Well – I’ve finally cut ties with Elance. I got kind of tired of paying monthly for something that was an afterthought and really not bringing in any sincere income. It’s not that it isn’t a good service, and there is certainly a place for it – but at this point in my career, I feel like my energies are best spent elsewhere.
Elance is a good place to find work, if you’re willing to work über-cheap. Being an American with 4 children and a wife to support, I can’t afford to give away logo design for $25 a pop. I’m a huge believer in ‘you get what you pay for’, and I think that Elance kind of bore that out. I would bid, get rejected, and have to move on to the next thing. And usually, the folks would go with the guy that has 45,000 “gigs” landed, and he’s made just slightly over $30,000 for those finished gigs. His stuff would be clipart, bad fonts, and strange effects.
That’s just not what I’m about, and I would wager that’s really just not what most freelance designers are about. Or, at least, not what they WANT to do.
So – I’m going to take that $20 a month, buy extra coffee, and work on polishing my illustration skills late into the night. I’m going to take that few hours a week I’d spend perusing the “want ads” on Elance and use it to further my business, cultivate leads and take care of the paying clients I already have.
I think it’s a better investment.
Now – for you, intrepid reader: Are you spending money and time trying to land semi-paying gigs? Would that time and money be better spent doing something – anything – better? Examine your workflow and billables and compare those to what your dream freelance business is.
Does it match? Are you just spinning wheels, wasting time? Are you generating a legitimate return on investment from Elance, iFreelance, Guru, Odesk, etc? Or – are you just wasting time – hoping that you’ll land a great gig?
Sure, those great gigs might be out there, hidden in the weeds, on job bid sites, but from my (and other designers’) experience, 95%+ of the gigs that are out there on those sites are there for one reason: PEOPLE WANT CHEAP. They don’t necessarily want great design, and they sure as hell don’t want to pay for a real professional. They just want cheap.
I don’t want to work cheap. I want to work, mind you – and if you NEED one of these job sites to keep afloat, I certainly understand. But – unless used judiciously, such sites and projects accomplish only cheapening your work, making your time less than valuable, and makes your work and your career less than it should be.
Ask yourself if the return is worth the investment, and if that return is really a “return.” It might not be.
The other issue is that you can become associated with the cheap guy. They clipart guy. Is that what you want to be known for? Cheap work? I’d doubt it. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d say that most freelance designers, illustrators and creative types didn’t step out of the 40-hour-a-week world to pursue sub-par, cheap stuff.
I wanted to produce better design for EVERYONE. I didn’t want cheap. I don’t want cheap – and my clients don’t either.
So – examine where you’re at, whether these job sites are worth it – and possibly most importantly – is it the type of work you want?
I want bigger and better. I’d wager you do too.
So long, Elance, it’s been real…