Tuesday

The Magnificent Seven Of Freelancing

In my previous post I gave you a list of 20 freelancer’s websites that you can register in. Remember that if the site you are trying to win a project is one of the most popular it will be harder to get the job. That doesn’t mean that you have to bid in places with 10 visitors. If you want to succeed you need to fight with the other freelancers no mater how good they are and how many experience they have. Remember that the original freelances were medieval Italian and French knights, free men who would sell their skills with the lance to any master, whether his cause was good or bad.

Here I want to show you the best of the best of these sites with a little history.

Freelancer


Freelancer.com is a website that provides an online job marketplace for freelance workers from around the world. Formerly known as GetAFreelancer.com, the company was founded in 2004 by Plendo Sweden, headed up by Magnus Tibell of Swedish web solutions company Innovate It. GetAFreelancer.com was bought on the 7th May 2009 by the Australian company Ignition Networks. The buyers changed the name to Freelancer.com in October 2009.

Users of Freelancer.com fall into two main categories: buyers and providers. Buyers are individuals or companies who wish to outsource their work. Users are given the option of creating a free account on Freelancer. This account type requires a 3% fee for posting a project as well as higher fees for winning and getting paid for a project. If a user opts for the gold membership, they will pay just under $20 per month and can post projects for free. Freelancers can enjoy reduced fees while both receive a gold membership icon on their profile and improved reliability on the site.




There are a number of budding marketplaces currently available online that allow freelancers and their clients to find one another. Freelancer offers a few different tools and features to help in the process. Many other sites focus on allowing the client to rate the freelancer. Freelancer, on the other hand, allows both to submit a rating. This helps freelancers spot excellent or potential problem buyers to make a better decision on what jobs they take on. Both parties can benefit from a payment system that works through Freelancer with an optional Paypal payment method alternative.


Freelancer.com has been 100% bootstrapped to date. Startive Capital, a boutique venture capital fund and startup incubator based in Sydney, Australia, provided the financing for the acquisition of Freelancer.com by Ignition.

oDesk

oDesk is a company with a global job marketplace and a series of tools targeted at businesses that intend to hire and manage remote workers. Based in Redwood City, CA, oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.
oDesk allows employers (“buyers”) to create online workteams coordinated and paid through the company's proprietary software and website. The name is a short version of "no desk" in reference to the company's intent to enable anyone to work anywhere, anytime. Prospective employers can post jobs for free, and freelance workers (“providers”) may create profiles and bid on jobs, also for free. The company puts potential providers through “a rigorous screening.” The company collects 10 percent of the payment. Payments are made through oDesk, which handles many bookkeeping tasks for the transaction. In addition to the marketplace aspect and the payment/bookkeeping services, the company uses collaborative software, “oDesk Team,” that allows employers to see a provider's progress while he or she is billing time. This aspect of the company's business model has drawn criticism.


The company describes itself as a staffing marketplace and management platform. As of Jan. 10, 2009, the company reports that nearly 37,000 of its 170,000 providers are in the United States. The company's site is entirely in English, and all transactions are made in U.S. dollars. The site does not post statistics regarding locations of buyer companies, but a comment posted by an oDesk employee noted that the majority are U.S.-based. In December 2009, the company's self-reported tally of services paid through its site had passed $113 million.



The specific areas of expertise supported by the site include web development and a wide variety of programming/software development skills, graphic design, writing and administrative support. The company provides voluntary skills tests in various disciplines from English aptitude to specific programming skills, and profiles include a feedback mechanism.

The company's Team software, which records a worker's online time and other information in a “Work Diary,” has drawn criticism for being too intrusive. Information recorded in the Work Diary includes keystroke volume (but not keystroke logging), screenshots of a provider's computer taken at roughly 10-minute intervals, and even optional webcam shots of the provider at his or her desk. The software is downloaded by the provider, who voluntarily signs on to log hours. The company also has a posted privacy policy. Nonetheless, this monitoring capability is unusual among outsourcing/freelancing providers, and has generated some outcry from critics who see it as unfairly intrusive. Questions about such a virtual work environment have been raised in articles about oDesk and competing sites. Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper noted that in-house employees may face varying levels of supervision as well, but suggested oDesk's technology smacks of Big Brother, observing that one blogger had likened the site to “eSlavery 2.0.”


The company maintains that the increased “transparency” allows a buyer to have confidence in the billing done by a contractor whom the buyer may never have met and who may be half a world away. In an October 2008 interview with website Web Worker Daily, CEO Gary Swart said the work diaries “give buyers unprecedented visibility into work performed,” and that the Team software's “hassle-free tracking guarantees convenient, safe, and accurate billing for all work performed.”

