PCN

26 October 2016

Freelance job sites for copywriters – the 2016 review

Are job sites like Upwork, Copify and People Per Hour a good place to find freelance work?

We asked freelancers like you to tell us the best and worst parts of freelance job sites.

24 people responded to tell us their experiences of:

  • People Per Hour
  • Copify
  • Upwork
  • Cloud Peeps

So what’s the verdict?

Overall, pretty damning.

42% would not recommend freelance job sites to other freelancers

8% would recommend these sites.

50% said they might, if… “they need to fill a cash flow hole” or “were just starting out” or “only as part of a balanced approach to finding work”.

Before we delve into the worst reviews, let’s start positive with…

The best bits of freelance job sites

We asked people to tell us the best thing about using freelance job sites. To get to the good points we need to wade through a few comments like “I hate them”, “there’s literally nothing good to say about them” and “they show you how little clients value copy”, but then we do find a few satisfied freelancers.

In general, our respondents valued the flexibility of freelance job sites, and the relative ease of finding work and completing projects. The simplicity of getting paid was also mentioned.

Here are a few direct quotes that we received:

“Paid < 1 week, pick and choose work, don’t need to speak to clients, don’t need to chase invoices, no phone calls, can work from home, someone proofreads my work for free.”

“Opportunity of work in quiet periods.”

“Convenient and good for income top-up.”

“People can find you.”

“Steady stream of work.”

“Communication is kept in one place, rather than unwieldy email chains.”

“I guess it can be a good way to get a certain amount of low paid work if you’re really up against it financially.”

“Freedom to take on work whenever you like.”

We asked: what is the worst thing about freelance job sites?

Responses included:

“There are so many people on [freelance job sites]  quoting for the same work. Also some of the rates offered are appalling.”

“Horrific pricing, being bargained down because there are people who will work at less than £10 per 500 words. It feels cheap and not representative of a professional career.”

“Too many terrible jobs paying next to nothing. Copify in particular is full of jobs obviously asking for keyword spamming posts harking back to the dark ages”

A race to the bottom…

“Too much competition. If you give an honest amount for an ‘Hourly’, people will pass over you to the next person charging 50% less.”

“Work isn’t the most interesting; pay can be terrible; very competitive; huge fees”

“Too much competition from people who accept very little money, driving the price down for everyone else. It’s a fight to the bottom.”

“Low pay. Bad briefs. Inadequate peers. ”

“Some of them seem to be a race to the bottom in terms of price for the job. There are also A LOT of people on them and I think to make them really work you have to put in a lot of time to try and win a piece of work. I’m not necessarily sure the rewards outweigh the effort. ”

“High commissions and withdrawal fees.”

Would you recommend freelance job sites to other freelance copywriters?

42% of our respondents offered a conditional response, saying that they might recommend these sites.

Here are some of the responses:

“Yes and No. Yes – Get the ball rolling, build up a portfolio (if starting out), and earn some decent cash if you’re prepared to comb through the rubbish to find it. No – Don’t rely on it. Don’t build your business on rented land.”

“I would be happy to recommend for income top-up and out of work freelancers. Short term gains.”

“I would say there’s no harm in having a profile with a realistic price and it can be useful for getting some small pieces of work. As a new writer it’s given me some confidence building small contracts I can run while maintaining my 9-5 job.”

“Only if they were starting out and willing to take on volume to make up a decent wage. I don’t believe that if you want to be a professional copywriter you should rely on them.”

The verdict

While we’ve only heard the views of 24 freelance copywriters, the picture that we get of freelance job sites is depressing.

These sites offer what appears to be a good deal to the client, but very little in terms of job satisfaction or fair pay to the freelancer. These sites also offer limited communication with the client, making it difficult to write great copy.

But it’s not all bad. For freelancers who are starting out, or who need to fill a short-term gap in their schedule, freelance marketplaces can be a quick and easy way to pick up work.

If you’re a freelance copywriter, we recommend exploring a variety of marketing options, including freelance marketplaces, to see what works best for you.

Thanks to everyone who replied…

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Your answers have helped paint a picture of this corner of the freelance economy. While some of you chose to remain anonymous, we can publicly thank:

  • Alan Fratten
  • Beth Townsend
  • Carl Owen
  • Charlotte Fleming
  • Sara Hawthorn
  • Iain Gorman
  • Christopher Officer
  • Ashley S
  • Kieran Kilbride-Singh
  • Karly Edwards
  • Annika Howard
  • freelance-marketplacesurvey-results

What do you think?

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PRO

Claire Kerr

November 3, 2016 at 10:55am

I’m a marketing consultant who has only just realised (after 28 years!) that my role is all about copywriting. With room currently for one extra client, I’ve been spending some time on some of these freelance sites, especially PPH. I have to say that I completely agree that the sheer number of responses is huge, and within ten minutes of a brief going up, it’s common for more than 10 pitches to have been sent. And the pricing is so low sometimes too.

Having said that, I have won profitable work and clients on PPH and on another site, but do resent the fees taken by PPH. It seems unfair for my client to pay extra after the initial job has been done, when PPH is no longer doing anything for that fee.