The age of the internet brokerage for freelance work is upon us; whilst Elance, Odesk, etc. currently only have a tiny share of the overall freelance marketplace – it is possible to earn a decent living online using these sites now. So let’s take a quick look at the advantages of using an internet brokerage site for your freelance design business:
Reduced Marketing Costs
Author/Copyright holder: Howard Lake. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
As anyone who does their own marketing will know; marketing costs money. Yet, membership (at least the basic version) of Elance, Odesk, Guru and Freelancer.com (the big four internet brokerage sites) is free. That lets you connect with a certain number of prospects for free too (though if you want to connect with more than your limit of free connections – you will have to pay for additional credits). Keeping marketing costs lower means more money to spend on yourself or to invest back into your business.
Eliminates Cold Calling
Cold calling is perhaps the best way to market your business. However, many freelancers are terrified of cold calling and find it next to impossible to overcome their fears. If you’re working through an online brokerage – there’s no need to spend as much time (if any) cold calling and that can make your freelance life much less stressful.
Access to a Global Marketplace
Author/Copyright holder: Matti Mattila. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0
The brokerage sites tend to attract customers from everywhere in the world. That means you can pick up clients as easily in the Arabian Gulf as at home, for example. There tends to be an assumption that international (non-Western) clients won’t pay real money for their work; this is a false assumption and many businesses even in the developing world will pay market rates (or close to) for real professionals.
Close Business in Your Sleep
You can literally close business in your sleep on online brokerage platforms. That’s because there’s no requirement for you to be there when the client awards the project. You need to be a little careful about this and ensure you talk to a client before they award work – otherwise you may find that your project is a nightmare of uncertain specifications and requirements. However, there’s something very nice about waking up in the morning to find a big project waiting for you and that the client has funded the escrow phase or verified their credit card details to ensure that you will be paid.
Getting Paid is Easier
Author/Copyright holder: Steve Rhodes. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Most brokerage sites offer freelancers payment protection in the form of an hourly-pay guarantee or escrow for fixed-price projects. As long as you follow the rules of implementation carefully… you will always get paid and within a sensible time frame. That’s a huge advantage over the bricks and mortar world where often you can end up waiting 90 days or longer to get paid and where the risk of a client default can be nerve-wracking to say the least.
Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: Dave Simonds. Copyright terms and licence: All rights reserved. Img Source