The company has been criticized by buyers for ignoring fraudulent providers and for quickly suspending accounts

Elance

Elance is a company that provides an Internet marketplace for freelancers and freelance agencies to negotiate work contracts with businesses that hire independent professionals and agencies. It also provides online collaboration tools to help companies manage remote teams and results online. The company was founded in 1999 and is based in Mountain View, California.



Elance allows businesses to post a project and assess providers bidding on the project by reviewing qualifications, ratings, portfolios and skill test scores. Once a provider is selected, the employer can then manage people and projects. Registered users can submit up to 10 proposals each month for free, with the option of submitting more proposals with paid membership plans. When you quote either an hourly rate or a fixed price to a client, Elance automatically includes a service fee of 8.75%, and after Elance bills the client and receives payment for the work performed, the fee is deducted and the rest is transferred to the worker's account. The company guarantees payment processes for both hour and fixed-price work.
The company also allows freelancers to search the site for potential jobs and read through the requests for proposals and make bids.

The largest categories of work on Elance are Information technology and Marketing. Other categories of work include Web development, programming, creative design, multimedia production, writing, search engine optimization, content translations and research.

Guru

Guru.com is a freelance marketplace. It allows companies to find freelance workers for commissioned work. Founded in 1998 in Pittsburgh as eMoonlighter.com and still headquartered there, it is one of the tech firms to survive the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. eMoonlighter.com was actually a low budget company, running on only $400,000, and yet becoming extremely profitable due to efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Guru Inc. was founded in 1999 in San Francisco as an online clearing house for high tech workers seeking short-term contracts. The company, led by brothers Jon and James Slavet, raised $3M in angel funding and a further $16M in a full venture round led by Greylock Partners and August Capital. In a May 2000 interview, Paul Saffo cited Guru.com as an example of a company using the Internet to provide new kinds of services where individuals negotiated directly with potential employers. In 2002, Guru developed the SmartMatch technology which matches résumés and other information about job applicants to jobs. It also developed a candidate profiling system using techniques from Industrial and organizational psychology to better understand a candidate's suitability for a particular job.



The company was acquired in December 2002 by Unicru, a human resources software company based in Portland, Oregon. Guru's technology and staff remained with Unicru, focused on software to help large employers assess and hire job applicants.

Unicru sold the Guru.com domain name and logo to eMoonlighter.com, and eMoonlighter was renamed Guru.com. Guru.com directly connects businesses and employees in 160 different fields. Some freelancers are dissatisfied with Guru.com's strong bias toward employer. "I make sure that my subscribers know that they are not my customer --- the employer is," said Inder Guglani.

VWorker

vWorker connects businesses and entrepreneurs to experts in hundreds of fields via the internet. vWorker differs from traditional hiring because of additional protections. Employers are guaranteed to receive their money back if they don't get what was promised. And workers are guaranteed payment if they do deliver as promised. These guarantees are made possible with several site features including escrowing, arbitration and the AccuTimecard (software which monitors the worker's desktop and optional webcam).

The "v" in vWorker stands for "virtual", which means "made accessible from afar by technology". A virtual worker is a professional who works remotely, rather than in an office. Prior to April 15th, 2010, the site was called "Rent a Coder".

vWorker allows employers to post projects and jobs on the web site. Workers that are registered with the site then compete for the opportunity to work on them by posting bids. The employer is free to choose the bid they prefer and then escrows the funds with vWorker. When the job is completed, the employer authorizes release of the funds to the worker. If there is a dispute over the funds, vWorker steps in with free arbitration.

Employers don't pay any fees to list their jobs and vWorker doesn't make any money unless the project is successful. If it is, vWorker charges 6.5%-9% on pay-for-time (hourly) projects and 7.5%-15% on pay-for-deliverables (fixed price) projects. vWorker does not charge any subscription fees to workers.



vWorker guarantees are what make it unique from traditional hiring:
  • Employer Guarantees
    • Triple-point money-back guarantee: The work will be to-contract, on-time and on-budget or the employer gets their money back.
    • Honest billing money-back guarantee: The worker will bill time accurately to the minute and only bill time for the project, or the employer gets their money back.
  • Worker Guarantees
    • Pay-for-deliverables payment guarantee: If the worker meets the triple-point guarantee (to-contract, on-time and on-budget) they will be paid.
    • Pay-for-time payment guarantee: If the worker bills their time accurate and only bills time for the project, they will be paid.
These guarantees also differentiate vworker from industry competitors.

