14 Feb Bonus Episode: How Do I Escape Freelancing Sites?
In this bonus episode, I’ll answer viewer mail I received from Debbie. (Not her real name.) Debbie escaped Corporate America and utilized a freelancing site that she now wants to eliminate. And with good reason. But… how do we do that?
✔️ Not every potential client on a freelancing site is garbage just as not every potential client who enters your funnel some other way is pure gold. But it definitely seems like freelancing sites are the Wild West of 1099 work and are rife with bad behavior. Everything from ghosting to terrible pay to biased scoring systems.
✔️ As with Debbie’s situation, companies pushing employees to “come on back to the office now” are facing quite a bit of backlash. If you are considering a way out, getting some fast cash and proof of concept from a freelancing site is not a terrible idea. It just may not be the way to build your business for the long term.
✔️ I advocate for planning your exit strategy in advance rather than ripping off the band-aid. You may decide to keep a presence on a site as an “in case of emergency, break glass” plan. Or you may decide to transition away from those sites over the course of six months. If you are risk averse, do not delete all of your profiles at once and then regret it five minutes later.
Links I discuss in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. So in this bonus episode, I will be answering some viewer mail. I received an email from Debbie, not her real name, just simply an alternative to Jane Doe or Sally Sue. I do have permission to read it on the air. And I’m going to be mindful of her privacy, obviously. So she will just be Debbie. So here we go. I listened to your podcast every week, and I really enjoy it. I especially wanted to write to you about the episodes why freelancing websites suck, and I did what I had to do now how do I get what I want? I relate to those a lot. I have enjoyed working from home, I used to think of my commute as my decompression time. If my boss was rude to me, or I had a bad experience with a colleague, I could work the stress out in the car on the drive home, rather than bringing it inside to my husband and kids. But after having this time to be at home, I realized that the commute sucked and took valuable time out of my life. Several months ago, the management team at my employer told us all to get on a mandatory zoom call. This was before the better.com firing that you talked about. So I was not worried that we were all about to be fired. The managers talked to us like we were children. They acted like working from home had been recess on the playground. And now we needed to return to the office. If we were quote, still worried about COVID, then we could socially distance and wear masks in the office, I truly felt like I was going to throw up. The idea of giving up my sweat suit work clothes and fighting traffic every day made me feel horrible. I also did not like the implication that we were all children playing games at home when we were working. I was much more productive at home than I was in the office. But it seemed like the managers just couldn’t see that I got on hmm, I’m going to omit the name of the freelancing website here. So just I got on freelancing website to see if I could stir up any work on my own. I guess I was lucky because I landed clients almost immediately, and I was also able to gain five star reviews from them. Fortunately, my family has been very supportive of me leaving my office job and becoming a freelancer. But the things you talk about in the why freelancing websites suck episode have totally happened to me. At first, it was kind of fun, and it helped my confidence level. But the clients are demanding. And I am competing with people who are willing to charge about 50% less than me, I downloaded your episode, I did what I had to do and listen to it again. I feel like that is me. I did what I had to do to escape my corporate job. But I now want to escape these freelancing websites. But I don’t know how whenever I try to I get nervous and start to think it’s too big of a task. Or that maybe I’ll try it tomorrow, but not today. Do you have any advice on what I can do next? What would a next step be for me? So first of all, Debbie, thank you so much for writing in and for giving permission for me to read this on the air. It always touches my heart and makes me feel good to know that my episodes have touched somebody else that someone else out there feels so moved that they wanted to write in and ask for additional advice. So thank you for that. The next thing I will say is you’re definitely not alone. I think a lot of people feel that way. We look at these websites like Upwork Fiverr, or freelancer and think, Well, I have to start somewhere, why not start there. Some people never really make that transition off of those websites. Now some people will keep them in reserve sort of like in case of emergency only break the glass, but some people just stay on there and find themselves month after month and quarter after quarter fighting for the scraps. So something else that I want to say is I really applaud you for making the decision that you want to transition out of using those websites. In my own personal experience, as well as the experience of others that I have spoken to, it really does become a race