Thoughts on

Hey guys, so I've been wanting to do some coding jobs and shit, and my dad showed me It looks kind of weird to me and I'm not 100% sure about it. Anyone have experience with it?

I've used for just over 3 years so I think I can give some insights on the platform.

I'm not sure specifically what you want to know so I'll give you some info you won't find on their website, hopefully it will help others who are searching.

1. Does Not Care About You, Nor Should They

Harsh, but true. As a freelancer on the platform you are a second rate citizen (first being employers). You can expect their support staff to be unhelpful and sometimes rude and dismissive. On you will have to earn your lumps (complete work) before you become of any value to them. Freelancer has just shy of 20.5 million users, most of whom are freelancers who have never been granted a project. The most valuable users on the platform are employers who 'upgrade' their projects which they then end up awarding.

2. Most Projects Will Not be Awarded

You should be aware that the majority of projects on the platform will never be awarded to anyone. On the platform you will have a finite amount of bids you may place in a given month (the number of which depends on the plan you have selected). These bids can go quite quickly if you bid on projects which are never awarded so learning to spot which projects you should bid on and which you should ignore is essential. Generally, projects posted by an employer who has any reviews (negative or positive) are much more likely to be awarded than projects by new employers. Projects which have been 'upgraded' will have obvious colored tags attached to them (Urgent, Sealed, Featured, NDA, Sealed, Private) demonstrate that the employer is willing to put money into the platform, these projects are awarded more often than not (anecdotally between 75% & 85%). Weaker, though still useful, indicators of the likelihood that a project will be awarded include:

  • If the employer has verified a payment method, they're more likely to award the project
  • If the employer has made a deposit (this information is clearly displayed on every project page) they will likely award the project
  • If the employer has verified their email or phone # or if they've completed their profile, they're more likely to award the project

The general rule is: the more time and money the employer has invested in the platform, the more likely they are to fulfil their intentions (award projects).

3. is Not in the Business of Giving Out Money is shamelessly greedy. One thing that I think they do not make clear enough is they will take 10% of your bid amount as soon as the project is awarded by the employer and then accepted by you - you will immediately be debited 10% of the value of the contract. So for a $2000 job, that's $200 upfront. The next thing to know is, no matter what, you will never get that money back. If the project is never completed for whatever reason, you won't be refunded.
Next, has the most ridiculously unfair exchange rates I've ever encountered. The platform does not have an official currency, though the vast majority of transactions will be done in USD. For money coming into Freelancer, for project fees and subscription fees (if applicable), you will likely be charged in your local currency, if you are not you will need to decide whether it's cheaper to have your financial institution make the conversion to USD or for PayPal to do it and to pay the PayPal fee. For money coming out of Freelancer, if you are holding currencies in Freelancer which are not your local currency and you select Express Withdrawal, Freelancer will convert the currency, and I doubt you'd be happy with the exchange rate they'll use. If you can wait longer to withdraw your funds and have a PayPal account, you can withdraw your money into PayPal then withdraw to your bank with somewhat competitive exchange rates.
Freelancer will offer you bid upgrades which can put you first in the list or highlight your bid. In my experience, highlighting a bid is never worth it though sponsoring your bid to the top when you have no reviews can be a good way to get started if you're highly confident the project will be awarded and lead to a 5 star review, one good review literally puts you ahead of half of the other freelancers (as I said most have never completed a project).

4. Bid Strategy is Everything

Your chance to win a project is limited to 1500 characters. In those 1500 characters you need to sell your ability to fulfil the project, the best way to do this is to simply tell the employer what you would do when they award you the project. Never make guesses about the project. This is something that I didn't work out until recently, but if you make an incorrect assumption about the project employers tend to lose confidence in your ability to complete the project, presumably because they think you've misinterpreted the requirements. Also remember that in an employer's mind, their project is the most complex and difficult task known to man, illusory superiority. We live in an 'everyone is special' world, learn to exploit it. Also refer to the employer as a business, it strokes their ego. These are not jokes by the way, this works. Never miss deadlines, EVER! Everyone wants to be rich, but people are lazy. When an employer awards a project, it's an ambition-blocking task, they're just waiting for that callback:

while( !employer.is_rich ) {
    employer.delegate( 'become_rich', function( deliverable ) {
        console.log( "project complete" );
        employer.funds   -= 1000;
        freelancer.funds += 1000;
    });, 1700);

Point is, every hour you haven't delivered the project is an hour you're all that stands between your employer and a boundless fortune. So deliver quick, or they'll resent you. In my experience most of the work you'll get will be from the same few employers, so building good business relationships upon your dependability is important.

5. You Can Make Money on [Insert Hard Work Platitude]

There are a lot of negative aspects of listed here, because the positive ones are all over their landing page and such. Despite all of the bad stuff, I've managed to make good profits on the platform and if you consider the overheads of other businesses, the fees and bad exchange rates really aren't so bad. You'll also develop your coding skills and get a chance to network internationally. The most important thing is to treat it like a game and never become disheartened for losing projects, just keep momentum going. Underbid when you first get started and put effort into your bids disproportionate to what you'll get for the project until you have a good reputation on the platform. I would also recommend specialising in something, become the best (or close enough) in something specific that there seems to be steady demand for. Don't expect miracles, journey of a thousand miles and all that crap.

Hope some of this info helps someone out.

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Go for Upwork instead. Much more professional.