Why I Don’t Recommend Freelancer Marketplaces

So much of what makes a web project successful is the communication between the consultant and client.

When there is trust between both parties, communication is more honest and open.

So, before I even agree to take a project, this ability to communicate — this connection — is something I’m looking for.

Obstacles To Communication and Connection

But for most businesses, web design and/or marketing isn’t something they are used to purchasing. The avenues for finding a good provider are limited. They can ask for a referral from a friend, go to a freelancer marketplace, run an ad, or Google for local web design providers.

Web design marketplaces and Craigslist ads are suboptimal ways to find a quality web design partner, but not for the reasons you may think.

Marketplaces (like Thumbtack, eLance or oDesk) have a business model which dictates that they must control the flow of communication. It is impossible for a business and designer to speak to each other on these platforms before agreeing to work together.

Price becomes the only factor in the decision-making process. There is no way to establish what a working relationship will look like ahead of time when going through these platforms.

The buyer doesn’t know who will be solving their problem. The freelancer can’t find out about the problem they are being hired to solve.

But many small and mid-sized businesses don’t know how else to go about finding a quality web developer.

They may not know other businesses who have used a web designer recently, or do not want to spend time researching local web design studios.

Because buying web design is something most business do infrequently, they do not know the difference between one developer and another.

As a result, many small businesses make instant decisions on who to hire based on price alone. Inexpensive providers are often commodities.

Nothing more than a set of hands to carry out a task that is beyond the client’s capabilities.

You Get What You Pay For

Obviously, being a commodity is not the way to run a sustainable business. It’s not doing the clients any favors either.

Unsustainable prices means the developers go out of business and clients have to start looking all over again.

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Here at Lockedown Design & SEO, I’ve picked up a fair number of clients who were left stranded by their old developers, because they disappeared or went out of business.

Nine times out of ten, the code bases left behind by the out-of-business developers have serious flaws. These include not using a child theme for WordPress theme edits, using unmaintained plugins, or hacking WordPress core.

These bad code practices leave the stranded clients afraid and hesitant to properly update their WordPress sites, leading to broken functionality and security vulnerabilities.

Just think about the implications of that for a minute.


Most of us wouldn’t trust an auto mechanic or surgeon who charged too little. We would think something bad would happen to our car or our bodies if we let these people take them apart and reassemble them.

But there are people out there that believe they can get high quality web design for rock-bottom prices.

There are people who don’t understand that a good web consultant will ask many questions before performing any work, like a doctor or other service professional.

The purpose of this post is to recalibrate the expectations of what goes into selecting a web development partner for your business.

You want to work with someone who will be in business next year and the year after that.

You want someone who knows what they are doing, and can actually help you elevate your business, not just write code.

Take Care Of Your Business

Now, more than ever, your website has an impact on how potential customers perceive your business. If you sell products on your website, the performance of your website has a direct impact on how much money you make.

I encourage you to research who you intend to hire to build your website. Make an informed decision. Don’t hire based strictly on price. Hire based on expertise.

If you need help finding a specific developer or web design firm to fit your specific needs, I can help point you towards the right people.