Freelance bidding sites for DTP work
We’ve all seen them on the web. Freelance job sites that allow desktop publishers and other creative professionals to compete for jobs. Just how beneficial are such sites to the desktop publishing professional? There are two answers to that question.
The first answer is that such sites are a great way for desktop publishers to get work that they would never have been able to go after before the onset of the Internet.
Some desktop publishers are able to use such sites, such as elance.com and its like, to top up their regular desktop publishing income. They aren’t a primary source of job leads for such desktop publishers, but they can be add to the bottom line if used properly.
Other design professionals, especially in low-wage nations, are able to use such sites to make an actual living. These desktop publishing professionals can offer services at a price that is a fraction of that of suppliers in North America or Europe. For desktop publishers in such countries, these freelance job bidding sites are a godsend that allows them to compete for business globally.
The other side of the coin is that such sites tend to encourage desktop publishers to undervalue their worth. Especially when times are tough, there is a tendency to underquote rather than to give a reasonable price for a job. The theory is that once a desktop publisher gets his or her foot in the door, no matter how low they have to go, everything else will fall into place. The client will eventually be persuaded to pay what a job is worth, after seeing the quality that they are getting. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. Customers who base their selection of a supplier solely on price rarely convert into higher paying clients down the road.
The reality is that there comes a point where a desktop publisher has to determine just how much they are worth, and fix a price based on that. If you love the design process, but never intend on making a full time living doing it, bid as low as you want on a freelance site to get a job. Likewise, if you are using a freelance bidding site to fill in holes in your schedule, and to supplement your income, competitive bidding makes sense. Maybe you’ll find a way to add value in other areas of the job, even if you aren’t making a whole lot in the actual desktop publishing part of the project (more on that in another article).
However, if you intend on putting food of the table with your desktop publishing business, put a floor on your bids, and don’t go below it, no matter how low others are bidding. Experienced corporate buyers know that the lowest bid on such sites can often times lead to bigger problems down the road (quality wise and price wise when a job hits the printing press), and will see through the process and go with quality in the end. You may not get a lot of jobs on such sites with this attitude, but the jobs they get will be well worth doing.