·  In 2001, vWorker was founded in Tampa, Florida by Ian Ippolito. At that time, it was called Rent A Coder and focused mainly on programmers. It was the first online marketplace to protect all site users with escrowing and arbitration (which was both mandatory and at no extra charge).
·  In July 2001 it moved from an open bidding system to a closed bidding system.
·  In late 2007, the site was awarded the INC 5000 award for fastest growing private companies in the United States. (Subsequent awards were also received in 2008,  2009 and 2010.)
·  By early 2010 it had reached 150,000+ employers and 350,000+ workers. The site formally introduced two money-back guarantees for employers (Triple-point money-back guarantee, and Honest billing money-back guarantee), and the two payment guarantees for workers.
·  On April 15, 2010, it expanded to a hundred new work categories and changed its name to vWorker to reflect the wider site audience.
·  On May 26, 2011, vWorker announced the new Tech Sherpa program: it's hired version of the traditional "technical cofounder"

PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour is a freelance website where you can go to post jobs online and also find some work in your spare time. If you have projects that you want completed then you simply need to create an account on the website, then post your projects and wait for the proposals to roll in. Bidding on projects to get some extra money is also very easy, you also need an account and then you can search for a variety of different types of jobs including programming and copywriting.

PeoplePerHour was founded by Xenios Thrasyvoulou and Simos Kitiris in 2007, the pair both graduated from Cambridge University. It is becoming increasingly popular as it fills a unique niche of the market, dealing in pounds rather than dollars and also targeting part time workers.

There are a large number of various freelance websites on the internet, however PeoplePerHour targets a unique area, firstly instead of dealing in dollars people are free to bid and earn money in pounds. It also targets people working freelance part time rather than competing sites that try to attract full time workers.



While PeoplePerHour doesn’t look as sophisticated as some of the competitors, that’s actually a good thing. Many freelance websites have become bloated and taken on too many complicated features. Using PeoplePerHour is really easy, and you won’t have any problems whether you are posting or applying to jobs. The site is split into two parts, one area for freelancers and one for employers. The only annoying thing about PeoplePerHour is that it is supported by adverts; although these aren’t obtrusive, many of the competing freelance websites do not have any adverts.

All accounts can be registered for free; buyers have an option of either posting projects for free or paying for a priority listing. There are a number of benefits of using priority listings, including that your projects gets added immediately, and also includes the contact details of all the providers so that it’s easy to get in touch. Priority listings cost £20. Buyers don’t have to pay anything to register either; they do have to pay a commission to peopleperhour on the invoiced projects. The website also has a number of adverts throughout it, which does get a little bit annoying for a freelance website.

99designs gives business owners and professionals a way to complete design projects within their budget and without any risk. The user posts a project to the 99designs website. The user selects the amount they are willing to pay. The higher the amount, the more designs they will receive. The project will begin to receive proposed designs from the user community. These include any kind of design project, from logos and websites to stationary, brochures, t-shirts, icons, WordPress themes, banner ads and business cards. 99 Designs boasts some admirable stats, with around 94 design submissions per project, over 1,000 open projects, more than 72,000 projects to date, over $310,000 worth of projects current on offer and nearly $100,000 in designer payouts in the previous month.

99designs was founded by Mark Harbottle. Harbottle is also the chairman and co-founder of Site Point. The website has also been backed by a handful of investors, including Harbottle, Matt Mickiewicz, Leni Mayo Andrew Walsh who is the former CEO of HitWise and current non-executive director of MelbourneIT. In April 2011, 99designs raised $35 million from Accel Partners and other angel investors.



99designs keeps users in control of their budgets while helping them find talented, creative individuals to complete their projects. The contest system also helps users know exactly what they are getting from the start. The user can post a contest and will receive their money back if they do not see a design they like among the entries. 99designs also stands out by focusing on more than virtual products, with options for t-shirt designs, print, business card, stationary and brochure designs.

The 99designs website invites users with a lightly colored background and a combination of blue and orange hues. The homepage features a one minute video explaining how the site works while two columns of links provide users with a list of available design categories. The bottom of the page further entices users with current website stats as well as a list of publications that have featured 99 Designs.

Much like similar websites, the cost of 99designs depends on the type of project the user is interested in. Each category has a minimum, although the user can go higher if they like. For example, logo designs begin at around $300, WordPress themes at around $500, buttons and icons at around $200, stationary starts at about $200 and t-shirt designs around $150. Twitter backgrounds come in as the cheapest, starting as low as around $100.

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