Have you been struggling to decide which of the main freelancing sites to commit to? Or perhaps you are looking to try out a fresh site? Well read on, as below I give my findings on the top four freelancing sites. I will cover Elance, PeoplePerHour, oDesk and Freelancer.com. These are my own opinions, based on spending considerable time trying these sites out. Others may have entirely different opinions.
I got my start at Freelancer.com way back when it was still called GetAFreelancer. I completed around 100 projects before things took a turn for the worse. Rates started dropping and low paying project buyers became prolific. Recently Freelancer.com merged with ScriptLance, which was the king of low pay freelance sites, and things have gone further downhill. However, from time to time I do pull a nice project out of Freelancer.com, so I still keep an eye on it. The new backend system is great, with some very good features, and the way bids and jobs are handled is also very good. Cost wise, it’s one of the cheapest bidding sites to use. Overall, it’s an easy site to use, but it suffers from very low pay rates in general.
I have had major problems with getting to grips with oDesk over the years, I have tried several times to take advantage of what is generally considered to be the number two bidding site after Elance. It is a great site feature wise, and it has some good tools for providers to take advantage of. However, it does take a while to set things up and develop a nice profile. For me, the problem with oDesk is that it is simply not worth the effort of trying to break in to. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, most projects are posted as hourly jobs, not fixed price jobs, and I prefer the latter. Secondly, there is no method such as escrow for guaranteeing payments on fixed price jobs. Combine these two issues with the fact that the oDesk RSS feed refuses to work with my RSS reader, so I would have to manually search for jobs, and it becomes just too much effort to try and extract value from the site. I will say though, that many people swear by oDesk, and I am convinced that if I put enough effort in to the site, it would pay off, but I simply don’t have the time.
PeoplePerHour (PPH) is one of the newer freelancing sites. When it first opened it showed much promise, and I actually pulled a few well-paying projects out of it at first. The only real problem with the site was the fact that it had few job listings. Fast forward to now, and things are different. The site was redeveloped, and the new backed system is incredibly confusing. There is no clear list of bids you have made, projects you are working on, or discussions with clients. Everything is lumped in to one small area. This makes the site difficult to navigate and understand, but not impossible. My major gripe with PPH is the cost. By the time you have paid the project fee, and then been charged a percentage on top to actually make a withdrawal, you are losing upwards of 20% of your revenue. This is simply extortionate; PeoplePerHour even charges a 1.9% fee for PayPal withdrawals, which PayPal do not charge for! I still check PPH regularly, but I only bid on large projects where I can safely swallow the inflated cost of doing business through this site.
I left Elance until last, simply because for me, this is the top freelancing site out there. I have made plenty of cash through Elance over the years; we are talking six figures, so well worth the effort. This is also a site that still has a good portion of high paying projects, and the kind of buyers who are willing to invest in quality. Sure, there are also a lot of bottom feeders, but they can be ignored. Cheap clients pick cheap providers; they are not in the same market as me. Function wise, Elance is pretty easy to get to grips with, although you absolutely must read the TOS from top to bottom to avoid falling fowl of it. The hardest part for new providers at Elance is breaking in, getting the first few projects. If you can overcome this hurdle, Elance is still the best place to be selling your services as a content writer in my opinion.
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