How to Choose the Best Online Freelance Site for You

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The advent of the Internet and of globalization as the new paradigm for doing business has resulted in a major shift towards the outsourcing of certain processes. Some people call it the gig economy while others call the app economy; the bottom line is that the Internet is filled with opportunities for entrepreneurs who need to find skilled professionals to handle their projects.

Business people who wish to take advantage of the gig economy for the purpose of getting things done should realize that there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to finding the right freelancer. Perhaps the only adage that may apply in this case is: “you get what you pay for,” and most freelancers live and die by this motto. In other words, cheapskates are bound to run into freelancers who will consciously deliver a project equivalent to the pay they have agreed to receive.

Freelancer Platforms

There are dozens of freelance platforms to choose from, and they can be roughly separated into two categories: general and specialized. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution to the freelancing process, but that does not stop major, general players such as Upwork, formerly known as Elance and oDesk, from trying to take a big bite of the market share.


General Platforms

Upwork, Guru and even Craigslist offer huge pools of talent in several fields that range from paralegals to software developers to translators to mathematicians and everything else in between. Many of these general platforms, with the exception of Craigslist, try to outdo each other in terms of bells and whistles, which means that they may offer some neat tools and functions to make their services more attractive to employers. Upwork, for example, uses an efficient escrow and job tracking system for employers who feel that they should keep tabs on the freelance professionals they hire.

Most general platforms have very useful feedback, rating and ranking systems for both freelancers and job posters, and they are highly recommended for entrepreneurs who are working on a startup and need to quickly outsource projects to various experts. A similar end result can be achieved through Craigslist or LinkedIn, but these informal platforms require negotiation and getting to know the freelancers; however, this could be a prelude to finding a permanent staff member or even a future business partner.


Specialized Platforms

Clients who have just one specific project in mind should strongly consider specialized platforms. Some examples in this regard include Textbroker for writing and content creation, Toptal for software engineering projects, 99designs for graphic design, and Proz for translation.

The advantage of hiring freelancers from specialized platforms is that they have usually been through a selection process and are more likely to be passionate about their work. A paralegal listed on Upwork, for example, may be moderately skilled in content creation and may also dabble in translation because she is bilingual, and thus she may look for a variety of assignments. Such is not the case with specialized platforms; at Textbroker, clients will only find quality writers while at Proz they will find expert translators.

One important aspect of specialized freelance platforms is that they like to brag about their major clients, who have agreed to be mentioned. To this end, Toptal lists clients such as JP Morgan while Textbroker can boast about eBay and Yoast.

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