So you find an ideal IT project that requires your exact skill set, except it's being offered for pennies on the dollar.

Freelancers from countries with the lowest salaries are more likely to make a proposal for the job and get accepted, thus accumulating more reputation and experience making it even more challenging for freelancers based in countries with higher salaries and costs.

How can the online freelance market be segregated in a way that's fair, balanced and provide genuine equal opportunities to the freelancer?

Edit: I acknowledge that not everyone agrees that the market should be segregated but this post is to explore the possible ways in which it could be.

  • I was told freelancing does not really exist as a full time, only income, viable career. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 13:16
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    Then your were told incorrectly :) Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 16:48
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    It is the nature of capitalism that vendor prices vary and customers choose what price point they feel a service is worth. Any "segregation" is determined by price. Not sure what you are proposing or who would be the judge and jury to decide what workers/companies are worth more, or less, than others. Everyone has a competitor at a cheaper price, everyone.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 3:45
  • Ok but if you go to your local supermarket looking to buy a can of Coke for 50 cents, you probably won't find it. Even if you feel that it should be cheaper, it is set at the local market price. This is what I mean by segregation as I think it makes more sense to consume and offer services at local rates.
    – Jon
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 8:02
  • But I can go online and buy a coke for 50¢... so.... It's a global marketplace. Supply and demand. Unfortunately in some online industries there's way more supply than demand and everyone is competing for the same crumbs at times. If you want to only work in your local marketplace.. get off the internet to find clients.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


On the surface, it is just as you have described it. But the reality is different.

Every fresh client will go with the lowest rate in his project. And eventually he will be burnt and will realize that the rate and quality go along. In that case, he can try another project with the medium rate or go with the high rates from contractors closer to him. This is where your chances are.

Another case is that clients will chose you over the cheapest rate because of the legal liabilities. He will pay you more, but he is sure he can sue you in case you do the job badly. I doubt he will sue some company 3000 miles away in a country with weird laws. Such clients are your chance as well.

Now, from what I have seen, Western contractors will get hired by clients of their own country and they usually can make a good living with 2-3 clients. Other low-rate contractors must have 100 clients to make the living. Would you replace with them?

So although they will accumulate jobs with the lowest rate, they will NEVER do them with quality. Why? A simple math. They do the job at the lowest rate and those clients are usually assholes who want 1M project for 10 bucks. So low-rate clients will have to have 10 or 20 such jobs to actually earn something. What will they sacrifice? The quality.

So although your pace will be slower in gaining quality, you have higher chance to earn from freelancing. I have seen 100s of low-rate guys disappearing after some time (probably quit on freelancing and found a stable job in the local company).

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    Is it really that simple? Someone from your country offering a cheaper product will probably do a poor quality job for the reason you describe. But someone from a country with a low salary will have a low salary expectation, low cost of living and charges less simply because they can afford to. This is what the OP is asking about, I think.
    – komodosp
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 11:11
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    I indeed think this answer is too simplistic: if I lived in India and my cost of living is down 400% you bet my prices go down as well. My quality remains the same though. I think it's too easy to assume EVERY offering from countries fat far away is inferior, even though if very often is. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 15:50
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    It isn't unfair, it's simply an advantage. Your price is based on what you need to make to pay for costs of living, operating and afford some luxury as well, and the same goes for them. Not their fault they live in a cheaper country :) Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 16:47
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    Sorry.. that's "BS" @Jon ... if you could work for clients online in a foreign country for 4-10 times what you make in your hometown.... are you telling me you wouldn't???? So it's only you that should benefit from a global client base??
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 8:29
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    I speak from my own experience. The bottom line is that most low bidders take 10 or 20 projects in work to earn something, and then deliver them all poorly. I have seen a project of $20k being done for $500. Do you think the quality is the same? Don't think so. I also replied to Jon's fears that he will not be able to find work because his rate is 5 or 10 times larger than of the low bidder's one.
    – Peter MV
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 12:14

It's called globalization and doesn't restrict itself to the online freelance market: you can't compete on price, it needs to be quality.

'The West' stands out not because we're cheaper but because we have 'knowledge economies', i.e. our people have access to better education and should therefore be able to deliver higher quality of work in the non-manufacturing industries such as IT or other fast-innovating areas of business.

Try to either differentiate yourself on quality or offer on more local jobs, as plenty of people are still hesitant to send work overseas via a freelance site.

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    I am not sure I agree. I think it's safe to say that most products and services are competing on price. We probably wouldn't be importing so many goods and services from China if it were otherwise. The question was how could the markets be segregated.
    – Jon
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 8:00
  • You can compete on price, but if you do that you'll have to go live somewhere where you can charge less. OTOH, if you compete on quality, as long as you can produce the quality then you can set your price. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 14:39
  • @Jon No I think you underestimate your clients. It's not all about price, quality matters. I very much doubt you yourself always choose price over quality, and the same goes for your customers. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 15:47
  • You're right, I don't always choose price over quality, just most of the time. I am pretty sure that most clients use freelance websites in order to pay considerably less for the work.
    – Jon
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 16:31
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    @Jon Don't impose your mindset on clients. Just because you would prefer a cheap Chinese import over a more pricey but sound product doesn't give a reliable trend within the market. Many use freelance websites because they need a freelancer, If I need temporary work done, I'm going to go for a freelancer rather than hire someone just to let them go later on. For each person choosing price over quality, there are just as many choosing quality. What's more likely is you just can't find them, you wont find people who prefer quality food whilst looking round a supermarket known for its low prices.
    – lewis
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 17:17

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