Why do freelancers fail in getting work and cement their place in the marketplace?


Just over one and a half decades ago, people did not know much about freelancing, especially in Asian countries. I was lucky enough to take the first mover advantage and establish my career online. Today, freelancing is the hottest topic. In the current financially stressed circumstances worldwide, Freelancing provides residual income and is tipped as the future of work. People can offer their services from the comfort of the couch at home, work at their own pace and choose their own work hours, and also make good money.

I am the biggest advocate for choosing to freelance. I believe, one can easily make $1000 doing freelancing every month. There must be a reason why 56.7 million Americans worked as a freelancer in 2018. 61% of people decided to choose to freelance in 2018 and the number is destined to grow higher in the coming years.

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People are preferring to choose freelance and in the U.S. in 2018, 42% of people said they like to work as freelancers as it gives them freedom.

The question here is, how to get started and make money as a freelancer? Many freelancers learn a skill and start freelancing but they fail and quit. The marketplace is an equally leveled playing field for every player. Why do some people succeed and some fail miserably?

I would like to give out some logical reasons based on my 2 decades of freelancing experience.

Freelancing is not about technical skills. It attributes a good percentage of course if you have mastered a skill but the skill alone does not suffice.

If you are banking solely on your technical skill, you won’t succeed. A successful freelancer is a perfect balance of good business development skills, communication skills, and technical skills to get the job done. Your chances of succeeding are dim if you miss this perfect trio.

Let’s take a look at more reasons why you do not win projects and fail to make a mark as a freelancer on different marketplaces.

Not paying heed to your profile:

A freelancing profile is the shelf of a store that showcases the products. If the shelf is not nicely presented, as a customer, you will not feel comfortable buying from that store. A freelancer profile needs to depict all the information about a freelancer. Their identity, their skill set, the services they offer, and their previous work.

A perfect profile is a nice combination of information, pictures, and a video. I strongly recommend creating one video explaining your services. It gives a lot of confidence to the clients before buying from a freelancer.

Sticking to one freelancer site:

Brand loyalty is one thing, and ignorance is another. If you are unable to get orders from one freelance marketplace, do not act like a fly stuck in a car. Instead, look around and jump to another freelance marketplace.

Many people spent numerous hours trying to find work on one particular website. Let me give you my example. I started working on Elance in 1999 but within weeks, I realized I do not like the marketplace because it was not fetching me work. I jumped to another marketplace called Guru and the rest is history.

Switch to a different site to have better luck. Your skill set and services may weigh better in a different marketplace.

Bad proposals hurt you more:

You are a talented service provider who knows their stuff inside out but if you cannot reflect your skills in a nicely crafted proposal to a project placement, you won’t be selected.

The reason is very simple. Perfect freelancing is a balance of business development, communication skills, and tech skills so you need to learn how to write a proposal.

Many freelancers make the mistake of sending canned responses to every project without realizing it is not going to help them a bit. Every project is different and has a different requirement, you need to approach it differently and must convince the client why you are the best fit for that job.

Customer is King/Pamper them:

Love them or hate them, it is your choice but, to be honest, you do not even have a choice if you want to ace the game and win over your competition.

Your client is the king. Listen to them, and take good care of them. If you follow my advice, this trick alone can make you go places. A satisfied client not only comes back to you with more business but also feels confident in referring more business your way.

Do not mind taking care of little extra project requirements even though they may be an addition to the agreed work scope. A happy client means more money.

Portfolio matters a lot:

Your chances of succeeding at freelancing are the bare minimum if you do not have a portfolio. A portfolio is the only way for your clients to judge your quality of work and the kind of clients who have hired you to get their work done in the past. Work hard on making your portfolio presentable as it is the key to winning future projects.

Not willing to share their secrets for free:

If you do not offer something for free, even if it is sincere advice at the interview level, you will find it hard to win over your competition.

In the modern age, your competitor is extremely smart. They value the client relationship. They offer free tips and advice that could not only save money but also help the client get the best out of every dime they spend to get a job done. Sharing is caring, give the best solution to your client and make an effort to walk them through the project completion process.


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