Thoughts on freelancing at sites like Codeable?

(Leland Fiegel) #1

I just came across a Reddit AMA of a WordPress developer who has built up a pretty impressive income stream by freelancing on specialized sites like Codeable and the GoDdady Pro marketplace.

I’ve dabbled on sites like Upwork (previously oDesk) before and found myself constantly getting undercut and refusing to participate in “races to the bottom” so I stopped looking for jobs there altogether.

Here’s what stood out to me in the AMA:

  • On Codeable, the “freelancee” only gets to see the average bid, which means they can only select their freelancer based on their credentials and such, not by price. That’s huge and solves one of the biggest problems facing conventional freelancing sites.

  • Codeable is not a freelancer free-for-all. Only a small percentage of applicants get accepted (less than 5%). This ensures high quality for people looking to hire, and also a healthy amount of potential available work for each freelancer.

  • The subject of the AMA’s average project only seems to be about a few hours long. This is big for me because I’d rather not get bogged down with month long projects.

I’m at the month and a half mark of running my theme shop full time, which has been doing well, but I find in between theme builds I have a lot of spare time that would be nice to be filled up by a steady stream of 2-3 hour freelance jobs.

I’m thinking of applying and seeing what happens.

Are you a freelancer at Codeable or GoDaddy Pro? What has your experience been like so far?

(Matteo Duò) #2

Hey @leland,
I’m not a developer at Codeable, but I’m part of the Codeable team so I feel I can add some more info here:

On Codeable, the “freelancee” only gets to see the average bid, which means they can only select their freelancer based on their credentials and such, not by price. That’s huge and solves one of the biggest problems facing conventional freelancing sites.

Yep, the main difference with other marketplaces (for example those you’ve mentioned) is that devs and designers are asked to quote only on tasks that they’re 100% sure they’re able to address. Plus, as clients only gets one price/estimate, there’s no “bidding wars”.

Codeable is not a freelancer free-for-all. Only a small percentage of applicants get accepted (less than 5%). This ensures high quality for people looking to hire, and also a healthy amount of potential available work for each freelancer.

More about that: all contractors are screened before acceptance and, if they’re good, they have a 1 month “probation” period where our CEO and the happiness team look out for them, checking if they’re responsive enough, how do they communicate with other experts and clients, and so on. After that period, if you’re good, you’re part of our (growing) family.

Also, we let new developers step in only when we think the workload is enough to ensure high-quality keeps being provided by all.

The subject of the AMA’s average project only seems to be about a few hours long. This is big for me because I’d rather not get bogged down with month long projects.

That’s totally up to the developer/designer: in the interview I did with Nate (and others), he shared that doing small tasks was his strategy, at least at the very beginning, to get some “street cred” and collect nice reviews. Other experts like him, do this to get tons of reviews and get money quickly, but it’s just a strategy. On Codeable there are also many projects in the 5000K+ that appeal to different types of devs/designers.

What’s cool seeing here is how small tasks, like in the hundreds bucks, naturally grow into 1500K - 2500K projects. And that’s because the communication between the client and the developer improves along the way, letting the former know how a professional WordPress dev can really enhance his/her business, while the latter is able to show how good he/she is.

(Leland Fiegel) #3

Definitely! Thanks for dropping by and adding your insights. It’s all very interesting.

Anyway, I just applied this morning. We’ll see what happens. :slight_smile:

(Matteo Duò) #4

Glad you found it useful.

Anyway, I just applied this morning. We’ll see what happens. :slightly_smiling:

A man of action :slight_smile: Great to hear this and… good luck!

(Arūnas) #5

Hi, I am a developer on Codeable. I’ve been working there for a few months now and I love it there.
Because there is a limited number of developers, we do not have a cut throat competition. On average, tasks I am interested in get 2-3 estimates, that are fair, because there is no incentive to low-ball. Quite often I might be the only expert estimating.
Also, the client base is not look for cheap work, but quality, so that suits me well, too. And if you do well, they tend to return. About 50% of my clients have returned with more work and requested for me personally (they have an option to do that). In fact, for the last two weeks I’ve been only working with repeat clients.
There is a great choice of tasks, so I can pick really interesting ones, too.

