Freelance Platforms Are Rubbish – 2018 Edition
I’ve been hearing rumours from various corners that there’s trouble afoot with a couple of the big freelance platforms.
Namely, Upwork and PeoplePerHour.
Now, freelance platforms can be a mixed bag at the best of times, which is why I’ve written about this before in What To Do When Freelance Platforms Are Terrible.
Generally, I don’t pay any mind to talk of how freelance platforms are terrible, because like I say, they’re a mixed-bag.
But recently, a couple of people I know have mentioned:
- Upwork suspending their accounts for no reason
- PPH being behind on paying them by weeks
This is anecdotal but these are people I know and who are by all accounts competent freelancers.
So I checked it out, and across the various online haunts, it turns out that there are a lot of these problems popping up.
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So this is the updated memo for 2018: Don’t keep your eggs in one basket.
I already wrote about this to my email list, (if you’re not on my mailing list, frankly I don’t know what’s going wrong in your life but I hope you fix it soon) and Twitter (you should probably follow me there too), so I won’t rewrite everything again.
Here’s what I wrote yesterday:
Today’s email isn’t what I intended to write about, but it’s important for all of you who are freelancers or intend to be in the future.
I wrote a couple of messages on Twitter which I’ll paste in here for those who haven’t seen it:
Memo to guys who freelance:
Multiple people have told me that they’re having trouble with both Upwork and PeoplePerHour recently.
- 1. Do NOT leave more money in your online accounts than you need.
Doesn’t matter whether it’s Upwork, Paypal, Fiverr or a refund from affiliate accounts when they store your funds.
If someone else can take your money, it’s not fully yours yet.
- 2. All freelance platforms have limitations and a shelf-life of usefulness.
You must move around and keep your business in your control.
If Upwork goes belly up tomorrow and you don’t have a list of your clients, you’ve done it wrong.
Remember: These big companies aren’t out to make your business a success.
They’re out to make their own business a success, and if that means cutting you off, then they will.
Bigger reminder: It’s your business and the majority of your decisions should be made to bring more control to you, not less.
Build your own lead-generation systems. Pitch companies yourself. Use freelance platforms instead of them using you.
It’s all on the site, folks.
Now, a couple of people I’ve talked with recently have been having trouble with freelance platforms.
This didn’t really set my radar off. Whether it’s Upwork, Fiverr, PPH, wherever – these platforms tend to be a bit slap-dash and their terms and conditions are vague at best. Their customer support is limited as they tend to be underpaid non-English natives from the 3rd world who can only really read the help documentation and copy/paste it.
But over the past couple of weeks, other freelancers I know have been having big troubles. Two examples that cause me to write this email:
- A person on PPH has tried to withdraw their money and it’s been “absent” for three weeks now
- Someone I know and can vouch for has had their Upwork account banned with no hope of repeal for an unknown reason (despite many hours back and forth with the support team) and they have money still inside the platform, apparently.
Now, I’ve already given you the Twitter summary above, but it bears repeating:
Don’t keep your money where you can’t get to it.
Now, this might mean freelance platforms, sure. Absolutely take your money out of these companies and don’t let them accrue. (Funnily, I messed up on this once.)
Secondly… don’t let your reputation and services be dependent on a single platform. Some guy can run multiple chargebacks and get you locked out of your account while the money I mentioned above is still inside. (This happened to me.)
Luckily, I got the money and my account back, but I wouldn’t now, because many of these freelance platforms can’t pay their bills, it seems. Too many freelancers, not enough money.
Anyway… there’s a wider point here for all of us and not just freelancers.
Banks can go bust. You can get locked out of different platforms. Upwork is the same for this principle as Twitter is and for those of you running your emails through Mailchimp or AWeber or whoever – this is the same.
Keep your data, money and everything else as secure as possible.
Your business revolves around your client list or customer list. If someone bans you (and these are private companies and so can do that) and you lose your list, then you’re in hot water.
This might be a list of clients from Fiverr.
Or it might be money in Paypal.
Or a private FB group with your customers.
Be careful and export whatever you can because you don’t want your business to go belly up.
These things might happen, and if you have as much data as you can, then you can get back up and running.
If I got banned from anywhere, I’d still have all the emails, records and everything I needed. It’d be a pain in the neck, but I could send out emails to everyone and say, “Hey… I’m not dead. Let’s get back to work.”
You should be the same.
And you should be building the same thing – if you can’t do this and you’re reliant on a certain platform or service, this is your memo to make other arrangements.
So start doing that now.
Until next time,
Be Careful and Be A Professional
I’ll leave it there for today.
Everything you need to do to protect yourself is on this site already, and I’m sure a lot of you have read it and are thinking, “Not this topic again.”
Be careful, be professional and put your business interests first. Don’t’ rely on any one platform and keep a list of your clients. If there’s a setback, make sure you’re already in a position to get up and running as quickly as possible.