How do you stand out as a freelancer? How do you beat the competition and win new clients?
In this interview, Joe Daley, the founder of FreelanceMyWay, joins me to talk about these questions and more.
Joe Daley is a serial entrepreneur with experience that goes back to 1999. He’s been building all kinds of businesses from selling wholesale products to building anti-spyware software, greeting card websites, and more for many years.
His latest venture is a brand new freelance marketplace called FreelanceMyWay. Which he plans on using as a platform to solve many of the issues freelancers currently have with other popular marketplaces.
Joe is also the founder of LogoMyWay a crowdsourcing website where freelancers get to show their skills and compete to win prizes for the best design.
As you can imagine, Joe has years of experience working with freelancers and building businesses. He shared great advice for freelancers on how to stand out as and how to get started as a freelancer.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what kind of work you did before starting FreelanceMyway?
Joe: Every since I was a little kid I was always looking for businesses to start and ways make money. My first business was in 3rd grade.
I remember watching my neighbor knocking off Icicles from his gutter. My Mother told me he was doing that because the weight of the ice could cause the gutters to sag or even break off.
After discussing a business name with my Mother we decided on “Joey’s Snow and Ice Removal” This way I could shovel the snow and remove ice Icicles as part of the business. So I went around the neighborhood telling the neighbors they needed to pay me to knock off the Icicles or it could damage their gutters.Icicle removal was .50 and $5.00 to shovel the driveway.
In middle school I went on to have a lawn mowing service, painting services, I even helped the garbage man when he came through our neighborhood, hanging off the back of the garbage truck in 5th grade, dumping garbage cans into the back of the truck. That job paid $7.00.
I always had a passion for startups and business. In my 20’s I opened an auto shop called “Car Care Plus” tinting windows, detailing cars and installing car and truck accessories.
My first online business was 1999 selling wholesale products online. I went on to start an online greeting card site that was ranked #5 in the world, developed an anti-spyware software selling close to 200,000 copies in just 2 years. Those are just a few of the many businesses I have started over the years.
I’m really excited about our latest project FreelanceMyWay. I and my programmers see a big demand for a freelance site that focuses on quality freelancers and clients.
We verify all freelancers with a 3 step process before they can bid on jobs. We only accept about 5% of all applicants. The site is built and run by Entrepreneurs and Freelancers that know what the industry is lacking and how to fill that void.
What makes FreelanceMyWay different from the other freelance marketplaces?
Joe: We feel that the current sites grew too fast, bought up the competition, and failed to focus on the quality of users. After discussing a plan with my programmers we came up with a plan to build a freelance marketplace that had a simple user interface full of quality clients and freelancers.
We would require all of our freelancers to fill out an application describing their work history, education and samples of their work. We would also require them to verify their location by entering a code into their mobile phone. We are going to focus on quality, not quantity.
It’s better to have 5 to 10 bids on your job from great freelancer instead of 50 from freelancers that aren’t qualified for the job. That just creates more confusion and frustration for the client.
We also searched reviews for the top 5 freelance sites and we were shocked at the bad reviews. It seems they all have the same issues. Freelancers not getting paid, fake jobs posted, horrible customer support, no phone number to contact support and poor user interface. You can learn a lot by reading reviews from your competition. We know exactly what issues we should focus on before they even become a problem for our users.
It took us close to a year to build FreelanceMyWay. We are very happy with our soft launch and will continue to improve the website and user experience.
What made you start a business related to freelancing? And how did you start LogoMyWay?
Joe: My software business took a huge hit in 2008 during the recession. I had to move on and start another business. The unemployment rate in 2008 started to rise and I knew during these times more people started businesses because they couldn’t find jobs.
When people start a business the first thing they want to do is purchase a logo. This is how LogoMyWay was born. A crowd-sourcing website for logo designs.
We have created over 3 million logos since 2008 and have over 30,000 freelance designers. Over the years we have been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Business First, Columbus Dispatch, Huffington Post, AOL and many more publications.
Logo design is a very saturated market, especially with competitive platforms like Fiverr. But you found a way to give freelancers a fighting chance. How would you recommend a beginning freelancer join this niche?
Joe: I would start with following some of the best designers you can find. Use them for inspiration and motivation to improve your skills. As a designer or anything else you do in life, you have to keep pushing yourself and improve your skills.
What do you consider the biggest challenges freelancers are facing right now?
Joe: I think the biggest challenge is competing with so many other freelancers. I read that by 2020 50% of the workforce will be freelancers. In order to stand out and get jobs, you’ll have to work harder and smarter than everyone else.
How would you recommend freelancers stand out from the rest and avoid having to compete with others?
Joe: I think the best way to stand out is to put together a very impressive portfolio. I think as a freelancer it’s also important to show initiative and let the client know you can do the job, and you are excited to work with them.
Don’t be too pushy and aggressive though. It’s a big turn off for me when a freelancer sends me tons of messages. Like “you there” “ let’s get started on your project “ “Hello????” “ I’m the person for your job “ etc…
I like the approach of giving me a fair price, (I don’t like super low bids) showing me your past work history, letting me know you can do the job I’m asking you to do, and then maybe check in with me every couple of days. I like to see someone who’s motivated.
Clients want reassurance that the freelancer is skilled and will finish the job. My team has been with me since 2008 and before that, I had a few freelancers that I worked with on my projects.
What kind of advice can you give to someone who’s currently stuck at a day job or thinking about getting started in freelancing?
Joe: I would suggest starting slow and building the business to the point where you can quit your job and jump all in and dedicate 110% of yourself to growing the business.
I’m a bit of a risk taker so I would probably just quit the job and jump right in. That’s not for everyone though. I haven’t worked a traditional job since 1995.
In fact, the thought of working for someone is a big motivator for me keep building businesses.
In conclusion, is there anything else you would like to add?
Joe: Have fun doing whatever it is your doing and you’ll be excited each and every day to start your work day and build your business.
Make time for yourself, friends, and family as well. You’ll need a good balance between work and your personal life. It will take practice, but you’ll eventually find that sweet spot.
During the interview, Joe also mentioned that he suffers from both ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Instead of letting those disorders take control of his life, he’s using them to his advantage and as fuel to build businesses. I think that’s quite inspiring to us all.
I’d like to thank Joe for sharing his personal experiences and advice with the rest of us.