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The Freelance Competitor You Don’t Know You Have

The Freelance Competitor You Don't Know You Have
Written by Lex DeVille

You’ve got a nasty freelance competitor and you don’t even know it yet. Nope, it’s not other freelancers. It’s not other freelance websites either. In fact, it’s probably not anyone you think it is at all!

Recently I posted an Upwork gig for an audio track. Several freelancers applied. I reviewed their proposals.

All were self-focused and made the usual mistakes.

You know the ones…

  • They started by talking about themselves and what they wanted
  • They talked about their experience and degrees
  • They didn’t talk about what I, the client, wanted at all

And so they got ignored.

Going on the Hunt

Eventually, I got tired of sifting through terrible proposals. So I tried to invite freelancers instead.

I searched Upwork to find the right person, but nobody stood out. Just like with the proposals, there was no clear winner for the job.

Back to the Drawing Board

After coming up short on Upwork, I changed tactics. Thought about where else I could get the sound I wanted. So I turned to my ole pal Google to find the right tune.

Popped in my text.

Pushed the button.


Search results.

The top results were YouTube videos and one of those videos lead me back to a magical land called AudioJungle.

AudioJungle is a marketplace for background tunes.

Their prices range from $5 to $39 per music license and they have an endless supply of genres sorted by tags, categories and sounds to make it easy to find exactly what you need.

The best offer I got on Upwork was $75 for a 1-3 minute track and it wasn’t clear if the freelancer could do the style I asked for. 

Anyway, after a few minutes of listening to samples I found two tracks on AudioJungle that fit the vibe for a total of $40. I bought them both.

No proposals. No interviews. No chance for misunderstandings or screw ups or wasted time.

And that got me thinking about who your real freelance competitor is…

Your Real Freelance Competitor

It’s not just freelancers anymore.

Clients look to solve their problems whatever way works best, even outside of Upwork.

So it’s not enough to be the best applicant.

You have to figure out what makes you better than the first results on Google.

And you have to articulate that to clients in the first line(s) of your proposals and bio before they search someplace else.

So what’s your answer?

What makes you better than the first results on Google? How will you make an offer clients can’t refuse? It’s worth thinking about as you go forward because it only gets harder from here.

About the author

Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille is a copywriter and freelance instructor who has trained more than 10,000 freelance students across 133 countries to start and grow profitable freelance businesses. If you'd like his help with that, then click the link in the bottom right corner to visit his website.

  • Hi Lex,

    I am enjoying your Youtube channel. Keep up the great work!

    Truthfully, freelancers on a different marketplace are not really competing. Audio Jungle is part of Envato Marketplace, which is a huge resource, powered by freelancers who create digital content.

    In a way, your example simply points out two market forces in play:
    1. Demand – You went shopping for a product and had to keep search until you found the right “store”

    2. Advertising – Envato clearly has position Audio Jungle to rank high enough in Google to get your attention.

    In order for a particular freelancer to “compete” against Audio Jungle, well, as they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join em. Bottom line, freelancers must go where the clients are. Whether it is Audio Jungle, Etsy, RedBubble or Upwork, if the clients are there, you have a chance.

    On another point, all marketplaces suffer from an abundance of mediocre marketers. Those folks you archived–even if they are excellent sound engineers–would have a hard time on Audio Jungle, as well…unless, of course, they are able to direct sell their beats. I’m not sure how Envato Marketplace works, but if Upwork had allowed you to “sample” digital compositions, you may have been pleasantly surprised.



    • Hey Mitch, Thanks for the thorough comment! Envato is an interesting beast of a platform that more freelancers should be excited about. Not just from the audio angle, but also for illustration, graphic design, photography and other industries. I’m quite surprised more people don’t bring it up because the freelancer doesn’t have any interaction with clients at all. They just share their work and clients purchase a license for it. It’s so simple. That reminds me, we need to run more articles on Envato haha. Thanks again!

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