You decide to start a business or work for yourself. Immediately thereafter, you realize that you have no idea how you are going to get enough clients to pay your bills every day.
Welcome to the world of working for yourself. It is scary, but millions of people wake up every day and face the same questions; and, face them, they do. You can approach the need for clients as well, and you will often have to pay to get your business in front of them.
I have paid up front for leads from multiple sites and venues. I have also elucidated leads from thin air around me via the hot-sweat inducing practice of cold-calling.
So, why do I tell people to avoid pay-up-front job listing sites?
Avoid Pay-Up-Front Job Listing Sites
First off, let me say what I mean by pay-up-front freelance sites: a pay-up-front site is one that requires you pay them a certain amount of fees before you ever see the leads they will be bringing in. A site that sends you a Black Friday sale saying that they have 8,000 jobs being posted in the next two weeks but you can’t see them unless you pay 6 easy payments of $97 is a pay-up-front site.
Although these sites are often legitimate, anyone who is starting out in this business should never do them.
Why am I so adamant?
Because a newbie is as a newbie does. I think Forrest Gump said something like that…
A newbie is as a newbie does.
~Not Forrest Gump
— Paul Davis (@natepauldavis) November 20, 2018
Free First, Then Pay
There are many great sites that deliver leads to freelancers. These sites have free options to try them out, see potential jobs, and apply. Some, like Bark will require that you pay before you submit the application. Thumbtack used to require that, but now you only pay when someone responds to your application or reaches out to you via your profile.
Other sites I recommend, like Upwork or Freelancer both have a certain number of applications you can do each month for free, but take a certain percentage out of your income when you do land a client. They also have paid subscriptions if you run out of your free applications.
Even though these are often more expensive in the long run, I still recommend that beginning online freelancers start with the free to enter sites.
Because you pay for practice, not for opportunities.
The first time you apply for work, you have no idea what you are looking for.
So you practice. You apply for this, you read that, and you seriously underbid for that.
You get hired doing work that earns you $2 an hour, and it’s not enough.
But, you didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for the lead that landed you this job. So, you don’t try to make the poor client work for you, you walk away.
This is practice. This is worth paying for.
If you have the resources to spend to look for specific leads for a business you understand and have been building, then go ahead, sign up for that job-site that requires you sign up for their business builder’s university first.
If you are just starting out on this freelance journey, don’t pay for sites that don’t let you see the leads first.