyers get for their money. Learn where the weaknesses are so you can focus your work on those areas. You can even outright ask a client where others have gone wrong.
Basically, you're looking for things you can offer that these online platforms can't. One example might be accessibility. Graphics Design Blender explains this. Their advice is for competing with large firms, but I think it works just as well for these sites:
I've worked with so many clients that tell me they decided to go with a freelancer this time around because last time they could never get a hold of their design firm. Or when they did finally get a hold of someone working on their project, the concern took too long to work its way through the system.
This is just one example. Research the cheap work in your own industry, learn what the complaints are, and make your stuff better.
Look For Clients In The Right Places
Some clients are more likely than others to pay for quality work. Sometimes, it just helps to make sure you're looking in the right places. Writing Thoughts cautions against looking for work on bidding sites, for example. Instead, they suggest you focus your search here:
- Sites that advertise full-time professional positions. Many companies who hire full-time professionals also have contract freelance opportunities.
- Local businesses. Meeting a potential client face-to-face gives you a huge advantage. Clients who interact with you directly are often willing to pay more.
- Former clients. Don't be shy about checking in with former clients who have paid you a fair amount. They may have more work for you or have contacts they are willing to refer you to.
- Medium-size businesses. A medium-sized business (or publication) is a better prospect for a writer than a solopreneur. They are likely to have a bigger budget, yet probably don't have a full-time writing staff.
Of course, there are always exceptions. You might very well find a high-paying gig on a bidding site. You might not have luck with a bigger business. Figure out what works for you, but, generally, these are the places you'll have more luck looking for work.
Stand Your Ground
If a client is on the fence about hiring you, you may be tempted to back down and agree to an incredibly low rate. Hongkiat explains how this could be damaging:
Sure, you might pick up few clients over the next few months if you charge less than your worth, but in the long run, you might pigeonhole yourself into a pay bracket that you'll never get out of. Once people know they can get your services fairly cheap, they will always want to get them for cheap, even if you'd like to raise your prices in the future.
Of course, if you're just starting out, you might have to work your way up and start from a lower rate. Some freelancers even work for free when they're new. There's a lot of disagreement on this topic. It's a personal decision, but at the very least, you should know what you're getting into and set up some guidelines.
Keep Up With Your Industry
Online talent platforms are actually pretty good at keeping up with what clients and businesses are looking for. This means you'll have to be better at keeping up with your industry.
Don't Take It Personally
Sometimes, clients just don't have the budget to pay more for work. Sometimes, they might not need to spend more on higher quality. And, sometimes, they just prefer someone else.
It can be hard not to take things personally, but keep in mind — it's business. If you know your value, and you can prove it, you don't have to justify your rate. But maintain your professionalism, even if your work is turned down. That client might remember you when a colleague is looking for a freelancer. They might even hire you later.
Online talent platforms make it easy for just about anyone to find cheap help. And for that reason, they're becoming increasingly popular. But competing with them can be a pain. It's not easy, but you'll do well to keep focus your efforts on value and establishing yourself as a professional.