I've recently made the jump from a commercial full stack developer to a freelance full stack developer, I notice a lot of stigma attached to job sites.

I'm using these job sites quite frequently considering i'm new to freelancing however my main questions are:

  1. How do you make the shift from starting on job sites, to no longer requiring them and getting clients from other means/having a pool of clients?

  2. Is there ever a need to get off of job sites?

  3. Anyone who has used both, would you say there are differences? i.e one type of work having better quality contracts than the other, or possibly working being easier to find with one than the other

2 Answers 2


Most of the people I know who made this jump started with freelancing and gathered many connections while doing such.

That means you are on the right track. Build your connections as you continue to freelance.

When you become comfortable with the people you know and already have built a good portfolio, that is when you start marketing yourself.

That is the time to get out of the freelance job sites and start building your name as a brand.

  1. Primarily word of mouth. Note that your existing clients that you found through these sites, and possibly you, will have to pay astronomical penalties if you bypass the job sites and work for them directly.

  2. Not a need, but an incentive. If they are taking 10% of your pay, you're making 10% less money. Now if you are getting 20% more work, losing that 10% is probably worthwhile, but that's a decision only you can make. Also, keep in mind that any time you find a client through these sites, you are typically stuck working through that site for several years, in case that affects your decision

  3. Which is easier depends on your reputation and personal connections. I started with job sites because I didn't know anyone who needed freelancers in my field, and had no opportunity to make connections.

    In contrast, my brother is a designer (and very outgoing); he started out making posters for his friends' bands in high school. Soon their labels were hiring him to design posters and websites, and then they were referring him to other people, and he ended up with so much work he dropped out of college because there was no reason for him to keep going.

    Do your best to make connections outside of the job sites, and politely suggest that your clients refer friends to you directly rather than through the job sites. Depending on your trade and your personality, you may find that works better or worse than the job sites.

  • Is point 1 true?
    – i486
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 13:25
  • @i486 It's certainly true in my experience. There are only three ways to spread knowledge of your business: advertising, word of mouth, and people finding you in web searches. If you are just getting started, people searching for full stack devs are going to find lots of other results before you. That leaves advertising or word-of-mouth, but word-of-mouth is cheaper and (in my opinion) much more successful for an individual developer.
    – user45623
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 18:30
  • OK, but who has the risk of penalties - the client or the freelancer? I think that agreements with freelancer sites against direct contracts between companies and freelancers can be valid for limited time (e.g. 3-6 months from the offer) and not forever.
    – i486
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 19:40
  • 1
    @i486: Oh, you meant the other part of the answer. Yes, that's true as well. See for example Section 7: Non-circumvention at upwork.com/legal And the period is 2 years, not 3-6 months.
    – user45623
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 20:14

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