Truelancer-Growth Hacking or Spamming

Freelancing has rapidly grown into a billion dollar business. It comes as no surprise that thousands of websites have come up in past few years to gain on this growing billion dollar business.

New websites demand Marketing, SEO and Growth Hacking to grow in this competitive space. But, there should be some distinction between growth hacking vs spamming. With this story I will present a case study where growth hacking turned into spamming ruining the future of a company. Company, which had potential to succeed, got funded and set-up a team but ended really bad because of it's bad marketing practices.The company name is Truelancer.

Let me first list down few points, I will provide evidences as well in the same answer.

  1. They got around 2 lac registrations in the first year. But, have got a lot less than that in subsequent years. So, what worked so well in the beginning which failed later? Probably following review on their facebook page can answer this.
Truelancer — Users were registered on website using their email-ids without any confirmation
That means, most of the work force there, is not really interested in working there. So when you post a job, either you do not get good proposals or you receive fake proposals from “not so interested to work” guy who has just submitted the proposal for the sake of just submitting it, without reading your job requirement properly.

2. Most of the time the freelancers they recommend are from their own development team. If you hire them, you have to accept what they want to deliver. you have no rights to challenge the quality of deliverable or timelines. you have to pay. Rather, you have already paid to them now you need to struggle to get your refund back. Which they will not do. Resulting in financial loss. One of the user faced similar challenge on Truelance. The client neither got refund nor his request to delete his account was actioned.

3. Truelancer's founder is a growth hacker. He uses social media to promote false information and that is how he does growth hacking. One of his recent post on facebook is below

In above post he is endorsing and promoting Rama Ramji for content writing. Rama Ramji apparently has very good reviews and ratings. Lets check Rama’s profile in detail. Please note — Link was given in the post above. So, I didn’t need to find it.
106 feedbacks. Looks amazing. Let’s take a look at reviews. I will post just 2 pages. You can take a look at her profile to verify my comments.

What does it mean? Same person is hiring her again and again on the same day for the same service? For what? to provide multiple reviews? Is this a set-up to promote Rama Ramji? Is the founder himself promoting her?

This is not something users cannot understand. Truelancer is fabricating the jobs, profiles and reviews. This is exactly what they are putting for sale on their website. In order to achieve the growth they are posting fake data, a lot of fake data, on their own site. They are buying the list of email-ids and registering them on their own on their website. Person who own the email-id has no idea about the website and have never opened it. They then starts sending them emails to come and check the job postings. This is not growth hacking, this is spamming.

While the focus should have been on gaining attention of true freelancers (as the name of company is) and true clients, they chose to grow by numbers.

So how should a company grow? If not growth hacking like Truelancer did. There are similar companies in the same space which are growing slowly with results. One such company which started in 2016, called Toogit, I know the founders. I got an opportunity to meet them early in 2017 in a freelancing awareness campaign organised at SEED Infotech Pune.

Founders (Nishant & Ganesh) of are down to earth. They started the company with just 100,000 INR. With this money they were hardly able to pay the cost of servers and their initial IT staff. They have never tried to raise the money. Reason provided by Nishant, "We are still validating the product and its services. We first need to be sure that we can deliver what funders would expect us to deliver before we raise any money."

This obviously raises a question — How is Toogit still surviving? Well, they are earning. Website is making money. They do not have big numbers to show like Truelancer. But, they are earning from small numbers. Jobs are genuine, services are genuine and last but the most important, Freelancers registered on website are 100% genuine. They are building assets(Product, website), they are adding assets (True Freelancer and True Clients) to their website. They are not adding just numbers.

I have tried to differentiate between growth hacking vs growth by giving two examples of two very promising websites in the same space, above. I hope this will help you in making a decision on how you should plan to make your website grow.