The necessary evil. For freelancers they are always too high. For freelance platforms always too low. Is there such a thing as a win-win percentage?
What’s the situation? What can we expect? Are the fees going up or they may go down? Let’s see and begin with Upwork.
One fine day, Upwork simply doubled its fees. Truth to be told not all freelancers have been affected equally.
Many questions remained unanswered. I didn’t have the time nor nerves to stick around and wait. Once you earn more than $500 or $10,000, do you get your money back? I mean, does the Upwork fees system work retroactively? I guess, it doesn’t. The best you can do is to try to earn as much as possible, so you find yourself in the VIP 5% fee zone.
Was this really necessary? Well, Upwork tried to convince us it was for our own freelance good. I didn’t buy it. I left. For one-time gigsters, such as myself, this was a disaster. I don’t make programs. I write. I can only dream about $10K projects and long-term returning clients. If you’re asking me, Upwork wanted and succeeded, more or less, in easing the heavy burden of high maintenance costs required for the small, but numerous freelancers. Do I have a confirmation for my claim?
Well, not long after that, Upwork went public. Again, you can tell me stories, but you go public to get the money. Now, this is an extremely important moment. Why? Because the Upwork success or failure on NASDAQ will determine the fate of future fees.
As you can see Upwork had an amazing NASDAQ debut, but since then the price has been constantly dropping. I’m afraid that at some point in time Upwork will say, sorry freelance folks, but we need more money because IPO didn’t fix our financial problems.
I think that Upwork will have one more unpleasant surprise for its freelancers in the near future. Someone has to pay the bills because freelancing is an expensive sport. When a CEO of a company where you work or want to invest says something (I paraphrase) about “the growth without profit,” then you raise your eyebrows and prepare yourself for another fee increase blow.
Who could have thought that I’m going to witness the “domino effect” in freelancing? Again, not too long after Upwork increased its fees, Freelancer dot com followed. Now, you can’t blame Upwork for Freelancer’s fees, but there have been too many “coincidences” if you’re asking me.
Freelancer used to have a nice and fair “pay to play” fees system. You choose your membership package and pay a 10%, 5% or 3% fee accordingly. Now, the price of memberships went down, but the fees went up. How?
Screenshot Freelancer dot com
There’s a flat 10% fee now. So, no matter which membership package you choose, you don’t lose, but you pay the same. The only difference is the number of available bids, including some perks.
Screenshot Freelancer dot com
I remember the times when the Premier membership was called Premium and it was worth $200 a month! But, believe me, it was totally worth it. The Premium members on Freelancer were paying a 3% fee. We have to agree, that was really something.
The most annoying thing about Freelancer’s fees isn’t the percentage itself, which you have to pay, but rather the moment when you have to pay it. You pay a fee when you accept a project not when you get paid. Why is that? Ah, that’s another story.
If you want to pay a fee when you get paid, as it should be, then you have to work hard to become a Preferred freelancer. That’s a Top Gun program on Freelancer reserved for the best of the best, with a catch.
Screenshot Freelancer dot com
The Preferred freelancers pay a 15% fee. Again, they pay when their clients release the milestones not before.
Freelancer has been a public company for some time. So, you are free to check out their financial reports. It is what it is. Don’t be surprised if they decide to increase their “regular” flat fee at 15% and a preferred fee at 20%.
The good old Guru has been around for quite some time. Can you believe it? Guru has been holding on for 20 years now! That’s great. I couldn’t say that the many things have changed about Guru. That’s not so great. I guess they’re happy just the way they are.
They have an interesting freelance fees structure that’s membership-based.
The things don’t change quite often on Guru, freelance fees included.
On goLance, you used to pay a flat 10% fee as a freelancer. The first important difference compared to Freelancer is that you pay when you get paid. The second and the third difference compared to Upwork is that you can bid as many times as you want and there are no membership fees.
I follow goLance founder and CEO Michael Brooks on Quora. He definitely doesn’t strike me as a Gordon-Gekko-greed-is-good entrepreneur type. Based on what I’ve heard from my clients, you don’t pay a thing as a client on goLance. On the contrary, you get your money back thanks to something called CashBack. From 2% to 5% based on your payment method.
What’s that got to do with freelancers? The less money a freelance platform takes, the more money a freelancer gets. As simple as that.
goLance is a private company. They’re still growing. They can afford to lower their freelance fees. Will they do it? My advice to my fellow freelancers would be to keep an eye on goLance. My seventh freelance sense is telling that they may have a pleasant surprise for us pretty soon. That would be a refreshing change. Who says that freelance fees can move in only one direction — up? I sure hope that someone at goLance will read this, better sooner than later.
I’ve just found out that goLance has lowered its fees to 7.95%!!
It’s too much to say that this change comes as a result of my article, but I welcome it. It’s about time for the freelance fees to go down, rather than up by default, for a change.
My kudos to goLance!
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