Over the last decade we have seen an increase in the number of freelance marketplaces. The first freelance marketplace began in 1999 and now the list has grown to close to 100 places . Companies now have many options to hire a professional for a gig or a project. This leads to the question: How to decide which freelancing site is best for your specific needs?
Understanding the major differences in the kind of marketplaces out there and having a full grasp on the task at hand will help you decide the which freelancing site is best to find and hire a freelancer.
In other words, we might have to consider different freelancing sites for different projects.
Classification of freelancing sites
We can classify freelance sites by 3 criteria:
Geography: Finding freelancers Remote vs Local
Some freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Guru and Fiverr make it very difficult to find a freelancer in a specific city. They were created to take advantage of low-cost labor in developing countries to work remotely. Projects are presented and people bid to work on them remotely. You pay your freelancer through the platform and the platform takes a percentage/commission on the project. These platforms do not facilitate finding a freelancer near you. And as we all know, there are many advantages of face-to-face meetings. Keep in mind confidentiality and accountability issues, time zone differences and language barriers to name a few. And sometimes the project itself imposes the need to find someone in a specific city. For example, a bookkeeper who is familiar with specific local regulations, a public relations professional with local contacts or a retail salesperson and more. In the last 5 years, new freelance sites were created to respond to this need. Some examples are Workhoppers or Localsolo.
Type of Skills: General vs Specialized
Since marketplaces were created at the start to direct cheap labor from foreign countries to North American companies, the skills included in the original marketplaces were all projects that could be delivered online (eg: graphic designers, writers, website developers). With the creation of marketplaces that are focused on local hiring, new type of skills that can not be delivered online, like brand ambassadors, accountants, salespeople, interior designers and more are included. Recently, we have seen the appearance of new marketplaces that are dedicated to specific skills. 99designs for graphic design, Toptal for developers and programmers, Writeraccess for writers, Kolabtree for health tasks.
Payment: Commission based vs Fix rate
Understanding the business model of each marketplace is important before posting your project. Marketplaces that are dedicated to find someone remotely developed a model that charges companies a commission on the total amount paid to the freelancer. This was designed to facilitate the payment between the worker and the company (remotely) resulting on the site controlling the transaction. This later business model allows them to maximize their income by charging a commission for the value of the project. For marketplaces that encourage hiring locally, a business model that pays one fix rate to post and connect with the right freelancer is possible and even preferred. You now can hire long-term and still pay one fee only.
Once we understand the classification and characteristics of each marketplace, we should then understand the nature of the task at hand to know which freelancing site is best for your needs.
Nature of the task
Duration: Short term/gig vs long term
If the activity/project requires to be executed over a long-term period, you would like to ensure that the marketplace does not charge commission. It is much more convenient to find the right person and be able to work with him/her on a long-term basis without continuing to pay a third party. If by contrast, you simply need to make an image for your promotion campaign, you could then consider the option of a commission-based marketplace.
Importance of the project: Core vs accessory
If you need a highly experienced person for a highly sensitive project you should try to hire a local freelancer, close to you, that will follow local legal obligations and with whom you might want to meet from time to time to make sure that everything is in line and you can trust the person. If you simply need to write general articles for your blog, you can then turn to remote experts for the task. You might have some difficulty finding a qualified person in your language, but it is a low risk activity and less expensive to find someone to create your content in a developing country.
Physical requirement: Local vs remote
Some of your projects will require the presence of the freelancer or their proximity is important for the execution of the project and you won’t have a choice but to use those marketplaces like Workhoppers where all is presented to easily find someone in your own city. Only matched individuals located in your area and with the right skills, experience and availability are able to contact you. That makes screening resumes much easier. By contrast, if you are considering hiring a social media expert that requires to maintain your social presence online, you should be able to go remotely for that project.
Difficulty: Highly specialized vs common trait
Specialized freelancing sites are a novelty and they are useful when you are looking to hire highly specialized professionals. If you are looking for a highly skilled and rare IT competence you might want to check Toptal. But for most projects, a global marketplace will give you more choices.
As the freelancing industry develops, companies have more choices to find experts to help them develop their business. Understanding the differences in the freelancing sites and the nature of the task will help determine which freelancing site is best for your needs. And it might be different for every project!