I've read in a few places and have had new freelancers reach out to me asking if I know why freelancer market platforms like Freelancer and Upwork are refusing new entries.
It appears as if those marketplaces are saturated. There's more freelancers than there are gigs for them to bid on. This is only going to become worse as more niche platforms enter the field.
Platforms are the worst possible place for you to market yourself as a freelancer. And these platforms are designed this way.
These platforms are saturated because they're easy. You fill in a form. You wait, or you bid. You let the work come to you, and that's why you're willing to let 20% of your value go to the platform.
But it's easy. So everyone's doing it. I do it. I've got a little bit of work coming in on Fiverr. It's good paying work, but that marketplace is so saturated that I don't get the volume to sustain my practice doing just that. And everyone's largely in the same situation.
And because everyone's doing it, it's pushing rates to the bottom.
You don't want to be in a race to the bottom, because you might win. (Thanks for this, @Seth)
Getting the kind of work you want as a freelancer means doing the work. Creating the value. Showing every day why you're worth it. Then going out and meeting people. Building relationships, and then working the opportunities that come from adding value to those relationships.
Do that every day and the work will come. And when all the other freelancers are complaining about the crappy terms of these platforms, you'll be comfortable knowing you got your clients the hard way.