New freelancers: 5 vital things to know before joining a freelance platform

Jasper Haeward
Written by Jasper Haeward
on September 08, 2021

Freelancer platforms like Fiverr and Upwork advertise themselves as places where solos like you and me can go to find steady work. In some cases, that’s true. But there are more pieces to the platform puzzle than meets the eye. 

After years of experience using those platforms, it’s clear freelancer platforms and the would-be clients who use them don’t always have the freelancers’ best interest at heart. Thankfully, there’s more to freelancing than just freelancer platforms. That’s why we’re giving you 5 valuable things all new freelancers should know before joining freelancer platforms.

#1 Customize your brand of freelancer work-life balance

It’s important to have time for yourself and those you love. Avoid the trap of packing yourself from 7am to 2am searching for new jobs and then trying to get the work done! 

Yes, those thousands of jobs and the extra income they promise look tempting, don’t they? Curiosity can get the better of us when opportunities are involved. But take it from us, being a workaholic isn’t worth sacrificing your health

Instead, try setting a goal for how many gigs you will reach out to in a day. Once you reach that goal, work on something else in your business, or take a break.

Work-life balance is the most important thing you can have as a freelancer. The whole purpose of freelancing is to live a life free of the rigid structure of a "normal" job.

New call-to-action

#2 Find a way to work smarter, not harder as a freelancer

There will be hoards of people on the Internet who try to convince you that you have to work hard. Don’t listen to them. Instead, work smart. 

Do a lot of research on how to plan for success as a freelancer. Choose your path, and make a detailed roadmap of how you’re going to get there. There is almost always an easier way to simplify, or even automate tasks through technology.

Spend time adding systems that you can expand on later in your business. That means getting organized through task management software, alarms, budgeting, and designating time off. This will help you manage your time in a way thats customized for you and your lifestyle! 

#3 Develop healthy self-esteem and set boundaries

Toxic work culture values people by how much money they have or how much work they produce. Remember that you are not valued by an amount of money. Your skills and knowledge are unique, and therefore valuable.

That means you don’t have to take jobs that are below your rates. Understand your costs, and create a pricing strategy. And while you're at it, build a solid portfolio so you can back up your asking price.

Sometimes you won’t get that job you bid on, or your prospects will ghost you. Other times, clients will try to low-ball you or convince you to do work outside of your scope.

The clients are just trying to do best for their business, but the lowballing, mind games, and gaslighting can have a terrible effect on your self-worth. Feeling disappointed and upset is normal, but it shouldn’t be a constant within your daily life.

To minimize the disruption that negative client interactions can bring, try to cultivate a daily mindfulness practice. Spend time being grateful for who you are and what you have. Create a secret journal where you can pour out your feelings and explore your thoughts.

Practice a hobby or wellbeing exercise that can bring you back to a healthy self-esteem. Invest in therapy if you feel it would be helpful. Therapy can help you develop a better understanding of yourself and your values, and give you the self-assurance to push back against clients who try to undercut you, or manipulate you into doing free work outside of the scope you initially agreed to.

New call-to-action

#4 Explore gigs outside of freelancer platforms

Freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or PeoplePerHour can be a time-consuming hit or miss for finding well-paying, relevant gigs. Don’t despair! There are a wealth of opportunities for freelancers online. You just have to find them! 

Searching LinkedIn can reveal loads of hidden jobs, gigs, and opportunities. Try looking for “hiring freelance (insert your title here)” and filter by Posts. You would be surprised at how many jobs are available through that method. 

Local Facebook groups can also be helpful. If there are business or advertising groups in your location, give them a try. People will see your work and tag others. You never know who knows someone that needs the services you offer! 

Let everyone on your social media know what you offer as a freelancer. Sometimes we can feel ashamed or afraid to talk about ourselves. That is more than okay! But if you want to earn more, it is super important to learn how to be your own best publicist.

The best freelance website is your own. Building your own portfolio website means that people from all around the world can view your best work at any time. Then they can contact you and hire you without the restrictions of a platform. 

#5 Find ways to put the freedom back into freelancing

For many freelancers, big platforms are best used as a backup source of income. Some companies offer reliable work through them. However, there is a high risk of scammers and individuals looking to pay next-to-nothing for a project, rather than prioritizing high-quality work. 

Using a service like Xolo Go allows you to take on jobs from reputable companies across town or across borders. With Xolo Go, you don’t have to suffer through the sizeable 20% cuts out of your paycheck that many freelancer platforms will charge you! 

Instead, focus on finding amazing clients, while Xolo helps you get paid. In exchange for our services, we take a 5% cut from what you pay yourself —and we only get paid when you get paid!

Xolo Go ensures you can do your best work, while charging your own rates to your favorite clients. We are on a mission to make sure newbie freelancers and seasoned solos both have the opportunity to thrive and truly put the freedom back into freelancing!

About Jasper

My lifelong home is The Bahamas, and I’ve been freelancing since 2016! I’m passionate about helping solopreneurs and freelancers grow, regardless of their background. If I can do it, anyone can! When I’m not working, I’m a plant mom, tarot reader, and learning UX writing. I use Xolo Go to invoice my client in the EU.