The Leading Freelancing Platforms • twoggle

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The Leading Freelancing Platforms

When you decide to begin freelancing the first obstacle to overcome, is where you will find work. From your own word-of-mouth advertising, to using freelance platforms such as Elance, oDesk, Freelancer.com, PeoplePerHour, Guru, Fiverr, and others, can both assist in building your reputation, clientele, and portfolio. They can also cause you a huge headache, additional stress and worry, or even more money than you make using them. This post is intended to be a comparison of the leading freelancing platforms along with the benefits and disadvantages that are common amongst them as a whole.

The leading freelancing platforms

The opportunity to make and retain connections to possible income sources is vastly available, providing you put forth the energy and effort in reading through relevant job postings, preparing an adequate proposal, demonstrating your knowledge of the proposal as well as the process of completing the assignment, and hoping you don’t get lost in the shuffle of other possible competitors.

Since I’ve mentioned competitors, if you’re not willing to drastically discount the current market rate for your work, your best bet is to explore other avenues of building your clientele. Seriously, just stop now! Otherwise you’re going to expend a lot of energy and an extremely low ROI (Return on Investment), both in relation to time wasted and membership fees (when applicable) vs. revenue received from the platforms you utilize.

With the competition spanning the globe and including every individual that possesses similar knowledge and skill levels, economical and other financial positioning within companies that hire from the platforms tends to be the deciding factor. Although you can charge that $25/hr. current market rate, and get it on occasion, the majority of the platform employers are small to mid-sized businesses that are focused on getting the work they need at the lowest possible price, overseas competition and rock-bottom pricing will make your proposal seem grossly overstated.

Elance & oDesk – These two platforms merged seamlessly independently, in that while they are the same company, each freelance platform continues to operate as it did before the merger. Elance continues to guarantee both hourly and fixed rate payments, while oDesk only guarantees hourly contracted work. Both platforms utilize a time tracking software to provide an evidentiary means of time-billed labor. The software logs screenshots of the freelancers billing hours and provides this verification to employers, this is the most effective means of increasing accountability for freelancers relating to client billing hours to date.

The chart below shows many of the important factors that relate to working on the leading freelance platforms.

Criterion Elance.com oDesk.com Freelancer.com Guru.com PeoplePerHour.com
Established 1999 2003 2004 1997 2012
Top 3 hiring countries 1. United States
2. Australia
3. United Kingdom
Top 4 freelancer-hired countries 1. United States
2. India
3. Pakistan
4. Bangladesh
Top 3 skills in demand – Web development
– Creative
– Marketing
– Web development
– Creative
– Marketing
– Web development
– Creative
– Admin support
– Web development
– Marketing
– Design & multimedia
– Web development
– Marketing
– Design & multimedia
Creating accounts Free/paid Free Free/paid Free/paid Free/paid
Fixed project price Y Y Y Y Y
Hourly Y Y Y Y Y
Time tracker Y Y Y Y N
Support via chat, email, social Y Y Y Y Y
Mobile version Y Y Y Y Y
Number of jobs to bid for (per month as a free member) up to 40 2 – 25 up to 50 up to 10 8 + awarded bonuses for platform use
Revenue fees 8.75% 10% 5% 7.45% – 11.95% 3% – 15%
Escrow for guaranteeing payments Y N Y Y Y
Team-work Y Y Y Y Y
Funds handling – Pay for hours at end of week
– Pay in advance (escrow)
– Pay for hours at end of week
– Pay at end of project
– Pay for hours at end of week
– Pay at end of project
– Pay at end of project
– Pay in advance (escrow)
– Pay in advance (escrow)
– Milestone payments
– Pay at end of project
Payment methods – Credit card
– Paypal
– Bank transfer
– Check
– Credit card
– Paypal
– Payoneer
– Skrill
– Wire transfer
– Credit card
– Paypal
– Payoneer
– Skrill
– Check
– E-check (US only)
– Wire transfer
– Cash account funds
– Paypal
– Credit card
– Paypal
– Skrill
– Wire transfer

How they’re designed to work

You’ll find that each platform encourages employers to create a job description that accurately describes the work they need completed. They are further encouraged to incorporate a “trigger” word or phrase and interview questions to encourage contractors, or freelancers, to submit legitimate bids or proposals and demonstrate understanding and complete reading of the job description.

The problem: The problem is simple… Copy & Paste is too easy! (Both for Employers and Freelancers) Employers and Freelancers have both been caught with their hands in the cookie jar of doom where copy and paste is concerned.

Why it happens: Many employers have no idea of how to write a job description that will instantly weed out unqualified candidates, or even valuate the work they need completed. (On freelance sites, we wish you the best because that will never happen!) In turn they browse similar postings that may help them convey their ideas, and wa-la…. copy and paste happens.

On the freelancer side of the playing field, while freelancers are running the rat race trying to write proposals, complete projects awarded, market themselves, and manage every other aspect of running a business, copy and paste becomes a manner of convenience in quickly applying to multiple jobs. And while they may be left wondering “Why” they’re not winning bids, they’re not taking the time to prepare bespoke proposals, although even when they are, the competition pool is vast and fierce.

Job Postings, Bids & Proposals

Employers who submit genuine job postings or job postings in any form, can get discouraged by the large quantities of duds while searching for a qualified candidate. Freelancers have to be vigilant in preparing proposals that will get them noticed, cause a memorable reaction, and demonstrate how they’re best qualified to assist in completing the work. Yet they have just mere seconds to convey that information, as many employers will scan received bids for pertinent information rather than reading the entire proposal.

They want to know how you’re qualified, how you plan to assist them, what your fee is, and how long it will take, yet if you simply provide four sentences, you’re not going to make very much of a statement.

Budget & Payment

Be prepared to adjust your income! You’re already taking a risk in joining the freelance workplace, you’ve given up the security of a weekly paycheck in the pursuit of career happiness. You have to plan to provide services to a higher number of clients, rather than for a higher fee. This in turn increases your client listing, but also can negatively impact your working hours by doing more work for less money, to make up for what you were earning at a traditional job.

As I mentioned before, employers usually have no clue as to the value of the work they are asking for, this is your area of specialty. It is your place to explain your rates, why they may be higher or lower than the average market rate, or how you provide value for the cost.

Some employers are completely unrealistic in their budget, some employers will stick to this budget, others will value your input as to market pricing and meet your pricing expectations. Others however, will simply be looking for the lowest possible price, and unless you’re willing to drop your rates that drastically, you may just as well leave them to the overseas competition, or risk payment issues especially with non-guaranteed payment systems or portals in place or being implemented by some platforms.

If you consider though, that in the real world of business, this is a risk you take every day while conducting business with other businesses in person is generally done on Net 30 terms. The widely used methods on the leading freelance portals, with the exception of oDesk, have really given freelancers added security in delivering goods and services online and knowing they will be paid for their services.

You will find the above practices, issues, and goals between both employers and freelancers regardless of the platform utilized, you will also find many talented freelancers along with a variety of weasels, snakes, and con-artists as well.

However if both parties are vigilant in their professional practices, values, and ethics with regard to conducting business on these platforms, the benefit can be exponential!

 

What are your experiences with freelancing platforms? Let us know your thoughts below …


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