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SHOWING NEWS 81–90 OUT OF 667

November 20, 2023

FINANCIAL TIMES: AI’S IMPACT ON WHITE-COLLAR WORK

New, hotly debated article titled Here’s what we know about generative AI’s impact on white-collar work (published behind FT’s paywall), suggests that “generative AI is already taking white-collar jobs and wages in the online freelancing world,” quoting two recent studies. However, both studies are indicative rather than conclusive.

Our take: The assertions and conclusions made in the article seem somewhat premature. The real impact of AI on the entire freelance economy in the USA will be seen later, from surveys and analyses of tax returns that are statistically representative. These will gradually emerge over the coming months. It’s also important to recognize that online freelance platforms (one of the studies primarily drew data from Upwork) are far from being representative of the freelance economy as a whole.

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November 17, 2023

FREELANCERS ON THE ROAD → BULGARIA

Bulgaria invites European freelancers to meet up in Sofia on December 4 👋

Join us for an enriching experience as you network with other freelancers, discuss business, and enjoy the beautiful environment of the Networking Premium Gurko Panorama coworking space in Sofia.

Participation is free, and no advance registration is required. Simply click “Going” on the Facebook or LinkedIn event and then show up in high spirits! 😊

Here's what awaits you there:

  • space for networking and work in a coworking environment from 2 to 6:30 PM
  • a debate about freelance business with Robert Vlach from 7 to 9 PM (in English)
  • a warm welcome and a guided tour of the coworking space from 3:30 PM
  • making new contacts with other local or international freelancers and professionals
  • pleasant, friendly and informal meeting atmosphere with a few surprises in store

P.S. To get notifications on future meetups, join Freelancers On the Road core group.

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November 17, 2023

FREELANCERS: THE DOWNSIDE OF PITCHING TO PROSPECTS

With parts of Robert Vlach’s latest editorial from our newsletter being shared online, thanks to Sarah Duran and others, here’s the full text in case you’d like to read it. If you find it interesting, you can share the LinkedIn version, subscribe to our newsletter or get your copy of The Freelance Way.

Let me be clear: Pitching to prospects (i.e. reaching out to new, potential customers) is a valid business practice.

However, as I read through articles and guides on the subject, I often find that the downside of this technique is rarely mentioned. Quite the contrary, pitching is often pitched as a singular way to generate new business.

Before delving into details, it’s important to note that pitching is more integral to some fields and business cultures than others. For example, it is far more common among writers than among programmers, and more prevalent among freelancers in the U.S. than, say, in Germany or Central Europe. It usually makes more sense in fields where it is a widely used practice.

Nevertheless, the downsides of pitching are universal and if you decide to employ the method on a regular basis, you should be aware of its serious limitations, especially for more established freelancers.

The problem is that the more experienced and booked you are, the more you want to pick the work you do under your own terms. Indeed, with the most sought-after professionals, new clients have almost no negotiating space to speak of, because there is such a great demand for their services.

In contrast, pitching often involves reaching out to potential clients and trying to sell them something they may not need. This requires, among other things, attractive pricing and a willingness to adapt to less-than-ideal conditions that nonetheless allow for a deal.

Consequently, adopting pitching as a primary selling strategy can create an illusion of control—the illusion that you're in charge of choosing your clients and setting work conditions, while in reality you may be digging a pricing and negotiating hole for yourself.

I know this, because I am often on the purchasing side, hiring some of these “always-be-pitching” freelancers for my clients. The hard truth is that it is far too easy to extract value from them, while not committing to anything substantial. And it is not even an unfair game, because they sell themselves so hard, we don’t even need to push. I can’t recall a single occasion when we thought, “Well, that was really expensive.“

It’s a different story, however, when we send an inquiry to an established freelance expert. We’re on the demand side, so there is no preconditioning for getting a good deal out of it. If it is someone in high demand, we may be lucky to get at least an expensive offer (still better than none). The deal flies, because there is a real need and demand.

A common counter-argument is that pitching keeps all options open for the negotiation phase. But it isn’t entirely true, as being on the selling side has its rules, and the seller often must take several extra steps or concessions for the deal to happen. This creates a sort of precedent in the relationship—and trust me, it is then quite complicated to start playing hard-to-get later, if you want to create leverage for, say, a much higher price.

I’ve observed that habitual pitchers (“send at least 3 pitches a week”) are busy but ultimately undermine their business in the long run. Their value is often being extracted, raw and clean, by the clients, while there is less space for them to upsell that value, given the original conditions of the deals they made.

They also receive positive “sell” signals more often, which makes them less likely to abandon the practice and more likely to praise it to other freelancers. The condition is similar to underpricing and selling your services on the cheap. There, signals from clients are also “positive”—because they buy so cheap in the first place!