(Leland Fiegel) #6

That’s great to hear. Thanks for sharing your experience here, @arunas!

(Ahmad Awais) #7

Hey, @leland
I am actually at a similar point to where you are. I left freelancing like in 2013 to focus more on building products and dealt only with a few clients. But have been thinking along the same lines.

An off topic question, (if I may ask) you said

I’m in the month and a half mark of running …

May I ask, how did you get two themes up and running at in such short time?

Hey, @mattduo
Honestly, I never knew that there are no bidding wars at Codeable (before reading this). I have had been an avid reader of Codeable’s blog for more than two years now, especially blog posts by Tomaž Zaman.
I must say, Codeable makes me want to jump back in the web service industry. I see a few known friends like @arunas already talking good stuff about it. That’s pretty great.

(Jesse) #8

Codeable sounds promising and has been recommended by a few visitors in the comments section after I shared a very in-depth perspective on the Upwork fiasco on CollegeTimes:

Upwork just launched an Enterprise program, a bit confusing, esp. after their Upwork Pro program:

Freelancing is definitely going more toward specialized, exclusive communities rather than massive anything-goes and everyone-is-welcome sort of one-size-fits-none chaotic circuses.

There are several others too like Toptal (who spams my inbox and seems to lie about the quality of some of their freelancers, based on my experiences working with them).

But hopefully the specialization and smaller community mindset continues to grow :smirk:

(Leland Fiegel) #9

For the first time in a while, I browsed the WordPress-related jobs on Upwork the other day. Needless to say, I was quickly reminded why I stopped looking there for freelance work.

It’s unbelievable how cheap these people are. I’m talking stuff like “help me set up an entire ecommerce site” with $5/hour budgets.

They don’t seem to grasp the concept that cheap, low-quality work in the short-term will be more expensive in the long-term.

(Utsav Singh Rathour) #10

Sorry if it’s too late to join in. I am a Codeable cotractor as well and since you mentioed the hourly rates, I thought I would let you know that minimum hourly rate that we are asked to maintain is $60/hr :wink:

(Leland Fiegel) #11

Just as an update, I was accepted to Codeable.

I became immediately disillusioned with the Upwork-esque job postings. Typical high expectation, low budget sort of stuff, with some exceptions. As bad as that sounds, the overall job quality was still vastly superior to Upwork. But that’s not saying much.

It was clear there was minimal moderation, if any at all, completely shifting the burden on the “Experts” to triage vague requests. There was at least one occasion where a job poster didn’t even realize you had to pay the Experts for their time, after being referred by a theme company with a customization request.

There were many WooCommerce-related gigs, which makes sense considering their past partnership. If you’re a WooCommerce guru, you’d probably have a less disappointing experience than I did. But the sort of jobs that I was looking for (PSD->WP) were few and far between.

The few jobs that might’ve been a good fit for me were quickly swarmed by much more established Experts, seemingly leaving me with no chance. I brought these concerns to the attention of Codeable staff, was ignored, and eventually had my “Expert” status revoked for inactivity. The experience left me feeling like I was set up for failure.

If I could make one suggestion, it would be to let potential Experts see (anonymized, if necessary) job listings to see if the types of jobs and accompanying budgets are a good fit for them. I’d imagine it would cut down on their application queue significantly, saving time for both potential Experts and the Codeable staffers tasked with vetting them.

Had I been able to see the jobs before applying, I wouldn’t have bothered.

(Miroslav Glavić) #12

@leland Leland,

Not supporting cheap clients and not opposing. neutral stance on this.

Not everyone has thousands of dollars for websites. There are so many “experts” who will tell hopeful clients that it takes thousands and 4 weeks to do a simple website with 3 pages. An example is a local restaurant in my city, ONE location. The owner wanted just a menu, about page and contact page. The 30+ people who applied to the ad (he requested only in my city) were no where near Canada. Nothing wrong but people need to read the ad and not just copy/paste replies.

Also, the North American applicants were asking him $5,000 for a simple 3 page site, he had the domain already and there would be no online/e-commerce ordering.

