Some of you may know that DNA started as a creative agency in 2006 where we specialized in event photography, graphic & web design. Throughout the years we moved on from simple business collateral to complete end to end digital product design for websites and mobile applications. Our aim was always to provide design with purpose that made positive impacts on our clients business objectives. That purpose varied from business to business and the challenge of coming up with creative solutions to those problems was one of the reasons why I loved running the agency everyday. Working hand in hand with our clients to tackle their most intimate professional challenges was extremely rewarding especially when you helped launch a successful business or product.
However, one of the pitfalls of freelance work is finding the right clients. In the beginning we started via word of mouth and in a small town such as Santa Barbara, CA we were able to make a stable living doing so, but many of the larger projects & businesses that we saw other creative agencies and freelancers working on were not based in Santa Barbara. I started looking into websites that could help us connect with new leads & potential clients. I came across a ton of options including Freelancer, Odesk, Elance, Upwork, Outsource, & Thumbtack just to name a few. What I found was a pool of disappointment filled with my tears.
I spent months trying each platform out from both a client & freelancer position (As to better understand what the client is going through and seeing as well). Websites like Freelancer & Odesk were spam filled triads that bombarded the client and gave the freelancer a needle in the haystack chance of being selected for any given project. Meanwhile Outsource & Thumbtack forced freelancers to pay per lead without any guarantee of work. Speaking of obtaining high quality leads Thumbtack seemed more focused on clients that needed the services of freelancers from a wide range of industries rather than design and thus the quality of the leads they provided required a lot of education to put it nicely. Where did all these experiences put DNA? We were scrambling from platform to platform asking for refunds from customer service agents because their platforms just didn’t work.
Then I saw a light appearing at the end of the tunnel. A fellow designer from San Francisco whom I was sharing my story of freelancing woes tipped me off to Toptal.com and the concept intrigued me. Here’s what grabbed my interest most about Toptal:
- The best of the best flock to Toptal – TopTal receives thousands of applications every month, but only about 3% of applicants make it past their rigorous screening process. This also attracts top tier clients that want the best in the industry such as Airbnb & Zendesk, so no longer do you need to worry about unprofessional clients.
- Work Remotely – No need to drive to work when you can work from the comfort of your own home, the coffee shop, or anywhere with wifi. Especially critical for those that love to work from bed like Ana (Our lead visual designer).
- Long term work – Land a quality client and stop having to worry about getting small gig after small gig just to keep the lights on. Toptal promises to provide long term opportunities, so that you don’t have to keep spending time and resources hunting down your next project.
We have begun the interview process at Toptal.com ourselves to become part of the User Experience & Visual Design communities. We are hoping to make it through their notorious screening process and become one of the freelancers who work there. If you are a designer looking for more work DNA recommends that you do the same. See you on the other side. =D