What Happens When Freelancers Use LinkedIn Services Marketplace

LinkedIn is the #1 social network for business and a pioneer in social networking for business. So when LinkedIn launched ProFinder in 2016, now called Services Marketplace, it should have been a great way for freelancers to connect with clients. But it’s not.

To be on Services Marketplace, you have to complete an online application and LinkedIn has to accept you. Once this is done, LinkedIn will notify you of “relevant” freelance projects and you can submit a proposal. LinkedIn allows up to five freelancers to submit a proposal for each project. The proposals include a message, your price quote, and a link to your profile. If the client is interested, he/she can contact you directly.

So let’s see how Services Marketplace actually works from four freelancers who’ve used it:

  1. Mia DeFino
  2. Sharese Terrell Willis, PhD
  3. Frieda Wiley, PharmD, BCGP, RPh
  4. Me.

Mia, Frieda, and I are freelance writers and Sharese is a freelance editor.

Are  Services Marketplace Freelance Jobs Relevant?

“I have not had appropriate matches with the leads from LinkedIn ProFinder,” says Mia. “As a writer focusing on medical and scientific content, the leads tend to be more on engineering and resume writing.”

Mia did submit a proposal for “the only project that seemed like a fit for my specialty.” It was a waste of her time, she says, because the client never even looked at her proposal.

Sharese tried responding to a project request, but doesn’t know if it went through. “The process didn’t seem to be user friendly, and I did not continue responding to project requests,” she says.

Local Focus: Major Flaw #1

Services Marketplace’s focus on local freelancers is a major flaw in its design. “Many freelancers, especially writers and editors, work with clients from all over the world,” says Sharese, who was surprised that the project requests she got were all within her state.

I’ve worked with clients across the U.S., and have never even met most of them in person. Frieda lives in Texas, and says the “local” project requests were often as much as a 10-hour drive from her home.

Lack of Relevant Matches: Major Flaw #2

Another major flaw is Services Marketplace’s inability to match freelancers with relevant freelance jobs. Sending Mia a project request for resume writing is ridiculous, as is sending me a project request for web content from a wood cabinet-maker.

I love writing web content. But I’m a freelance medical writer. The headline of my LinkedIn profile starts with “Freelance Medical Writer.” My summary and the rest of my profile clearly focus on my specialty. So how did I get a project request from a wood cabinet-maker? I’ve never even submitted a proposal because the freelance jobs don’t even come close to matching what I do.

Are Great Clients Using Services Marketplace to Find Freelancers?

Most clients using Services Marketplace to find freelancers—80%— are small businesses (50 or fewer employees), reports Elaine Pofeldt in “Thinking About Trying LinkedIn ProFinder? Check Out These Findings.”

That’s not good for freelance writers, editors, designers, and other creative professionals. Large businesses are usually the best clients for us—because they:

  • Understand the value of freelancers
  • Are willing to pay us what we’re worth
  • Have an ongoing need for freelancers.

The wood cabinet-maker was a small business owner, as were all of the other project requests I’ve gotten through ProFinder.

Wasted Time and Effort on Services Marketplace

The best prospective client who Frieda connected with through Services Marketplace was a small, start-up contract research organization.

This prospect, located more than two hours away from Frieda, insisted on a face-to-face meeting. Frieda reluctantly agreed because the freelance opportunity appeared to be lucrative.

​“During our meeting, the potential client mined me for ideas and then stated he wanted to work with people who weren’t greedy,” says Frieda. This was unsettling, especially since the meeting and travel to and from the meeting took most of Frieda’s day. The client then told Frieda that he wanted her to work in-house at least once a week, even though his project request mentioned he was open to working with both remote or in-house contractors. ​

A few days later, the client called and asked Frieda to lower her ​ proposed ​rate, which she did not do since she was charging the market rate for freelance medical writers. “​In the end, I lost almost a full work day of productivity without securing a client,”​​​ she says.

Other freelancers I know who submitted proposals have found that clients don’t want to pay the fee cited in the proposal.

“I was so disappointed by this experience and the off-target project requests sent to my account that I have not used ProFinder since,” says Frieda.