Real-world adoption is low. Freelance surveys rarely highlight pitching as a prime strategy for getting new clients. For instance, in a recent survey conducted by Freelance Business (referenced below), only 16.8% of freelancers identified pitching as a source of new customers, while the top spots were dominated by recommendations, social media, and inquiries via website. All of these offer a far more advantageous starting point in negotiations.

To conclude, I find the pitching strategy workable and legit, but somehow misrepresented in the public discourse. It puts freelancers in a slightly disadvantageous starting position, and unless there is a very strong compensating strategy, its accumulated long-term results are far from impressive. Sending out a carefully crafted pitch from time to time is fine. I would just be very cautious about making it a primary marketing strategy.

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November 13, 2023

REPORT: WHERE DO FREELANCERS FIND CUSTOMERS?

Freelance Business has published their anticipated report on Where do freelancers find customers, which we collaborated on with Na volné noze, The Indie List, and a dozen other freelance communities.

The results are not statistically representative for the overall freelance economy. However, they are valuable enough to dispute an often-repeated claim about the growing importance of freelance platforms that serve as intermediaries between individual freelancers and their clients. The responses from 434 freelancers across 58 countries suggest that the significance of online platforms as a source for freelance work remains low. The top sources were, quite typically, based on social relations:

  • 54% from existing or past clients
  • 45% from recommendations by friends, family or colleagues
  • 35% from social media
  • 20% from their own website or web presentation
  • 17% from direct pitches to clients
  • 15% from freelance platforms (such as Fiverr, Upwork, etc.)

“Low Platform Engagement: A mere 14.7% of freelancers have secured clients through freelance platforms in the last year,” concludes Elina Jutelyte in the report. Arguably, only a fraction of that ~15% rely on freelance platforms as their primary source of work, potentially reducing their actual market share to the lower single digits. This is also in line with past research, as summarized in the talk European Freelancers & Where to Find Them.

For more detailed insights, read the full report.

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November 8, 2023

BANSKO: BULGARIA’S DIGITAL NOMAD HUB

In recent years, Bansko at the base of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria has become one of Europe’s most popular digital nomad hubs, alongside the Canary Islands or Madeira, according to the BBC.

Freelancers and other remote workers love the area for its vibe, nature, low cost of living, and range of interesting activities all year long. There’s also the annual Bansko Nomad Fest, and a number of great coworking places.

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November 7, 2023

CARTEL AGAINST FREELANCERS

Does your company hire freelancers and share their rate information with industry peers? Make sure to double-check that you are not participating in an unlawful cartel-like behavior. For example, an UK regulator is investigating scripted drama producers for sharing information to fix freelancer pay rates. If found guilty, the companies may be subject to fines of up to 10% of their turnover, according to The Freelance Informer.

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November 1, 2023

PRICING PROFILE

Here’s my pricing profile. What’s yours? — That’s the challenge published in our latest newsletter. Fill out your anonymous pricing profile, and after submission, see how other freelancers responded.

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October 30, 2023

12 PRICING TAKE-AWAYS

There’s been a lot of talk about freelance pricing recently, and that’s a good thing. There are hardly any strict rules because freelancers are such a diverse group. Sharing experiences is one thing that truly helps — getting inspired by people's ideas, like the list of 12 things Austin Church learned about pricing during his 14 years of freelancing. We like his last bit of wisdom:

“You’ll know you’re getting closer to the right prices when they offend the wrong clients. To become the more expensive option will do wonders for your profits and your joy quotient.”

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October 26, 2023

SARAH INTERVIEWS ROBERT

Sarah Duran interviewed Robert Vlach on The Hustler’s Manifesto podcast about some themes covered in his best-selling business book The Freelance Way, and especially freelance pricing.

One of the highlights in their conversation was how pricing impacts the overall subjective experience of freelance work. Robert pointed out that if we dislike a particular job, it’s often because we are underpriced and overstretched. Doing the same work when well-rested or better compensated can feel entirely different.

Listen on Spotify or YouTube:

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October 23, 2023

HOW TO BRAG

Personal marketing is a sore spot for many freelancers who don’t want to look self-centered and arrogant. On the other hand, self-promotion is a quite necessary part of the freelance way, unless you have skills that are unique or in high demand.

A socially acceptable approach is outlined in an article How to brag without sounding arrogant, according to new research.

It points out that people are much more comfortable with self-presentation that also highlights others — e.g. collaborators, sources, or inspirations. And indeed, if you follow successful freelancers on social media, they often do it exactly like that.

By the way, kudos to Sarah Duran for sharing the article in her awesome newsletter 😉

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