There are small clients, nothing wrong with that. Not that I am supporting $5/hour for e-commerce.

(Leland Fiegel) #13

I understand this. When I hear people considering proposals like this, I’m usually the one advocating a SquareSpace-like solution. Not one of the “this simple three page website is gonna cost you $5k” people.

Those types of jobs weren’t really what I was talking about though. I don’t recall a single “hey I need a simple three page website” type of job posted there.

Codeable just wasn’t a good fit for me. It was mainly an issue of a lack of jobs aligning with my skillset. It’s fine, no hard feelings or anything. I just wanted to share my experience here so others can take it into consideration.

(Utsav Singh Rathour) #14

I have a little different experience here, as the Codeable team helped me very much in getting my first couple of tasks and getting started. But yes, the jobs that you mentioned are far low there. But those that are there, you can get hired even when there are much more experienced Contractors, bidding for the same thing; if you ask more questions. That is my experience there.

(Giulio) #15

I’ve seen now this post, and want to share my experience. I’ve been in Codeable since December 2013 when the company was still at its beginning. My very first task back then was to make a child theme. Yes that was still a time where there were people asking for child themes, and generally speaking it was a time where jobs posted were more straightforward and there were more competent clients. Like some of the early Codeable devs I was not so expert back then, I couldn’t take any task but I was committed to guarantee a high quality of my job, and that was the most important aspect at that time because the company was building its reputation as an elite service.
I am proud of what I have accomplished here, I’ve had the opportunity of exploring a wide range of different tasks, and improve my experience, I’ve made some tasks with WooCommerce and especially WC subscriptions, and eventually become a LearnDash specialist. Today most of the tasks that I take are LearnDash customizations.

Clients: The secret is to create a relationship with the client while discussing the task. Very few clients come with a detailed scope in their hands, this is true today and it was true in 2013. You must be able to talk to the client and help him/her to define their work. Most are not computer savvy so you must help them. Right now for example I’m making a work for an Indian NGO. The don’t have the slightest idea of how WordPress works, I must take their hand and explain patiently. This is what creates trust, the original task has grown already, the client is asking me more work. There are devs at Codeable that don’t even take any new clients because they keep working with old clients. There are still clients posting jobs and expecting to put you in competition with Freelancer. They are rapidly weed out, no one wants to be underpaid and the admins don’t want cheap underpaid jobs too as they undermine the platform’s reputation.

Devs: What I like the most about Codeable is the community behind it. We have an internal Slack channel and an ‘unofficial’ Skype chat active. We talk together, tell jokes discuss about tasks and clients, help each other when someone gets stuck, and share plugins. We may often compete for the same tasks but I’ve rarely seen any grudges. Not having to compete for the price has created a healthy environment.
Yes, there’s no moderation during the task discussion, we are the experts and we are expected to be professional and be able to carry on a conversation with a client without openly show disagreements between us. The few times that this happened it always ended up in the internal chat channel and was eventually clarified.

If anyone wants to ask me any questions I’m open to share my point of view

(Andreas Nurbo) #16

I would be interested to know what types of jobs there are besides WooCommerce gigs and if there is some sort of average for the various job categories? I think Codeable have requested Senior developers but if there is not jobs requiring senior developers it seems a bit pointless.


not wordpress-only, but freelancing for toptal tends to pay rather well. i freelanced for them like two years ago and was happy. strong CS background needed though

(Zackary Allnutt) #18

I started to apply for Toptal but then I read a bunch of bad experiences abd was put off. Plus there review process seemed a bit unnessisary.

Was happy with Codeables review process. They check code in example projects and then check live coding and ask questions to make sure its you who coded that stuff.

Codeable are really good, they care about their coders. I didnt get that impression from everything I read on Toptal. I dont have first hand experience of that though so could be wrong.

However the sort of jobs on Codeable are not going to be for everyone. I wouldn’t bother if your thing if you to whole site design projects.

There are quite a lot of challanging projects on their, so if you like challange there is plenty of work.


i didn’t try codeable yet. might give it a shot

(zeeshan) #20

i tried to contact codable as i am 10+ years in development but i did not get any replay can u help me where was i wrong