I’ve been in the design and development freelance business for a good amount of time. I’m still 20, but I’ve been in the freelancing circuit for almost a good 7 years. I remember the first time I wrote HTML and CSS at the age of 14, still in the early stages of what would be the most powerful relationship I’ve had with anything in my life. And of course, good code pays good money.
A few days ago, I was looking for a rewarding Ruby on Rails project on oDesk(a freelancing website) to apply for, when I spotted a web design post all the way at the bottom of the page. The post title simply said “Looking for a Web Designer for a series of projects”. What really caught my attention, however, was what was directly beneath it, in blaring capital letters:
“IF YOU ARE INDIAN OR BANGLADESHI, PLEASE STOP READING RIGHT HERE. WE DO NOT WANT TO GO THROUGH YOUR POSTS. PLEASE DO NOT APPLY OR SPAM THIS JOB POST WITH YOUR APPLICATIONS.”
Being an Indian, and a fairly experienced front-end engineer, I was immediately taken aback with some sort of sudden pseudo-patriotism, convincing me that the poster of the job deserved to earn a report for blatantly telling a certain part of the world that they suck and that they should therefore not apply.
But before I did that, I thought I’d run a small experiment first. I created a new account as a “client” and posted a slightly complicated post looking for a web designer to create a website for me. I logged back in the next day to find hundreds of applications, 80% of which were by Indian agencies. Poor grammar, stolen portfolios and people with little or no experience had applied to the job, some with hourly rates set at as low as $2. I had specifically asked in my post for experienced designers and I’d also mentioned I was willing to pay well.
Blatantly disregarding my requirements, some individual freelancers from India even claimed outrageous things that could easily be proved false with a simple Google search by any client. The ones who didn’t lie had portfolios with screens that looked like they were made in paint. No personal online presence, no references, no history.
Is it really fair that some of us, who do this for a living, and who’ve been doing this for a really long time, lose our work and livelihood because of a few people trying to make a quick buck? I know that there are some of us Indians who put time and effort, day in and day out, to make sure we craft pixel perfect delicacies for every client we commit to, well paying project or not. Why is it that we are rejected simply because of a few people that want a fast break with little or no effort?
Every client I’ve worked for has always exclaimed “I’m surprised you’re Indian! Why don’t I find more of you guys out here?” to which I promptly throw back a standard reply:
“There are a lot of us out there. We’re just hidden among all the others. If you want a good freelancer, you have to do your research.”