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Pros and cons of online platforms for freelancers

As with anything in life, platforms for freelance work provide their own share of pros and cons. While websites of this kind can be highly useful, you certainly need to know how to make use of them with intelligence while avoiding certain pitfalls. But how? This is the question that we aim to address.

1/ An overview of the benefits of freelancer platforms

Above all, it is clear that freelancer platforms are easy to use and provide results in a considerable time savings manner. Once your profile, CV, and a few cover letters (that can be adapted to suit a particular project) are online, the hardest part is already taken care of!

In particular, freelancer platforms are an ideal place to meet clients when you’re just starting out and you haven’t yet built your own client base. They are a valuable resource in winning your first contract. Obviously, many of the roles that are available are short, one-off tasks, but they are an excellent way of gathering positive reviews and gaining experience. If you are wondering how to win your first client, we suggest that you read our article on this subject.

Freelancer platforms are therefore bursting with offers for one-off, quick tasks. These are ideal for people who want to fill gaps in their schedule. In addition, it’s worth making yourself available during the weekend, when many freelancers are “taking a break” – which makes it easy to find work when it becomes available. These quick and straightforward tasks (translating e-mails, creating basic logos, and so on) allow you to fill in the gaps and make the distance until payday a little shorter!

However, the biggest benefit of freelancer platforms is the way they allow you to extend the scale of your business: to move from working on a local scale to thinking globally. As such, available offers can be in the tens of thousands across all industries.

Platforms for freelancers also generate a sense of security because, by forming a contract, they guarantee that you will be paid. It is also possible to view previous contracts that the client has entered into, as well as comments that have been left about the client, and details as to how payment has been made. It is therefore relatively easy to separate serious offers from spurious ones!

Some platforms, such as Upwork, offer a number of extremely valuable features, such as free time management software, invoice generation, and certifying tests. The result is a fairly substantial saving in terms of both time and money!

Obviously, the primary benefit of freelancer platforms is the fact that they allow you to build a client base without too much effort and, ultimately, to form lasting professional relationships. In other words, they allow you to raise your profile.

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2/ Now for the disadvantages

While some disadvantages are shared across all platforms, most platforms offer their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the business in which you work.

One thing that was once a benefit can quickly be transformed into a disadvantage: short tasks, which might be underpaid, make it quick and simple to find your first job, but they are less welcome when they are your sole source of income, as it implies working for poverty wages. You must, therefore, be careful and avoid relying exclusively on work of this kind.

Possibly the worst thing about freelancer platforms is the potentially vast commission charged on your earnings. These can be as much as 30% and can be hard going for independents who already have to meet a number of related expenses.

Another area for concern is payment, which can take some time (up to two weeks for some platforms).

The extent of competition is another disadvantage that applies to freelancer platforms. Indeed, you constantly have to stand out and weigh your services against those provided by other freelancers. This working environment can quickly become a psychological burden and lead to a vicious loss of motivation. Moreover, the problem intensifies when the competition beats you to a job, not because of their capabilities, but because of their pricing.

Indeed, this touches on another of the main problems related to freelancer platforms, particularly those that operate internationally. The prevailing competitive atmosphere results in an overall reduction in both rates and quality. Many contracts aren’t worth it (e.g. transcribe a two-hour audio file into perfect French for $40; translate a 500-page e-book for $400, etc.) Be careful: these offers may appear interesting to beginners on the face of it, even though that is not at all the case in practice!

Indeed, you should avoid relying entirely on freelancer platforms (or at least, not for too long0. Over time, you need to be able to stand on your own two feet, both to be more profitable and to feel better about yourself.

Finally, in addition to analyzing freelancer platforms in terms of pros and cons, you may find that some platforms are great for you whilst others aren't a good fit. Everything depends on your projects, plans, and perspectives. The most important thing is to be well-informed and capable of thinking things through by building on your own experiences and expectations.