local design agencies, marketing agencies, web shops, ISPs;
In cities, I agree, but I live in a rural area covering three towns, approximately 200 mi. X 200 mi., everyone knows everyone, and getting local work is never what you know, it's who you . . . . err . . . . know. :-) It's a wash. Since I'm not related to any of the good ol' boys, it's a waste of time for me.
I use those freelance sites. All of them (that I've found, so far; there are a lot of clones that are totally bunk.)
I won't venture an opinion on which one is "best", but I will say this: people are the same everywhere.
Over the years, I've proven to myself,
and hopefully can demonstrate to others, the fallacy in this statement:
you're competing internationally against people who can live for months on rupees that would barely pay your rent.
This statement is absolutely 100% true, yes, poorer economies - well, let's say it, since you used rupees - like India and Pakistan - CAN feed their family for a week on $50. Often they DO "underbid" or drive down pricing. But when you think about it, low pricing through outsourcing is a problem created by the large industries of the West, and now we have no place to complain about a problem that *we* created. But that's another story.
My only reason for raising this point is that most of the "underbidding" is done not by providers in poorer economies, but by Western providers who absolutely misunderstand the problem, and drop THEIR prices thinking this is what they have to do to compete.
This is completely false.
There are two serious problems with the way freelancers work online:
1. Thinking "it's all about price." I've been flamed to the roof by making this statement, but it's absolutely true, and I survive
by living by it. With a quality client,
it is SELDOM about price.
2. Internet "marketing" gurus and their eBooks that tell you how to get quality work for real cheap. These guys are the scum that have truly driven freelancing to the ground. Clients who are using their principles are easy to spot, easy to avoid, and their money is no loss to me. It is these guys, and the clients who have bought into their scams, that are the real problem in underbidding. This is no joke: I have seen people seriously asking for 500 word articles for $1 each, with a twist of the knife: "should be an easy job for someone who knows what they are doing."
So which freelance sites? All of them. Any of them. You'll find sharks and vultures everywhere, but in between, maybe one in 1000, you will find *real* clients, quality clients, who value your work and are willing to pay for it. It always gives my heart a light skip to see a list of 25 $50 proposals, and "awarded" next to the professional who bid $700 -$2000. Good for you, here is someone who "gets it."
It's not always me, but sometimes it is. And I do this because my proposals address the problem best (another story that will spin wildly off topic, "what's a good proposal?")
You have to dig through a lot of sand to find the gold nugget. There is no magic bullet, there is no secret, just solve people's problems, solve them well, and you will find them.
Never worry about price or what anyone else is doing. It's a hard rule to follow, price is the only thing people seem to understand, and that **is** the problem. If your prospective client is all about price, you don't need that work.
Charge what the project is worth, justify your costs in your proposal, and absolutely positively never drop your price if asked. Not even $10. This is the first test you will be given: if I can chip away at your price, I can change scope too . . . because you proved you'll let me.
There are great clients out here. They are hard to find, but they are here.