The past few days I was in my normal routine of submitting some bids/applications on my favorite freelancing sites. If you have visited this site before, and if you have read articles I wrote about freelancing, you would know that I always have a good thing to say about freelancing. There is however a negative aspect, a dark side if you will, that not many people including me ever talk about.
Yes, freelancing can be a good way to make an online living, even if there are times when you have to wait for work. That is however not the dark side of freelancing I want to speak about, there is something even worse than not working, and that is being cheated out of a decent wage by a low down son of a ….
The Cheapskate Client
There is nothing that irritates the crap out of me more, than to see a project advertised with a payment amount that is not even near to what the project is worth. The clients obviously think when they are online they can use and abuse people anyway they like. The worst part is, freelancers do bid for these projects, and they bid for them because they are desperate for work, and the clients know that.
Let me give you a few examples:
- This client wanted 6 x 500 word articles written for his website, for a whole $6. One article of 500 words is usually around $5, but this person wants 6 of them for $6. Crazy!!
- Another writing job; 20 x 850+ word articles for a website, for $40. I don’t even want to explain how ridiculous this is, it just ticks me off more. Cheapskate client!!
- Client needs 5000 word eBook written, for $20-$25. Read that again, your eyes did not deceive you. If that person sells that book, how much do you think they will make on that book, and you got a max of $25; WOW!
- Client wanted a WordPress themed website created, for $10. Yes seriously only $10!!
The examples can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. This kind of ridiculous pricing happens in all categories, although I only showed the ones in the writing and in the website design categories.
It is one thing to see the amount the client wishes to pay, but many projects are actually posted without a price, they just indicate price unknown or as in the picture. Now if you apply/bid on this project, you have no way of knowing what the client is actually willing to pay, or what type of client has posted the project.
If you then quote a realistic amount, the cheapskate client ends up selecting the lowest quote from another freelancer, and you wasted a bid. If on the other hand you choose to compete, and quote lower than you normally do, a good client who was willing to pay more, thinks it is his/her lucky day, and you get hired at your under quoted amount. The typical catch 22!
This picture show a clip from a client’s statistics, which I thought you will find interesting. This specific client/employer has been with this site for a long time, and as you can see has hired freelancers for a total of 110 hours. Their average pay for this 110 hours is however a measly $4.22. Do you understand now how little some clients actually pay?
I spoke to a very successful freelancer, who wishes to remain anonymous; she explains to me that when she started freelancing she could only get work at $1 per hour. Seriously and the minimum wage in the USA is $8.25 per hour! Luckily today she makes around $20 an hour. Yes it can be done!
These cheapskate clients are luckily not the norm, and there are many well paying clients that do pay according to the value of the project, as you can see from this picture. Though finding them can sometimes be difficult.
You Reap what you Sow
I truly believe that you reap what you sow in life. So there are times when I can’t help to laugh my ass off, and that is when I see that same cheapskate client having to re-advertise a previous project after the work could not be done correctly by the person they hired.
It truly amazes me how many times they have to re-advertise a project after the project was previously awarded to a ‘cheap’ freelancer. You would think the clients would learn that cheap is not usually the best. The old saying; you get what you pay for, cannot be more relevant than it is in online freelancing work.
Just yesterday a client posted a project where they asked for a excel document to be re-done exactly like the original, because the password of the previous document was changed and lost by the freelancer they hired. They are now unable to get access to the completed document. I had to laugh.
Yet, many clients persist in demanding to pay the lowest rates possible, in stead of paying a little higher for experience.
What should you do?
My personal view is; don’t worry about the cheapskate clients and avoid the ridiculously low paying jobs. It is true that you have to start somewhere, so taking on some low paying projects in the beginning is advisable to build up your profile, but bidding on projects where it is clear that the client is trying to either abuse a freelancer or get a big score is not smart in my opinion.
You should always do your own research on how much a project is worth, and then bid accordingly. If you are just starting out, it is fine to lower that researched amount a bit, because you are trying to build up your profile. Clients are more likely to hire a freelancer with a working track record, as opposed to freelancers without any work to their name.
It is unfortunate that the online freelancing environment is getting a bad rap because some clients are trying to pay as low as possible, even if the work in question demands more money.
Freelancing is however in my opinion still a good way to earn an extra income and many people are actually earning a full time living from it.
Just learn to stay clear of the dark side of freelancing.