I’m back with another question I get asked almost daily. What should I do to start my online business? Should I use services like Fivver, Upwork, or Freelancer? The short answer is no.
About a year ago I started working from home. This was due to me quitting my job on a whim and not having a solid plan. I knew there were other people out there that were making a living from the comfort of their own living room. I wanted to have the freedom that came from working from home.
What were they doing to get business?
I read just about every article about business and making money online. I was searching for legitimate sources of income that wouldn’t take me more than a couple of months to see profit. Not wanting to be patient, I found that I could make some money piggy-backing off of already established sites like the three mentioned above. I wouldn’t need to build a website and clients would just come to me! How easy is that … or so I thought.
I signed up for accounts at all of these places and started to get to work. I found that these sites did do what they said they would. They helped me get clients and they helped me get my name out there and start to build a reputation. But this wasn’t a good thing. The type of clients that I was attracting were ones that would “window shop.” In this context, I mean that they would be getting as much information from as many freelancers as possible without having to pay for it. It’s not good business to start working for free, unless of course you have a plan that will make you money later but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about giving your information and education away for free or for pennies on the hour.
Many freelancers don’t understand that they are becoming their own independent agency. They should be respected just as any other business owner. But many freelancers don’t act like they are running a business. They take abnormally low pay for providing a service that took them years to master. That doesn’t sound right does it? You wouldn’t see an accountant get certified and then offer to do everyone’s taxes for $10. Why? Because it took that accountant years of schooling, time, and money to get to that point. They deserve to be paid properly for their services.
Why should designers and writers give away their time for $5. Just your time and expertise alone is worth more than that.
We all start somewhere.
I know it’s not easy to jump into anything where your success or failure is entirely dependent on yourself. It’s okay to be scared but should that stop you? If you even thought of answering yes to that question than I have some bad news for you. Don’t become a freelancer. You won’t make it.
To be an online entrepreneur you have to force yourself to not quit. Even though I make enough money to cover my bills I still struggle with the thought of how much easier it would be to just go work for someone else. One day I won’t think that way but I know that eventually my online businesses will take off in a way that a regular job never can.
Why do we as entrepreneurs do anything? Because we have this idea of a lifestyle in our heads. We don’t want to answer to the man, live in a cubicle 50-60 hours a week, or answer to someone else for our time. We also know that being an entrepreneur has uncapped potential. There is no glass ceiling because we don’t have other people to push out of our way. In terms of income potential between an online business owner and someone who works a 9 to 5? There are no limits with online business. You can make millions. Many career opportunities leave you at the end of your career being stuck at an income cap for a director position. There’s no more room for growth in the traditional career path.
Fivver and Upwork are good in theory, bad in practice.
The reason you’re drawn to these sites is because you don’t have marketing costs, there are thousands of job postings, and you don’t have to build your own website. This is great until you see that all the job postings are from people who want to spend no more than $10 for a logo and branding for their company. But as long as freelancers are willing to provide that service for that amount of money that’s all people will think they have to pay.
This is why I can’t advocate enough for getting your own clients. Getting clients that will pay you monthly to provide and maintain whatever service you offer. It’s harder than signing up for Upwork but in the long run it’s much more beneficial.
This is the whole idea behind CJ Hayden’s book “Getting Clients Now.” (affiliate link) In the book she goes over a 28-day guide to building a marketing plan to help you get clients. I read this book and it boosted my career significantly.
One you have a strong base of clients you can do just about anything. You see the problem with Upwork and Fivver is not just that you are sacrificing your time for low paying jobs but it’s also that you don’t get to build a relationship with your clients. Many clients on those sites come for one job and then leave and by the time they come back they have forgotten all about you. When you have your own clients you get to build a relationship with them. You are able to communicate with them throughout the down time. Then when they are ready to hire someone for their next project you are the first person they think of hiring.
The most important aspect of working online is finding ways to create or simulate these very personal, real world, traditional relationships with people. That’s how you build a name for yourself and that’s how you are able to grow your client base. You simply can’t do that with sites like Fivver and Upwork.
Take control of your client base and start building relationships and you’ll see a growth in your online business.