to the bottom on pricing, the lowest common denominator everybody fighting for the small pieces of the same pie. And I mean, in theory, you would think the client would win and the Freelancers would lose. But I would make the argument that no one wins. You know, if we’re all fighting for scraps, and clients are sitting back pretending to be Roman emperors watching the gladiators murder each other in the arena, who is actually winning in that scenario, right? I mean, who’s getting a quality product for a quality service for a fair price? To me, the whole thing seems weird. In that episode, why freelancing websites suck there was an article I linked to which I will link to again in this bonus episode called escaping Upwork, how and why you should move out of marketplaces. And you can find this article on double your freelancing.com. And I’ll read from the first paragraph marketplaces seem like they’re giving you a great deal. They promised to take the uncertainty out of running a freelance business, where there once was nobody to pitch to sites like Upwork make potential clients easy to find better. Still, these clients are actively looking for freelancers like you, their wallets are practically out. There websites and systems have a nice familiarity about them, too. They play to the logical side of our brains that tell us if people are looking to hire someone, they’ll post about it here, in the same way that a company would post about a new sales assistant role on Monster, there are no barriers to entry, and you can begin pitching for new work right away, the chances of landing new work are high, and you can quickly start to make money from them. But do these marketplaces really live up to the hype? And are they a good foundation to build your business upon? And as I’m sure you can probably imagine, they don’t bury their thesis in this article. So I’ll continue to read. The truth is marketplaces are not designed for you to succeed, at least not if you want to run a business where you can charge no excuse me, Oklahoma allergies, not COVID. At least not if you want to run a business where you can charge what you’re worth. Instead, they’re designed for people who run average businesses to help them get work at a low cost. They want average workers for average jobs and to pay the lowest price for it. The client sets the price and you have to take it or leave it in quote. Hmm. So when we’re thinking about building that foundation, we’re not thinking about emergency situations or doing what the crisis demands, or just putting something out into the marketplace as a beta test, or something that we’re doing to get a few positive reviews to publish on a website. When we’re thinking about the foundation, the core of our business, do we want that predicated on a site that we don’t own manage or control? I definitely say no. Do we want it predicated on lowest common denominator fighting for scraps? Hell no. So to return to Debbie’s email, I feel like a good first step you’ve already done, you’ve already started to look at the big picture and think to yourself, can I make a sustainable business off of these freelancing websites, I want to make the transition off, I just don’t know how. So I really insincerely applaud you for that, because some people never even get that far. Or they might entertain it as a fleeting notion in the back of their mind and think, nope, I’ll just stay here on this platform. I’m not really quite making the amount of money that I want to make, or I’m having to completely bust my ass and bend myself over backwards to try to please all of these people who seem really unbelievable, but you know, that’s okay. That’s part of freelancing. That’s that’s part of gigging. It’s what I signed up for to have my freedom from corporate America, right? Well, no, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Now, the second thing that I’m going to recommend here, before we get into any kind of tactical, practical work, I want to do a little bit more of the mindset work, you know that I’m very big on that. And in any type of coaching that I do, we don’t just dive right in to tactics and practical maneuvers, we really look at the mindset and try to bust out any limiting beliefs that might be holding us back. Because listen, gang, I’ve lived it. You can have great tactics in your quiver of arrows. But if you don’t believe in yourself, how often do you think you’re going to hit the target, and great tactics with a horrible mindset are not going to be very useful. So here’s what I want you to do. Take out a sheet of paper, and a pencil or a pen. Do not do this exercise as some kind of blow off or throw away exercise. I want you to do this when you really have the time and energy to devote to it. So not 10 minutes before you need to leave for your son’s soccer game. Or at night when you’re exhausted and you feel like within the next five minutes, you’re going to nod off. That is not the time for this exercise. I want you to really make a sort of ritual out of it. So if you drink then make yourself a glass of wine or an adult beverage. If you don’t then pick out your favorite hot tea or hot cocoa, hot coffee, really do something to carve out this time and say, this exercise that I’m about to do is special. This isn’t just me scratching out a to do list to go to the grocery store to run errands. I