Mia noticed that even though the project requests were from people associated with a company, often the requests were for their own personal projects.

Are Freelance Fees and Services Marketplace Costs Reasonable?

There are 2 more major flaws in the design of Services Marketplace.

Bad Price Quote Structure: Major Flaw #3

Services Marketplace’s price quote structure is another flaw. Freelancers have to provide a hard rate, with no option to include a project fee or price range. “You have to be prepared to quote an hourly range, even with limited knowledge of the project,” says Frieda. “I typically work off project fees. Quoting an hourly rate deters many potential clients before you have the opportunity to demonstrate your value.”

Frieda’s absolutely correct. Also, since freelancers work at different speeds, an hourly rate isn’t a good way to estimate the cost of a project.

I always include a price range in my estimates to prospective clients. Then, when the client changes the scope of work a little or hasn’t defined the project accurately—and one of these usually happens—the estimate is still accurate. Clients hate it when freelancers tell them a project will cost them more than they agreed to pay, even if it’s the client’s fault. (Of course, if the client makes major changes to the scope of work, we must increase our project fee.).

Hefty Monthly Fee: Major Flaw #3

What LinkedIn doesn’t tell freelancers when we sign up for Services Marketplace is that after submitting 10 proposals, you have to upgrade to Business Premium to continue using Services Marketplace. The cost starts at $47.99 a month (more if you pay monthly instead of by the year).

“The service hasn’t shown itself to be valuable enough to pay for,” says Sharese. Mia, Frieda, and I agree.

Is LinkedIn Worth it?

LinkedIn Services Marketplace is the only freelance job site that I’ve ever signed up for. I did this not to find clients—because I have a much better way of doing that—but to see how it worked. My conclusion is that it doesn’t.

The Better Way to Find Clients

Why You Need to Use Direct Email: What 4 Freelancers Say
Direct Email Swipe File: Direct email templates, examples, and tips

LinkedIn Does Work for Freelancers

Except for Services Marketplace, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. The social network for business helps freelancers get great freelance jobs and clients, and lets us network with each other, which often leads to referrals. Through the posts and articles of people in our networks, we can learn many things that help us succeed as freelancers.

Of freelancers who use LinkedIn, 61% say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients (How Freelancers Market their Services: 2023 Survey).  And LinkedIn was the second top source of their best clients.

Clients often search for freelancers on LinkedIn (without using ProFinder). I know many freelancers who’ve gotten great clients by crafting a client-focused profile that enabled those clients to find them.

“Many of my clients have come to me through LinkedIn,” says Sharese. “It is my best marketing tool. That is why I was willing to give ProFinder a chance. I will stick to managing my profile and making connections.” Clients have found Sharese by searching for freelance editors and she has also reached out to clients herself.

Mia uses LinkedIn to “stay on potential clients’ radar.” “If you post an update on an event you are helping with or something you recently wrote, your potential clients can see a highlight of your work. This keeps you near the top on their list of potential freelancers to work with.”

“I originally joined LinkedIn in 2005, and I have found the platform to be one of the most invaluable networking tools in my career in ways that far exceed forging new relationships and exploring business opportunities,” says Frieda.

For me, LinkedIn is a great tool for researching prospects, building my network, and learning new things.

Learn more about how freelancers can use LinkedIn

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Freelancers

Click here to subscribe

Learn more about LinkedIn and Services Marketplace

From The Mighty Marketer

The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Freelancers

How to Supercharge Your LinkedIn Profile, with Free Checklist

How to Be Active and Effective on LinkedIn Even if You Hate Social Media

Why You Need to Use Direct Email: What 4 Freelancers Say

Direct Email Swipe File: Direct email templates, examples, and tips

Other Resources

Elaine Pofeldt, Thinking About Trying LinkedIn ProFinder? Check Out These Findings

LinkedIn ProFinder Reveals Brand New Findings on Freelance Economy

Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn’s Freelancers Aren’t Worried About Automation (Yet)

Using ProFinder

LinkedIn ProFinder for Freelancers: Will It Help You Find Clients?

LinkedIn ProFinder – Overview