Nowadays, people considering becoming freelancers have a huge number of freelancing sites to choose from. The freelancing sites that we are referring to are the ones operate as online marketplaces. They are sites where people (business-folk, students, webmasters, IT managers and so on) looking for services post ‘projects’ with freelancers interested in providing those services going ahead to enter ‘bids’ on those projects. The sites therefore serve a matchmaking role: linking up clients looking for services of various types with freelancers who provide such services. There are the major freelancing sites, like Freelancer.com, Guru.com and Elance.com, as well as Odesk.com, on the one hand. On the other hand, there are smaller freelancing sites. One can’t possibly be an active member of all freelancing sites that are available today. In any event, not all of the freelancing sites inviting members are really worth joining: some are actually conduits for scammers, as some people come to learn painfully. All said and done, and considering that the stakes are very high here — as we are dealing with real money here — it becomes imperative to be very careful when selecting freelancing sites to become a member of. Some of the ways in which you can identify good freelancing sites include:
- Checking out the sites’ reviews: the sites that serve as conduits for scammers tend to attract lots of negative reviews, from bitter victims. But the objective here is not just to avoid the scam sites, but also to avoid others that may not be conduits for scam, but which are nonetheless not good in other ways. Besides going through the formal review articles, it makes sense to go through the freelancers’ forums, reading posts between the lines, to see what others have to say about the various freelancing sites. Take note though, that none of these sites is perfect. All of them attract criticism in various ways. Yours is to select the best from what you have.
- Checking out the sites’ terms and conditions: the best freelancing sites in this regard are simply those whose terms and conditions are ‘reasonable’ by most people’s standards.
- Figuring out how many bid opportunities you have: there will always be a limit to the number of projects you can be for within a given timeline, for any given freelancing site. Your only objective here would be to check how high or low that limit is (and whether there are ways you can raise it by, say, signing up for premium memberships).
- Figuring out the minimum you can withdraw: if the minimum you can withdraw is too high, you may have difficulties bailing out in case things don’t work for you. There are sites with no minimum withdrawal limits, and those are the best in this regard (but not necessarily the best in other respects).
- Figuring out how often you can withdraw funds: there are sites where you can withdraw funds anytime you want, and others with a limit to how frequently you can withdraw funds. The best sites in this regard are those where you can withdraw funds anytime you want. But those are not necessarily the best sites in other respects.
- Checking out the freelancer protection facilities in place: sites with things like escrow systems, mechanisms for checking whether clients have money before allowing them to post projects, dispute resolution systems and so on are the best in this regard.
- Checking out the number of buyers the sites attract: the sites with more buyers (detectable through the numbers of projects posted in them) are the best. If you join a freelancing site with many (genuine) buyers and relatively few service providers, you increase the probability of winning projects, even as a new freelancer.