Freelancing platforms have done a wonderful job in adding legitimacy and trust to the freelance industry. What started off as agencies that provided manpower and support to larger companies have now democratised the flow of talent to employers anywhere in the world. However freelancing platforms face a natural barrier in terms of continuing to provide value to freelancers at the fees that they charge. There are multiple reasons for this and here we take a look at why mature freelancing talent moves away from freelancing platforms to self sourced projects after they spend a year or more in the industry.
Skewed power dynamics:
While freelancing platforms claim to protect freelancers and boost opportunities for freelancers — in reality the economics of these platforms is driven towards making clients happy. The supply of freelancers on platforms usually outweighs good job postings and often this means that it is a race to the bottom for freelancing talent. The skewed dynamics mean that freelancers also have little to no protection on disputes and disagreements — often making experienced talent feel like they have been taken advantage of.
Too many spam or fake job posts:
A huge issue with waning platform popularity is the idea that the quality of job posts is not significantly good. This makes it a hurdle for freelancers who are diligently sending cover letters and job applications for projects only to never hear back or get rejected. What is worse is that some platforms even charge freelancers to bid for job applications or set upper limits on the number of jobs that they can apply for. This means little to no control on the value of time spent on freelancing platforms.
Freelancing platforms are a great equaliser for employer expectations. This means that a freelancer could be competing with talent operating in lower cost countries with little obvious way to prove their ability to differentiate themselves. This leads to 1 of 2 things, new freelancers need to drop their pricing to be attractive to employers in the first few months or more experienced talent need to justify their premiums repeatedly which can get frustrating. This has led to a well known brain drain away from freelancing platforms to independent studios or self sourced jobs after freelancers earn a bit of experience.
The growth of personal networks and ability to build credibility with employers through social media, various portfolio websites and personal websites has really bolstered the movement away from freelancing platforms and more to self sourced work. Even though this means more work with sourcing for clients, creating contracts and chasing payments — experienced freelancers prefer developing personal networks and self sourced projects because this leads to sustainable source of incomes and better terms for freelancers.