really carving out this time and making an investment in myself because this is important. So on that first sheet of paper that you take out, I want you to hone in on all of the things large and small that you hate about freelancing websites. And these can be the very large big picture items like I don’t feel like it’s sustainable for the long run. I Don’t feel like my business can grow quarter upon quarter, I don’t feel like I’m able to earn as much as I want because these freelancing sites take 10 or 20% of my revenue straight off the top, then I still have to pay the tax man. So it’s just not sustainable for the long run. Those are things that I would call big picture foundational issues, because let’s face it, any of those things can wreck your business and your cash flow. Then you can also write down smaller things like God, the last project I worked on for company ABC on this freelancing website was so dull, I feel like I would rather have watched paint dry, then work on that project, or John Doe, on the last freelancing website that I encountered was such a turd. He was so rude to me. He wanted unlimited revisions, and he held my five star review over my head, like the sword of Damocles, I hated it, get all of it out on that sheet of paper, write as much as you need to don’t think that anything is too small or too petty to go on the list. This is sort of like having a purge. And it’s very important to do it and do it right. So put everything down on that paper that you hate, dislike or find mildly annoying about these freelancing websites. Now the second thing that I want you to do after you’ve written out your list of grievances like like it’s Festivus, and you’re airing out the grievances. The next thing I want you to do is to take out another sheet of paper and write down what you want instead, consistent cash flow. Clients who treat me with dignity and respect clients who respect both me and the gig. The ability to set my prices, how I see fit, the ability to keep more of what I earn, clients who pay me X amount of dollars or more for each project, clients who are responsive, and generous. It’s your list and your priority. So anything that you feel is important, anything that you feel would make you fulfilled, and you would find the work enjoyable. If it was like this, that’s what you need to put down on the second sheet of paper. That second sheet is really going to be the sheet that we focus on. And I would challenge you to make affirmations now do this, however, feels the most natural to you. If you want to get up in the morning and say those affirmations out loud, do it if you want to journal them and just write them down a little bit each day do that. If you want to get into like a voice recording app on your phone and record yourself saying the affirmations and then listen to it a couple of times a day, do that do whatever feels natural to you. Now you can always go back to the old school Bob Proctor way, if you have a little writer’s block or you feel like you’re not the creative type, do it the Bob Proctor way, I am so happy and grateful that I only work with clients who respect me and respect the gig. I am so happy and grateful that my cash flow for my business grows month after a month. I am so happy and grateful that I only work on projects that I find intellectually stimulating. Whatever it is that turns you on and that you feel is important. That’s what needs to go in the I’m so happy and grateful list. Now there’s a couple of times a day if you’re going to listen to something on audio a couple of times a day that that’s going to be the most effective anytime, frankly, is better than no time. But two times out of the day. First thing in the morning before your feet hit the ground and you get out of the bed and you’re still kind of sort of drowsy and in the in between. And then at night when you’re in the bed, the lights are turned off, the TV’s not going and you can listen to this recording and kind of let it marinate into the subconscious mind. Your guard is down and your brain can just focus on those affirmations. I love how Jake Ducey says brainwash yourself. Instead of allowing Madison Avenue to do it or politicians to do it. Do it to yourself. You know, you don’t want to be keeping up with the Joneses and always chasing after the latest, greatest shiny bauble. You would rather brainwash yourself. And it’s a great endeavor, I think to brainwash yourself so that your freelancing desk goes exactly the way that you want it to. So listening to gloom and doom news and everything’s wrong in the world and everything’s going to hell in a handbasket. That’s gonna put you in a bad frame of mind. Whereas if you turn on a voice recorder of yourself saying I am so happy and grateful that my freelancing business is amazing. I am so happy and grateful that I make X amount of dollars or more per quarter. I am so happy and grateful that I naturally and easily attracting clients who are respectful, kind and generous. Listening to that is 1000 times better than listening to gloom and doom or listening to nothing at all. Now don’t get in a hurry to shred or burn up the other paper the paper where you’ve listed out your grievances. Here’s what I want you to do. Put that in one of your desk drawers. Again, we’re not going to focus on it, we’re not going to dwell on it because it’s important