I disagree that all marketplaces are a race to the bottom, but I do agree that freelancer.com is a full-on scam. I have never met, or heard of, a freelancer that made significant money using freelancer. I am a fan of Upwork, though the fee is steep, for those starting out. I didn’t have contacts when I started and would have been lost without the structure of a platform. However, my first goal was to curate private clients as quickly as possible. Overall, you paint a terrific picture of the important things in freelancing. I have been at it not quite a year and find my lessons closely match yours. Congrats on taking the leap, and I would love to hear more about some groups you have found. I would love to connect with other freelancers.