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Best Freelancing Platforms for Developers

by Michael Smith on 12/04/17 10:01:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

 

 

 

My background is in freelancing and it’s from this that I eventually found my way as a developer, essentially turning my skill for creating and a desire to be self-employed into a career creating games. As a developer running my own company, I face issues that I never had as a freelancer. I always thought that I had an insecure job back then and I worked my hardest to find something more secure, but as it happens, I am less secure and make less money now as a developer than I did as a freelancer!

 

Still, there is a way to balance between the two and if I wasn’t throwing everything I had into making my company a success, then I would probably be earning a little more by dipping into these platforms on occasion.

 

 

Upwork

 

This platform formed from Elance and oDesk, taking more from the latter than the former. A lot has changed since the platforms merged and it has unsurprisingly grown into the biggest platform of them all. There are hundreds of jobs posted here every day by clients all over the world and it is as popular with large companies seeking remote workers as it is with small-time companies seeking help with one-time projects.

 

There are some negatives though. Firstly, it can be a bit overwhelming to new freelancers, although you should know that this will pass. Secondly, there are many cheap freelancers on there selling themselves for cents on the hour and you will need to compete against these with clients who are typically out to get work for as cheap as possible (on the plus side, the work is usually very bad—you get what you pay for—so it only takes one hire for a client to realize and then immediately stop doing this. It’s also a decreasing trend). 

 

Thirdly, the fees are high. In fact, the fees were increased to discourage cheap freelancers. They charged 20% of what you earn for the first $500, knowing that many of those freelancers will never reach that target. On top of this they charge VAT and sales tax where applicable, and you will also pay small amounts to withdraw money and to gather “Collects”. Sounds like a lot, and if you’re working for a couple dollars an hour it is, which is essentially why it’s setup like this. But if you’re a skilled developer with a top portfolio working out of the US/EU, then it’s a different story and these fees will barely even be noted before long. They also drop to 10% and then 5% depending on how much you earn.

 

Freelancer

 

This site seems to be where all of those low-rate freelancers went when Upwork changed. I personally hate Freelancer and always have, but I’m including it because it is still considered to be one of the bigger platforms for developers. I despise them because the customer support is terrible and unreasonable and they make life very difficult for freelancers. I have had some horrible times on this platform and left after just a few weeks. 

 

I was warned and nearly suspended simply because I refused to work for $1 an hour after a client lied to me (they really do side with clients and ignore freelancers, even if it means avoiding all logic and reason) and they also take 10% from your credit card as soon as the job begins, long before you earn anything. If you don’t go on to earn anything then it’s on you to claim your money back from them.

 

Just my opinion, of course, but this is a site that you should avoid.

 

Guru

 

Not a lot to say here so I’ll keep it brief: it’s great for designers, but not as great for developers. By all means give it a shot, because it has a good setup, a great layout and it is much more beneficial to freelancers than other platforms, which tend to be heavily focused on clients. Just don’t use it as your main platform, don’t spend too much time on it and keep it as a short-term, occasional platform.

 

Fiverr

 

Fiverr has its detractors and I used to be one of them, but then I met someone who convinced me to give it a go. They changed my way of thinking. Basically, I considered the “$5 for everything” attitude to be very destructive, but they basically told me to consider these $5 jobs as interviews, just like the sort that you have on Upwork. Sometimes you spend a lot of time chatting and even doing free work (not advised) and it doesn’t work out. Sometimes it does and they turn into long-term clients.

 

When that happens on Fiverr, the long—term clients can be better than anywhere else. The platform is restrictive so it means they are quick to try and convince you to leave and to do straight-up contract work on PayPal. When that happens, you’re quids in.

 

I tried it myself a while ago and I ended up doing a lot of work for little money. In my first few weeks I think I averaged just $4 an hour when Fiverr fees were accounted for. But then  landed a big contract with Drumkit Digital and with an ambitious startup that folded a year into the work (no fault of mine, I should add). Those jobs paid very well and led me into the work I do now, so I am very thankful for them.


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