Elance and oDesk built up strong reputations as freelancer marketplaces since their foundations in 1999 and 2003 respectively, and in December 2013, they announced that they would merge. The newly-launched Upwork is aimed at providing a single go-to global talent pool of leading independent professionals.
Any platform that boasts more than 9 million freelancers shouldn't present the employer with too many worries as far as variety or quality are concerned, and sure enough, it's easy to search for freelancers and assess their suitability for a given project. You can find freelancers by keyword, or instead peruse a broad range of categories encompassing everything from web, mobile and software development to accounting, consulting, legal, writing, admin support, customer service and so much more besides.
When you view a freelancer's profile, you are able to see not just their own description of what kind of work they do, but also such details as their location, work history, hourly pay, number of jobs worked, languages and availability. You can also see the five-star rating of each freelancer, together with a 'Job Success' percentage, denoting the proportion of jobs performed by this freelancer that resulted in a "great client experience".
Although the standard Upwork provides many tools and services such as a basic dashboard, real-time messaging and credit card payments, the Enterprise plan goes further with the likes of broadcast messaging, custom reporting, audit trails, bulk payments and the ongoing curation of talent pools, all designed to ensure the complete experience for companies that require a full-scale contingent workforce solution.
Upwork has a very straightforward approach to pricing, simply charging the freelancer with a 10% service fee for every hourly or project-based transaction. This might not sound too heavy for one project, but it can accumulate into a lot of money if you are requesting or undertaking a larger number of projects per month. Employers also have the option of an Enterprise plan based on an annual subscription fee.
The site is very simple and clean, but in a way that exudes sophistication rather than crudeness. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it is also easy to use, beginning with a sign-up process that demands little more than the bare essential details like your first name, last name, email, password and (if you are registering as a company) the name of your business. It is a similarly straightforward process to search for freelancers via the online search box or by browsing the many represented categories of work. Posting a job, meanwhile, can be done via an easy-to-understand online form that gives scope for both simple and more stringent requirements, which gives it the flexibility to suit all manner of employers.
+ More than 9 million freelancers
+ Highly established, reputable site
+ Easy-to-understand pricing
- 10% standard commission might not suit freelancers taking on large volumes of work
- Too many lesser-skilled or incompetent freelancers
- Some may prefer sites with a wider range of subscription options
As you might expect given its past, Upwork really is the complete freelancers' portal, where almost any employer can find great independent talent in their required field. Register with the site now for free, and you can immediately start taking advantage of its wealth of freelancers and easy-to-use interface.