When I began freelancing, I looked for the best freelance website for beginners, too. Without thinking much of it, I picked Freelancer.com and jumped right in not knowing any better.
After working there for a while, it turns out that it isn’t the platform with the most clients and projects available. It didn’t feel good to work hard on portfolio projects to establish the profile only to realize that I had done it on the wrong website.
In this article, you and I will go through other options, some criteria to consider when looking for the best freelance website and I’ll show you an advanced tactic you can use to win projects quickly.
Let’s dive in!
The best freelance website for beginners
I’ll make this really simple: the best freelance website for beginners is Upwork. It is the biggest site and that means they can attract the most clients.
If there’s something we want to avoid, it is to spend hours preparing our profile only for no good projects to be available.
While Upwork isn’t the first freelance website I tried, I earned my first about $9,000 within just half a year there.
Instead of giving you a long list of potential freelance websites that may or may not be relevant for beginners, I wanted to give you the best choice right away in case you are on the fly.
If you are interested in more options, I’ll share them below. I’ll also show you criteria that are important to consider when you decide which freelance website to start out with. There are only two.
If you want to get a better understanding of Upwork, check out this article: is Upwork worth it?
The only two criteria that matter to find the best freelance site for beginners
I’ve tested websites like Freelancer.com and Upwork and worked with many clients over the years.
Ultimately, there are just two criteria that are important for freelance websites: the number and quality of the projects available, and if we are able to get approved for the platform in the first place.
Approving your new profile on freelance websites
They both seem obvious yet can put our plans to a halt. It’s so annoying having spent hours creating a great profile only to have it disapproved over and over again without any clear feedback.
If you search around, you’ll notice that lots of freelancers are complaining that they couldn’t get their account approved. The most common reason I’ve seen is that there are too many freelancers on the website offering the same skills.
When I signed up on Upwork again with a new account offering services in the online marketing space, I noticed that the account was approved quickly even though online marketing is a popular field among freelancers and there are many already.
I’m sure they have their reasons and I’m not one to judge but I got curious as to why I was so easily approved.
As I was going through the differences compared to my old account, I noticed that this time around I had used my professional email address from this blog along with sharing the website itself.
It seems to have made a difference and my guess is that they want freelancers to be professional. An established presence can help give the impression of that.
If that’s the case, and you have to set up a blog and professional email address to get started, I’m not so sure it is worth it anymore.
In this article [link to freelance digital marketing – link to the right section?], I lay out another approach to landing freelance clients that have landed me higher-paying clients and does not require any website, professional email address, or anything else.
Next, let’s look at the second important thing for a freelance website to be a good fit for you: the number of available projects you can apply for.
The number of projects available on the freelance website
Clients go where they think they can get the best fitting freelancer, the easiest. Upwork puts a lot of marketing into getting clients onto the website for our benefit.
The tricky part is that the more info we have on the clients and projects, the better we are able to help and understand if a project is a good fit for us. Again, seems like a no-brainer, right?
The challenge is that many freelancers and clients take the projects off of the platform to save the fees Upwork charge.
In turn, Upwork tries to keep the projects there by limiting the information available before someone is hired for a project.
For ambitious readers, it makes all the difference because we can write better proposals and thus win more projects, the more info we have available.
If you are comfortable, reaching out to business in a friendly, non-salesy manner, you will be best off avoiding freelance websites altogether (you’ll learn how in other guides on the blog).
I wasn’t ready for that when I first started freelancing but I eventually made the move, so I understand if you don’t feel ready either.
Freelance websites are a good place to start if that’s how you feel.
A sneaky tactic to land clients (even if your Upwork profile is new)
Whether you choose to go ahead with Upwork or any other freelance site, I’ll leave you with a tip that can help you land projects in the beginning when your profile is new and without much to it.
Instead of going for the traditional approach to applying for projects and competing with more established freelancers, consider if there are other ways you might be able to attract clients.
That might be by doing something that your competition doesn’t want to because they are more established. For example, take on urgent projects with a hard, last-minute, deadline.
Even if you aren’t the perfect fit, clients might take a chance on you because they have little choice with the deadline closing in.
By doing an amazing job you can leapfrog your way to repeat projects and establish yourself as a freelancer on the freelance website quickly… and eventually, it won’t make sense for you to do those types of projects anymore.
Other freelance sites for beginners
Like many other websites, I wanted to experiment with a list of different options. I actually don’t believe that simply sharing a list helps a lot, since, in my experience, it makes it more difficult to make the right choice and procrastinate instead.
Since so many other sites do it, I wanted to see what would happen. Whether you prefer more options to choose from (lists) or the existing style, please leave a comment below so I can improve the articles. Thanks.
- Hubstaff talent