Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Freelance job opportunities...a mile wide and an inch deep

It's a clever-enough business concept, and I even toyed with launching one back in the late '90s. But I just have to express my ongoing skepticism about contract-job aggregators (e.g., and as a way for freelancers to eke out a living. To me, it seems like a speedy way of making a six-figure income in which two of the figures appear *after* the decimal point.

On the other hand, these sites are damn good at getting publicity for themselves, and they seem to be growing in popularity. Some recent stats from an article titled "Negotiating the Freelance Economy" (subscription required--sorry!) in the Wall Street Journal.
"Between January and March, employers posted 70,500 of these work-for-hire positions on and 43,000 on, which represents increases of 35% and 105%, respectively, from the same period in 2008., which lists remote and on-site freelance jobs, says its average monthly postings have more than doubled to around 13,500 per month in the past year."

It was interesting, though: In the article comments, a few people were as vociferously positive as those of us who were bah-humbugging. So, here's my position: They're welcome to have all the low-bid-wins jobs they can get. Too much chaff for my tastes, and I can only imagine the loathsome bottom fishers that have emerged from the mire of the crappy economy.

Hold on a sec...I just realized that several of my last posts have focused on ripping what's bad as opposed to extolling what works. (Cranky? Nah, it's just fun!) Stay tuned for some positive how-tos in an upcoming entry.


  1. It's those bottom-feeders that make it hell for the rest of us--freelancers and agencies alike. If you bet your bottom dollar on someone, they're going to be worth no more than that bottom dollar. You pay for what you get. It's an old idea that's worth its weight in gold.

  2. Another simply evil thing I left out of here (I was already running long and couldn't find the article to cite) was about a rash of web sites in the past few years that enable your company to conduct a logo contest, and the winner gets paid.

    There were quotes from some participating company about how wonderful their winning design was...and all I could think was, "What NUMBSKULL IDIOTS would be willing to play at that game?" I guess the answer is "the graphic designer equivalent of people willing to write a 1,000 word article for $3."

    As I say, simply evil.

  3. I've heard of a site that does logos for about $50. I assume you get a derivative of one of six generic versions, and you can't make any changes.

    Wait--no changes. Maybe they're on to something...

  4. Brilliant post, Jake! Thanks.

    While you're in Canada you're missing the non-stop wave of carefully worded local TV ads touting all kinds of low-paying professions as personal solutions to the Arizona economic crisis. Yep, just sign up and pay for XXX school and all your problems will be solved. The freelance writing gigs are the same scam - Internet style. It's also the same message - even idiots can do this so you can too. Ugh!

  5. Thanks for dropping in, Pat. I can safely say that I'm glad not to see that particular brand of baloney being sliced. Ah, the triumph of hope over experience...

  6. @ Jake: I really hate these low bidding negotiations, because your work becomes the written equivalent of a garage sale. The balls of cheap clients haggling you for $25 less is preposterours at best and I refuse to go cheaper than when I already give someone a deal. The other day a guy asked for like $18 copies and I told him the total would be around $1,300 and I was going to do it rush, with no additional fee... Fucker never called back. Sorry but I have better things to do than waste my time and save you even more money.

    @ Jake Pt 2... yeah nothin better than getting slapped with a client promo for an ad competition after they don't like what you did... only to end up wasting money, time and effort, and eventually picking the first ad that was recommended. .

    @ Teenie, the problem stems from freelancers and agencies that basically work for free and end up screwing it up for all of us.

    @ Pat... the problem is that the economy is getting so bad that people will spend their savings in a last ditch effort to get paid.