to not sit around and dwell on that which is unwanted. We want to think about what is wanted, I just want you to have it in reserve. So that if you start to feel tempted to give up on moving your business in a different direction, you can pull that sheet out of the desk and go home God. You know, when I was doing the freelancing websites, I had to deal with Mike the micromanager, Ned, the needy, Nancy, the nitpicker, I was making pennies on the dollar compared to what I’m actually worth, you know, go back to that list of things that you wrote down about what you didn’t like, how you were treated poorly, how the money wasn’t great to just remind yourself to stay on track, feel the fear and do it anyway. Okay, it’s going to be scary to transition off of those websites, if you’ve been highly dependent on them. But I am telling you, it is totally worth it. So the next thing that I will suggest is do not jump off the cliff without a parachute. Some people can do that. And they just have the temperament for it. They’re high risk, high reward, and it’s okay with them to say, Okay, well, I hate these websites. So To hell with them, just gonna rip the band aid off right now and go for it. Other people are not so risk tolerant, they’re not high risk, high reward, and they would immediately have a mental breakdown if they did that. So come up with an exit strategy that makes sense for you and your family and your finances. If the only way that you know how to make money right now today is by doing it through freelancing websites, then begin the exploration process of finding other ways to do it. But keep that cash flow going, you know, when I’m doing my own kind of manifestation and money work, I call it keep the money train rolling. So you want to keep the money train rolling, you don’t want to just cut yourself off at the knees and go, I hope this is gonna work out. No, you plan out a thoughtful, logical exit strategy. So we’re going to turn the faucet off and let the water drain out and just not continue to go back to that same faucet of places like Upwork and Fiverr, and freelancer, we’re going to look for other avenues. And then when we have established that those other avenues are working for us, and they’re paying us dividends, that’s when we can shut the door on the freelancing websites. If you have a more conservative temperament, I think that’s going to be the best way for you to handle this. So at this point, if you’re scratching your head and saying, Okay, I’m with you, I get it. All of this sounds good. But what else do I do? I get the mindset part of it. And I understand don’t rip the band aid off unless you’re really prepared for that. So what do I do when I get up tomorrow morning, and I’m done with whatever I’m going to do on these websites. What else is there right? How do I keep putting one foot in front of the other if I’m not sure where the pathway goes? In that article that I that I will link to on double your freelancing.com They’ve made a pyramid and it looks kind of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where they’ve ranked in their opinion, sort of from worst to best what the options are of bringing in new business for your freelancing desk. Now as you can probably imagine, the very bottom rung of that ladder is marketplaces aka freelancing websites, as they say in the article, those have the lowest barriers to entry and also the lowest amount of pay off up the ladder. From there we go to job boards. So these are clients that have some kind of a predetermined budget, and they already know that they need a freelancer, but they typically have more wiggle room and a higher budget, then sites like Upwork, freelancer or Fiverr. Also, when you’re on a job board, like indeed, dice ziprecruiter, you don’t tend to find as many of these like smarmy people that make comments like, hey, this job’s real easy. I just need somebody who can show up and do this for like five bucks an hour. I mean, I do it myself, it’s so easy, I just don’t have time, you typically don’t find requests like that when you’re going on a job board. There’s usually usually but not always, usually some kind of more coherent job description of what they would want a contractor or a freelancer to do. The next item on their list is cold pitching. But I would disagree. If I were making this list, I would actually flip flop those around. I would have freelancing websites at the bottom and then cold outreach as a second rung up the ladder but just barely. In my experience, you’re not going to be able to build a good like cash flow of relying on cold pitching and cold outreach. I’m not saying to never do it. I’m just saying that if you’re trying to build your business on cold outreach to people and constant follow ups begging for business, then there and done that and that’s one of the have reasons why my first iteration of self employment failed, because I wasted way too much time chasing after prospects who are not interested and sending up follow up email after follow up email, it was incredibly boring, and it made me feel impotent and unsuccessful. And it just didn’t put any real cash in my pocket. So I would tell you to use the strategy of cold pitching sparingly. Now, I’m not going to tell you it never works or that it’s impossible that it could work, I just don’t know that it would be the most effective