The internet is rife with many freelance websites where potential clients can post projects, and freelancers can bid on them. Many freelancers wonder if these sites are either a scam or an excellent way to find clients.
The larger and more well-known freelancer sites such as Elance.com, Guru.com, o desk, and freelancer.com are certainly not a scam and boast thousands of registered freelancers and buyers. They have a colossal daily payment volume and numerous repeat customers. However, smaller and lesser-known sites can be either scams or legitimate, and it is highly recommended to double-check before signing up, particularly if you need to sign up for a paid account.
The process of how freelance websites work varies from site to site, but essentially, they aim to connect individuals or companies seeking to outsource certain work with job-seeking suppliers.
Firstly, buyers post tasks on the site, followed by interested service providers bidding on the project. The client then sifts through the bids and selects freelancers who meet their criteria. Once the conditions are set, the freelancers complete the job, and the buyer pays. Buyers can leave feedback on the quality of work and services offered, and suppliers can also leave buyer feedback.
Most reputable websites provide payment security systems like Escrow. Clients deposit money into an escrow account before work begins. The provider completes the work and submits it to the buyer, after which the money in the account is released to freelancers. The client will receive a refund if the freelancer does not submit work. If there is a dispute, it will be handled by the intermediary.
Freelance websites generate profits by charging a fee for the account, although many offer a free account option, which provides freelancers with limited services. For instance, the number of bids they can make in a month or the type of work they can bid on may be limited. Moreover, most sites charge an administration fee per item, which varies from site to site and should be considered when bidding for jobs.
Freelancer websites usually have a section for freelancers to include their profile, with information about their services, experience, and qualifications. Portfolios can often be added to a profile to showcase examples of work to potential buyers.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to using a freelance website. On the plus side, you can access customers from all over the world who are currently looking to outsource certain tasks, you can present your services online without building your website, website payment protection secures your payments, and feedback from happy buyers builds on testimonials that potential customers can refer to elsewhere.
However, the negative side is that you compete with freelancers worldwide, many from very low-cost-of-living countries, who can afford to bid low on projects. Additionally, it may take some time to get the first customer without any feedback, most sites are US-based and pay in USD, and any negative feedback from unhappy customers is permanent and visible to potential buyers.