strategy for the long haul. So in my mind is more like marketplaces, cold outreach. And then job boards are starting to get us into a better tier of people. After that on their hierarchy is seminars and events. Now, with COVID being the way that it is how many in person seminars and events are you going to be able to go to, you know, probably not very many right now. But certainly being involved in something online clubs or organizations that could yield something productive for sure. Next, up the ladder from seminars and events is referrals. Now, I would add to that things like warm leads, and warm introductions from your existing clients, as well as repeat business, from your clients. So if you finish one project with them, maybe a week or two later, they’re already feeding you more work. To me, that is one of the best spaces that you can play in and helps you to have more consistent cash flow. And it also cuts through a lot of the Bs, and then like, oh, having to do the song and dance, hey, here’s who I am. And here’s what I bring to the table, you’re also not having to convince anybody of why they should use you, or why they even need your services in the first place, you’re already playing in that very warm environment. So I feel like that is an excellent, excellent space to be in. And if you have the opportunity to get in that space maximize the hell out of it. Now, what they put at the very top of their pyramid is feeder product and social media, where you become the go to person in your area of expertise, and people will go out of their way to find you. They describe it as being the highest barrier for entry, but also the highest payoff. And I I would agree with that, you know, I think that if you have your own website, you have a way that people can find you and interact with you that is not predicated on a site that you neither own nor control. So we’re not talking about people finding you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, because let’s face it, what if one of those platforms died? Or what if you got banned or shadow banned? What if their algorithm changed in such a way that you were not the top person anymore, it was very difficult for someone to find you, you know, you want to have your own presence. And you want to establish yourself as an expert and an authority figure in such a way that as this article says, people will go out of their way to find you, and they will remember you, you will really become that person where if somebody goes, You know what, I need a great developer, I need somebody that knows how to do medical recruiting, or I need somebody that’s an amazing technical writer, you will be that top of mind person that they want to reach out to first I mean, that is prime real estate. Do you get there overnight? No, absolutely you don’t. And any guru or salesperson out there that’s trying to pitch a program to you, if you pay me X amount of money, then I’ll get you to be an overnight celebrity or an overnight success, you can just automatically assume that they are full of it because it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is worth the time it takes to get there in my opinion. And in my experience, you know, I am in some of that prime real estate in my career. Thankfully, because I do have more people finding me through my own website, they find me through this podcast, they find me on things that I’ve written at different times and they are interested in engaging with me. And it’s not based on any platform that I don’t own or don’t control. I’m not at the mercy of social media, you know, if I was the victim of some kind of blackout or blockage, I would be fine because people are finding me through other means. I also have a good stable of clients that give me repeat business and are willing to introduce me to other clients and provide those warm leads and warm introductions now I mean, it’s important to not sort of kick back and rest on your laurels and go home well I’m never gonna have a dry spell or I’m you know, I’m, I’m impervious now I would never have to do cold outreach, or go to some kind of online seminar to pick up new business. Anybody can have a slump, anybody can have a dry spell. So it’s important to keep your knife sharp. So if you have to go back to doing things like that you can and you can do them successfully and and still show up every day with a sense of gratitude and some humility about it. But man when you do get toward the top of that pyramid when you You’re playing more so in that prime real estate, it feels good, I can’t lie. So at the end of the day, the best way to start transitioning off of those freelancing websites, if that’s what you feel you want to do, is to just do it. Again, I don’t recommend ripping the band aid off and just doing it immediately, especially if you are a risk averse or conservative type of person. You just start to do it slowly. And you want to spend some amount of your marketing each day on these other methods whether that is cold outreach, cold pitching an online seminar, being featured as a guest on a podcast and promoting that, asking clients, good clients, not poopoo clients that we don’t want to duplicate but asking good clients for referrals and warm leads. The more that you get comfortable playing in those other areas, the easier it will be to really make that transition out.